Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Listen to Your Body

It’s not obvious. You can hear what the interviewer is saying, but when they ask you the questions or answer your queries, something doesn’t feel right.

A job interview is much more than just a question and answer session about wages, benefits and qualifications. It’s a chance for you to get a feeling about how the company you are about to join affects you. In more ways than one.

It’s normal to be nervous, especially if you haven’t done an interview in a long time or if it’s your first one. Anxiety is part of the game. Your body though may pick up on things that your eyes and ears might miss. Those subliminal messages could be the most important of all.

I’ve been through my share of interviews. Quite a few more than the average person. One of the best jobs I ever had, the interview went well, even though I wasn’t completely ‘smooth’ in my responses, at least from my point of view. No one is perfect and you won’t be either. If you do come across as if you’re replies are a pre-recorded tape, someone might wonder if you’re faking it.

My ‘dream job’ interview is another example, at the other end of the spectrum. I’ve always wanted to write for a living. An opportunity to interview for a technical writer position came up. At the time, my body was screaming at me, but I was too enthralled with the idea of getting the job to notice.

Rather than the typical nervousness, I was literally sweating bullets. So much so, that the personnel manager asked me if I was OK while we were walking around the cubicles where my future co-workers were laboring away. I assured him that I was fine, just a bit nervous. Talk about ‘fight or flight’ response, I should have been running out the door.

Although I loved doing the work, the company and the job turned out to be one of the biggest headaches of my life. I learned a great deal, but the downside was just as steep. When they terminated me, I was a physical wreck over worrying about the job. They could have cared less.They had another body filling my position in no time. Who was ready to quit in two months.

Which is why you have to look for the signs. If few people, if anyone at all is smiling and in a good mood, you should wonder about the atmosphere.

It might be toxic. Take a deep breath and get out of there.

It’s not the only job in the world.

It is though, the only life you have right now.

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