An interview on interviews

agnieszka.jpg

Mother Laura at RevGalBlogPals posted this Friday Five. Great one, Mother Laura!

1. What was the most memorable interview you ever had?
It was a wonderful, progressive church and I so wanted the job. They began the interview by saying that they had “hundreds and hundreds of applications,” which felt…I don’t know…a little bit like I wasn’t going to be appreciated, even before one word came out of my mouth. But I still wanted the position. Until this.

Interviewer: You say in your resume that you’re looking for a church that is open and accepting to anyone who enters it. What exactly do you mean by that?

Me: Well, I mean that I would like to serve a church where anyone could enter and feel welcome there.

I: Who exactly are you thinking of?

M: Well, I expect that a person of any ethnicity would feel comfortable. I hope that a single mother would feel welcome. I would want someone in a same-gender relationship to feel that they could worship there. You know, I think that people of varying social classes should worship together.

I: (Long uncomfortable silence) Well, I think you would be very disappointed with X Presbyterian Church. We are a very buttoned-down crowd. Our Church Information reports that 2% of our congregation is not Caucasian. But I cannot imagine who that 2% might be. And of course, we are on record for being inclusive of gay and lesbians, but I could never imagine one worshiping here. And, we are all college-educated, of course.

M: (Long, even more uncomfortable silence, as I think, “Holy smokes, did all that stuff actually come out of her mouth?”) Okay…Yes. I suppose you’re right. I would be disappointed with X Presbyterian Church.

I hung up the phone and wrote a “Dear John” letter to them. But you know what was so annoying? Six months later, they sent me a letter saying that they had rejected my application.

2. Have you ever been the interviewer rather than the interviewee? If so, are you a tiger, a creampuff, or somewhere in between?
I am so creampuff. I figure that an interview is a two-way street. I need to show my best side as much as they do. If it’s someone I want, then they need to like me. I don’t think many church committees realize this.

3. Do phone interviews make you more or less nervous than in-person ones?
There’s more that I have to get together in-person. The dress, the shoes, the hair. And there’s usually traveling involved, and I always forget something, so all that makes me uptight. But then I can read people much easier face-to-face. I make a much better impression face-to-face.

Plus, phone interviews are often impromptu, and I’ve been caught many, many times on the receiver when I’m trying to cook dinner, clean the house, and occupy a toddler. It gives me quite an unfair advantage.

4. What was the best advice you ever got to prepare for an interview? How about the worst?
A seminary professor told me, “Don’t tell the truth.” That may not be the best advice for everyone, but I needed to hear it. I’m a terrible liar, and I know he didn’t mean for me to deceive anyone. He meant that I didn’t need to be a prophetic, up-front, truth-teller before I got the job.

Although no one told me to do this, the worst thing I’ve done has been to not negotiate when I should have.

5. Do you have any pre-interview rituals that give you confidence?
I breathe deeply, close my eyes, and say, “It’s okay. I’m good enough for this. I can do this. I have experience. I can do this. I’m good enough.” In fact, I keep muttering these things over and over again while I get dressed.

Then I wear a piece of jewelry from my husband and one from my daughter, just to remind myself that even if the committee doesn’t love me, I can always go home to people who do.

photo’s by Agnieszka

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4 thoughts on “An interview on interviews

  1. Great self talk and jewelry ideas–will keep them in mind in my upcoming interview.

    I cannot believe they actually said that in #1. I know places that think they’re open and welcoming and aren’t but it sounded like they were proud of not being so, and not just on the LGBT issue that otherwise openminded folks feel free to express bigotry on….

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