Not a Carbon Copy

Not a Carbon Copy

Did you know that you can ACTUALLY search "typical interview questions and answers" and Google will regurgitate questions that employers could potentially ask you? It will also give you a set list of appropriate ways to answer them accordingly. Apparently that's the world we live in, where there are a set of preapproved answers for everybody. In my experience, interview questions aren't designed to get to know you as a human being. They aren't designed to understand your psyche, what makes you tick, or even what you're truly capable of. Chances are, when somebody in an interview asks you, "So tell me about you self," they aren't REALLY asking for you to tell them about yourself. They are asking for an answer.

The RIGHT answer.

I always try to be myself in interviews. Of course, I sit up straight, I dress sharply, and I make eye contact, but I also try to maintain authenticity to who I am as a person. I'll crack a joke if the timing is appropriate, I'll bring up great new bands I've stumbled upon, and I'll elaborate on the countries I've seen and the countries I'm still inspired to explore. I'm not afraid to discuss my flaws, and I won't shy away from what I can improve on. I'll talk about the time I was so wildly lost on a train in Australia that I ended up going five hours in the wrong direction when asked how I handle curve balls. Hey, even though I was going the wrong way, it was still one of the best adventures I've ever been on.

I'm also not afraid to answer honestly, with one word, when the interviewer asks me where I see myself in five years. We all remember that question, don't we?

(Happy -- that's where I see myself, and that's always my answer)

Why? Well I suppose if the interviewer isn't going to appreciate me as a person, they aren't going to appreciate what I have to offer as an employee. Sure, it would be easy to say, "I see myself working at a Fortune 500 company, married, with beautiful children, and a dog because I'm allergic to cats." I could also take the brown nosing approach and say, "Well gee, Bob, I see myself working with your company of course!" However, two years ago I thought I would be teaching and now I find myself exploring the world of professional writing, editing, social media, and community outreach. Things change, and that truly is the one thing in life that doesn't change.

I feel like so many young people in today's world are so hungry to land a job, ANY job, that they lose their identity the minute they walk into an interview. If I became who the interviewer wanted me to be for that hour, I'd subject myself to potentially becoming somebody else for the remainder of my time spent with that company. In hindsight, I would also probably resent my work place, when in reality it was my choice to begin with. The best interviews I've ever had stemmed from genuine conversations, not a carbon copy list of mundane questions, followed by boring, but correct answers.

Living in a mansion with a white picket fence just isn't where I see myself. I've never seen myself there. I know I will be happy because I won't settle for a job that doesn't challenge me intellectually or stimulate me creatively. I know I'll succeed at the jobs I apply for because I choose to apply for jobs that will push me outside of my comfort zone and tap into my passions.

I know I'll never give typical answers from Google because I simply don't want to be typical.

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Carley Barton More Articles By This Author

Carley is a twenty four year old currently living in New Hampshire. After graduating college with a degree in English, and taking a couple of years to travel the globe (ahem, while constantly getting lost using foreign public transportation in large cities) she now resides back in her home town. She is somewhere between trying to have it all figured out, and not even being close, but she writes in hopes that somebody out there thinks the way she does. She has a NikonD3000 that could be considered a third arm, and she may seek surgical help for this eventually. Carley thinks speaking in third person is incredibly awkward, but she's glad you're here anyway. You can find Carley on her personal blog ( or on twitter @carbarton. *fistbump*

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