Friday, September 13, 2013

Brief Work Update

It's been a while since I've written anything about my job search, but it continues.  So far this month, I've had 4 phone screens with HR -> 2 phone interviews with hiring managers (plus one scheduled for Monday) -> 1 in-person interview (plus one scheduled for next week).  And I have also been invited for an in-person interview for a state job in two weeks without any phone interviews -- this is the first time that's happened.  It seems that everyone else is doing phone interviews first.

The in-person interview next week comes as a big surprise to me.  After getting off the phone with the hiring manager, I felt like I didn't do a very good job on the interview and thought I wasn't going to get a call back.  (I called my mom to talk about it because it rattled me a bit.)  But then it was easy to think of all the possible downsides of the job and I was OK with the situation.  Now I'm in this weird place where I've sort of already talked myself into the idea that I didn't want the job anyway, but I am going to be interviewing for it (and seeming enthusiastic, etc., is critical on an interview).  Well, I guess I have a little while to talk myself back into wanting, or at least being open to, the job.

I also got word this week, after my emailing the HR contact, that I'm not getting a job I had done a phone screen on and had found myself strangely attracted to.  I did this phone call and I was supposed to hear back the next week, but I heard nothing for two weeks, and when I asked the HR person, she said that the hiring manager had gone on vacation for two weeks and she needed to follow up with him.  The next day, she told me that the hiring manager had decided to hire a person that he had interviewed (in person) before leaving for his vacation.  Um, OK.  I know that hiring managers do this weird shit, but seriously, couldn't he have told the HR person before he left so that they could get moving forward with the paperwork?  I hope (for their sake) that their candidate hasn't taken another job -- I suppose for my own sake I should hope that he/she has.  Anyway, I think I was attracted to this job because the office location is extremely convenient to my apartment, and I had let myself think about how great it would be to live close by.

The moral of these stories is that there is really no upside to thinking too much about any given job, either before you apply for it or after.  It's impossible to know, even after several rounds of interviews, what the job is really going to be like, so trying too hard to imagine it prior to that is just a waste of time, I think.  It's too easy to get caught up on things like "oh, this is in a convenient location" or "maybe I wouldn't like working with that kind of data anyway" or whatever, and whatever you read in the job description is not at all going to give you a feel for what it's like to work in the specific environment, with the specific people, and all that -- indeed, the job description will probably even fail to tell you what the job itself is really going to involve and what the day-to-day duties will be for you to imagine it at all plausibly.  It all seems kind of premature until you have received, if not an actual job offer with a dollar figure, etc., attached to it, strong indication that you are a very top candidate for the position. 

This being said, it's difficult not to think a bit about a job you've started the interviewing process with, and that's fine.  But in my view it's a mistake to get too emotionally attached or have strong feelings about a job (including feelings that might keep you from applying to a job that once you start learning more about it, will seem more appealing) until you are close to needing to make an actual decision about it.  With most jobs, the probability of your needing to make a decision is close to 0.  My (ideal) approach is just apply to the job, feel a sense of accomplishment when you put it on your Excel spreadsheet of job applications, and move on to the next opportunity.


jen said...

I agree, it's a very strange thing to have to be enthusiastic about every job prospect (and research the company and blah blah blah that you're supposed to do), when you really don't even know much about it yet, let alone whether you're really the right fit. It's easy to talk yourself into or out of anything. Quite the roller coaster to be on. People liken it to dating, but I wouldn't really know. But I do know the interview process sucks. Good luck.

Sally said...

I guess it's like dating in the sense of answering personal ads, not in the sense that I have any experience with.

It is a fine balance between garnering enough enthusiasm to sound right in the interview (and motivate yourself to do the background research, etc.) but not become so into the job prospect that you actually care about it.

Debbie said...

I have to talk myself into thinking I might want the job before I apply and before interviews. I just have to make sure that a good match doesn't keep me from moving on to the next job application or interview. One can't wait to hear from one place before applying to the next!

But it's quite tiring.

Sally said...

Debbie -- that does sound tiring! I guess I am fairly motivated about getting a job to begin with, and the range of job types I am applying to is such that there is not much of a need to convince myself I might want the job. Or at least the factors that are likely to affect that are not ones I can easily get much data on prior to starting the process. (With some obvious exceptions, like realizing that I could not work for a medical devices company due to the ick factor.)