Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Creative interviewing

Are you a Lost fan? Last week's episode featured John Locke applying for a job at an employment agency and being asked--much to his displeasure--"What kind of animal would you describe yourself as?"

Bizarre? Yes. But not uncommon during job interviews today. Prospective employees are regularly being asked:
  • If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

  • If you were a car, what kind of car would you be?

  • If you were an item in the supermarket, what would you be?

  • If you had a theme song for when you walked into a room, what would it be? (Mine would be The Ramones "I Want to Be Sedated," but I don't think that would get me the job!)

So what's behind this trend toward the Barbara Walters' line of questioning? According to career coach Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio of Six Figure Start (, employers are trying to schuss out if candidates will fit in with their corporate culture, and how confident and creative they are--the latter being an increasingly important quality in today's marketplace, where companies are seeking new and innovative solutions and products to get ahead and each prospective employee is up against five other applicants for every job.

Connie says there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but it is important to go with the flow in an interview and answer with a straight face (or at least a sense of humor!). Think about the company you're applying to and try to come up with solid answers--in advance--to potential interview questions. Make yourself stand out from the rest of the applicants by being thoughtful and unique. A little whimsy never hurt either!

For more on the subject, check out Connie's interview on NPR. Here's the link:

Monday, February 8, 2010

On Salinger, Books, Etc.

My sister, Linda Peckel, recently did a blog post on her “Arts Enclave Blog” ( about some unbreakable rules for writers. The post was inspired by the death of J.D. Salinger, who was a genius at one of those rules--a distinctive writing style or voice. No one else wrote the way he did. (By the way, if you haven’t checked out Linda’s blog, I urge you to do so—not only because she’s my sister, but because she’s pursued writing in one form or another for decades and knows what of she speaks!)

I’m no novelist, but I do love reading fiction. It doesn’t even have to be great. One of my greatest pleasures in life is spending a Saturday or Sunday morning reading in bed with my dog curled up beside me. Bliss! Currently, I’m excited by the stack of books I have on my beside table and my Kindle—Pat Conroy’s South of Broad, John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River, Cathleen Schine’s The Weissmans of Westport, Kathryn Sockett’s The Help, and the newest, Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress. So many books, so little time!

And if you'll indulge me a little bit more, here’s a list of some of my favorite books. I’m not saying they’re all classics or the best-written, but they’re books that have stayed with me throughout time:

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
Straight Man by Richard Russo
One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The World According to Garp by John Irving
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hunger Point by Jillian Medoff
About a Boy by Nick Hornby
Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult

Any favorites of your own to recommend?