Interview With A Vampire

There are some people in this world who really dislike interviews and feel uncomfortable with being asked many questions. On the other hand, I generally enjoy grilling other people with questions (albeit with a friendly smile) and I like the thrill of having to think on my feet for answers. There is an enjoyable rush about testing your ability to form coherent answers on the spot. Mind you, that thrill is more often present when the person who is talking with you is friendly and someone whose questions you want to answer, but that is usually the case for me. There is a different sort of pleasure that one can get from dealing with unpleasant interviewers, even if it is a pleasure that can be a bit more dangerous in nature [1].

I suppose it is natural and to be expected given the strange situation I am in, but I often dream and daydream about interviews of various kinds. Each of these interviews has their own risks and their own expected rewards. Each of them can be stressful because of how one desires to present oneself in a particular way. However, all of them can be enjoyable in their own ways, so long as there is a genuine level of comfort between the parties. Some people (like Barbara Walters or Oprah) tend to be known widely for being able to make people comfortable being themselves while trying to gain sympathy with others, even if that sometimes backfires when people are not remotely sympathetic at all.

The first type of interview I often think about, quite naturally, is the job interview. Given that I am looking for work, this is the type of interview that happens the most often (though not often or successfully enough!) for me. Here both parties have clear agendas. The job seeker is seeking work, particularly interested in benefits and pay, hours, and job duties. The potential employer is looking for someone who is the right fit temperamentally as well as concerning skills, so that they can make more money. Some employers like to interview candidates who are very likely to get jobs, while other employers cast a much broader net when it comes to offering interviews, and the second type of employer is likely to have multi-stage interviews where candidates are weeded out to the most desirable ones. It has been my experience that the more secure a job is in terms of salary and duties, the more selective before starting the interview process, but this is an anecdotal observation only, as I have no data on how these tendencies work out in the larger scale. In this type of interview both parties are looking to answer questions as to what they can do for others and what others are going to do for them. As both parties are fairly open and honest about this process, it can be undertaken with honesty and even friendliness.

Another interview I think about fairly often, also for readily understandable reasons, is the sort of interview that ends up in a newspaper article or (if recorded) can end up in the media. Most of the time, I imagine myself on the interviewing side here, asking questions to people for a particular reason. Here, both parties have agendas, but they may not be as openly obvious. The person giving the interview generally has a more open agenda–he (or she) wants to write about a given person or subject, and is looking for specific answers that will tell a particular story. It is the subject being interviewed here whose motives are generally less open. In telling their story, they clearly have to be willing to put themselves out in public behind a given point of view, but how honest and complete their own account is may be up for question depending on their character and integrity. At any rate, so long as both people involved are up front, the interview can end up doing both of them good–one of them by telling their story to a larger audience, and the other by gaining reputation for conveying that story accurately and authoritatively.

Sometimes both people are interviewing each other. This happens when two people are trying to get to know each other better [2] and so they ask each other a lot of questions and provided detailed explanations of who they are and where they come from and their interests and hobbies and goals. In reality, though it is not often recognized, this is an interview process as well. Both people involved in investing time and energy and attention on others. We all have limited amounts of these resources, especially given our other tasks. So, in the process of getting to know others, we seek to determine their character and personality and whether it makes a good fit with our own, whether we have common interests and activities that we can enjoy together, and so on. We may have vacancies to fill in our own life for friend or lover and the interview process for these positions, though largely informal, may also be very long and drawn out, as well it should given the importance of the people who fill our lives. That seriousness makes the process worthy of being considered an interview.

Finally, I would like to talk about one additional type of interview that I imagine. We normally think of town hall meetings, where one person is answering the questions of a large group of people, as being part of the political process. This is true, but seeking political office is nothing more than one giant and often intensely fierce interview process, with the votes of the electorate the determining factor in a republic. Here again both parties may or may not be open about their character and their goals, but both parties are clearly trying to get something out of the other, and there is competition for scarce positions that is often very fierce. It is not surprising, perhaps, that I would imagine this sort of interview, though for me the goal would not be so much a search for office and position, but rather using a town-hall style meeting as a way for a lot of people to get to know a person in a short amount of time, by answering their concerns and questions and laying out my personality and life experiences out for the people to see and understand. I have never had the chance for such an interview, and I do not know if the opportunity will ever come up, but that does not stop me from dreaming about it, at any rate.

I hope that my brief explanation of the sort of interviews I dream about and ponder often is something that you can relate to. Perhaps we may not think of our interactions in life as interviews, but as stressful as we find interviews to experience, we often enjoy watching them because of the intimacy and seriousness of the conversation, and we appreciate the skill of those who are able to be good interviewers as well as good interview subjects. We all understand that our jobs and hopes and ambitions often require us to be able to answer the interview questions of others, and if we are fortunate, we too have positions to fill in our own lives and we take those positions and the people who fill them very seriously, and so at times we are in the position of interviewer examining people to see if they fit our character, our personality, our worldview, and our needs and concerns. We just may not be used to thinking of these matters as being connected by the common thread of having to choose people who are interested to fill the vacancies of our lives, or to provide us with worthwhile information that we can share with the world.



About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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