Congratulations to Karmin Gentili for Winning the July 2020 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The challenge was to write an essay that answered this prompt:

Imagine you’re being interviewed… What do you wish the interviewer would ask you, and then how would you respond?

Karmin wrote a thought-provoking essay about flipping the switch in an interview. Enjoy her winning submission:

Who’s Interviewing Whom?

It was an intriguing setup. I doubt I would have chosen to sit where there was a clock above my head, but he did.

Maybe he wanted to be able to look into the small videoconference window on his screen and see the time while he was conducting interviews.

The good news was that his “why” for the clock’s placement no longer mattered.

He had just asked my favorite interview question: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Outstanding! Although he didn’t know it, he had just handed me control of the rest of the interview.

I was almost giddy with anticipation. This would prove enlightening and would make or break my interest in the contract.

“I love that question. Thanks for asking!

“In five years I will still be loving what I do and the clients I’m privileged to work with.

“Before I keep going, though, I’d like to ask you something…

“When you look at where you are now, is this where you envisioned yourself five years ago?”

He blinked hard. Twice.

You see, most interviewers aren’t used to having that question asked of them. It’s such a standard interview question that they don’t give its personal relevance any thought.

He paused for a moment. “Well…”

He shifted in his chair and began again. “Well, I guess in some ways, yes; in others, no.”

I prompted him, “I’d love to hear about those yeses.”

He spent the next several minutes telling me about all the company successes he’d had and said he’d even surpassed his five-year earnings goal.

I cheered him on and celebrated his accomplishments with him.

I dangled, “I have some similar goals for the next five years, but first, tell me about those goals that didn’t happen or that you decided to change.”

He cocked his head. “Nobody’s ever asked me this.”

I smiled, nodded, and waited.

He jumped into the silence. “I wasn’t spending as much time with my family as I wanted. I decided time with them was important, so now I only allow one dinner meeting per week.”

“You chose a priority. That’s great! What else?” I leaned in to encourage him.

“I had planned to have more staff by now, but we’ve gained efficiencies, so that worked out fine.”

I let him off the hook.

“Thank you,” I said. “I really appreciate you telling me about yourself and your goals.

“Over the next five years, I see myself using my interview skills to talk to your happy clients and documenting how your products have helped them find success.

“I also see myself becoming your valued consultant — someone who is adept at effectively communicating the importance and benefits of your products and services to help you reach, and exceed, the goals you have for the next five years.

“The bottom line is that over the next five years I see us partnering well to propel your company forward.”

I looked at the clock above his head and smiled. My scheduled time was up, and he was hooked.