I’m upfront. I’m generally pretty upfront about being upfront, too, so if you don’t like that about me you at least get to find it out fairly early on, can pour your drink into the nearest pot plant, and slink off for a refill. It’s not because I court controversial conversations, either. In fact, the opposite is true, and I’m a conflict avoider. If somebody starts talking politics, my drink is suddenly the one that is quickly in need of a refill. It’s simply that I suck at small talk. The weather is so boring I’d rather just skip it and engage you in proper conversation about STUFF like the relative merits of various taco fillings, and vodka vs a gin martini, as quickly as possible. (The answer is gin. Duh.)
This has good points and bad points. It scares some people, but in the right situation, I can make people laugh by unexpectedly breaking the ice. But how does this play out for me in a work or professional environment? I feel like I’m bound and gagged almost as soon as I pour myself into a suit, and become terrified of the Kimisms leaking out of me like word burps. In high school I was called ‘weird’. Hopefully this has matured into ‘quirky’… but nowadays when I want to comment on the stupidity of people saying ‘disorientated’ instead of ‘disoriented’, or ask how many times it’s acceptable to eat sushi rolls for lunch in a given week before you start to resemble a fish, I need to stop myself. Quickly. The workplace is not the right place. Neither can I break out the jazz hands to emphasise a very exciting point I need to make. Or spin around on my desk chair 50 times if I get really bored.
After only just learning how to behave like an adult, it seems I had children and had to forget how to be one. Once you have kids, your JOB is playing. Playing is not fun. It’s only fun if you tap back in to your inappropriate, sing all the songs, dance like a dufus, immature let-it-all-out self. And then you go back to getting a job, and the let-it-all-out-self has to put it all back in.
I’m learning though. I’ve had a few interviews now, and I’m no longer just the scared person trying to be all they want me to be. I was so worried about how much of myself to let out, and whether it was too much or too little, I bombed at one. That’s ok. It was pretty much a comedy of errors as soon as I sat down on the squeaky chair and said a spoonerism involving ‘commas’ that also involved the word ‘hunting’. Got it? Picture three people, frozen in silent terror, wondering how I’d recover from that one. I’d have crawled under the desk, but it would have made the chair squeak some more.
Good things are happening now. I realise, also, it’s a two-way street, and that you also need to interview the potential employer. Appropriateness is important, in that you need to look polished and present the best version of yourself, but ultimately, still BE yourself. A job is not going to work if it’s going to be a place where I need to be a bound and gagged version of myself, day after day, most of the year. I’ll explode. So, I’m being myself at interview, and seeing if I feel comfortable in their environment also, since that’s going to really matter to me.
These questions about things like sushi frequency are IMPORTANT. I need an empathic (or empathetic? Hmm now THERE’S a question for the water cooler of nerds) listener who will let me know at exactly which point I will start to form gills and waggle my bum like a tuna. And look out after hours. Appropriate? That’s not my name.
Do you agree that interviewing is a two-way street? Or do you just need to be all they want in the current economic climate – and get the job at all costs? Can you let too much of yourself out at interview?