Monday, February 24, 2014

The Worst Interview I Ever Had

In November 2010 I applied to spend summer of 2011 working for a non-profit in El Salvador.  To make a long story very short, I was positive I would get the job, I didn't get the job, but they never told me I wasn't hired.  Apparently they forgot to call me or something and I was a little annoyed.  I got over it and spent the summer in Portugal instead so my annoyance was short lived.

Last month I got a random text from my friend Suzanne asking me if I had summer plans.  She now works for the non-profit that didn't hire me three years ago and she wanted me to apply for the same position that I hadn't gotten before.  I told her I'd be willing to interview, but the non-profit is based in Provo, UT and since they usually hire local people I assumed they wouldn't hire me.  Still, spending 30 minutes in an interview wouldn't be that bad so I agreed to do it.

Suzanne passed my resume along to one of the directors of the non-profit who promptly emailed me inviting me to come into the office in two days for a face to face interview.  I guess I was still a little peeved that I hadn't been hired three years ago so I responded a little rudely, "I don't know if Suzanne told you, but I live in Tucson so I can't come in for an interview.  I'll happily do an interview on the phone or via Skype."  I thought my living in Tucson would put an end to all this and he wouldn't want to interview me anymore, but we set up a Skype interview for two days later.

I was really disinterested in the whole thing.  I didn't want to get my hopes up since it'd been really disappointing when they had rejected me before.  I also hadn't even applied for the job and since it hadn't been on my radar I wasn't invested in it at all.  I spent zero minutes preparing for the interview.  Ten minutes before the interview I decided that I should probably change out of the t-shirt I was wearing and at least try to look professional.  I put on a shirt and tie, but kept my jeans on just because I could.  I thought it'd be funny to not wear pants at all since the interviewer would only see the top half of my body, but I wasn't quite that gutsy.

The interviewer called me 10 minutes late which really annoyed me.  He was in a swivel chair and kept twisting back and forth and looking around the room.  He didn't seem super-interested in what I was saying and I used more hyperbole and clichés than anyone should use in an interview (e.g. "It was the best experience ever").  While we were talking about my international experience I mentioned a city I'd lived in in Mexico which just so happened to be where the interviewer grew up.  He asked me what I thought about the city and I said, "Meh, it's not really my favorite place.  Of course, I've also lived in Juárez and I like it more than Juárez, but anything's better than Juarez."  As I was disparaging this man's hometown I realized that saying negative things about where my potential boss is from was a really bad idea, but I just kept going.  I felt like a derailed train that just kept going. 

The interview was less than 15 minutes long which is short for an interview.  The last question he asked me was: "On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you want this job?"  I answered, "Honestly, like a six, I guess."  He said, "Oh?  Why's that?"  I then got very frank and said, "Look, I just heard about this job two days ago so it won't mess up my plans if I don't get it.  And I got my hopes up for this job before and I'm not gonna do that again.  If you want to hire me, great.  If not, that's fine, too.  I don't really care either way."  And with that the interview ended.  I wrote in my journal that day: "I'll be shocked if they offer me the job and I'm fine with that."

Two weeks later I got an email offering me the job.  Usually I would be excited to be offered a job, but I just read the email feeling very confused.  I didn't get it.  I had given such a bad interview that I couldn't understand why they'd want to hire me.  Perplexed, I called my friend Suzanne to ask what the deal was.  I told her how I couldn't understand why they wanted to hire me and she said that the interviewer had been impressed with my honestly and had really appreciated that I hadn't tried to suck up to him.  I've also got a lot of background and skills that they feel will make me very successful at this job.  Plus, Suzanne knows me and knows I'm not a dummy so she was really in favor of hiring me.  I was still a little confused.  I then spent the day trying to decide if I even wanted the job.  Since I hadn't thought they would offer it to me I hadn't even taken time to consider if I wanted to do it.

The job is with a non-profit called HELP International.  I would spend three months this summer working as a country director in Peru managing projects and the volunteers there.  The more I thought about it the more I realized I really wanted to go.  I then became baffled that someone was offering to pay me to spend three months in a foreign country making a difference in people's lives.  I like adventures, but I love being paid to go on adventures.  I had to say yes.  So I accepted the job and I will be spending my summer in Peru.

As I called people to tell them about the job I got more and more excited.  I went from being super-confused to incredibly excited.  It's an amazing opportunity that just fell into my lap.  I hadn't been excited about it before because it hadn't felt real, but telling people about it made it real and now I'm totally pumped. 

Here's what I've learned, if you want a job act really disinterested during the interview.  But it only works if you truly don't care.

Also, if you want to do international development work you can totally come with me to Peru.  We've still got spots available and there are also spots on the teams going to Uganda, Belize, Thailand, Fiji, and India.  It's going to be a great summer.  

And just for fun, here are some pictures:

Violeta, Cristi, and I when I spent the summer of 2008 working in Mexico
Deliciously named Peruvian crackers
My mom and I in Peru last May

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Nicely Wrapped Birthday

I turned 30 earlier this month and to celebrate I went to Disneyland for the weekend with my mom, brother, sister, and sister-in-law.  The trip was heavily subsidized by my parents and I'm grateful for that.  The weekend was a hoot and here are some of the funny moments.

When she travels my mom keeps important stuff (passport, money, credit cards, etc.) in a pouch that she wear around her neck.  It goes under her shirt and hangs at waist level which allows for convenient access.  When she was going to pay for my birthday lunch she reached into the pouch and her credit card wasn't there.  She looked on the table and it wasn't there and she looked in her purse and it wasn't there and she crawled around on the floor and it wasn't there.  She finally stood up and a bunch of stuff, including the credit card, fell out the bottom her pants.  It turns out that she'd been taking things out of the pouch, but instead of putting them back in the pouch she'd accidentally been stuffing them down her pants.

Minnie gave me an awkward birthday kiss
Jay and I loved the California Screamin' roller coaster at Disney's California Adventure.  The girls were kind enough to ride it with us a few times, but we mostly went on our own.  We started using the single rider line because it was way faster than waiting for 30 minutes even if it did mean that we had to ride with a stranger.  The first time we tried it Jay was told to stand by two empty seats.  The ride operator then asked Jay, while pointing at me, "Do you know him?" and Jay responded, "I've never seen him before in my life," which was ridiculous since we'd just been talking and laughing together.  The ride operator told me to sit with Jay on the ride and a lady just behind us said, "They look like twins!"  I'm pretty sure the operator knew we were brothers and just sat us together to be nice. 

When we got off the ride the cast member in charge of the Fast Pass line told us he'd let us in if we could answer a Disney trivia question.  Feeling very much like characters in a Mighty Python movie we accepted the challenge.  He asked us how long the Genie was in the lamp before Aladdin found him and we correctly answered 10,000 years ("10,000 years will give you such a crick in the neck!").  We got right on the ride again.  Even though the line was 30 minutes long we managed to ride the roller coaster twice in 15 minutes.  We really feel like we cheated the system. 

The whole weekend was a blast and the second best part of it (the first being spending time with my family) was that I didn't have to spend my birthday watching the Super Bowl.  That would have been the worst. 

We looked pretty silly wearing ponchos on the water rides,
but they kept us dry and Laura's hair looking spectacular
When I got back to Tucson I walked into my room and everything was covered in wrapping paper.  My first thought was, "This is hilarious and my friends love me."  My second thought was, "Wow, look at all those presents they bought me!"  My third thought was, "Oh, they just wrapped up the stuff I already had."  I actually had a really fun time unwrapping stuff because I had no idea what most of the "presents" were.  For example, I excitedly picked up a long, cylindrical "present" wondering what it could possibly be.  It turned out to be a highlighter.  Not exciting, but still fun.

Look at all those presents!
I love that Phil wrapped my lamp
And Michael wrapped my fan

Since I was in California on my actual birthday I had a few friends from church over to have a little party.  Amy Flood prepared a game called "BEN"GO that we all played.  It's just BINGO, but instead of numbers and letters the spaces were things about me (tall, reality shows, Disney movies, espeak espanish, etc.).  It was a hoot and I was impressed with Amy Flood's witty title. 

Sarah planned a little quiz about me for everyone to take.  Phil and Michael won each getting 10 correct answers out of 15.  Here are a few of the questions (correct answers below):
1) What is Ben's favorite color?
2) What is Ben's favorite TV show?
3) How tall is Ben?
4) What countries has Ben lived in?
5) Unlike most normal people, Ben doesn't like to hold ______.
6) What is Ben's favorite Disney movie?
7) Name something that Ben collects.
8) What would Ben say is his greatest talent?

It was a great birthday and being 30 feels pretty much the same as being 29.

Jay and I brought the exact same red shirt, but we wore it
on different days

Quiz answers:  
1) Blue
2) 30 Rock
3) 6'3"
4) Mexico, Bolivia, and Portugal
5) Babies
6) Mary Poppins
7) Magnets
8) Making puns