06 May 2010

Day 40: Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.  ISBN: 9780439023498.

First of all, I would like to apologize for the recent slew of guest posts.  For those of you who read regularly/know me personally, you know I was in Tennessee for a job interview, and, well, I ended up staying an extra day.  You know that flood in Nashville?  Yeah, I got caught in that.  Luckily I was in no direct danger, but I was not actually able to get to the university's campus, so we ended up having my interview in the hotel lobby.  If I get the job, I will have a great story.  If I don't get the job, I am going to bitch about it forever.  Or at least until I get hired somewhere else.

So what does all of this have to do with Catching Fire?  I can't help but feel like I'm going through some of the same things that the tributes of the Hunger Games went through.  I'm obviously not being thrown in with a bunch of other candidates and fighting them to the death, but in some ways the situation feels just as dire.  The person who doesn't get the job is much poorer for it, despite the fact that they may be an excellent candidate who just had a really bad interview, or didn't write an outstanding cover letter.  You're facing people who are trying to find things they don't like about you so they can eliminate you from the pool of applicants.

And in some ways the kids in the Hunger Games have it a little easier, because they know who they're facing.  I have no idea who the other candidates are, where they come from, what their background is, or what their skills are.  I have a fairly beefy resume for someone so young, but I can't compete with someone who's been in a cataloging position for 10 years...except that it'd be cheaper to hire me.

The interview process itself reminds me a lot of the preliminary bullshit the tributes have to go through for the Hunger Games.  There's the total makeovers, where their bodies are stripped of hair and their nails are redone and hair cuts and new clothes, etc.  Here are just a few of the things I did for the interview that I don't normally do: wore a skirt; bought and wore panty hose; shaved my legs more than once a week (I wear pants, why would I shave my legs more than I have to?); painted my nails with clear nail polish; wore a full face of makeup (if I want to look nice at work I'll usually just do my eyes); and woke up before 7AM.  Not to mention there's that urge to act like the person the search committee is looking for rather than acting like myself.  For the most part I have tried to be myself through the entire interview process.  I am as honest with my answers as possible, even against the advice of the many, many online resources that tell you not to do certain things.

For instance, during my interview there was a portion where I had to review a catalog record for mistakes.  I said, "Wow, it's been so long and I'm not quite sure, but I think this is what's wrong."  The director of the library actually told me that he was glad I said I wasn't sure, because he'd rather have someone who would look it up rather than plowing through and making mistakes in the catalog (which can royally mess things up).  It's funny, because I don't think he was supposed to say things like that.  Normally in an interview you'll have no idea how the search committee feels about you one way or the other, but since we happened to have the interview off campus it seems that maybe they were a little more lax with me.  But there is always a question of how much of yourself do you present to the search committee.  Do you tell them what they want to hear and hope they don't know you're lying through your teeth?

As hard as it is, I think it's better to be honest and lose a potential job than get a job that you hate.  After interviewing with the university in Tennessee (I'll tell you the name if/when I get hired), I am more confident about the position than before.  I think this is a very good sign both for myself and the university if they hire me.  I think we'll both be happy together, and to be honest that means more to me than how much they're going to pay me.  I love that I got along so well with the search committee, I love what little I was able to see of the university before the bridge leading into that side of town flooded, and I especially love that they were willing to come meet me in a hotel lobby despite the fact that work had been cancelled for them and they very well could have asked me to come back later.

So now comes the part where I'm actually in the arena, so to speak.  Somewhere there's another candidate or two trying to "kill me" and get "my" job.  In some ways I will feel bad if I get the job, because for all I know the person I'm taking it from has three kids they have to feed, whereas I'll only have myself and my fiance.  But then if I don't get this job I'll starve.  Maybe not literally, but my life is poorer without work; in fact I'm almost loathe to call it much of a life at all, because it is missing that key element which will make it complete for me.

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