Job interviews are like tests of identity. The hardest part is taking the same test over and over again.
As I awaited new numbers on my phone, stepped into new offices and met new people on the way to finding my next job, the hardest part was being the same old me every time. Across all of the interviews, “Tell me about yourself” was the most common opener, and thank goodness there’s only one me to tell. What I didn’t expect was how rehearsed that story began to feel, simply because I was repeating it so many times. All of a sudden, my own words were becoming uncomfortably familiar, an issue I don’t think any Interview 101 sessions ever warned me about. I’ve heard (and possibly ignored) numerous strategies about how to be attractive, how to be the stand-out, how to be this, this and that… but I guess I’ve heard little about how to be exactly the same, unscripted.
The interview process was a learning process in many ways, and that realization was a big way. I never wanted to give an interviewer anything less than my genuine self, lest they accept or reject me based on something I’m not, but as the weeks went on, I felt my energy levels beginning to fade and auto-pilot begin to kick in. Even if it was only evident in my own head, each interview essentially became practice for the next, though I never intended it. What an interesting caveat to the much larger blessing of having multiple interviews in the first place…
This experience also reminded me of writing personal statements, another task where we’re repeatedly explaining ourselves to different people. Then, too, comes the question of how genuine things can remain the more and more they are practiced, whether purposefully or not.