Um, What Was The Question Again?

Posted by admin on May 1, 2017 in Working Daze |

There’s both a good side and down side to being on your own for a long time. When it comes to working, I have been pretty much working nonstop for my entire career. I’ve had only one break in service, that being three months that I purposely took off during one particular summer to recharge and refocus.

It’s not that I just sat around during those months, lounging away on some deserted beach, catching some rays. I ended up starting a non-profit organization that summer, one of two I’ve founded over my lifetime.

I guess I just don’t know how to have downtime. That said, I also don’t really know how to interview. It’s not my fault. Historically, I have always stumbled into the right job just at the right time.

So I haven’t interviewed a lot. Except when I was right out of college. Then I interviewed tons, always getting one of those lovely rejection letters, you know, the ones. It’s tough to start out.

And then there was the famous time Disney flew me down to Florida. I had been at CommuniCreations for some time when the opportunity arose to interview for a position as the speechwriter for the head of all the Disney theme parks.

I got the royal treatment. They flew me down from Seattle, gave me a swanky rental car, put me up at the Coronado Springs Resort and gave me free admission to the parks while I was there.

Not a bad deal. The only problem was, I hadn’t gone through a formal interview process since I was fresh out of college. More often than not, I have been courted for positions, so interviewing was never really necessary. They were more of conversations, not a traditional Q&A.

As such, I’ve never really mastered the art of the interview Q&A. Sure, I know my stuff. Backward,¬†forward and sideways. I have a long list of accomplishments and a stellar list of companies and clients I’ve had the pleasure of working for.

But answering the infamous “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Well, it’s just not my bag.

It’s not that I can’t come up with an answer. But I have this wonderfully creative mind that likes to skip like a rock from A to C to E to L and back to A on the way to brilliance. An alphabetical, logical response is not in my bag of tricks.

This certainly was the case at my Disney interview. First, I readily admit that I am not exactly Disney material. On the flight down, I tried to imagine me wearing my little name tag that said Robb Zerr and underneath that, my hometown. I wasn’t sure I could ever admit that I was born and raised in Renton, not Seattle as I like to say.

I’d worry about that later, I told myself.

On the appointed day I made my way to the Mouse’s HR department for my first interview. It was a panel, the worst kind. We went through a lot of questions which seemed to have nothing to do with my skills, abilities, background or talent.

At one point, I gave an A to C to E to L answer that ended with me saying, and I am not making this up, “Can I just put a period at the end of the last sentence?”

They laughed. I must have answered all the prepared questions correctly as they took me to the next stage. It was going to be a test.

Really? I have been a communication professional all my life. Testing seems like something you do when someone has little to no experience. I had a huge portfolio of work to show, so why give me a test?

They locked me in a room with a computer and an assignment to write some welcoming remarks for the guy I’d be working for. I had 45 minutes.

Let’s just say it was not my best moment. It wasn’t really my fault. I wasn’t that familiar with a Windows machine; I had been working on Macs for almost my entire career up until that point. Plus, they had locked me out of the Internet, so I couldn’t even do some basic research or pull up some cool facts about Disney to put into the speech. It was a vegetarian response; there was no meat.

Time’s up! And so were my days of interviewing with Disney.

I admit that I am still something of a dork when it comes to interviewing. To be fair, I’m also not that great at conversation on a first date either.

Which is why I’ve come up with a perfect answer for any future interviews I may face. Famously, and almost inevitably, an interviewer will ask me a question about my biggest strength and biggest weakness.

The first part is easy: My insatiable curiosity, my ability to think out of the box, my boundless creativity and my ability to pull rabbits out of a hat when I am fresh out of rabbits and hats. Yes, I am that resourceful.

My biggest weakness?

I used to say it was my perfectionism, that I want things to be the best they can possibly be, given the limitations of time, resources and budget.

Historically, it’s been a good answer. But I think I’ve come up with something far better, and far more accurate.

I know that my interviewing skills are rusty. I also know that I know almost too much these days, so pulling examples out of my treasure chest of know-how and knowledge can be a bit of a challenge on the fly.

As such, when asked about my biggest weakness, I am simply going to reply, “Interviewing. I am a great husband but a horrible first date.”

Honest. Succinct. Glaringly apropos and telling. I wished I had thought of it years ago. Who knows? If I had, I may have ended up at Disney, working in the happiest place on earth, a piece of black electrical tape covering up something under my name.

In the Emerald City, glad I don’t have to interview for this husband job again,

  • Robb

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