interviews and hiring and social interaction with strangers

Enjoyed this quick and entertaining article from Techdulla: “Hiring is hard.” I’ve (obviously) been the interviewed in the past, and I’ve done some of my own interviews as well (usually with my manager, sort of as the technical evaluator). It’s my opinion that interviewing for a job is an extremely stressful moment for most people, right up there with public speaking. I think we internalize way too much and stress way too much about how the other person (or audience) is thinking about us, and not enough on just presenting the content. While the content is admittedly ourselves, the judgement will come later on with a yea or nay on the job interview. Warning: This might be the introvert talking!

Interviewers can help with this process, and I think some care can be given to help ease the person being interviewed, at least just a little bit. Maybe try some informal ice-breakers or some directed conversation to get things flowing, ya know? Like talk about the company and position and yourself for a bit, rather than immediately putting the interviewed on the spot. It’s not like the employee-manager relationship is always going to be this tense, stressful, rigidly formal situation. Some might think this is a good idea because it may reveal personality traits (good or bad) that can be subdued when talking to a stranger and/or an authority figure.

It’s a whole other topic about dealing with the self-conscious issues when dealing with strangers or interviews. While I am quite an introvert and really suck with the small talk that extroverts excel at, I have gotten far better than I used to be; I think partly I’m comfortable with myself, but also realize deeper things like how such worry just doesn’t matter, and whether someone likes me or not is not a big deal in the whole scheme of things that entail my own life; some people I’m compatible with, others not really. Basically, carry a conversation, be knowledgeable about the topic at hand, listen respectfully, don’t put up false fronts, and try to be interested about the other person. Or at least learn to suppress those expressions and mannerisms that consciously or unconsciously signal to the other party that you don’t want to talk to them at all; encourage just enough to get more information and evaluate whether that cute blonde is still worth chatting with at length.

These are not just thoughts about interviewing, but rather interaction in general, from dating to meeting strangers, to small talk in the bar.

I thought about making one of my New Year’s Resolutions this year to make an effort at saying something to a stranger every day (beyond a general greeting) or some other nicety designed to challenge my introvertedness (practice, practice, practice) and improve my social skills, but decided I had enough stuff already lined up, and thought I could use some more planning on that one.