Sunday, September 13, 2015

365 True Things: 168/Interviews

Today I spent a couple of hours interviewing six prospective Search & Rescue volunteers. It was interesting the different things each of us (two deputies, two volunteers) heard. It was also interesting how differently each applicant interviewed: ranging from extroverted self-confidence to a certain lack of introspection, loquaciousness to taciturnity. We ended up accepting four and turning away two, mainly because of time conflicts.

Some of the questions were obvious: Why do you want to join SAR? What can you bring to the team? Others were harder, like: "Using just one word, tell us what's positive about you. And negative." It's funny how hard it was for people to restrict themselves to just a single word.

I thought about that question as I drove home. For the negative, I'd probably have to say impatient. For the positive, though—I'm not sure. Flexible? Easy-going? A couple of people today said, "Happy." I'm happy, but that isn't the single word I'd use—especially not in this context. Smart, maybe. I'm forgiving, and I consider that a positive trait, but again: not the right thing to convey in an interview like today's. Energetic? Curious?

Yeah, maybe curious. I consider that a very positive personal quality. It's arguably even one of the reasons I joined Search & Rescue: to help those in need, sure, but also to learn something new. I'm always curious about what life has to offer.

In my own interview nine years ago, I remember the sergeant asking how I felt about having to deal with dead bodies. I said I didn't know, which was true. Since then, I've come across a few dead bodies, none of them awful (as in, badly damaged). It's been fine. Sad, of course, but
. . . death happens. It's part of life. I'm not squeamish about it. Though as I said, they haven't been bloody messes. That would no doubt be a different story.

I don't think I interview well: I'd certainly be on the taciturn end of the spectrum. Nervous, too—which could cause me to say things I might maybe shouldn't. (A couple of the applicants today did that. We're not really trained to think on our feet in this society.)

But these days I tend to be on the asking-the-questions side of the interview table. Tomorrow, for example, I get to interview the head of the Berkeley Food Initiative, for a story I'm writing. The hard part there will be finding a few pithy questions to ask.

That's what I'll be doing in the morning. A little research.

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