I see it on every job listing. “We need a people person with a dynamic personality!” And every time it stops me in my tracks. Why? Because I am not a people person.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very friendly person. There are certain social situations in which I thrive, but a job interview is not one of them. I describe myself as friendly and outgoing (which I am, sometimes) in my cover letters, but when it comes time for the interview I freeze.
My prepared answers come out awkwardly, sprinkled with “ums” and “uhs”, my throat reaches a dryness comparable to the Sahara, and I never know what to do with my hands. There are moments when I think the interviews go well, like when I make a joke and get the interviewer to see my personality, but it all comes crashing with five words.
“Are you a peopled person?”
“Um,” I say, wiping my sweaty palms on my pants, my great answer dies in a sea of white noise, and out comes the word vomit. “Well, you know, I, uh, take a little while to warm up to people but when I do…” I make a awkward motion with my hands. “You know…”
“Right.” The interviewer scribbles a note on my resume and stands to shake my hand. “We’ll call if you’re considered for a second interview.” My heart sinks because i know exactly what that means. But even worse is the interview where I think it goes well.
I seem to have a good rapport going with the interviewer, I tell a few jokes, I even (gasp!) have questions about the job. I come out of the interview feeling confident and the call never comes. I call to follow up and they inform me that they’ve gone in another direction. And thus the cycle begins anew.
“You’ll get better after a while,” Everyone says “After the first few interviews it gets easier.” But that doesn’t help when interviews are so few and far between that I’ve lost almost all basis for comparison. And slowly but surely, my time to interact with people is whittled down to almost nothing.
So, Am I a people person? The answer to that is the same as that of quite a few others.
But it seems that there’s no room in the work force for people who sometimes like interaction, there’s no room for the introvert who loves people, but is soft spoken and sometimes a little anxious. No, I can’t be “on” at all times, and i can’t plaster on a fake smile and an upbeat tone, but is that really a bad thing?
I get unsettled by the employees who are constantly smiling, acting like everything is wonderful while things are falling apart around them. Honestly, it would be refreshing to hear someone say that sometimes, people suck.