The Job Interview Mating Dance

There are few things in life more painful than a job interview. Except, perhaps, dating.
There are also few things more shameful. Right? It's not something you want to talk about. The screw-ups, the flubs, the asinine mistakes that everyone makes but which feel totally unique to your sorry ass.
In a nod to the generous holiday spirit, I will attempt to lessen the collective shame of job interviewees everywhere by sharing some actual outtakes from various interviews I've suffered through over time.
I would also like to reassure the group that with each of these horrendous meetings, your self-esteem will drop by 3 percentage points. Which you can later drown in a gigantic iced coffee at any high-end coffee shop of your choosing.
Also on the positive side, you will likely never see these people ever again.
And now without any further ado: Lights, camera, ACTION.
* * *
"Here, Dannielle, have a seat. Sit right here."
Clearly this isn't a choice thing. "Sure. Thank you."
"There are a few of us, so please bear with us as we gather in."
"No problem."
"Oh, there's one more...is Katie on the phone?"
Then, to me, as if I will in any way, shape or form remember this.
"That's Katie, our Director of Field Coordination."
"Super."
"Are we all ready now?"
The group nods. Waves of nods appear. Mmhmm. We. Are. Ready.
"Well, welcome, Dannielle, it's such a pleasure to meet you."
"For me as well."
This is not a pleasure for anyone. I need a job, and for you it's 3:00 on a Friday.
"We've heard so much about you. We love your blog."
"You do? I appreciate that."
Because it's the only thanks I'll ever get. It doesn't make me a damn dime.
"We're on a tight schedule here, so if you don't mind let's get to Question 1."
Back to Planet Earth.
"Great."
By the way, I have gleaned from many years of experience that the less you say in an interview, the better.
"OK, Question 1."
Shuffles papers.
"Tell us a little about yourself, if you would."
"Sure. Well, I started out as a writer from a very young age...."
  • One of them is checking his smartphone. I can see you!
  • The other is drooling.
  • The third is busy "taking notes," a.k.a. doodling.
"Thanks. Now on to Question 2."
Laboriously he reads. This one's gonna be a doozy, I can tell.
"Tell us about a time when you had to handle a difficult communication situation. What was the problem, who were your key stakeholders, what are some of the challenges you faced, and what was the outcome?"
NO! THE DREADED ESSAY QUESTION!
"Um, could you repeat the question please?"
"Question 3. What's your biggest weakness?"
"I am an obsessive perfectionist."
Wait. That didn't sound right.
The guy's expression says: freaking 3:25 p.mmmmmm.
"I get to do Question 4," Katie chimes in. From the phone, all chirpy. I hate her already.
"Why do you want to work HERE, specifically?"
Because you have a job available, idiot.
"I, uh, mm, I, well..." stuttering, stammering.
"...I just love the very important critical aspects of the esoteric specific highly confusing and impossible to understand work that you do."
There. Now it's perfectly clear.
"Last one. Do you have any questions for us?"
Oh good. That one was in the article about interviewing skills. Which I read on the train.
"Tell me what is the absolute worst thing I could do in this job if you hired me. Like the one thing that would make me fail, out the wazoo."
The doodler looks at me as if to say, OMG.
"It's been a pleasure, Dannielle."
"Thank you. I thought that went well."
"That being said - we'll call you."
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia. Currently she is a public servant, as well as an independent freelance writer. This blog, like all of her public content, is written in her personal capacity unless otherwise noted. It does not reflect the views of the U.S. government, in whole or in part. Photo credit: Gerard Stolk via Flickr

The Job Interview Mating Dance

There are few things in life more painful than a job interview. Except, perhaps, dating.
There are also few things more shameful. Right? It's not something you want to talk about. The screw-ups, the flubs, the asinine mistakes that everyone makes but which feel totally unique to your sorry ass.
In a nod to the generous holiday spirit, I will attempt to lessen the collective shame of job interviewees everywhere by sharing some actual outtakes from various interviews I've suffered through over time.
I would also like to reassure the group that with each of these horrendous meetings, your self-esteem will drop by 3 percentage points. Which you can later drown in a gigantic iced coffee at any high-end coffee shop of your choosing.
Also on the positive side, you will likely never see these people ever again.
And now without any further ado: Lights, camera, ACTION.
* * *
"Here, Dannielle, have a seat. Sit right here."
Clearly this isn't a choice thing. "Sure. Thank you."
"There are a few of us, so please bear with us as we gather in."
"No problem."
"Oh, there's one more...is Katie on the phone?"
Then, to me, as if I will in any way, shape or form remember this.
"That's Katie, our Director of Field Coordination."
"Super."
"Are we all ready now?"
The group nods. Waves of nods appear. Mmhmm. We. Are. Ready.
"Well, welcome, Dannielle, it's such a pleasure to met you."
"For me as well."
This is not a pleasure for anyone. I need a job, and for you it's 3:00 on a Friday.
"We've heard so much about you. We love your blog."
"You do? I appreciate that."
Because it's the only thanks I'll ever get. It doesn't make me a damn dime.
"We're on a tight schedule here, so if you don't mind let's get to Question 1."
Back to Planet Earth.
"Great."
By the way, I have gleaned from many years of experience that the less you say in an interview, the better.
"OK, Question 1."
Shuffles papers.
"Tell us a little about yourself, if you would."
"Sure. Well, I started out as a writer from a very young age...."
  • One of them is checking his smartphone. I can see you!
  • The other is drooling.
  • The third is busy "taking notes," a.k.a. doodling.
"Thanks. Now on to Question 2."
Laboriously he reads. This one's gonna be a doozy, I can tell.
"Tell us about a time when you had to handle a difficult communication situation. What was the problem, who were your key stakeholders, what are some of the challenges you faced, and what was the outcome?"
NO! THE DREADED ESSAY QUESTION!
"Um, could you repeat the question please?"
"Question 3. What's your biggest weakness?"
"I am an obsessive perfectionist."
Wait. That didn't sound right.
The guy's expression says: freaking 3:25 p.mmmmmm.
"I get to do Question 4," Katie chimes in. From the phone, all chirpy. I hate her already.
"Why do you want to work HERE, specifically?"
Because you have a job available, idiot.
"I, uh, mm, I, well..." stuttering, stammering.
"...I just love the very important critical aspects of the esoteric specific highly confusing and impossible to understand work that you do."
There. Now it's perfectly clear.
"Last one. Do you have any questions for us?"
Oh good. That one was in the article about interviewing skills. Which I read on the train.
"Tell me what is the absolute worst thing I could do in this job if you hired me. Like the one thing that would make me fail, out the wazoo."
The doodler looks at me as if to say, OMG.
"It's been a pleasure, Dannielle."
"Thank you. I thought that went well."
"That being said - we'll call you."
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia. Currently she is a public servant, as well as an independent freelance writer. This blog, like all of her public content, is written in her personal capacity unless otherwise noted. It does not reflect the views of the U.S. government, in whole or in part. Photo credit: Gerard Stolk via Flickr

Please, Save Us From Your TMI


"I used to live near the Gowanus Expressway, do you know where that is?"
"No."
"It's pronounced GO-WAH-NUS."
"No kidding."
"I was going through a really tough time back then. I was poor."
"I'm sorry. I..."
"Now I'm successful. REALLY successful."
"Yeah? Hey listen, I've got to go check on that - "
"I mean BIG. But my kids aren't talking to me."
"Oh. Oh no. Well I guess I can sit down for a minute more."
"Yeah. And my husband walked RIGHT OUTI was working too much he said."
"Mmmmmm."
"He took the kids with him. That's why they hate me."
"Um, I'm sorry I just have to - "
"Yeah, they really do."
"Oh. Yeah."
"Hey - I see you shifting around over there. I didn't mean to keep you. You go ahead and take your bio break, yeah. You need that."
"Thank you, I mean thank you. Thanks."
"You take care now. Give me a call."
"I will."
As I am thinking, that would be never.
It took me a while to put myself in the other person's shoes. But I used to be a blabbermouth myself, and once I cottoned onto that, catching others in the act became a little easier for me.
So now I'm telling you.
When you're talking to a stranger, and you feel really comfortable, enough to chat away and tell them all about yourself...consider this: Do they seem to want to hear it?
If they're squirming, or looking away as if for an exit sign, consider it a warning. You're probably sharing a bit too much.
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia. Currently she is a public servant, as well as an independent freelance writer. This blog, like all of her public content, is written in her personal capacity unless otherwise noted. It does not reflect the views of the U.S. government, in whole or in part. Photo credit: sari_dennise / Flickr

You Have No Choice - You Must Run Your Marathon


"People are as individual as snowflakes, they kinda look alike but no two are the exactly the same, and all classification is the root of prejudice." ― Craig Ferguson, host, "The Late Late Show"
I've been a creative as long as I can remember. Writing, photography, slideshows, web, social media, fashion design, PR, writing for magazines, newspapers, and books. You name it I have tried it, and a hungry consumer of all of these.
The stage has always pulled me in as well. Tap dancing, piano, gymnastics, public speaking, modeling (well, I tried), theater. I absolutely love to be on TV.
In short, I am a performer. I like to study it, to do it, and to help others find their way to self-expression.
Being who I am makes me feel alive. If that is selfish, then I am selfish. If I'm making excuses and rationalizations for underlying unconscious drives, for narcissism, for a shitty upbringing - I don't think so, but even if so, so be it.
This is my race, and I'm running it. You have one, too. Some of you refuse to see it, or to get on the track. Maybe someone told you that you "should" be just like them, that you're "crazy" and that "it's time to grow up and cut it out."
Wrong! Stop!
You not only can be yourself, you must be.
Paraphrasing Joel Osteen: You have a special, soulful, solely-your-own mission in life. And your talent represents the tools you need.
I'll take it a step further. You are spiritually forbidden to try and be what you are not - to turn away from the unique kind of snowflake that you are.
Do you feel like being reincarnated because you didn't carry out your job in this life?
Look. You don't have to try very hard here. Just unlearn. Unburden yourself from the weight of convention, what "they" told you, the finger-shakers and naysayers, the insecure, the bullies.
When it's right, it feels right, and you know it.
You are not hurting other people by being yourself. Whoever tells you that, they're the one that's crazy, or more likely they selfishly want to take something from you.
That isn't to say that you can just run over people, hurt your family, fail to fulfill your responsibilities. Artists unfortunately are notorious for that.
But for the most part, good people tend to bury themselves under a mountain of unimportant nonsense in the mistaken belief that these actions make them "righteous." They somehow think it's "wrong" to discover, release and unleash the natural-born talent they were given. To give their gifts to the world.
So now it is time - get up.
Get other people out of your way. Get out of your own way. Give yourself permission.
Still procrastinating? I can hear you over there.
Stop making excuses.
Make the time.
Take one little tiny step forward.
Just do it.
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia as well as her own independent, freelance sole proprietorship. This blog is written in her personal capacity and does not reflect the views of her employer or the U.S. government as a whole. Photo credit: Peter Mooney / Flickr. 

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