How to Appear Likeable at Your New Job [Hint: Don’t Ask Me]

The weird thing about quitting OldJob during the pandemic is that I have to keep reminding myself that it’s now officially OldJob and I don’t work there because OldJob and NewJob are both remote for now so my office hasn’t exactly changed.

NewJob is really excited. Literally every onboarding email says “We’re really excited” and is filled with lots of exclamation points. NewJob kind of reminds me of a hyperactive puppy. It’s flattering and I’m looking forward (more to saying good riddance to OldJob, but also to starting NewJob), but also somewhat exhausting. Still, it seemed like things would go well.

Interpretive portrait of NewJob. Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash.

Then NewJob sent a bunch of “getting to know you” questions to introduce me to the team in a fun way.

This may sound hard to believe seeing as I have a whole blog dedicated to myself, but in offline-life, I don’t really like talking about myself. I found this exercise more challenging than it should have been. For example:

1.) What’s Your Favorite TV Show?

I prefer re-watching shows I’ve already seen vs. watching new shows. Like I can re-watch my favorite episodes of Leverage again and again and still not get sick of it, and I would generally prefer to re-watch Leverage than start a new show. But this seems like a stupid thing to say.

2.) What’s Your Favorite Season and Why?

I didn’t even think this was something normal people had strong preferences on. I don’t have a favorite season because I actually slightly hate all of the seasons. Winter sucks because it’s too cold to want to do anything and also, Shabbat starts obnoxiously early. Summer sucks because it’s too hot to want to do anything and Shabbat ends way too late to do anything. Fall & Spring suck because they mean balancing work, Jewish holiday adulting tasks which I suck at, and teaching job tasks which I also suck at, which means I get to fail at more things than usual.

3.) What Languages Do You Know How to Speak?

Does bad French count as a language? How about Hebrew only for the purpose of reading Torah and Haftarah? Anyway, I feel like these answers make me look bad, so I didn’t answer this question.

4.) Are You a Morning Person or a Night Person?

I am a “Sleep 4-5 hours a night and still not manage to accomplish anything in my non-sleeping time” person. I think this is too much honesty for Day 1 of NewJob.

5.) What is Your Morning Routine when Working from Home?

NewJob is something of a wellness-oriented company, so I know the correct answer to this question: exercise, make a smoothie or acai bowl for breakfast, meditation and yoga, shower, multi-step skincare routine, tend to others (humans, animals, plants, etc.) in your household, read a motivational self-improvement book, and get ready for work.

I cannot convincingly pretend that the above is my morning routine.

Does this self-portrait of me stretching for my morning run before work look believable? No? Darn. Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels.

6.) What is Your Favorite Meal to Cook and Why?

Does microwaving leftovers count?

I just don’t love cooking and I’m not especially good at it.

7.) What’s Your Favorite Place of All The Places You’ve Travelled?

I never know how to answer this question because Travel Experience Enjoyment = The Place Itself + The Things You Did + The People You Were With + Your Mental State At The Time. And really, it’s more of a weighted average than a simple addition.

For example, I enjoyed my trip to Brazil to visit my friend, but is that because I really liked Brazil as a place, or because I enjoyed spending time with my friend? I think my trip to Hong Kong could have been quite enjoyable, but between the time difference and the late night dinners, I feel like I slept a grand total of 8 hours over the course of 4 days and I was just so unbelievably exhausted. It’s not that I disliked Hong Kong as a place, but that the circumstances were too exhausting to appreciate it.

Anyway, Israel would be an obvious answer to this question. I have spent more time in Israel vs. other places I don’t live and thus, have more familiarity with Israel vs. other places I don’t live. But given the situation and the fact that I don’t know my coworkers yet, I found myself not wanting to lead with this. And yes, I hate myself for having this initial reaction.

8.) What is Your Biggest Pet Peeve?

I really wanted to answer this question with one or more of the following

  1. “The use of platitudes and memes in place of empathetic listening and critical thinking”
  2. “Social media activism”
  3. “People who don’t respect personal boundaries”

But I thought those might be too negative.

Call me a bad millennial, but I remain unconvinced that debating complex issues in 140 characters or less leads to productive discourse. Or that activism via reposting memes and hashtags is the solution-oriented approach that leads to lasting positive change. Image by ijmaki from Pixabay

9.) If You Could be Quarantined with Anyone Famous (Dead or Alive) Who Would You Pick?

So many questions about this question. Are you quarantining with the famous person in their house, with their household and staff? In that case, I would pick the richest celebrity with the biggest house and most household staff. It doesn’t matter who it is and whether I would enjoy their company. Their house is probably large enough to avoid them if I don’t.

Or, is the famous person coming to quarantine with me in my shitty living space? In that case, I like the idea of America’s Test Kitchen hosts Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster bringing their cheerful, bubbly personalities and helping motivate me to cook (or better yet, cooking for me). But I feel like the positive vibes would not last long, nor can I picture them having to cook in a far-too-small kosher kitchen. I can’t see this quarantine roomie situation working out well.

10.) Give Us a Fun Fact About Yourself.

Fun Fact: OldJob used to make all the new hires give a fun fact about themselves, and then Managing Director would introduce the new hires at the monthly company meetings by reading these fun facts aloud and discussing them at length with the new hires. Another Fun Fact: These monthly company meetings consistently ran over time. Correlation or causation? Hmmm….

Anyway, the other thing I learned from OldJob is that no one know what “a Fun Fact” means. The new hires would write paragraph long bios (and the new hires in higher leadership positions would write multi-paragraph bios), and Managing Director would read every word aloud to a forced-to-remain-captive audience. I think welcoming the new hires is important, but after these introductions, it was hard to not dislike them.

By the way, everyone wrote the same thing. Everyone wrote that they love travelling, trying new restaurants, cooking, interior design, some type of exercise class (yoga, Zumba, or SoulCycle), and that they were fans of a popular non-embarrassing TV show. Everyone wrote about their unique household of partners/children/pets. Maybe there is a book out there telling new hires what to write for their “give us a fun fact about you” and everyone read it. Or we really are all special snowflakes.

53 comments

  1. I’m so glad I never had to answer questions like these during my career. Or if I think about it, any questions other than those in the formal interview. Your languages answer made me laugh out of solidarity: I would always say something along the lines of “words from junior high Spanish class, rudimentary prayer book Hebrew.” 🙂 Congrats — I hope NewJob works out well for you. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think someone at my office suggested having questions like this for new hires at one time. We trashed that idea pretty quickly. Basically, everything you want to know about most new hires today is on their social media. I couldn’t have answered the first two questions because I haven’t had a TV in over 30 years. I’m really with you on what languages do you know how to speak? I’m still struggling with my native language, since a lot of people who I presume speak English often give me blank stares. Since everyone gives the same fun facts about themselves, either their facts are not fun at all, or most likely their fun facts are not for public consumption. I wish you the best with your new job.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. New jobs, open doors, territory uncharted. Speaking from years in your future….at 66, I still don’t feel comfortable talking about myself. Let me live my dream. I would probably go with a standard answer and then accept the change with a positive attitude. Does that make sense? 🤔💫

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, absolutely. A lot of this is just silly overthinking the question.
      Interesting to note that talking about oneself does not get easier over time! I’m sure there are people who love talking about themselves, and I certainly do in some contexts (I do have a blog…) but offline, I don’t enjoy this at all!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lol, loved this. I really get the ‘hyperactive puppy’ things that companies tend to do for new hires, and questionnaires are one of most meh things you. can have me do.

    I can also totally relate to waking up early yet not doing anything productive with my time. Sometimes I wonder if I should just sleep more instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I actually tried being productive this morning. I had signed up for a class at the gym. I got to the gym 20 mins late (even though I was up 4 hours earlier because my sleep habits are a mess) and then it’s a class requiring yoga mats and weights that I didn’t have and I’m trying to follow along even though I didn’t have the equipment…it turned out I went to the wrong class. Fail.

      Like

  5. Oui, super, bravo, bonne nouvelle vie professionnelle !!!! votre article m’a fait beaucoup rire même s’il est très sérieux dans le fond ! Les directeurs de ressources humaines devraient s’en inspirer !
    Et je vous le dis, j’ai particulièrement adoré l’image de ce chien très drôle (d’autant que je ne vous imagine pas du tout ainsi).
    Et oui, le mauvais français est une langue, comme le mauvais anglais (très répandu), le mauvais espagnol, etc. vous l’adaptez à la langue que vous voulez.
    Allez amusez-vous bien car en fait dans la vie c’est ce qui est important oui oui même quand on étudie et même quand on travaille et même quand on aime…

    Liked by 3 people

  6. First, congrats on NewJob! 🥳
    Second, those questions are so annoying. They remind me of personal ads. People either try to be “funny” or as bland as possible. These questions are not a good way to learn about someone.
    Third, it’s nice to find a fellow cooking hater. Occasionally, I’ll be in the mood, but mostly I prefer to nuke a frozen rice bowl. Cooking is boring, takes a long time, and then you have to clean up…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks! In fairness, I appreciate that these are lighthearted icebreaker questions. “Tell us about your most traumatizing childhood experience” certainly tells you a lot about someone, but it’s just a little too personal, you know?
      I like the idea of cooking. I enjoy watching cooking shows and reading recipes, but when I’m actually hungry and faced with having to do the prep and clean up myself, it loses appeal real fast!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Fun Fact: I don’t like any of those questions either. I think it’s like aeroplane seats – they tried to make questions to suit “the average” person and the end up suiting nobody. I suspect the majority of people just make up answers that they think others will like/react to/get a laugh out of.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In fairness, I get the need for some getting to know you icebreaker, and I like that they tried picking questions that were a bit creative (honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted to answer question about my family and household). And there are other icebreaker question I could have thought up better answers too, but these just didn’t work for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah. I see your point. I don’t watch much TV. And I grew up without one. So I guess, since high school, I have had a chip on my shoulder about not having answers to those kinds of questions. It seems like there’s this way that people bond which I have never understood or been a part of. These days, especially as a stay at home Mum, it’s hardly relevant. But those questions must have brought it out in me. Oh and seasons… I grew up largely in the tropics. So just having four seasons is so exciting to me. I can only tell you I hate summer. Lol.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I hear you. We had TV growing up, but my parents didn’t pay for the better cable package that had all the channels and shows my friends were watching, so that was a sore subject growing up because I got left out of all those conversations. Now, as an adult, I have access to watch all the cool new shows but weirdly, I don’t want too. I just want to watch re-runs of things I already know I like because I’m weird like that.

          The seasons question is a very region-specific question!

          Liked by 1 person

  8. 1.) Congratulations!
    b.) What the hell. The only way I could bend my leg THAT far would be to, like, fall off a motorcycle or something.
    3.) What’s not to like about Leverage? The perfect Avenging Angels archetypal plots, plus for some reason it’s OK when Spencer beats people up.

    Liked by 1 person

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