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Architalks #46 - My first interview

My fist interview technically ever was for my first job. I wanted to work at the mall, and interviewed at Abercrombie and Hollister, so that I could have a cool job and get a discount on trendy clothes with brand names on them. I didn't get to work at either place. I didn't have any experience at all yet, with a cash register or helping people. The best thing I could relate to at the time was folding clothes and putting them back on the shelf. It turns out it may be about who you know, because I got a job working at Chico's (at the time, I saw it as one of the old lady stores). I will be forever grateful to my neighbor for passing along the opening to me and vouching for my character.

I went into the store to fill out the application, and was told the manager would call me to schedule an interview. I remember quickly after that resetting my voice mail to something other than a recording of a radio song. I remember practicing in the mirror saying "I am capable of understanding directions and following through on things that are my responsibility." I remember worrying about the questions that would be asked of me, and what I should say, and what my no-exprience-having 17 year old would do if she did have experience. Oh sure, I'd had "jobs" and side stuff and under the table babysitting, but this was sooooo different. It was official. I was going to get taxes taken out of my checks and answering to people that weren't my parents friends.

Then a bunch of questions later and I barely remember what happened or what I said. I got a call two days later and got the job, but at half the hours I originally wanted (but I also didn't want to work on Fridays or Saturdays so... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ maybe that was the price for being honest). But not remembering much from interviews, I've learned is standard for me. High stress combined with off-the-cuff answers are not easily remembered unless they are practiced, now that I've been through a few interviews for both my job(s) at different firms and for project pursuits.

My first interview wasn't anything special, but now, I am trying to more purposefully pay attention to what an interview is like. Sometimes, they are stuffy, sometimes direct and to the point. sometimes you ramble and sometimes its like a tornado went through. The main thing I remember, recently, is the new feeling of hitting a stride.

There's nothing now like the satisfaction of being well prepared. At my first interview, I did a decent job of working through my side-ish jobs to describe how I handle responsibility, how I am resourceful, and how I can be a good team member. Now, those things that we practice for project interviews is more complicated but are still based on the same principals. We are selling our track record with clients, we are selling our team cohesiveness, and no one does it alone. Being able to answer questions confidently is a newfound talent that has only just started to appear after some practice and some stumbling.

I don't think I was confident in my first interview, but I answered the questions as best I could. It's a cheesy thing, but doing your best is only the starting point. Unfortunately, I didn't do a very good job of reflecting after that first interview. Now, we try to do that as a team for project interviews, but I certainly always try to do it as an individual. I am more attuned now to formulating answers to directly and concisely answer questions (I'm sure I rambled during the Original). I never used to reflect on if I even understood the question to begin with for that matter.

In retrospect, that first interview was not rocker science. At that early point in my career I attribute my success in the interview to showing up on time and being willing to commit to the job description that was open in the time frame that was asked of me. My first real interview that landed me a job certainly wasn't the most important step in my career, but it certainly got me the first job I needed. It was a stepping stone into the adult world of showing up on time and being responsible for my actions on someone else's time. "Performing" in an interview is just another way of making your case for yourself, and you are your best and brightest advocate. Don't let being in the spotlight be scary!! Then also be ready to negotiate, but that is a whole other topic for another time.

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of architects all post on the same topic at the same time. This is my second post in the series, but this is the 46th topic in the series, entitled "My First Interview". Check out some of the other posts, below!

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