(in which i get) free interview practice
I had the phone screen for the copywriting job in Shenzhen last night. The man I talked to wasn't actually a recruiter by trade; he studied law and worked in marketing. His non-HR background, a slight lag, and a subtle language barrier made for some awkward moments (at least from my point of view), but we still ended up chatting for almost an hour. I enjoyed picking his brain about all things marketing and working in China.
Out of curiosity, he asked me to chat with him for a little while in Chinese. I obliged, only managing a few shaky sentences before giving up. I felt embarrassed at how poorly I fared, but it's only to be expected considering how little I speak in Mandarin, to say nothing of business topics and professional settings. (Most of the Mandarin I know comes from whatever my parents have yelled at me for the past two decades.)
He was refreshingly honest with me about the difficulties expats face in China, telling me how other expats he's seen struggled to adjust to the grueling work culture and faced dead ends for upward career growth. I got the sense that he thought I didn't know what I was getting myself into, which I'm going to take as a testament to the strength of my acting, because while I don't know every detail of what the job would be like, I do know I'd be in for a rough challenge and don't underestimate it.
I also had the first-round interview for the bilingual tech support (ish) job based in California today. They must have listened to my advice to test for Spanish proficiency, because the hiring manager conducted the second half of my interview in Spanish. Fortunately, unlike my short stint speaking Mandarin last night, interviewing in Spanish was a fun challenge for me. I'm a bit rusty and didn't prepare at all, so I stumbled a few times but managed to avoid leaning back on English. The hiring manager told me I did well, which I'm happy about.
I can't see myself in either of these jobs, so I'm planning on dropping both if they get back to me with more interviews. The calls have been educational and I enjoy the opportunity to practice interviewing (in different languages, which is a rare treat), but I'm tiring of them. I also must admit I feel a little bad leading them on and wasting their time, even though I know they would do the same to me in a heartbeat. (And they do — all the time.) Meeting some free interview prep at their expense won't hurt them.
I'm going to meet up with this guy tomorrow night for dinner. I haven't seen him since the high school summer program we met at forty-leven years ago. I don't really know why I reached out and asked him to catch up, since we're not quite friends, but I saw on LinkedIn that he was still in town a few weeks ago and for some reason couldn't rid my mind of the idea of catching up. So here we are!
We get along fine — he's nice and makes me laugh — but from what I remember we don't share the same values and I'm not sure he's the kind of person I would want to bring into my inner circle. (I distinctly remember him trying to pitch me on some pyramid scheme back when we were in high school.) I guess we'll see what happens. I'm not superstitious but usually when I can't rid my mind of something I trust that it's for a good reason and act on it.