notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Interviewing Skills

I graduated from high school in June of 1969.

I graduated from college in December of 1974.

No ‘four years and out’ for me. I liked college. I took my time.

I had no idea what I wanted to study, so I tried it all. I started in Nursing and ended up in English.  I have a minor in History and I took a nice little side trip in Art. And I have college credits in both Bookkeeping and Beekeeping.

Back then, if someone asked my father what I was majoring in, he answered, “Transferring.”

But my father also used to say (until the day he died at 88) that he didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. So he took my meandering in good humor.

At UConn, you needed 120 credits to graduate. When I got to 148, my advisor (and my mother) thought that was quite enough. I had no choice but to graduate.

So in January of 1975, I started looking for a job. I had my credentials to teach, but no one was hiring. 1975 was a peak year – peak recession, that is.  Unemployment was high. Inflation was higher.  I tutored my mother’s friend’s kid. Neither the kid nor I was much interested in his homework, but it gave me gas money.

I got a job eventually at the brand new industry called Cable TV. I typed in the weather and the channel guide alone in the building at night. I wasn’t much of a typist. Some viewers might even remember “The Rockford Flies” and the Pubic Access Channel.

I got laid off.

And started looking again. It was frustrating. Frustrating enough that I actually considered enlisting in the Army. That made my father laugh.

I sent resumes. I went from building to building, filling out applications when I didn’t even know what the companies did. And whenever I could wrangle an interview, I interviewed.

Oh, I told HR managers and potential bosses how much I wanted to do … um … whatever it was they did.  How I was willing to start at the bottom. How I was a hard-worker and a fast-learner. How I loved Overtime. Or maybe part-time. That I loved talking to irate customers. That I was a great team player. That I liked working alone.

Whatever.

And everyone told me No.

No. No. No.

Sometimes they were condescending but mostly they were sensitive and sympathetic.

They invariably ended the conversation the same charitable excuse: “I’m sorry, but you are just overqualified.”

Then one day I got an interview with a grant program that provided services for the elderly. They needed someone to type names and addresses on service orders. And file.

I could file!  I was an English major! I knew the alphabet!

And I had a nice boring interview with the Administrative Director.

And he said the same boring thing.

“I don’t even know why we’re interviewing you. You’re over-qualified.”

And I lost it.

I yelled:

“I’m not over-qualified! I’m over-educated! I can’t really DO anything!”

And I got the job.

1977

Me, Happily Overqualified At Work.

39 Comments

  1. The adventures of job hunting. We never know what lies ahead. It’s even more difficult these days, I am told. And I believe you are still employed. Good for you! – Maureen

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    • I kept that job for seven years. And they put me through school (more school!) so I ended up with an MBA.

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  2. I was riffed after two years, rehired the next. I feel lucky that I got paid to do what I loved, with minimal interviewing..and only a few tests…involved. And, yes, I too wore glasses like that. I hope they come back, don’t you? 🙂

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  3. You should get a t-shirt that says “Overqualified.” It will give you an air of distinction. Although this is another one of your funnnnny posts, it has serious under/overtones about the horrible difficulties faced by qualified and overqualified people looking for work.

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    • It wasn’t easy then; It isn’t easy now. Now that I am the boss, when I have a position open, it breaks my heart to see how desperate people are.

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  4. college is where you discover who you are… great post, so glad I stumbled on to you! I may stick around for a bit! DAF

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  5. I didn’t even graduate high school and in my 40’s when I was looking for a job I heard that line often. Stupid interviewers. I don’t think they read the applications, I never lied on them. They just looked at my graying hair and “laugh lines”:.
    Once upon a time I had glasses just like yours.

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    • Those glasses were so big and heavy, I had calluses on my nose and ears.

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      • They were kinda heavy. I don’t think they had the ultra light lenses like they do now.

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      • I had the same glasses, the same hairstyle, the same smile whenever I knew I was being caught on camera. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d have thought that was ME in the photo 😉

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  6. beatzkane

    Reblogged this on beatzkaneblog143.

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  7. I can really identify with this post. In the old days, I’d get 11 something rejections with a mailed standard, but polite typed letter. This time around, I get one confirming email that says either to check back often on their website or “if there is interest in your application, you will be notified”. In other words, don’t call us, we’ll call you! On the lighter side, your blog made me laugh! And yes, I remember our two hour interview some odd years ago. And you called me personally to set up the interview, unheard of now a days! 🙂

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    • Now that I’m on the other side of the table, I always remember what interviews were like – worrying and practicing answers all night long. So I think I owe the applicant more than 15 minutes.

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  8. PS I remember having glasses like those. I came across a picture of my self and thought – what was I thinking? Lol!

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    • I thought – back then – that I looked pretty cute! Where was my mirror????

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  9. Just shows that perseverance pays, then and now. My boy got a summer job in New York this summer because he called the agency every day to ask if there was anything going. After a week, they found him a job saying they were impressed by the fact that he kept calling. What else was he suppose to do, they certainly weren’t going to call him…

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    • Sometimes perseverance makes people too irritated with you – and works against you if they think you are a pest (or a stalker). But more often than not, you can just wear them down. I remember back in college – a class I wanted to take was full. I went to the class every day anyway, and told the professor every single day that I wasn’t enrolled, but certainly he could make room for me – after all, there was a seat. After a couple of weeks, he got me officially into the class.

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  10. PS…I had those glasses, too. Do you think there’s some correlation between enormous weight on the bridge of your nose and a desire to write?

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    • Yes. It’s called the Wise Old Owl Syndrome – better known as “James Joyce, But Really Big”.

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  11. I hated being told I was over qualified. What good is that if you can’t even get ‘started’ to find out how over qualified you might be. Tsk. Tsk. 😀
    You look darling in this picture. I can’t imagine why they didn’t hire you just because you were YOU. 🙂

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    • I never got a job because I was just so darned cute – but I don’t know why I didn’t. I obviously should have.

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  12. I imagine what you expereinced then is what a lot of newly graduated young adults are experiencing now.

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    • Yes. Just like today’s young adults. And also just like them – I didn’t even especially want to work.

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  13. Hmmm, I remember those days. Hey we have those again, except now it might be true

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    • I did have one job where I wasn’t overqualified or overeducation. I was over my head.

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  14. What a great line! Hubby was interviewing for a job several years ago, and it wasn’t a good fit at all. He flat-out told the interviewer, “No, I don’t know how to do that.” They offered him the job. (And he accepted and turned out to be good at it, so maybe they weren’t so dumb after all.)

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    • In the job I have now – I told the owner of the business during the interview: “If you want someone who can do the taxes, you’d better keep looking!” He hired me anyway!

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  15. I have photos of me wearing glasses like that! Every time I see them I wonder “what were we thinking?” I have to assume that, a decade or so from now, when I see photos of me wearing my current small, rectangular shaped glasses, I will think the same thing!

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    • I actually bought rhinestone studded glasses this year. I paid a fortune for them too. But I don’t have to worry about what I’ll look like in photos when I look back – because I NEVER wear them. No, I only think: What was I thinking to spend that kind of money on something so dumb?

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  16. oh, i can so relate to the changing majors. my mom finally made me decide to actually graduate. I went from art to English to psychology to sociology to very close to being completely out of money and out on the streets. it was then that my mom said, “you are going to teach. jesus. you must know something by now that you can teach someone.”

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  17. Apparently my mom was a little more tolerant, but then i finally settled in a completely useless field: Philosophy. Followed twenty years later by Education MA and EdS, and no money for the background check … LOL. My first job was in the university bookstore which led to my eventual employment at a commercial bookstore … a mom and pop sort which happened because as I was walking out behind me I heard the store owner’s wife: “Honey! Experience!” LOL. Now I can’t even get a job shelving books … (History to Drama to Art History through English to Philosophy … 70 to 79 and it would have been later because I was trying to finish up an Anthropology degree so I could be an archaeologist just about the time the bottom dropped out of the market for them in NMj …. )

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  18. Over qualified! I hate that term. I have lost count of the number of times I heard that phrase in the past 5 years. I wish I had thought of your comeback…only…I would have to add over-experienced.

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  19. Ugh! I feel that pain. I’m in that situation now. Overqualified. Good for you for standing up for yourself and getting the job!

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  1. ‘Interviewing Skills’ (via Notquiteold) – The Ramblings of an Unintentional Hipster

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