The Joys of Job Hunting

For the last three and a half months, I have been seriously job hunting. Actually, ever since graduating college, I have been looking for a good position to get settled into. With a background in creative writing and no strong career callings, deciding on a life trajectory has not been easy. Our little town of Ortonville did not offer many opportunities, but once I arrived in Dallas, I was sure the perfect job would present itself. As I applied for my 55th job, I was getting a bit discouraged. Suddenly, the 14th job I applied for three months previously came through, and I began my new job last week. While I was waiting for it, I had some other memorable job interviews in the meantime. Here are some of the questions I was asked and how I responded. Perhaps they will help you in your next interview.

The all-powerful resume!
The all-powerful resume!

1. Shepler’s Interview: What do you know about western wear?

The question took me by surprise. I was sitting across from a lady in cowboy boots and plaid, and she was interviewing me for a a copy writing position with this western fashion store. I had researched the brands sold and the history of the business, but I wasn’t prepared for this open-ended question. Truth-be-told, I knew nothing about western wear. I had lived in Michigan the last ten years, for heaven’s sake! With a swallow and a stammer, I said something like, “My Aunt Connie has horses, and she has Levi jeans and stuff.” The words slipped out before I could completely develop them. It was  a total guess. For the next three days, I was guilt-ridden. I had no idea if my adopted aunt had Levis, but I figured everyone had owned a pair at one point or another. When my thoughts were confirmed, I was greatly relieved. Needless to say, I was not offered that job.

2. The Dallas Standard: If you had a week and unlimited funds to do whatever you wanted, what would you do?

As a final interview question, this one was a fun to answer. While I wasn’t sure about my interviewer’s personality, I answered truthfully: the Lord of the Rings tour in New Zealand is what I’d do. The answer elicited a smile so I suppose it was well-said.

3. Numerous Interviews: When did you experience conflict in the work place and how did you deal with it?

While it might sound unbelievable, I don’t usually experience conflict in the workplace. Perhaps it’s because I try to take a learner perspective in my positions or because I’ve never been in one job long enough to take sides in an epic coworker battle. I’d love to tell a story of an obnoxious college student who refused my writing tutor advice and we had to arm wrestle to win the debate, but that has never happened. My response to this question is usually some vague answer about getting contradictory directions from coworkers.

4. Neiman Marcus Interview: If you were an animal, what would you be?

Dressing for success!
Dressing for success!

As the girl in the orange rimmed glasses asked me the question, I stared back at the three people facing me. This was the first time I had been asked this, and the three sets of eyes were staring at me in expectation. I tried to come up with some witty response, but nothing came. Suddenly, I remembered the animal I always told my family I wanted to be. “I’d be a duck,” I stated. “I’d be able to fly and be in the water, and they are just so much fun to watch.” My response was met by three deadpan expressions. The silence stretched, and I began to feel very stupid. Finally, one of the other women spoke up. “Yes, a duck would have a good life–especially if it lived on a golf course.” She paused for a moment. “I think I’d be a turtle.” The conversation went on from there. I realized how much fun a room full of writers could have as they discussed random questions.

As my job search has drawn to a close, I am pleased to leave the endless applications, repetitive questions, and interview prep behind me. In the meantime, perhaps you can form a response to the above questions so you won’t be in the same situation I was.

Church Hunting

Moving across the country has involved a lot of “news”: a new house, new neighborhood, new friends, new car (hopefully), new job. One of the first “new” things that we had to do was choose a church. As a former P.K., this was a rare occurrence. Besides a brief stint in college at church hunting, I have never had the job of picking out a church before. And in Dallas, this task isn’t easy. Churches are everywhere, and each one courts new members with brochures, candy, coffee mugs, and other free stuff. My sister and I are now settled in a nice one, but it took some work to find. This summer, we were able to check out quite a few of the establishments. Here is how I would describe some of the more memorable ones:

We have a lot of recycling to do!
We have a lot of recycling to do!

1. The tourist church. As we attended a Tuesday evening function, cars filled the parking lot and were parked on both sides of the street for a half mile. Food trucks packed with customers sat beside the huge facility, and security guards in sunglasses and vests watched us suspiciously. Every seat in the place was filled, and a stadium-like excitement infused the room. As soon as the service was over, huge swarms of bodies hurried to cars to avoid getting stuck in an after-church traffic jam.

2. The cootie church. The average age of a member of this church was about 25. People came in pairs, and a lot of rubbing, patting, and snuggling commenced. I got the feeling that if I stood in one place too long, I’d be married and then pregnant within six months.

3. The intellectual church. After a 50 minute sermon, people headed to classrooms to listen to another 60 minute lecture. The “school” in Sunday school was quite obvious. I left feeling like knowledge had descended upon me.

4. The Southern Gospel church. As the banjo and fiddle dueled with each other, I couldn’t help but smile. As “In the Sweet By and By” closed out the service, my dad let loose a rousing “Yeehaw!” My 13-year-old sister was completely scandalized.

In Dallas, the hard part isn’t finding a good church; it is deciding between all the good ones available. Each one on the list has been a very solid church, and it is fun to see the differences between them.