I’ve got interviews on the brain this morning! Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (or in a conference room just down the hall) I was asked the single most challenging interview question of my professional career. What was the question, you may ask.
If you could meet one influential historical figure, who would it be and why?
I will give my graduate program a bit of credit for this one. I am earning a Master of Arts in history museum studies. But, come on! I am NOT a history person. I am an advocate for informal learning! I am an educator! I am a museum professional with a passion for social justice! I always knew that when I entered the working world that I would need to learn the content of my institution, and I’ve been developing my research skills to do just that. I know that I can justify my use in a history/art/science/etc museum because I will know where to search and who to ask for information.
That doesn’t always come across in an interview. So, what historical figure would I meet? At first, I blanked. The first person that came to mind was none other than President Abraham Lincoln. For those of you who know me, Abe and I have a sordid relationship. I’m from the Land of Lincoln, Illinois, and have strong feelings about the amount of Lincoln-loving we integrate into the classroom curriculum.
But, it was too late! The word Lincoln had already tumbled from my mouth when I realized I would have to justify it – prove that I could come back from such a boring answer. I was honest, explained my slightly negative opinion of Mr. Lincoln and made some crack about wanting to know if he was “really as tall as everyone says he was.” When it doubt, joke it out. The panel of academics smiled, and I like to think they remembered that I was the girl from Illinois who doesn’t always conform to the norm.
I later was asked to share five adjectives that describe me and forgot what the term adjective was, but that’s a story for another day. What’s your best interview story? Any tips for those of us fresh in the field?