Thursday Thoughts: I’m Not Talking

Interviews are the worst. Not even just for jobs—client interviews, relationship interviews (i.e. dates), I think the only kind of interview I would like to do is be a guest on Jimmy Fallon, but I would insist on playing Catchphrase or Pictionary afterwards. (Note to self: plan game night…)

I’ve never been good at interviews. In design school, we did mock interviews with a real-life interior designer. The critique I received? Don’t interrupt your interviewer. I talk more when I’m nervous (occasionally, I retreat into complete silence). When I do talk very fast, I realize I haven’t been breathing, so I stop to talk a deep breath which gives me a chance to notice how they all stare… I do this at presentations too, it’s probably fascinating to watch me.

via Wikipedia

I read an article the other day that had a headline like, “The 5 Most Important Interview Questions EVER!!!” I had to read it because I assume everyone will ask me the most clichéd questions (What’s your worst quality? “I work TOO hard!”). I heard of a designer being asked if she was a “Roark” or a “Keating.” (This does not correlate to being a “Betty” or a “Veronica”) It was really a trick question to see if you read Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” So I read it out of fear that I would ever be asked that question (it was a good book, but let me save you some time—you want to be a “Roark”).

The article posed that a terrifying question someone may ask you is, “Describe yourself in one word.” I could only think of negative things—jerk, impatient, uptight. We should date! I was obsessed with the question for the rest of the day. Here’s where I’m at now: the word I have chosen is “casual.” One of my project managers told me that I may be the most laid-back person he’s ever met. I was shocked. I think of myself as an impatient, uptight jerk (not my best Stuart Smalley moment), but it goes to show how differently you can be perceived by others.

Keepin' it caj (casual)!
Keepin’ it caj (casual)!

Here’s what I think it is–I like to level the playing field. If I’m presenting a design, I make it clear I want you to interrupt me, this is a conversation, let’s talk about it, etc. If we can all sit at a table great, if we’re all standing—let’s do that, let’s all be doing the same thing. Let’s work together! I crack jokes. I don’t stop for anyone; this is not something I consciously do, my nerves get the best of me. I self-deprecate, I point out how we’re not rocket scientists—we’re picking colors here people! I will do anything to make you smile at me. I need it! I will not stop (again, not something I do consciously) until I do! Have you heard that you’re supposed to film yourself giving a presentation and then watch it to improve your presentation skills? I know this, I’ve heard it from many different resources, yet I cannot bring myself to do it. I know I should.

Casual—I want everyone to be at ease. I want us to be friends. I desperately want you to like me! (Don’t we all feel that way?)