Posts Tagged ‘interviews’

Grandma Collins 0116

My gun-toting granny who was also a nurse, a fieldhand, a church organist and a cancer patient.

My grandma flushed out a thief who was hiding under her house, loaded him into her car, and drove him at gunpoint into town to the sheriff.

My dad, who was there, told me the story. Had I gotten it directly from my grandma before she died, I’d have asked, “Were you scared? How did you know he was under there? Would you have shot him?”

Family and friends are the people we think we know better than anybody else. But do we really? Maybe we would if we just took the time to ask.

For the past 12 years, StoryCorps has given ordinary people the chance to find out extraordinary things about the people they know by simply asking questions.

Through the program, people record interviews with someone who’s made an impact on their life, knowingly or unknowingly, relative, friend or acquaintance. The interviewer picks the questions and hopes the interviewee answers them. And most of the time, they do. The interviews (65,000 of them already) are stored at the Library of Congress and some of them air on National Public Radio.

Our lives are a series of great stories. Happy, sad, scary, exciting, funny, unusual. Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are packed with the edited versions of the best (or worst) stories people want to tell about themselves. What about the incredible stories we can tell about others?

In my reporter days, it took tape recorders and reel to reels and notebooks to get the story; today, all you need is a smartphone and an app. StoryCorps has one. It lets you record your own StoryCorps-style interview and upload it to be preserved by the Library of Congress. It even invites you to take a selfie with the person you interviewed.

So, is your grandma tougher than my grandma? We’ll never know unless you ask.

I had a job interview this week, my first one in years. I should have been more nervous, I suppose, but interviewing is like second nature to me. In my current full-time job, I get interviewed all the time although it’s about what I know not who I am. And for many years, I’ve been an interviewer – on the air, for a story, doing sales, hiring people.

Questions and answers. That’s all an interview is. What makes it so tricky is which one you’re doing and how much it matters to you. Few interviews are a matter of life and death – unless you’re asked to donate a kidney, you’re trying to adopt, or someone is holding a gun to your head demanding that you give up classified information. The rest of the time, it’s just plain old Q&A.

I’ve had job interviews when I was unemployed and desperate, when I was employed and restless, and a couple of times, when I wasn’t even looking.  A few from the highlight reel…

Most embarrassing interview moment: Breaking my ankle leaving an interview with an advocacy program for the handicapped (ah, the irony). It was already sprained but I’d worn heels anyway because they went with the power suit I had on. (I know, ME in a power suit? It was the 90’s and all chicks in charge were wearing them. I had the required shoulder pads and big hair, too.) I stood up at the end of the interview and SNAP! The ankle went and I hit the floor, powerfully (must have been the suit). I should mention most of the board members interviewing me had wheelchairs or arm crutches. One of them loaned me his crutches so I could hobble to the parking lot. I didn’t get the job.

Most truthful interview response: While interviewing for a job I wasn’t sure I wanted or could even do, I was asked why they should hire me.  I replied, “Some of these things I can do, some of them I can’t. If you’ve got instructions for the things I can’t do, I’ll figure it out. If I have questions, I’ll ask. If I have problems with someone, I’ll tell them. If you have problems with me, tell me. If you yell at me, I won’t listen.  Don’t look over my shoulder while I’m working and don’t feel like you have to pat me on the back if I’m doing a good job. Keep the paycheck coming and I’ll keep showing up.” I got the job…at twice what I had been making.

Dumbest interview question I’ve ever been asked: “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” Here are my suggested answers, in case you’re ever hit with this one. When you want the job: “I’d be an evergreen because they’re hardy, work well in any environment, and always portray a positive image.” When you don’t want the job: “I’d be a stump because they maintain a low profile, don’t do anything but sit there, and can’t be easily removed.” The response I gave: “That is the dumbest question I’ve ever been asked.” Yeah, that response can also fall under the “When you don’t want the job” category.

Best interview advice I’ve ever been given: from a hippie DJ I worked with at a radio station over 20 years ago. He said, “Just be who you are, man. Don’t waste your energy pretending to be something you’re not. They always find out the truth.” Straight-up solid advice.

This week’s interview was O.K. as far as interviews go, and I think my chances at the job are about as good as anybody’s.  I’ve settled in for the Big Wait and after the holidays, it comes down to one more question and answer – will they be asking and what will I say if they do?

Me on the job, late 1980's