Everything (About Job Interviews) I Learned From Jane Austen

Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.

I first encountered Jane Austen when I was sixteen and purchased a mass-market paperback copy of Pride and Prejudice from a bookstore at the mall. I started reading it on a Saturday morning and read it straight through in one setting. I was supposed to go to a party that evening but ended up ditching my friends for Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. (Does it mean something bad when you’d rather hang out with fictional people from 200 years ago than party with living, breathing teenagers in your own era? Probably. Anyway.)

My love affair with Jane Austen books only intensified as I got older. I’ve always marveled at her razor-sharp wit and keen understanding of human nature. On more than one occasion I’ve wished I could be a heroine in one of her novels. I read her books. I watched the movie versions…all of them…multiple times.

Welcome to the real world

However, as I grew older and had to face the “real world” (yes, John Mayer, there is such a thing), I started reading literature of another kind—books and magazine articles about Job Interviews and How to Land a Job—and soon found myself well-versed on the art of finding a job. But I hated/loathed/dreaded job interviews.

The idea of having to go and sit in front of a hiring squad seemed unnatural and demeaning. And what was with those stupid questions that cannot be and are not expected to be answered truthfully? Questions like “What’s your worst quality?” Suppose your worse quality was lying, in which case you would lie about that, so really, the questioner would, in fact, not be enlightened by your answer, at all. Alternatively, if one responded truthfully (and ironically??) and said, “I am a big fat liar,” one just wouldn’t get the job, unless one was interviewing to be a spy, maybe. But something tells me the CIA doesn’t ask that particular question in their interviews.

Life seems to me a Jane Austen novel

Sitting in my car one day, waiting to go in to a job interview (and rehearsing my answer to the “worst quality” question), I suddenly realized something: I’d been wasting my time reading all of those how-to books…I could have learned everything I needed to know about job interviews from a Jane Austen novel!

To be continued…

Next, how Jane Austen helped me survive job interviews from that moment forward. Or Everything I Learned From Jane Austen…Tip 1: How to answer “What’s your worst quality?”

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