Job-hunt: our top 3 outrageous interview situations

 

The most absurd questions at job interviews

Sometimes we deal with abusive interviewers

-How was the interview?

 

-Oh, as usual. They started asking me absurd questions and I backfired with a tirade of sarcastic answers.

This was one of the typical dialogues between my friend and Ruzanna over the past few months when she was seeking a job after quitting her seemingly posh yet juice-draining position as a store manager.

As nо less experienced and pained interviewee, I would start mildly hinting her to be more tolerant to get a job, to be patient (the one word that could infuriate her most of all!) and so on and so forth; but, excuse me, how to stay cool-headed when an interviewer, for instance, asks if you’re ready to make coffee for the boss and his guests on a daily basis while you’re not applying for the secretary position. (Well, at least, let’s be thankful then that we are informed about this subtle “nuance” of the job beforehand).

So, inspired by our shared bitter practice and this BBC Capital article, I picked up top 3 ridiculous interview situations we went through which may be useful  in your quest for landing a dream job (of course, if such exists):

  1. We’re hiring that’s why YOU are more interested.  This situation is vividly illustrated by having you wait for the super VIP HR manager for more than 15 minutes without further “sorry for waiting” (hey, by the way, politeness is a universal virtue). In one of such cases, I told the recruiter I had to go earlier because of their delay. Interview in fact is a two-way street: you need a job- but they (most likely) need your skills and experience – that’s why respect and understanding should be mutual. If they don’t value your time in the very beginning of your possible co-operation, they are not likely to do it afterwards.
  2. We’re hiring that’s why WE are asking questions. This one logically follows the bullet 1. Once, as a newly graduated linguistics major I was interviewed for an administrative position at a VIP fitness club in my hometown. After the standard questions and Einstein test (!why the hell is it needed if you all have to do is amiably greet the guests and record their names and such kind of stuff?!- another ridiculous situation, indeed), I attempted to ask some questions about the position. With a look of an intelligence agent aware of the top state secrets and not willing to give them away under the threat of death, the HR condescended to answer. “You will learn everything IF (read: you, common mortal, how did you dare to even ask it!)you pass on to the next stage. Period. Lord knows how many nights I didn’t sleep trying to figure it out – even when I learnt I didn’t pass (read: sarcastic smile 🙂
  3. And, finally, the “epic” one. We are hiring that’s why WE can belittle your experience to make you agree on our terms. Or, the so-called interview abuse.

“4 years of experience as a store manager?Well, it’s easier than the sales officer job you’re applying for. Isn’t it JUST coordinating and organizing the things?”, my friend quoted her last met HR as saying this while trying to look a super qualified professional. The tactic of downsizing Ruzanna’s skills backfired with a bunch of sarcastic comments before she gracefully left the office (oh, I wish I could see it!). She’s eventually found a decent job, that’s not the issue. The thing is that in our digital age it’s so easy to scare away the right professionals from your company by such a behavior (the opposite holds true, too): a few Facebook statuses or just the life-tested word-of-mouth are enough to gain a certain (not favorable) image among job-seekers.

And, lastly, dear recruiters! Of course, you will have your “side” of the story, too. Feel free to share if you happen to read this perhaps not-so-pleasant entry.

Dear job-seekers,

I’m sure you have your own bitter, funny, ridiculous or outrageous interview story. Let’s share and help the newly-grads not to get desperate in such situations and deal with them with dignity and a bit of irony.

Toxicity detected, or why are some people always unhappy?

 

Unhappy

Do you know any “always unhappy” person?

In one of my previous posts, we together unveiled how to identify and shield ourselves against emotional vampires. Let’s face it we’re all sometimes sieged by them, moreover, at times, we are the Draculas! (Not the funny one from my favorite Hotel Transylvania, but the real one- emotionally depleting and horrible).

 

Now let’s talk about a particular vampire “species” – “the always unhappy and complaining” type. They are toxic. But I’m not going to bash them: the inner discomfort may be deeply enrooted in the childhood or family circumstances; nor am I going to justify their being “a pain in the ass” for their surroundings. Let’s just discuss the reasons for their chronic unhappiness. If any of my readers identifies himself/herself of her friend, for instance, with the “type”, it will be useful for them to ponder over the reasons and try to eliminate them: not only for the sake of “the unluckiest person in the world whose problems are alien to anyone else in the world” but for your sake in the first place 🙂

  1. They’re not grateful for what they feel and have. Rather, they obsess over their not having enough money, friends, energy, resources, time (!), marital status, support from parents and spouse, support from strangers (!), support from God! and, continue the list, for being happy. Now listen: enough is enough and I’m going to be harsh on you with the simple truth. There is no “enough”. We humans are greedy creatures and our exponentially growing needs die hard to our resources at any single given moment.  As cliched as it may sound, just be grateful. The only path to harmony is thankfulness for the things we experience first and the things we have secondly.

2. They think their problems are the worst in the world and everyone owes to listen to them dwelling upon their hardships (for at least, 2 hours, for instance- offline or online :). That’s ridiculous. I’m deeply convinced that nature is so balanced, the give-and-take mechanism is so perfect that all the people are “granted” with the same amount of problems and are obliged to make sacrifices at this or that point of their lives. If someone chooses just not to overwhelm you with their troubles, worries, routine problems or even the major ones, that doesn’t mean he/she is on top of the world with joy and luck. That doesn’t mean I urge you to ignore a friend who feels like sharing and is going through a tough time. But you certainly have one who ALWAYS goes through a tough time and you don’t see an end to it.

3. And, lastly, by default, they believe life is hard. Well, you and I don’t think it’s a piece of a  strawberry marmalade, either, do we? But we don’t reiterate it and try to prove it to others by our being permanently disenchanted (or, at least, I hope so – in the majority of cases:) ) And again it boils down to the “victim” mindset. Listen. Life is hard for EVERYONE. I repeat- ev-ery-one. Now, are you a bit happy about it? Just a bit? Keep repeating it to yourself, my chronically discontent friend, as a mantra, whenever you feel like flushing your problems to your parents, spouses, friends or colleagues. Make it your affirmation in the morning, or do with it whatever you feel like. In addition, be grateful and think of others’ problems (by the way, supporting others rather than expecting support from others also helps), and maybe in near future you’ll notice you have all the “enoughs” to be happy!

Process vs. results. What’s more important?

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Results vs goals, what’s more important?

What’s more fulfilling: the road you carve toward your goals or the ultimate result?
Admit it: there is something devastating in having the sacred dream of life-changing goal realized. But, the unhappiest time is when you reach the goal you thought would make you happy but eventually you end up feeling bitter emptiness. “What’s next”?- you wonder. “Is this it?”

Unless you have some new goal “ in store” you are sure to feel this way. So, is life equaling to a chain of mechanical actions? Goals- fulfillment-other goals- fulfillment?

Not at all. In-between, there is a whole palette of emotions- hope, faith, disappointment, anger, fury, anticipation and the long-awaited fulfillment. And, of course, the piercing feeling of guilt after you reach it. (“I don’t deserve it”, – the so-called “imposter syndrome“).

So, the answer to the question is just to stop asking it in the first place.

Stop it. Just live. Breathe in peace, breathe out anxiety. Relish the process, do your best and even more but don’t link your happiness to the result, nor tie it to people, phenomena or circumstances.

“Easier said than done”- you’ll probably argue. That’s what I’m doing right now while I scribble these lines. But who said “the easy” is the friend of “the happy”? 🙂

 

A no-nonsense tip for success, or the power of asking

Knock and the door will be opened.

Knock and the door will be opened.

Like in the popular cartoons, this morningI felt an invisible lamp being lit over my head;  the so-called “a-ha” moment, and I want to share my insight with you.

As usual, it happened when I was injecting my morning dose of inspiration on BBC.com Capital into my brains. “The Three Secrets of Getting What You Want”- the clickbait headline already foreboded a mix of ultimate reading pleasure and a promise of tangible outcomes (read: subsequent actions).

I’m not going to criticize or summarize the article. Rather, I’ll focus on the  single point that rang a bell to me. Asking as a prerequisite for getting what you  dream about. And this is when I realized the only gross obstacle pulls me back and halts my progress toward the goals: I suck at asking because I’m too proud, sometimes lazy, and other times just foolish, and even when I ask the time spent on the decision-making drains the energy that could have been spent more efficiently on my goals.

“Ask and it shall be given to you”, the famous Bible quote swirled into my mind (which is rare given my not being a keen Christian or an overly religious person) which started conflicting with another thought-provoking quote by my favorite Mikhail Bulgakov: “You should never ask anyone for anything. Never- and especially from those who are more powerful than yourself.” (NB: Woland’s advice to Margarita).

Sorry, my favorite Bulgakov, author of immortal “Master and Margarita”. With all my love and respect to your masterpiece, these words are not up-to-date anymore. The life realities haves changed. Life speeds have so much accelerated that one can’t have the luxury of sitting back and waiting when those “who are more powerful” to notice your merits (for instance, to give you the deserved raise or recognition at work).

And my recent life experience has come to prove that. Of course, it took me months to take the step of asking to later find out it’s not at all humiliating and tough, especially when you’re sure you deserve what you ask for.  The result? I got what I wanted (even if it was a short-term fix), and I’m not sure if I would if I hadn’t asked.

A conclusion? Besides your personal strategies and tactics (share, please, if you do anything specific and out-of-box to reach your goals), the overused “visualization” and already cliche “positive thinking” strategies, just ask for the particular thing you want to have for your longer-term goals, and 90 times out 100 you will be rewarded. After all, rejection is better than regret.

“Cheer up” and 5 more taboos not to comfort your depressed friend with

"Cheer up" is no effective

“Cheer up” is no effective

Recently, I’ve come across a very thought-provoking article written by one of my favorite columnists, Oliver Burkeman, for The Guardian. With his challenging irony and sarcasm, the author argues the pointlessness of the “comforting” commands such as “cheer up”, “calm down” that you and I often use to help a depressed friend.

“Is there anything more annoying than being told to cheer up when you’re feeling down?…if you could cheer up by choice, you’d already have done so”. Couldn’t be said better- spot on!

That’s what I’ve been experiencing and mulling over lately which resulted in drafting my own top 8 list of the taboo phrases that you shouldn’t catch yourself telling to a grieving person (or even the ones who’re just slightly depressed). Not because you should be tough. With your best intentions considered, these “soothing” phrases are merely pointless (remember a single time you instantly soared with happiness after your best friend’s ”cheer up” command. That never happened, right?).

So, here you go. Remember and immediately forget these phrases when you’re dealing with a suffering heart.

“Pull yourself together” (=”calm down”). Yes, she will calm down. But after she’s cried herself into sleep (I’m not aware of the man’s actions. Maybe beating the punching bag to the thrash rock music? :).

“Look on the bright side”.  She/he won’t see any colors on the “side”. They won’t even see the “side”.

“Life is wonderful”.  Only to others, not him/her. Now everything sucks.

“Take it easy”. Do you want her/him to get furious in addition to being deeply sorrowful?

“You’re not the first and last person to have gone through this”. This one is my favorite. Yes, she/he’s mature enough to realize that “everything shall pass”, and repetition in this case is the mother of not learning but even more grieving.

What could you do instead? Just listen compassionately and even validate his/her sorrow. From my experience, that helps  overcome the blues faster. Only then, when the critical period is passed can you make him/her dress up and have a nice evening together over a glass of wine.  That’s my “therapy” (another effective one being the bibliotherapy) against “the cheer up” treatment 🙂

What are your observations? Do you have your own list? Please, contribute to the post with your comments 🙂

Life: our friend or foe?

life-has-no-ctrl-z

Recently I’ve been ruminating over the rules of life. Like a little fretful princess, it likes taunting us, torturing to tears, biting and stinging and then, at the end of the game, “award” us with a shiny smile.

Suddenly, in the middle of my reflections, I thought how good the life can be at throwing us to the situations opposite to the ones we would strive to be.

Love being in silence? Here you go- a job in a crowded office with constant buzz and bubble (over the work or everyone’s husbands’ work).

A passionate person? Good for you! Go and find your way of sublimation- shouting, yelling, bitching around or- more civilized variants- beating the pillows and dancing like a crazy- since you are not going to have any affairs (or a single meaningful one) for a long time. Deal with it.

An extrovert? Sorry, but there is only this available job opportunity in a small office with no colleagues. Go and grab it, you’re broke and have nothing to chew.

A tough woman seeking a strong man? Then you’re sure to be exposed to either a bunch of mellow losers, or shrewd gigolos, or- just the “perfect” but…married ones.

Life is sometimes against us. It’s our enemy, the most hostile and bellicose rival that you could ever meet. But it’s the fight that makes us stronger. It’s the acceptance of the impossible to change that makes us resilient. And it’s the bit of irony and cynicism that helps us stay sane in the most hopeless states.

As the closest friend may one day become your fiercest enemy, the life can play both roles at the same time. As one of the ancient sages said: “I don’t know what’s good, what’s bad”. Let’s at least TRY not to judge the events, just to accept them and be optimistic about what’s awaiting as in the Life’s next twist.

5 taboo phrases you should never tell your single female friends

There are phrases to be avoided while dealing with a single person

There are phrases to be avoided while dealing with a single person

My personal life has never been a piece of strawberry cake lately. Actually, I haven’t recently had one in the first place ( to judge it in terms of good and bad). After my latest failed endeavor, I just dropped my guns and quit the personal front. Travel, career and family- this is what I substituted the romance, dating and love with.

I don’t complain. It’s been a life of a happy single surrounded with happy couples J However, this seemingly idyllic life (which undoubtedly is better than being in a rotten or dead-end relationship) is often challenged by supposedly well-intended phrases thrown here and there to cheer your single soul up.  I’m sure the intentions are most noble and sincere, but they do backfire.

So, I decided to deliberately stop narration of the last part of my trip (so urgent the topic was!) and  brought together top 5 phrases that have just the opposite effect on single women. Here we go! (NB: Hey, I haven’t always been single, and I’m guilty of making these mistakes, so the examples are life-tested from both sides).

  1. “It’s okay, enjoy your time alone (with your friends, family, hobbies and whatever)”. Well, with a couple of hobbies, great friends and nice family, that’s what I’m doing now (and many others, too, I hope). But thanks for reminding 😉
  1. “Just wait- the right person will show up at the most unexpected moment”. No comment. Just a nod. I myself am a protagonist of whole concept of “right person at right time”. But believe me it is of no use when on a particularly dismal winter evening you eagerly desire he were by your side here and now.
  1. But, at the same time: “Hurry up! You’re already 25+.” Well, my answer in such cases is something like: “Okay, set me up with a super nice man. Oh, you don’t know one? Then, I like my life of a happy single as it is for now. Bye”.
  1. My favorite “Any news in private life?” (Especially when the curious one is just a neighbor who you meet once a decade or a colleague who you can’t but see every day…unwillingly ;)). Believe “the news” you would be at least holding my hand at the moment of your asking. I know but a few other questions that can be so annoyingly inappropriate (with the “When are you planning a baby” topping the list).
  1. You’re a strong woman, men are intimidated by them”. One correction: men (if you know what type of a man I mean) are not so easily intimidated (if yes, then I don’t even consider the option), especially by a strong and a bit bitchy woman (if you know what type of a woman I mean). So, dear strong women, go on with your self- and career-development and never lower the bar.

Actually, all these taboos boil down to a common conclusion: as long as possible, just bypass the topic. Talk about art, nature and even your neighbor’s wedding but not the prospects of private life of your (happily) single friend, colleague or neighbor. Unless you know a super nice guy who could be a match for her 🙂
 

BeNe (Lux?) trip: Part 2: I heart Amsterdam: Day 1- Exploring the city

Amsterdam- the bicycle city.

Amsterdam- the bicycle city.

Before I dwell on the feeling and emotions overflowing me in this incredible city (read: pathetic women stuff), just one remark. You can skip the “lyrics” part and straightly go to the pragmatic part below: the lessons learned and tips to be shared. I won’t be upset, I promise. (Well, just a bit:)

So, I’m alone and free in one of the most classy and vibrant cities in the world, where weed is legal in coffee shops and it’s allowed to have sex in the largest park, Vondelpark. What should I do? Of course, behave myself, as most of the locals do 🙂 Forbidden fruit is sweet, but make it legal -and people are more relaxed about trying one.

As a “19th century aristocratic lady” (dubbed by a few friends for my passion for classical music, books and classy outfits), I couldn’t but pick up a hotel with a very “classical” name out of the bunch of cheaper choices: Hampshire Hotel Beethoven located at the Beethoven Street. Could there be a better choice? At least, I would remember the address of my 5-day dwelling. And at best, as I intuitively sensed, the Dutch people couldn’t place a hotel named after a genius in a crappy neighborhood. My intuition was right (as in 90% of cases). The hotel was nicely situated in a posh district (as all my Dutch friends kept on claiming later).

City view from Beethoven Hotel.

City view from Beethoven Hotel.

On the very first day, after an hour of rest, I stepped out of it to explore the neighborhood and get to the Van Gogh Museum – the only one on my must-see list (honestly, I managed to satisfy my hunger for the art in Italy, after the 3rd museum).

But before getting there I should have at least stay alive among the hundreds of bicyclists flocking in the middle of nowhere. I guess there are more bikes in Amsterdam than people. That’s proved by statistics. And that means you have more chances of being hit by a crazy biker than a drunk driver or tram.

Miraculously surviving the bike attacks and a few grumpy cyclists who threw a few Dutch curses to my direction, I got to the Museum Plein- home to a bunch of world-class museums: from the landmark Rijksmuseum up to Diamond Museum and even Torture Museum!

2015-07-05 06.24.07

Looks scary.

Sticking to my initial plan, I headed forThe Sunflowers and The Bedroom (read: Van Gogh Museum) instead The Night Watch (read:  Rijksmuseum). Colors, colors, colors…and.. some of Gauguin’s naked Tahitian women (yes, as Van Gogh’s friend, his painting were scattered in some of the rooms despite the fact he was the reason for Van Gogh’s ear cut off: real friendship outlives the minor quarrels, indeed:)

No photos inside the museum :)

No photos inside the museum 🙂

Splurging a bit in the museum store (I have a boon for sometimes unjustified price tags in all the museum stores, I confess), I went out to fully breathe in the fresh air after the rain and carefree faces of “selfie-stickated” tourists feeling behind the stress of the transfer and my fears that I wrote about.  My gut told me: this is going to be an unforgettable trip, which will fully change the course of my life.”We will never gonna be the same”, a tune was swirling in my head till I got to be bed and slept calmly since ages.

Watching raindrops and doves from Van Gogh Museum.

Watching raindrops and doves from Van Gogh Museum.

Lessons learned and tips to be shared:

  1. I liked the hotel, so strongly recommend for solo travels especially- safe and quiet neighbourhood, nice staff. I don’t know anything about the breakfast though.
  2. The best way to get around is by a tram. Just buy a 2, 3,4- day passes and enjoy the ride!
  3. Keen on burning calories? Relish the walking in one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities, as long as you don’t forget it’s the most bicycle-friendly city as well.
  4. So, logically, beware of bicyclists: they are always right, even if you’re hit.
  5. Skimp money on water. You can just drink from the tap- the Dutch water (as Armenian one) is drinkable.
  6. Keep your food expectations low. I’ll write about it later as well. 🙂
Green carpet of Vondelpark.

Green carpet of Vondelpark.

In the next chapter, I’ll focus on the Ent-Ex programme, my (self)-discoveries and, of course, lessons learned and recommendations.

You should never ever swim! 10 weighty arguments

Summer is only a couple of days away, and many of us have probably thought: it’s time to at last learn how to splash in the waters of a pool or sea without resembling the Titanic. Are you sure of your decision? Here are 10 very weighty reasons why you should never ever jump into the water (irrespective of the season, place and circumstances!). Here you go:

  1. Swimming is harmful to your physical beauty.
Michael Phelps, N1 swimmer in the world.

Michael Phelps, N1 swimmer in the world.

  1. It’s dangerous, even in a pool.
Beware of sharks! They are everywhere

Beware of sharks! They are everywhere

  1. And leads to depression and sadness.

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4. It’s harmful to your health, especially for heart.

Swimming places a vigorous demand on heart

Swimming places a vigorous demand on heart

5.Swimming is not at all sexy,

Water has a magic power of making even the most average body look sexier.

Water has a magic power of making even the most average body look sexier.

6. or aristocratic,

Princess Charlene of Monaco:former South African Olympic swimmer

Princess Charlene of Monaco: former South African Olympic swimmer

7. or motivating.

Michael Phelps got Sportsman of the Year award in 2008.

Michael Phelps got Sportsman of the Year award in 2008.

8. Just the opposite – it’s the sport of losers,

Federica Pellegrini, holder of a few world records. No bad, isn't it?

Federica Pellegrini, holder of a few world records. No bad, isn’t it?

9. and overweight people.

Charlize came back to her slim body after "Monster" due to workout and swimming.

Charlize came back to her slim body after “Monster” due to workout and swimming.

10. And finally, never ever go in for swimming if you’re fighting insomnia.

Swimming is a perfect way of relaxation.

Swimming is a perfect way of relaxation.

I hope these powerful arguments will keep you miles away from anything like a pool, lake or sea for good.:)