Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I've done a fair number of interviews in my time--from the interviewee side, but also from the vantage point of the interviewer. Frankly, being the interviewer makes me only marginally less nervous. And yes, I am ashamed to admit that on more than one occasion I have used the "What do you consider your greatest weakness?" line. It's not a very good question, in and of itself; its usefulness lies primarily in that it lets you see a)interviewee's bullshitting skills, eg, "I have a tendency to work too hard," or "My perfectionism is an issue sometimes"; b) interviewee's willingness to be idiotically, breathtakingly forthright with someone they've known for fifteen minutes, eg, "I don't like people, and I have issues with authority. Also, I steal." or c) interviewee's ability to squirm like a worm impaled on a hook for minutes at a time without actually answering the question--"I guess it would be my inability to present a full picture of myself in a twenty-minute interview. Ha-ha! But seriously..." It weeds out the obvious brown-nosers and total idiots, I guess, but aside from that it's just a form of torture sanctioned by the Geneva Convention.

I'm really hoping my interview next week goes well. I have a tendency to freeze up a bit in those situations--I find that I'm suddenly unable to form a coherent sentence, much less follow a line of thought across multiple sentences; I sweat so much that I can literally feel a stream of water running down my spine as I sit in the 'hot seat.' I've seriously considered taking, I don't know, an airplane-sized bottle of Jack Daniels with me and guzzling it before the interview. Alcohol frees the tongue, after all--in vino veritas. Just not TOO much veritas, please; total lack of inhibition can be just as unattractive as crippling self-consciousness. As in, "So, what's the medical school's policy on students sleeping with faculty?" or "Where's the nearest gay bar?" or "How much would I have to pay you to get a good recommendation to the committee? No, I'm not trying to bribe you. I just want to know what the price of your soul is."

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