How hard can being a receptionist really be? Surely it’s just answering phones and writing emails. I’m qualified enough to do that, right?
Experience is essential? Pfft, sounds pretty lenient. Who needs experience anyway? I can just learn on the job.
Oh, they need someone who can speak fluent French? Well, I took a few classes in high-school so I totally can tick that box!
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Desperate times can call for desperate measures. Hands up if you’ve ever stretched the truth a little in a job application or during an interview. Now, let’s do a Mexican tidal wave!
We all want to be able to meet every bullet point on that dreaded selection criteria list. We want to appear available, skilled and experienced. The desirable candidate. But what do you do once you’re in a job that you’re actually not right for? What happens when you’re asked to complete a task and have no idea how to? Super. Awkward.
To avoid being a total and utter disappointment you only have to follow one simple rule: DO NOT LIE. However tempting it may be, do not tell them that yes, you can in fact juggle, touch type, and recite the alphabet backwards, all while selling their product to a client over the phone. Did I mention I have a year of experience doing this? No. Don’t tell them that.
Right, that’s your side of the bargain held up. Pretty easy. So, what happens when the employer is actually the person in the wrong?
I have had numerous interviews when the position I was applying for had no real position description. Once, after being called in to an interview that I didn’t even apply for, I was asked “have you read the job description?” After a moment of confusion, it was realised that there was, in fact, no job description written up that could have been emailed to me.
Sometimes, employers don’t know what they want until after they’ve hired you. Sometimes, the skills required for a job will only reveal themselves to the employer after they have seen that you are lacking in them. Sometimes, employers are unorganised and therefore make mistakes. Unfortunately, this results in your time being wasted.
Don’t let this happen to you. An incompetent interviewer can make it look like you’re the one who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Don’t let the impotence of others slide just because you’re feeling a little desperate and in need of work. Get rid of that “I can be anyone you want me to be” way of thinking.
Employers do not and should not set out to hire a selection criteria list. They are hiring a person. A person who is bountiful in some skills while also lacking in others. And that’s more than fine. You’re not a machine.
The best way to, for lack of a better wording, not get fucked around is to know who you are and what you want. Lay it all out bare on your resume and in your cover letter. Be an open book in terms of availability, skills and experience. Set on not working late nights or weekends? Then negotiate that with the interviewers. Don’t have a certain required skill? Be honest about it and say that you are willing to learn.
Ultimately, you are being interviewed because the employer has a problem. You are the potential solution to that problem. See the interview as a two way street; you know you’d be great in the position, but can they offer you what you want?
Make sure the deal works for you just as much as it does for them.