Friday, August 21, 2009

Job Interview Skills

As some of you know, I just recently got a great job (yesterday). Seriously, if you asked me to describe my ideal teaching position, it would be really close to the position I just accepted.

Yesterday, I had my final interview for the position. Given my long stretch of unemployment last year and my genuine excitement about the job, I was quite nervous going into it.

Adding to my anxiety, my potential boss called me the night before the interview to tell me that I had actually blown my first interview. My references (I taught one of the interviewer's son last year) and my enthusiasm carried me through to the second and final round. Basically, this guy wanted to hire me, but told me that I had better interview well the second time through or I was screwed.

So there I am sweating like a pig in my suit and tie in 90 degree heat waiting while they interview my competition. Her interview runs long; I wait half an hour past my appointment time. All I can envision is this woman regaling the principal with stories about all of the children she has saved from intellectual darkness. Every minute that ticked by ratcheted up my anxiety another notch. By the time the office door opens, I feel like the official has just called 15 seconds to go on the starting line of a Verge race.

Finally, I am ushered into the office. We sit. Pleasantries are exchanged. I am introduced to the committee, which includes the principal and my new alley (the new boss who called me to encourage me to interview better).

Somehow it immediately comes out that I am a competitive cyclist. Turns out the principal rides road bikes too (Livestrong bracelet to prove it). Seriously, we spent more than half of my interview talking about bike racing. Strategy, gear selection, sprinting vs. climbing, mental skills, training, nutrition and yes, we talked about cyclocross.

At one point I was asked if I ride the Pan Mass Challenge. I explained that while I support the PMC (financially with donations and in spirit), I am strictly a competitive cyclist. This elicited nods all around

Obviously, if you are reading this, you know that I can talk about bicycle racing all day and usually I even sound intelligent doing it. By the time my interview transitioned into actual interview content, I was thoroughly relaxed. Instead of begging for a job that I really needed and wanted, I felt like I was talking to old friends. I was relaxed, concise and on point. I did the opposite of blowing an interview.

Normally, I don't really discuss about my non cycling life on this blog. But this interview was one of those occasions when cycling stepped into another area of my life and improved it.

I don't even feel bad that I spent yesterday afternoon banging out a few intervals instead of taking care of paperwork down at HR like I was supposed to.

9 comments:

Cary said...

Congrats dude, sounds awesome. Throw me on as a reference saying you support the PMC.

I had a vaguely similar experience once back in college. Got a bill in the mail summer before 4th year saying my roommates and I from the previous year owed the college $2000 each for furniture missing from the room. Had until end of 1st semester to pay it off. Upon returning to school in Sept, I set up a meeting with the Dean of Housing, who I had happened to ride a century with the previous spring. After 16minutes of chatting cycling (15min appnt) the Dean sprung up for next appointment, let me know he had removed the charges, and actually CREDITED me $500 towards next semesters tuition for the hassle.


Good luck at Blunt.

B-Bike-G said...

Congrats on the job, I'm sure you will kill it. I'd be interested (as a current-job-seeker) as to how you "blew" the first interview.... nervous? talked too much? came off as XYZ?

Colin R said...

He probably blew the first interview by peeing in his suit instead of excusing himself to use the bathroom.

Damn bike racers.

RMM said...

Cary:

I am ashamed that I was so broke this year that I couldn't support your PMC ride, next year should see renewed support from the McK. household.

B-Bike-G: Everyone knows that I can be kind of a dick and apparently I wasn't doing a good job of hiding it in my initial interview.
Seriously though, when interviewing in front of a committee, you need to make eye contact with everyone, while being sure to making more eye contact with whoever is asking you the particular question that you are answering. Its sort of tricky. You need to make everyone feel important.

And no, the distinct smell of urine did not help matters.

Anonymous said...

New alley?

Did they have a spelling test too?

RMM said...

If they gave spelling test, I would never get a job. I never was a proficient speller and I doubt that I will become one any time soon. In the meantime laugh at my ineptitude, it may be the most entertaining feature of this blog.

Aki said...

Congrats on your job. Being relaxed is important in an interview. I had a similar interview process - 4 rounds of 2 interviewers each, and one of the sets was a rider and an acquaintance. I had no idea he worked for this company. I ended up getting the job.

Looking across at an interviewing group is tough, but one tip is to look at their hair or the wall behind their hair. This way it's a bit less intimidating than looking directly at them. After a minute or two of answering questions, it'll be easier to look at them directly.

Knowing what you know and being confident about it helps tons. It's like the tubular glue thing - you know it, you're confident in it. Even if you don't know something (like in IT - it's hard to stay on top of the latest developments) you can fervently believe in your ability to learn quickly and use that to sell yourself.

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