Me, and my one track mind…

meeka shockedAnd no, this post has nothing to do with sex, or even thinking about sex, although it would probaby be a lot more fun to read, and write, if it were!

Unfortunately, sex is the furthest thing from my mind. So is story-telling. I haven’t written a word of fiction in at least a month. Instead I’ve been writing an awful lot about technical things, and learning outcomes, and range statements, and training package rules and units of competency….

Ahem, you get the picture. What you may not know is that when I start to panic about deadlines, my focus becomes so narrow it excludes just about everything else. Except food. Β I never forget to eat. πŸ™‚ I do however forget to shower for days [okay, too much information], and apparently I forget to pay bills. 😦

I was knee deep in my most recent assignment this morning when I received a phone call from Origin Energy [my utilities supplier for gas and electricy]. On the other end of the line was an officious sounding young man with a decidedly non-Australian lilt to his voice.

Did I know that my gas account was overdue? And that I was in danger of disconnection?

Oops, no. The gas bill, along with all my others bills, was buried under half a foot of printouts, scrap paper and handouts. Could it really have been so long since that bill arrived? Surely they would have sent me a reminder before the ‘pay or else’ phone call?

Oops, again. The reminder was also in the pile. Oh dear.

I’m never blatantly rude on the phone, but I admit I was less than gracious this morning because, despite the possibility of disconnection, my mind was still on the assignment I was writing. And that is really weird because I am notΒ enjoying myself at the moment.Β  I love the other students in my class, and I have a great respect for the trainer, but I’m starting to worry that I’ll never fit the system.

That fear was brought home to me during the class yesterday. I was sitting in as one of the ‘learners’ for the other students who were doing their 60 presentations [mine is next week]. The second last presentation was on something called ‘Behavioural Interviews’. Apparently these days employers use these behavioural questions to gauge a potential employee’s suitability for the job.

In a nut shell, behavioural interview questions assume that the way you handled situations in the past will be a good indication of how you will handle them in the future. So employers ask questions like ‘Give an example of how you worked on a team’, or, ‘Have you disagreed with someone at work and how did you handle it?’.

As part of the ‘class’ discussion, we were asked to answer those questions in such a way that we would look like good employee material.

And that’s when I panicked.

Okay, just the thought of having to face a job interview would have been enough to make me panic a bit, but what really threw me was the realisation that I haven’t worked in a ‘team’ for close to 30 years! Hot on the heels that that scary thought was another one – clearly I would have to bullshit something, but how was I supposed to do that when I’ve never been able to lie – not even little white fibs?

You may think I’m being silly, but people online can’t see me blush bright red at anything less than 100% truth. So how does someone like me get a job when I’m unlikely to be able to jump the hurdle of an interview?

Don’t get me wrong, I did know I’d have to go to interviews, but my mind did that ‘Don’t worry, that’s all still a long way off’ thing. Hah, obviously my brain has no trouble lying toΒ me

Anyway, I’ve strayed quite a way from assignments and utility bills. You’ll be pleased to know I finished that assignment, and I’m all prepared for my presentation next week, so for a few days at least I’m all caught up. I’ve also paid ALL my bills and there’s now an empty space on my desk, so for now all I have to worry about is the prospect of interviews to come.

Advice, pep talks, and chocolate all gratefully received. 😦

Meeks

Β 

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

22 responses to “Me, and my one track mind…

  • Colleen

    I went on a job interview that I had already told the interviewer there was no way I was accepting the job. I went and interviewed and I was so relaxed and confident he begged me to take the position. I didn’t — but I did remember that feeling when I went to THE interview for THE position that I desperately wanted. Practice helps with no matter what we want to improve. I always write out the toughest questions I think they can ask me and make sure I have them down. Good luck and thanks for the follow. I’ll check back and see how it’s going. πŸ™‚

    Like

  • pinkagendist

    I’d suggest practising a character, as in acting. I’m not naturally inclined to social situations, so I’ve had to invent a character that is. More or less in the same way you’d create a book character. Other than Mike, nearly no one knows how I am. Especially not in my working life. It’s actually very easy to do. The more you think of the character and what their characteristics are, the easier it becomes to play it πŸ˜€

    Like

    • acflory

      I’ve never been very good at any sort of role play but I may just have to give it a try. Oh the things we do to earn a crust…;)

      Like

      • pinkagendist

        I wouldn’t be so sure… To create a believable character you have to understand it well- you can do that. My persona is slightly different depending on the environment. I think that’s somewhat true for everyone, even if one doesn’t realize they’re doing it.

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        • acflory

          Ah, now there I do agree with you. I’ve always been a bit shy but I learned to become more ‘gregarious’ and out going as part of my professional persona. That side of me is real, but it was also something I consciously fostered to ‘fit in’. Lol – I think that’s where and when I learned what little I know about the game of cricket! Luckily I’m a good listener and cricket fans love talking about their passion. πŸ™‚

          Like

  • Candy Korman

    Maybe the One-Thing-At-A-Time lesson is in order?

    I get overwhelmed and then I break-it-all-down-into-little-jobs-and-somehow-the-smaller-bites-make… the bigger job disappear.

    The interviews? They are a not a problem, when you know your stuff and you are CALM…

    Like

    • acflory

      You’re right about the ‘break-it-down’ advice. I did something similar by forcing my mind into a kind of tunnel vision. So long as I focused on just one assignment at a time without thinking about the others it wasn’t tooooo bad. Of course tunnel vision has consequences, lol.

      I know you’re right about the interviews as well but the calm bit is the rub. Maybe if I don’t think about it the whole thing will just sneak up on me? Or something…

      Like

  • metan

    “Have you ever disagreed with someone at work and how did you handle it.” Hmmm…. you might not be able to conjure up a workplace related answer to that question but you did survive a teenaged daughter. That means you are almost a fully qualified hostage negotiator. πŸ˜‰

    Maybe you need to look at it not as lying, but as using your skills as a writer in real life! You are telling a story, not bullshitting…. fine line, I know πŸ˜‰

    I understand where you are coming from though, I have a complete inablilty to lie too. A good thing, but annoying at times!

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    • acflory

      “Hostage negotiator”…!!!!!!!!!!!

      That made me laugh so much I scared the dog. πŸ˜€

      You’re absolutely right, and perhaps we should add bomb disposal expert to the mix? After all I’ve learned to defuse a lot of explosive situations. πŸ˜€

      You guys are really making me think outside the box. -hugs-

      Like

  • davidprosser

    Erm, just stand a bit further back would you, no, a little further. NZ might be enough. I’m so glad you’ve paid the bill so put it to good use will you.
    Ella’s suggestions are very good but I find ( having interviewed a few people in my time- including my then future wife) that honesty pays when it comes to questions like the behavioural ones. So, just say “” Well I haven’t ever been in that situation” or ” I’m afraid I haven’t worked as part of a team for years” and add ” But this is what I think I’d do under those circumstances.” Your answers are as acceptable as those of someone who’s circumstances reflect those situations and maybe it’s a plus that you never had any conflict. It also shows you can think on your feet without having to stress yourself with a lie.
    Whoever you apply to, gauge for yourself what you’ll bring too them as an employee and make sure you’re ready with an answer when they ask.
    Dependable, ready to meet deadlines etc, oh and promise to shower.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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    • Tasha Turner Lennhoff

      As a former tech writing manager I 2nd this advice. In addition, I and a number of fellow managers would ask questions until we found one where the potential employee didn’t know the answer to find out how they would solve problems under pressure as well as whether they would admit to not knowing something.

      Potential employees that in an hour interview never admitted they did not know an answer usually answered something wrong and that was a strike against them in my book. I wanted employees who knew what they didn’t know, how to research things/think things through, and weren’t afraid to ask for help. It caused less problems in the long run and work got done faster.

      The ones who were afraid to admit not knowing something made mistakes that could take days, weeks, or dealing with unhappy customers while fixing if they were unwilling to admit they didn’t know stuff after being hired.

      Think about things you do in your time on the net. Your writing career might have examples that you can use for your interview. Does your work on Indies Unlimited include team work? Are there people you’ve had disagreements on your blog? Think outside the box. Volunteer work you’ve done? Helping out at your daughters school?

      Like

      • acflory

        Thanks Tasha, you’ve reminded me of something I lost sight of in my panic – I have to be happy in any job I’m doing as well. If the interviewer/manager was like you, and had similar goals I think I’d be okay because I have no problem admitting I don’t know something and seeking help from others. Oddly enough I believe that admitting to not knowing everything is the result of feeling truly confident of the things you do know – and I know I’m a good teacher/communicator.

        And you’re right, I do have other areas of ‘work’ I can reference, it just never occurred to me to do so.

        Thank you so much, you’ve put a whole new slant on the problem. I was a little hesitant posting about something like this but I should have realised what a wealth of knowledge and experience there is in my blogging community!

        Like

        • Tasha Turner Lennhoff

          Glad I could help. I changed fields/careers so many times I had to learn to think outside of the box. What does daycare have to do with waitressing? What do either have to do with being a receptionist? How do you get into sales & marketing from there? Next become a secretary? Now move into technical writing. Take 10 years “officially” off due to chronic fatigue then start up your own social coaching business. See anything in the others that directly relates? Yeah not so much.

          So I focused on my skill set. On what might be transferable. On things I used outside the official jobs. And I interviewed my potential employers. I learned as much as I could beforehand about each place I wanted to work including less obvious things like dress code. I simply asked when interview was scheduled LOL. I asked about job requirements, what they really wanted from me versus what the job description said, why they were filing the position, salary, flexibility in hours & working from home, benefits, who I reported to and where they fit in the overall hierarchy. Yep I did that for secretarial jobs as well as tech writing manager. Questioned revenue versus spending. Looking back its a wonder I got hired and didn’t terrify potential employers. Instead I frequently got offered higher starting salary, stock options, and when the job wasn’t being tied to a phone flex time, and working from home after a probationary period if I worked out.

          Like

          • acflory

            Wow your CV looks a lot like mine except I took time out to raise the Daughter and worked at the tech writing from home.I too have worked in a small business, and eventually ran my own even smaller business.

            I think though that ALL my jobs taught me /something/ about working in general, even the six months I spent working as a dogs body in the kitchen of a busy restaurant. And working as a temp secretary led directly to three job offers from the companies I was temping for. And those jobs led to totally non-related skills in the new pc revolution sweeping the corporate world [back in the early 80’s].

            lol – this really is like doing a trip down memory lane. Thanks for reminding me that I was offered those jobs because I was good at what I did, and had the capacity to do more than just type. πŸ˜€

            -hugs-

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    • acflory

      -huge hugs from NZ-

      Is that better? And I’ll have you know I did shower, just in case the payment didn’t arrive in time and they shut off my hotwater. πŸ˜‰

      On a serious note I am so glad I posted about this. I may not have worked in a ‘team’ per se in a very long time but reading your comments, and Tasha’s I realised that I’ve been in a semi-managerial position where I did have to defuse situations both personal and business related. It wasn’t a role I sought, and it’s not one I’m seeking now but your comments reminded me that I have done it, and can do it when I have to.

      One of the weird things about being 60 is that I tend to ‘forget’ things. Not in an ‘I’m going senile’ way but simply because they happened so long ago.

      Thank you πŸ™‚

      Like

  • Colin

    I have a slight neurosis about paying bills, so I can’t really say I’ve ever forgot to pay them, but I still commiserate with your plight. I have a paper due tomorrow, and it feels like I’m only half-done, and it needs about three weeks more work. πŸ™‚

    I guess you won’t do, now, what my aunt sometimes does, and complain that us students have it so easy. πŸ˜€ But, any ways, aren’t you going about things a bit the wrong way? The purpose isn’t to fool someone into employing you despite yourself – but to make them interested in you as you are. Right?

    Now, I’ve never been to a job interview in my life. My last job I got because my Auntie felt pity for me, and let me sit and blog during work hours while I baby-sat the phone and did some light paper work. So, I should really shut up, shouldn’t I?

    Like

    • acflory

      -giggles- No, I’ve been forcibly reminded of just how much work being a student entails! I think this was a very good lesson for me to learn as a trainer – setting realistic goals and timeframes is as important as the content.

      “The purpose isn’t to fool someone into employing you despite yourself – but to make them interested in you as you are.”

      Yes. πŸ™‚

      In different ways you and David and Tasha and everyone else who’s commented have said much the same thing, and each and every one of you is so right. That was something I forgot and I’m so glad you’ve reminded me of the reality vs the hype. -hugs-

      Like

  • EllaDee

    Maybe you need to get your brain to lie to you in a way that works for you… It may not be easy though as even in a role play situation you panicked a bit.
    Practice playing let’s pretend, for role plays or for real. And this is the boring part. Come up with some scenarios, sit yourself in front of the mirror and role play, with yourself. Record it also if you can, listen and review it. Do it until you can answer the questions confidently without blushing or reacting.
    Then try it with a real person.
    When you get to job hunting time, apply for a few jobs you don’t want and go for interviews where you have nothing invested other than honing your interview skills.
    And, at least, you’ve paid the gas bill so when you get around to showering, you’ll have hot water. That will be a plus when you do go for a job interview you care about πŸ˜‰

    Like

    • acflory

      -grin- I will definitely remember to have a shower before any job interview. :p

      I’m not sure I’ll ever feel comfortable doing interviews, no matter how much I practise, but being reminded of the skills I do have has given me a measure of confidence I didn’t have before. It’s also reminded me of the fact that although I /need/ a job, I also want to be happy at my job so the questions interviewers ask me will also reveal what they are like, and perhaps the ones who reject me are not the ones I’d want to work for anyway…

      -shrug- I’m still dreading the whole process but thanks to you and all the others in my online ‘family’ I’m not panicking any more. πŸ™‚

      Like

      • EllaDee

        PinkAgendist makes a very good point about pretending. As a kid I was shy, and got teased because I was shy. I didn’t like being teased so I decided to pretend to be brave and not shy… and even now from time to time, I still need to remember that no-one can see how I really feel if I pretend otherwise.
        Fear of interview and exam situations are one of the most difficult things to overcome. I’m fortunate that I am relaxed re both, but I understand how you feel having known many people similar, professional people who come unravelled at the thought.
        I look at exams as it’s a chance to know what I know, and interviews to have a nice chat to get to know someone and see if we’re BOTH the right fit for a job that might suit me.
        I agree with the comments to of course answer honestly, but if you are nervous in interview situations, confidence & familiarity with your own material and experience in the situation can make a huge difference.
        Good luck πŸ™‚

        Like

        • acflory

          I like this ” interviews to have a nice chat to get to know someone and see if we’re BOTH the right fit for a job that might suit me.” I’m not sure I can change my lack of experience in interviews [except by doing them] or the fear that goes with it, but perhaps if I can change my expectations I’ll be able to relax enough to be myself. πŸ™‚

          Like

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