Posted by: tomkennedy | October 13, 2008

All We Are Is Everything That’s Right

Part one of a two part article….


So I graduated college.  That was the easy part.  I spent four years drinking, avoiding work, and chasing women – essentially getting myself ready for the real world.  Now I’m expected to take what I “learned” in college and apply it to a specific industry and secure a job.   The problem is, the American economy is in shambles and employers are extremely reticent to hand out jobs.  The only benefit of being a newbie is that my salary expectation is very low compared to upper-management.  Good luck to any CEOs looking for jobs in this market.  That is, of course, unless you’re Alan Fishman. 


But that’s not what this article is about.  No, my problem is with the absurdity that is the job interview.  There’s something so hypocritical, artificial, and unnecessary about job interviews that I’d like to propose we do away with the traditional altogether and handle the job selection in a more personal and comfortable manner. 


The hypocrisy of job interviews is simple.  Let’s say I’m hypothetically searching for a job in banking.  I go to Citibank and inform them that I am the perfect candidate for their account manager position and that they would be mistaken to overlook me.  I use my rhetoric to inform them that teamwork, leadership, and time-management (what they may claim are their most desired qualities) are what I represent.  Then, I’ll venture to Bank of America, sometimes in the same day, and inform them that I am the perfect candidate for their account manager position and that they would be mistaken to overlook me.  This time I inform them that multi-tasking, communication, and customer service (what they may claim are their most desired qualities) are what I represent.  I will continue to do this to as many prospective companies as needed until I am hired; tailoring my abilities to each one.  If my employers only knew of all my apparent abilities, I would have been hired as President of the World after my first job at age 14. 


But I am not president (yet), I am merely an unemployed event planner who writes articles to keep his sanity.  This rhetorical bullshit that I sling out with extreme adeptness on an interviewly basis is what needs to be said because that is what’s expected.  It’s that expectation that I wish to abolish.


The artificiality of job interviews comes in the presentation.  When interviewing at a prospective company, I’m expected to put on my Sunday best, wax up my hair and spray on my finest cologne in order to present a professional image.  I don’t disagree with being professional, but when I put effort into how I look and then walk into an office to be interviewed by a person wearing a Busted Tee, jeans, and sneakers, something seems off to me.  We are constantly taught to “be comfortable” and “act normal” and “be yourself” when entering an interview.  If this were true, I’d be lying in bed, in my underwear with a grilled cheese, the interview would be held by my friend Rob and we’d talk about videogames.  Moreover, the way that I talk in an interview is not the same as I would while working for that company.  I speak in my “professional” voice using big words that buzz my interviewer’s checklist of things that need to be said in order to be hired.  Essentially what we are doing in an interview is saying to the company, “The person that is sitting before you right now is perfect for the job.  However, this person is in no way me.”  It’s a marvel they don’t see through the lies.  Or maybe they do and choose not to acknowledge it.


I guess my problem with job interviews is that they are a perfect illustration of how we interact with each other.  There’s such a distance between what we let the world see and who we actually are that it’s amazing anyone can claim to have an accurate self-perception.  Why do we feel the need to disconnect from our true selves to impress others?  If who we really are does not fit with company image, or more importantly the image of a group of people, that should be a blessing of diversity not an obstacle that needs to be overcome. Acting in a way that makes you comfortable, dressing in a way that you think is fashionable, speaking so that you understand yourself is what matters.  We’re so concerned with how we are perceived, whether or not people will hire us (read: accept us) we forget that, in the end, it’s whether or not you can accept yourself that is of utmost importance.  Next time you’re all primped and proper and on your way to an interview, take a final look at yourself in the mirror. 


Is that really you?



*Name of article was taken from “All We Are” by OneRepublic.  I highly recommend it.


  1. buddy you’re so smart : )

  2. good piece but consider that not everyone feels disconnected to how they present themselves. Perhaps it’s just that you still see yourself as a college student b/c that’s who you’ve been for last four years.

  3. […] You can find the first part of this article here. […]

  4. I think you’re right about the disconnect between our ‘true’ selves and that one we present in our interview. But I don’t thin that’s exactly hat they’re asking for, even if that’s what they tell you that’s what they’re asking for.

    They want to know the professional you, the one that will charm clients and businessmen. Businesses don’t usually care about the employee as a person (unless they are into that new age holistic stuff), which most people find out when their wife is having a baby, they need to take a professional bar exam, AND need to maintain 150% quota every week.

    If the polished person in the interview is really you, then great. If not, then you have to be really good at keeping up the image!

    And it’s important to know too that your interviewer and the company you’re interviewing for are also just a bunch of people. They have a professional image, but they also like having grilled cheese sandwiches in their tighty whities. This is why, despite the big words, there is always the office gossip and boardroom nap.

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