So I'm fresh out of grad school -- where *fresh* = out for 4 months and no job in sight -- and I've had two interviews so far, neither of which went anywhere good. I know that I always tank in the interview - in one past interview, the person interviewing me told me 1) that talking to me was like talking to a giant elipse (true - I sit there frantically thinking through my responses and what the interviewer will think of me because of them, and second-guess myself), and 2) that he could not imagine a worse job for me than the one at stake (not a planning job - a receptionist position, and he was totally right, apart from salesperson, receptionist is the anti-me - but still, not a good interview situation). So far the planning interviews have been going better, but they're still bad compared to a good interview. Here's where I fall apart:
1) answering vague or redundant questions. For this last job, I got through the phone interview despite being incredibly nervous and having to deal with a ton of canned / generic questions that clearly came out of some kind of interviewer's handbook and/or had been asked a thousand times before (strengths/weaknesses, working style, time management, how do you deal with conflict between politically feasible outcomes and what you see as ideal outcomes, etc) - and landed the in-person interview... where I tanked. The person who had interviewed me (the ED) over the phone was there and silent, sitting way off to my right, while the person who would be my direct manager was sitting way off to my left, asking me questions. First mistake, I didn't manage to include them both in my answers, *and* I neglected to pass my portfolio / work samples to the ED. But then, DM (direct manager) asked me not one but *five* questions in a row about what my working style is like, i.e. do I like to be self-directed or do I need a lot of supervision. Five questions. In a row. I got the feeling he was fishing, VERY HARD, for specific responses - and to this day I have no idea what he wanted, so I was just consistent, and tried to phrase my answers slightly differently. What do you do when you've clearly answered a question and they just keep asking it?
2) asking questions about the organization. I really do try to prepare for this. I prepare for these interviews extensively, reading everything on their websites, making lists of things that seem interesting... but at the end of the interview, they ask if I have any questions about the job .... and I don't. I mean, it's the end of the second interview, and they've described the position to me - exhaustively - twice. They've told me what projects I'd be working on. They've told me what the changeover in projects is like. They've told me about the internal structure of the organization, how many people are working in each area, etc. They've emailed me a comprehensive document outlining benefits. What do I do? I tried to engage the interviewers in (after a more generic, what specific projects would the person in this position likely be working on question) a sort of fun, local-interest question about some novel street signs in the street *oustide their building*, they had no idea what I was talking about. And then they asked *again* if I had more questions for them. Seriously, I am out of questions. What sorts of things are you supposed to ask at this point?
I've read through the other posts on interviews / interviewing, and I see repsonses by veterans who interview lots of candidates desperately asking us to just say anything, and I just... I guess I don't really understand. I'm very goal-focused, and if I'm interviewing for a job, I'm there to provide all the information you could want about me in relation to the job, and to get more information for myself about the job - and when I'm confident that these goals have been met, I do not know where to go next conversationally. Help? Tips? Other people have the same frustrations?