Transitions and Tribulations
by Nicole Carlozo -- September 16th, 2014
Interviews, resume-writing, travel, and presentations slowly infiltrated my life this summer – so much so that I suddenly found myself interviewing on a weekly basis and surfing LinkedIn more than I’d like to admit.
Job transitions can be tough. After working long and hard on one or numerous projects, you suddenly find yourself at the mercy of strangers. They don’t know you, your body of work, or your work ethic. And it’s up to you to sell yourself within a short timeframe without seeming entitled or arrogant.
On the other hand, this year has been relatively good in terms of job opportunities in the environmental field. I received more interview callbacks than ever for positions that I feel fully qualified to fill. That being said, I was also rejected from many positions without even an interview opportunity (usajobs.gov, I am talking about you!). My job search has been a long, tedious, and nerve-wracking process. It wasn’t uncommon for me to walk away from an interview chastising myself for not predicting certain interview questions. Sometimes saying the first thing that comes to mind isn’t the best decision, and I often left thinking about how I could have answered questions differently. In the end though, you learn from each experience.
Eventually, all of those Oops moments help you the next time around.
Yes, we learn from our mistakes, but there are still a few interview practices that drive me crazy. Allow me to elaborate here.
The Dreaded Phone Interview. Need I say more?
I often struggle with phone interviews. It’s difficult talking into “the void.” Are they listening? Did I pause long enough? What are they thinking? Am I droning on too long? It’s hard to answer these questions when you’re devoid of eye contact and body language. Sometimes an employer will offer a webinar interview, but I find talking into a camera even more awkward. I avoid FaceTime in my personal life – why would I subject myself to video screening in my professional one?
I was exposed to the dreaded “scripted” interview a few times this summer. There’s nothing worse than someone reading off a list of questions in a monotone voice. With the direct question and answer interviews, I always feel as if there is a right answer and a wrong one…with no way of knowing on what side my answer fell! Whatever happened to interaction, discussion, and being personable? I often thrive when discussing my experience and interacting with an individual. If they aren’t engaged in the interview, then how can they get excited about me? To compensate, I usually end these interviews with something along the lines of “…and I can elaborate on any of the topics I just discussed if you’d like.” I’m hoping to find out which topics piqued their interest, while allowing myself another chance to wow them on that topic. Unfortunately, this question is often met with…a swift denial or the sound of crickets. Sometimes Policy prevents deviations from the script – I know that, but it’s still a shame.
And the worst? Scripted Phone Interviews. Uhg.
Although my Fellowship ended last month, I am still in a period of transition. The question is – what do I want to do next in my career? I think I’m still trying to figure that out. Check back in for updates on “What’s Next” with this Nicholas School Alum.