Interview Blues


I’ve never been a good job interviewee. Quite frankly, I find most job interview questions constricting which in the past has made me nervous.  I enjoy telling stories about my experiences, but they’re often ironic and hilarious which makes them difficult to share in a professional setting. Likewise they generally aren’t very applicable to the questions asked in an interview.  But, I digress.

This past week I had the opportunity to interview for a sales position with a prestigious building technologies company on the East Coast.  Prior to the interview I postulated possible questions and thought up answers for each of them.  Having had numerous interviews before, I had some idea as to what to expect. I knew I would probably be asked a question about a time I led a group or a time I had an ethical dilemma.  Unfortunately somewhere between the initial greeting and the first question, I had abandoned my mental profile I had prepared to share.

I went through several questions stumbling over words and probably not sounding very definitive.  It’s not that I wasn’t confident, I was just uncomfortable.  I think the question that did me in was a simple one: Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with another employee.  I racked my brain for a few seconds and then delivered an answer based on an experience I had all the way back in high school.  It probably wasn’t that great of an answer either.

After the interview concluded, I began walking home and contemplated some of my answers.  I realized that I should have answered that very question much differently.  If I had a do over, here’s what I would have said:

Honestly I couldn’t tell you.  I mean I’ve had little conflicts with my siblings like everyone else does, but I don’t really have them in the work place. It’s not that I’m not-confrontational, it’s just that I don’t seek out conflict, I don’t try to start it, and I don’t try to get myself involved with it.  I’d hazard a guess to say that the vast majority of people enjoy working with me and I think that is partly due to the fact that I make them feel confident. I’d like to think that I try to make the people I work with feel like their approaches to the work at hand matter.

I don’t know what kind of response an HR representative would have to that sort of answer. I’m not an HR rep and I don’t think like one either. If you are an HR rep, particularly at a large company, please let me know what your response would be. At this point, I would love any tips I could get.

One Reply to “Interview Blues”

  1. I love interviews. Oh man, while I was job hunting I begged for interviews, even if it was for a company I had no interest in working for. As a matter of fact, I took two college classes at IUPUI on interviewing. I love the process.

    The way I have always handled interviews is off the cuff. I would hand them my resume package (I place my resume, cover letter, business card, and references in a folder) and then just sit there with a smile on my face answering questions without any preparation. I wanted it that way because it gave them a chance to get to know me.

    Granted you have to be quick on your feet, but for me it has always worked. Even business meetings are this way for me. I don’t want to be obsessed with the questions that might be asked rather knowing they will hire me based on how I react to the questions that are asked.

    If you don’t mind me asking, what firm did you interview with? I thought you just landed a good job. Regardless, interviews are like anything else… the more you do them the better you get at them. My suggestion to you might be filming yourself or at least recording yourself the next time you do an interview. That way you can hear where you mess up, if you do in fact mess up.

    Happy interviewing!

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