Friday, December 24, 2010

What will your greatest weaknesses be in 5 years?

Disregarding natural disaster, famine, disease, war, and that kind of thing, there’s likely nothing more awful in life than a job interview. Bad dates are better. Doing taxes is more fun. Even the baseline for everyday awful - a trip to the dentist - certainly beats out a job interview. At least I don’t have to wear a suit to the dentist. I’d imagine a big reason that so many people work in their current positions is to prevent further interviews. Better to spend a year or two at a shit job than to go sit down with a random HR robot for 45 minutes discussing “goals.”

Full disclosure - I don’t interview well. I’m nervous, fidgety, and I’ll sweat in any room that’s over 61 degrees. I put on a tie twice a year or so, thus my interview day always begins watching a “how to tie a tie” Youtube video. When I’m out having beers with my friends, I’m as quick witted as they come. When meeting new people, I’ve been told (true story) on more than one occasion that I was boring, the dullest person in the bar, hey, I’m done talking to you, I’m gonna talk to anybody else. Me! I’m a guy who’s been to 25 countries, slept in 5 star hotels and in the gutter, and have both jumped out of and on to moving cars. The random people are right. I can hold court and crack up my buddies, but when I meet someone new I’m generally as interesting as a parking meter. The interviewer is, of course, always someone new.

My hatred of the job interview doesn’t exclusively lie in my social anxiety issues, of course. It’s the interviewers that really strudel my squirrel. I should really have cards printed up to hand the interviewer at the beginning of the chat: “My greatest weakness is (insert your choice of cliche strength here, ie, perfectionism, ambition, laser focus, too big of ideas, etc etc etc). In one/five /ten years, I plan to go to grad school in a field related to this job. Next question motherfucker.” Maybe I’ll leave out the motherfucker part. Yet, if the HR toadie is asking these same questions that I got asked at my interview at McDonald’s when I was 16, the motherfucker part is apt.

Over here, all the interviewers ask why I came to Korea. Never mind the fact that I came here in 2006, so this is really neither here nor there anymore. At this point, I should just say, “For the same reason that I own more than one pair of pants - pussy and money.” Either that, or “I used the same logic for choosing my university over Harvard. I couldn’t get in to Japan.”

One interviewer discussed the notion of roundeyes coming to Korea to party. He said that the bar for entry into the Korean ESL world is fairly low, and that lots of people come for reasonable pay and free housing, and that the job is secondary to the life. He asked what I thought of this phenomenon. Imagine, people have the audacity to come here to work to live, rather than to live to work. I pretty much rejected the entire question. I told him that this logic could be applied to most everybody in the world working most any job. Do bus drivers love their jobs? Do insurance salesmen? Do clerks? Do customer service reps? Do waitresses? Do railroad brakemen? Of course not. These people aren’t doing the job for the job, they’re doing the job for the other 128 hours of the week. I enjoy my job here, more than most I’ve had, but I don’t have any illusions about it. I wouldn’t do it for free.

Well, back to the job search grind for me. I’ll put in another two hours of emailing resumes and applications before I get into the whiskey. After all, now I’m a free agent, and my home is my office, so it’s high time for an office Christmas party.

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