What Not to Say on Your Next Job Interview

A while back I got a call from someone who was starting an alternative school. They thought I might be a good candidate for their faculty. I thought it couldn’t hurt to hear their pitch but it turned out that they were expecting the pitch to come from me. Details about the project were a little vague. They seemed more interested in listening than in talking and I could tell that they wanted to ascertain whether I was a good “fit” before getting into the specifics.

“So tell me,  what are you passionate about?” the interviewer asked. It had not been a stellar week and I wasn’t feeling passionate about much of anything. “Uhm…I like to write and I like to teach” I began, sensing that I wasn’t quite hitting the desired mark. I could soon tell that I was turning out to be a disappointment. I wasn’t that interested in changing jobs but I didn’t want to be rejected either. I floundered a bit more, trying in vain to think of something to say that would make an impression.

By the time the interviewer asked me about my career goals, I’d had enough. “To tell you the truth, I’ve reached that stage in my life where my next major career move is probably death” I replied. It made an impression. The interviewer’s eyebrows shot up. There was a long pause. “Well…let’s just let this sit for a while,” she said. “I’ll give you a call in a few weeks to see where we are at.” The call never came. Not that I was expecting it.

If there is a pithy lesson here, perhaps it is this, “Don’t go for a job interview when you are having a bad day.” Or maybe it is, “Don’t be such a smart aleck.” Still, while the interviewer was sincere, so was I. I meant what I said. At the time of our conversation, I really couldn’t see a rising vocational trajectory in my future. I still don’t. My career is in its descent phase not in ascent. Ecclesiastes 1:4 says, “Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.” It is just the nature of things for careers to come to an end and for one generation to give way to another. Now that I am in my mid 60’s, I no longer have the same perspective that I did in my 20’s and 30’s when I believed that the possibilities before me were limitless. If it feels like I am running out of road, it is partly because I am.

Yet, if what the Bible says about eternity is true, this is also an optical illusion. My career may indeed be in descent but my life is in ascent. The bulk of my life till lies before me. It is only the details that are vague. 1 John 3:2 says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”


2 thoughts on “What Not to Say on Your Next Job Interview

  1. Loved this article, especially the past of the next career choice! I’m so glad that you’re sticking around at the school that D. L. Moody founded! I have two grandkids there and hopeully more heading there in the future!

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