Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Interview

I've never really given much thought to my career path - effort, yes of course, but thought?  Not so much.  When I was a little girl and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always struggled with the answer.  Even as a young girl, I understood the fight of all those women who had gone before me so that I may have the opportunity to be whatever I wanted.  The thing is, though, all I really ever wanted to be was a mommy.  I dropped out of university after a year and a half, because I just had no focus.  I knew I wanted to learn everything there was to learn about everything, but I really couldn't afford to pay thousands of dollars a term just to learn arbitrary things with no end goal in sight.  It wasn't a logical step for me. 
At 20, I was working in a coffee shop - a brother-in-law of a friend from high school came in and said, "Hey, we're hiring at the airport if you'd like to apply..." and my life was forever changed.  Literally within a week, I had a job, a career that I loved.  It was there that I learned how to deal with conflict and adversity, how to be efficient and organized, how to balance a strong work ethic with genuinely enjoying what you do, how to be outgoing and professional equally.  I don't know of any University courses that could have taught me these skills as well as organizing a 24 hour delay for 320 passengers expecting to go to Mexico.
Ten years later, after four lay-offs, I applied for a job, not knowing where - just knowing they were looking for a lot of the skills I had.  Turns out, I had applied for a job with Canada Post.  While the challenges were much different than that in the airlines, I found that I had a job with security, a job that paid well, and a job that allowed me to provide for my son.  I hadn't been looking for it, but it found me.  Here I learned the art of compassion in a way I had never known before.  My eyes were opened to how many broken people live in this world, and how caring just a little bit can change their world.  I learned to supervise all walks of life by appealing to their humanity, rather than enforcing productivity and volume and procedure.  It's been an awesome life lesson for me.  One lesson I can't imagine being taught in a lecture hall on a Monday morning in business class.
Five years later, an opportunity found me yet again.  A temporary management position was brought to my attention by a coworker, with the belief that I would be a really good fit.  I fancied up my resume, rewrote my old cover letter and said a quick prayer.  Weeks and weeks went by without a word, and I assumed I would receive a "thanks for applying, however you do not possess the basic requirements for this job" because in point of fact, I do not possess the basic requirements for the this job.  It requires a certificate program which I can easily attain, but do not have yet. 
A call came in asking me to come for an interview.  An interview!!!  Prepare as I might, it had been five years since my last interview.  I had no idea what kind of questions they would ask.  I knew of STAR competency based questions, and tried to familiarize myself with the Situation, Task, Action, Result answers. 
I had no idea what I was in for.
Funny enough, on the day of the interview I wasn't the least bit anxious.  My plan was to go in and dazzle them with my charm and humour.  Unfortunately, charm and humour only get you so far.  Especially when the interview was over an hour and a half long.  These were not the questions form 15 years ago.  These were not, "What is your greatest weakness?"  I should say, I'm thankful for that, because seriously who can say what their weakness is without expecting to get fired - my answer is evidently the cop-out answer - I'm a perfectionist...but it's true - I expect the best from myself and from everyone else - so I can sometimes be a little hard on people who I do not believe to be giving their best.  But, I digress...these were insanely difficult questions.
They give you a definition of a word, and then ask you a question, which you must answer with STAR which demonstrates the qualities of the definition of the word.  I know, have I lost you yet?  Because then the question is four fold. 
Naturally, I lost my train of thought in the middle of my answer.  Naturally, I forgot the question in the middle of my answer.  Naturally, I could not think of one single example of anything I had ever done in 15 + years of working.  Naturally, I forgot what I was saying in the middle of a word.  I was a mess. 
A hot mess, though.  If I could have been offered the job based on my hair, I would have had it in a second.  My hair really rocked - held the curl, nice volume.  I was impressed. 
We got through all the questions.  I was able to have a coherent conversation about the job requirements, how the working relationship is with the disability management team we have, and what effects the new collective agreement would have on the job I was applying for. 
And then came the awkwardness...
The interview was over, and I stood up to shake hands with the two gentlemen doing the interview.  I shook the first man's hand, and then put my hand out to the second guy and he left me hanging.  It felt like my hand was there for 30 seconds, but it probably closer to 1 or 2 seconds.  He says, "oh I'm walking you out.  I'll shake your hand later..."  But then puts his hand out...after my hand was down.  So I put my hand back up, but his was gone.  Three times I tried to shake his hand.  Three times unsuccessful. 
How do you recover from something like that?
Some people might ignore it.  But not me.  I acknowledge it.  And it's awkwardness.  And then try to make a joke about it.  I don't know...this could have been the make or break it moment.
I'm still waiting to see if I'm the successful applicant.  Either way, I'll be happy with the outcome.  Because God always has a way of taking care of me and giving me what I need even when I don't know I need it.  Fifteen years of providing jobs and experiences that have given me an education that, in my opinion, far exceeds any University degree.  Truthfully, I still lack the focus.  I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, and I still just really love being a mom (and dream of being a wife some day).
But it sure is nice knowing I don't need focus.  I don't need to know what the outcome is.  I just need to do my best, give my all, and trust.
I'll keep you all posted.  Can you believe they made me wait the weekend?!?!?!  I mean, seriously, if I get this job...I have a wardrobe to plan!!

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