The Negative S(m)ell

I had two interviews this week. Let’s just say that I’m the type of person that tends to rebound quickly. When my friends used to do the preemptive, “You’ll get over him” line when referencing some dude I’d dated (i’m now happily married, thank GOD), my response would be coy and to the point, “Over him?,” I would rebuff. “But I was never under him.” Cynicism as a derisive vehicle can only get you so far I’ve come to learn, but the logic’s not entirely flawed here and the approach not without its practical application to other potentially traumatic life-altering events.

Looking for a job sucks. Anyone who ever tells you it’s character building and empowering has sipped a little too much of this Kool-Aid to be any good to anyone. However, I experienced one interview in particular this week that taught me an interesting and potentially naively optimistic factoid about myself.

It’s not the first time I’d gone into an interview situation and been sold the “negative sell.” In case you’re not familiar with this term, it’s where the person interviewing you starts telling you all the pitfalls and trappings of the role you’re being interviewed for. It’s used most commonly in sales and employed most often in seedy used car dealership locales. You either respond by a) being entirely turned off or b) proving to the interviewer why you’re the right person for the role despite all the crappy things you’re being told. 

I usually opt for b. And oddly enough it’s not because reverse psychology works on me, but because from the time I enter into an interview till the time I leave it never actually occurs to me that a potential employer wouldn’t want me. I usually feel that I have more to offer than they might ever appreciate. That is, until I leave and haven’t heard from that company in 4 days and then pretty much resort to conducting a whole post-mortem on the interview session from start to end and realize that it’s quite conceivable the negative sell tactic was intended to turn me off and have me run for the hills with my arms up.

One thing I’ve learned from dealing the negative sellers is that the best manager for me (aside from myself) is someone who is candid, positive, and experienced. And did I mention, preferably someone who is old enough to not engage in serious negative psych-outs?


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