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This is why I haven't been around these parts much lately.
About a month ago, the position I've been acting in at work for two years on and off, was advertised for permanent filling. I spent a fortnight obsessing and worrying over my written application. There was so much I wanted to say. I finally got it polished enough to a state where I was content to submit it, only to be told by the online recruitment site that I was over the word limit on six out of the nine criteria (that's right - NINE criteria to write to! See why it took me a fortnight?!). Um, what word limit? I'd been told there was no word limit!!
This was two days before the application deadline, so of course I spent every waking moment of the next 48 hours editing, editing, and doing more editing. I finally got it under the word limit, but wasn't happy with it. I rewrote a lot of it again, and edited again, and FINALLY was both under the word limit and pleased with the final result. Submit! Part 1 over.
Next came the interview. More worrying for another fortnight before the interview date. All my free time was spent making notes about my experience in the job, what my strengths and biggest achievements were, anticipating what questions I might be asked and formulating my answers to those questions, printing out examples of my past work, practising interview questions at home with Hubby....and yet, I still didn't feel like I was prepared enough!
Then Mia came down sick with a chest infection a few days before the interview, and none of us were getting much sleep. I had other high priorities going on at work as well. And Hubby was due to go to Sydney for work for two nights, driving up the night before I had my interview, leaving me at home feeling unprepared and nervous, as well as sleep-deprived and stressed with a sick toddler. Hubby has never had the opportunity to travel somewhere for a work-related reason before, this trip had been planned for months and he was so excited. But even though I told him that he should go and that I would manage, his guilt got the better of him and he decided to stay, just hours before he was due to leave. Bless his cotton socks. I've never felt so grateful to have him with me! I think I almost cried when I picked him up from work, knowing he was coming home with me to be on "Mia-watch" so that I could focus all my energy on winning my job, rather than travelling somewhere completely out of reach when I needed him the most. He told me that Mia and I are his priorities, and nothing is more important for us right now than for me to get this job, so he wanted to be there for me to do anything he could to make sure that happened. I love him. Whatta Man.
So I prepared, and prepared, and then I prepared some more. With Hubby home to tend to Mia's every need, I could relax and focus on getting my thoughts in check, and maintaining my confidence. I felt good on the morning of the interview. I looked good, I had had a good night's sleep, and I had a whopping 12 pages of typed notes with me, as well as various other printouts of past work and other bits that may come in handy. I knew what the key messages were that I wanted to get across. I was confident that I had prepared to the best of my ability, and could not have done any more, so that at least if I didn't get the job I couldn't blame my lack of preparation.
I won't go in to the details of the interview here, as riveting as that would be for everyone to read. Even though most of the questions were ones I had anticipated, or along similar lines, I still felt thrown by the whole process. Maybe it was just because I'm a little rusty when it comes to the whole job application process. I'm usually quite confident when it comes to job interviews, and don't get too nervous about them. I've even had comments from the interviewers on how calm I've been during interview. But not this time. There were multiple parts to all of the questions, so I constantly had to ask for the latter parts of them to be repeated, and it took me for.e.ver to answer them (in total I my interview went for 1 whole hour. Yikes!). I completely forgot about making sure I talked myself up. I was given a question that I hadn't anticipated at all, and didn't really have an obvious answer for either, which didn't do wonders for my nerves. I forgot what my key messages were, right until the end where I managed to squeeze them in at the point where they ask you if there's anything else you'd like to mention or any questions you'd like to ask. Before I'd even finished what I was saying, someone knocked on the door and interrupted us to say the next interviewee was waiting. Gah!
So all in all, it wasn't my greatest interview experience, I'd say a 6 or 7 out of 10. I just have to hope my written application and referee reports don't let me down. I'll know the result in about a week and a half.
Since the interview I've been thinking about how much more relaxed I would have felt if I had been given the questions to ponder over just before the interview. Especially given that the questions themselves were so long and hard to keep up with. Have you ever had the questions provided to you 15 mins or so before you went in for an interview? I have, on a number of occasions, and as you might guess, it really put me at ease for the interview itself and I felt much more in control. I think this should be the norm for all job interviews. There's no advantage to any particular applicant, as long as they are all provided the questions with the same amount of time to ponder them before their interview begins. It allows you to gather your thoughts and construct your answer clearly, without having others staring at you and eagerly awaiting what you've got to say, and basically lets you give the best interview that you can. I wasn't able to reflect my true self and my abilities in the interview I gave this week, and I know soooo many other people feel the same way about them. Why is it thought that putting people on the spot is the best way to gauge whether they're the right person for the job? Isn't the ultimate aim to get to know as much about the person, their abilities, and their qualities and to see how they present in real life? Would you feel as stressed about having a job interview if you knew you would be allowed to look at the questions before you went in to face the panel?