I recently had a telephone interview; it was nerve-racking to say the least. I think the most stressful part about the interview, beside the fact that I was being put on the spot, was that I hadn’t interviewed for a job in five years. Stress can always be found hanging around the fear of the unknown, and being out of practice did not help to ease my uneasiness. After I hung up the phone I felt a weight was somewhat lifted, but then I began replaying every single word that came out of my mouth, and I began hoping that the recruiter liked me.
Later that same day, the Coastie’s duty section had a cookout. Spouses, significant others and children were all in attendance. I would be fibbing if I said that I had been looking forward to the cookout as I am a shy person who can’t seem to utter a word until I feel comfortable in a situation. So, needless to say getting together with the Coastie’s co-workers and their family members- most of whom I had never met- was anxiety inducing. We showed up with a small housewarming gift (the hosts arrived to the station just two months ago), and a vat of baked beans. We were trying to put our best foot forward so we’d be accepted by the crowd.
In the beginning the co-workers talked amongst themselves as did the spouses and significant others who already knew one another. For me, it was uncomfortable and I’m not ashamed to say that I ‘hid’ behind my daughter- absorbing myself in what she was doing. As the afternoon went on and the drinks started flowing, so did the conversation among “strangers.” One of the Coastie’s co-workers introduced himself and his girlfriend to me. They were very friendly, and during our conversation I found out that they were both from Michigan- see, we had something in common that I wouldn’t have known from staring at them from across the room. I am embarrassed to admit that I rarely walk up to someone and introduce myself. I have been told that my shyness comes off as being aloof, and that is a nice way of putting it. Simply put, this is something that I need to get over.
The cookout went well, and I actually ended up enjoying myself. Later that evening, when we were relaxing at home I got to thinking about my day. The interview, the cookout… maybe I wasn’t as out of interview practice as I had thought… we all participate in informal interviews all the time.
When I was on the phone with the recruiter, I wanted to shine. I wanted her to like me and I wanted her to want to talk to me again- so I owned it. When I was at the cookout, I wanted to stand out in the crowd. I wanted the other Coasties and their significant others to like me, I wanted them to want to talk to me again. It took me a bit of time but once I got comfortable, I think I ended up doing just fine. Sadly FIRST impressions are just that and many people do not offer a do-over. I went into both scenarios prepared for get-to-know-you questions. In a job interview the recruiter is gathering background information to see if you will be the best fit for the company. In an informal setting, the small-talk can also be quite revealing.
Whether you are formally interviewing for a job position or informally interviewing for a position as a new friend, as odds have it, not everyone will make the cut, but it is still important to put your best foot forward and make a good impression. I have decided to challenge myself… the next time I meet someone for the first time, I am going to try to approach the situation as if I was about to interview for a job. I am going to introduce myself first and hold a strong presence. As usual, I will treat that person with courtesy and respect and I will be the person to engage in a meaningful, in-the-moment conversation. Wish me luck getting out from behind myself.