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SFU Co-op Student

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I learned that not everyone will respond the way you want them to, and not everyone will act the way you expect them to. The key is to observe the situation and act accordingly

Like many people, I did not get a co-op job from my first job interview. That is pretty normal. I felt alright with this because I managed to get another job interview soon after my first one! I was more confident about this interview because I had a rough idea about the kinds of questions I would be asked and I felt a little more prepared in general.

For this interview, I made absolutely sure to allow myself a lot of time. I started my drive two hours before the interview, and ended up arriving to my destination 45 minutes before my scheduled time. As suggested in the workshops, I did not go inside the office yet and went to a coffee shop to kill some time so I wouldn't get too nervous. About 10 minutes before my interview I walked over to the building. I noticed I was much calmer than my first interview when I arrived early, but I was still nervous! When my interviewer came by she was very professional and reserved. It was a bit of an adjustment because I expected someone as friendly as my last interviewer.

We sat down, and my interviewer asked me if I would like a glass of water. After my last interview where I was asked 3 times if I would like a glass of water, I thought the appropriate thing would be to cut to the chase and to say ‘yes please’. So when I did, she frowned and said ‘I’ll be just a minute’ and left to get the water herself. I realized my interviewer was just being polite to offer me water, and I should have said “I’m fine, thank you”.

After that great start, the interview began. One question was about ‘creative presentations’. I told her a pretty funny story about how one time I presented a presentation in a ‘rap form’. I was chuckling a little as I told the story, and I thought that she might have found it funny as well. Instead, she looked at me confused and said “haha... that’s... funny” in a flat tone.

It’s always a bit disappointing not to get the response you want when you are telling a story to anyone, but it feels 10 times worse in an interview because it feels almost like a performance. In retrospect, I probably should have realized that this lady was not looking for humor based on my initial interactions with her. When I first met my interviewer, she seemed very conservative, so perhaps humor might not have been appropriate.

The interviewer then asked me to talk about my resume. Because I know myself pretty well, I was able to talk for a long time. At some points I could see on her face that I was going on too long and in too much detail, and tried to cut back. At one point she even said “wow…that was detailed”. One thing that I always find difficult in interviews is trying to gauge my audience. How much detail should I give them? Is this relevant? Clearly, based on my interviewer’s reaction, I went a little off the mark.

I got the feeling that she was not very impressed with me when she told me about another candidate's “excellent suggestion”, and I sat there asking myself “How will I top that?”. I felt even more concerned when she asked “Do you have anything to tell me that will WOW me?” I was so certain that I did not get the job when she asked me these questions, and yet, I was ok with that. When I realized this, I was actually relieved. Clearly we were not on the same page, and if our personalities did not work well together during the initial interview, imagine how difficult it would be to work with one another!

She seemed like a nice person, but we were just not on the same page. Although I felt pretty disappointed with myself, I did learn a lot from this interview. I need to be able to deal with different personality types and not have the expectation that everyone will be as open and friendly as my first interviewer was. This interviewer was very professional, and I needed to focus on being professional as well. Although I did not get the job, I learned that not everyone will respond the way you want them to, and not everyone will act the way you expect them to. The key is to observe the situation and act accordingly.

I learned a lot from my past two interviews, check out how I applied what I learned at my third interview!

Beyond the Blog

  • Be sure to check out Round 2 of Natalie's Co-op Job Search.
SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Natalie on LinkedIn or Twitter Natalie is a Communications and English graduate with a love for writing and learning. In the midst of her first co-op workterm as a marketing assistant, where she learned many practical skills and life lessons that inspired her to write this blog series. She volunteered at SFU as an Orientation Leader, and a FCAT Mentor.
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Jul 17, 2012

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