We love Sydney already, but we were really happy in Switzerland. We met beautiful friends who touched our lives and relished a car-free existance in a public transport haven in the center of Europe. We were living the good life, but the career opportunities for me (a non-German speaker and non-EU passport holder) were limited and thus we decided to move down unda. And ever since arriving, four year work visa in hand, I've put a lot of pressure on myself to find a job and even more broadly, to find a career.
However, before you get a job, you have to get through an interview or two. I've had a couple here in Sydney over the last couple of weeks and from now on I will always associate the process with a tight-rope walk. It truly is a balancing act.
This may sound like a lie (I certainly thought it did), but I was turned down for one job because I was "too smart." Apparently, after asking 'one of the most intelligent interviewee questions' the interviewer had ever heard, she knew that I would get bored with the role after three to six months. Really? You're really saying no because you think I'm too smart? Maybe she didn't like my outfit or my American accent and the way it would sound on the phone to clients and went with the kinder 'you're too smart,' rejection. Who knows?
My concern that my outfit may not have been right is actually sincere. The recruiter literally spent about three minutes describing what type of dress was appropriate for this company. "They're a really creative, boutique company," she said. "A standard business suit simply will not work in this context. On the other hand, I once sent a girl in to interview with them and her outfit revealed too much cleavage, so don't do that. I don't want to lead you..." she kept saying and indicated that I should just figure it out. That left me somewhere in between, but not including business wear and night club garb. Great. I chose a short sleeve button up shirt, a polka-dot pencil skirt, red belt and open-toed wedges. Maybe the open-toe was my downfall, but if my wardrobe matters that much, I don't know if I would want to work there anyway.
The same recruiter gave me valuable feedback on my interviewing style. She said I make good eye-contact, but am a little too formal and noted that I could be warmer. Before I went into this interview, she stressed that I should just be myself "because the manager is a very good judge of character and can see through everything." Before interviews and first dates we're told to be ourselves, but I doubt that anyone actually lands a job or a boyfriend by being themselves. When I first meet someone, I am pretty formal and reserved and probably haven't always come across as 'warm' enough. Should I pretend I'm an actress playing the lead role in Barbie Gets a Job or should I fall back to 'me' and hope that is good enough?
Until I know the answer to that question, I'll remain the acrobat on the tight-rope. I'm in the spotlight balancing too smart with smart enough and professional with warm. You won't know how scared I am because I'm smiling and staring straight ahead.