Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to try to get a job back in the good ol’ USA after having lived overseas. Given the general bizarreness of my current overseas life in relation to my past US life, I imagine securing employment would be a somewhat awkward process.
Life here is wildly different than my past life. Just this week I was felt up at the pharmacy by a mentally ill topless woman. How do you translate that kind of experience?
Imagine answering standard job interview questions…
Why did you leave your previous job?
God was leading us elsewhere.
Note: That is a terrible answer. Avoid Christianese at all costs.
What is your greatest strength?
Strong stomach. It wasn’t always like that. I had amoebic dysentery for about four months when I first moved overseas, but since then it’s been mostly good except for that other time when I got typhoid. I’ve learned to eat the chilies.
Note: Brainstorm alternative greatest strength.
What is your greatest weakness?
Goodbyes. There are a lot of goodbyes when you live overseas and each one left a hole in my heart.
Note: Don’t be so honest. You’ll scare the interviewer.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
Internalize it and develop post-traumatic stress. But I have a counselor now and am learning healthy coping mechanisms.
Note: Interviewer is not asking how you handle threats of bodily harm. They are asking how you handle getting the financials in on time.
Alternative answer: I am used to working in a high stress environment. When living overseas there is always something that goes wrong or causes delay. You learn to just pour another cup of coffee and get on with it.
Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.
The first couple months of living overseas are typically really fun, the honeymoon period. Then you tumble head first into the abysmal despair of reality. I didn’t surface again for the better part of a year, but eventually I did surface. I learned how to speak the language, how to substitute every imaginable necessary ingredient and cook from scratch, how to hang clothes on the line so they don’t stretch in weird ways, how to butcher chickens, and a million other things.
Note: I don’t think this is what they mean by “difficult work situation”.
Do you work well with other people?
I am able to work with other people. Not always well.
Note: Unless directly applicable to this job, now is not the time to get into the intricacies and challenges of working in a multi-cultural/multi-denominational team.
Alternative answer: Yes, I do.
What are your salary expectations?
A predictable, non-fluctuating, non-emotionally-inspiring-newsletter dependent amount of money each month.
Note: Google alternative answers.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What? I’m sorry. I’m not sure I understand the question. Do people really plan 5 years in advance?
Note: Yes, they do. If you don’t have to worry year to year about whether your visa will be renewed, or if you can still meet the educational needs of your children, or if you will burn-out from the stress, you can plan and dream for the longer term future. What an amazing thought.
Our visas expire in three months and we have to leave the country to apply again. Here’s to hoping we can come back. I really don’t want to go on a job interview…