Monday, April 26, 2021

Checking In

Oops, pardon me for disappearing for a week! One thing I didn't take into account when I said I thought I would be able to return to a more regular posting schedule this month was that I get incredibly stressed out when preparing for and thinking about upcoming job interviews. Ever since the earliest days when I've needed to do them as an undergraduate student, I've always found job interviews particularly challenging. But I hadn't done any interviews since early 2017, so I'd forgotten how much of my mental energy they take up. 

But I'm very lucky to have already had a job interview to prepare for. I've only been applying in earnest to government jobs for around a month, and frankly, I wasn't expecting my first interview to come around so soon. 

My interview was done remotely via videoconference, and in the near future, I'd expect all or most of my interviews to be done that way. I was initially quite nervous about the format - I've only ever done in-person job interviews and also haven't had the opportunity to participate in a videoconference court hearing or deposition yet - but I was surprised to find I actually quite liked it. I was less nervous than I usually am during in-person interviews, and being able to see myself on the computer screen helped me stay calm and think through my answers. 

I did alright in my first interview, though I could definitely have done better on one or two of my answers during the half-hour session. (There will be three rounds of interviews for this particular job - to hire just one candidate - so my best guess is that I have a decent chance of advancing to the second round, but am almost certainly not standing out as the single best candidate so far.) I had worked hard to prepare, but my focus was a bit off: I over-prepared for certain types of more technical legal questions - that were, in hindsight, highly unlikely to be part of this first round  - and so I underprepared for some other types of questions. The important thing is that I know how to prepare better next time, whether for the second round for this job or a first round interview at another job. 

Here are a few small things that have made me happy recently while I've been preparing for and worrying about my job interviews:

Succession on HBO: A good friend suggested a few months ago that if I had enjoyed Billions so much, also on her recommendation, I should also try Succession. It took me forever to follow her recommendation. Succession sounded like it would be darker and overall have a more serious tone than Billions, and I wasn't sure I would actually like that. 

Recently - when K and I decided to subscribe to HBOMax for a month or two to watch a few other things - we finally decided to also try Succession. After the first few episodes - the pilot episode is clunky and there are so many important characters that it takes a few episodes to get a handle on all of them - we were completely hooked! It's an incredible television show, extremely well-written and well-acted. The overall subject matter is quite dark and most of the characters are somewhat terrible and selfish - there's a particularly awful moment in the pilot that almost turned me off the entire show - but there are also so many absolutely hilarious moments. 

I can't think of any other show quite like Succession. There are many shows I enjoy just as much, but I can't think of many other shows that are so consistently well-written and so smart about it all. (Admittedly, I haven't watched a lot of the frequently-recommended, all-time great shows out there, such as Breaking Bad or Mad Men.) 

Successful Rent Negotiation: As I mentioned a few months ago, rents had fallen significantly in many parts of NYC after the pandemic started, including in our neighborhood. By late November last year, rents for new leases on units comparable to ours were ~$700 to $800/month less than our current lease, after factoring in rent concessions of one or two free months (when we'd signed back in May 2020, the market hadn't fallen so much yet and our rate was probably ~$100/month less than new tenants were getting). 

When I posted, we were still approximately six months off from when we'd need to sign our next lease renewal, but we were already pretty certain we wanted to continue living in our current apartment through our next lease term. Cat made the helpful suggestion that we should try to renegotiate immediately, that we could lock in a better deal that at least partially reflected the new, lower market rate in exchange for offering to commit to whatever new, additional time period was agreeable to us. 

We ended up not initiating the negotiation as quickly as we should have. December through February ended up more difficult than expected, we started feeling the pandemic blues badly and I had some additional stressful things going on at work. By the time we opened up negotiations in late February, the market looked like it might be starting to recover slightly, but we were at least able to successfully negotiate for a savings of ~$500/month, and we committed early to a new lease covering the period through summer 2022. 

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