Wednesday, November 14, 2012

adventures in interviewing

Is there anyone out there who actually enjoys interviewing? Who looks forward to being put on the spot and quizzed about their qualifications? Probably not. Yet, is there anyone out there who detests interviewing more than me? I doubt it.

Interviewing is my least favorite thing ever. Period. The end. Not even public speaking scares me as much as the dreaded interview.  So distressing, so nerve-wracking, so awful. To me, the interview is nothing but a disaster waiting to happen.

I'm not even being dramatic, for I have had some pretty traumatic interview experiences in my life.

The first occurred in college when I was up for an outreach internship at a local art museum. I have never wanted anything more in my life. I mean, it would have been absolutely perfect.

Yes, would have been. Because the interview happened to be scheduled in August, during an relentless heatwave. Most people associate Wisconsin with subzero temperatures and blizzards (and yeah, cheese), but trust me, the summers are equally brutal. And that particular August day was the worst of the worst. An oppressive kind of heat. Humid, sticky, torrid. The air was so thick it was practically unbreathable.

So, what is the appropriate professional attire for an interview in the sweltering heat? The best I could do in those poor college years was a black skirt and a light pink button-down... sans undershirt. Keeping in mind that I had to walk three miles to said interview -- in the 100+ degree weather -- lightweight was my priority. How I didn't foresee that this wouldn't end well, I don't know.

By the time I arrived to the interview, I was soaked with sweat. Not only soaked, but on the verge of fainting and total dehydration. Suffice it to say, I looked rough. Really, really rough. I will never ever forget the look of horror on the interviewer's face when, as she reached out to shake my hand, her eyes met my completely-sweat-soaked-see-through shirt. Oh, hey there lace bra.

It was awkward.

Well, if only to prevent me from dropping dead right then and there, she offered me a much-needed glass of water. Naturally, I declined. Why?!?! It makes no sense and I will never know.

As you may have guessed, the whole endeavor was an epic fail. I was able to maintain consciousness for the whole five minute interview (how can you answer questions when you can't even breathe?), but as soon as I got outside, I sat on a bench and - I kid you not - put my head down and passed out for an hour. I can only imagine the interviewer walking by, seeing me sprawled out in a pool of my own sweat, deciding it would be too gross to feel for a pulse, and continuing on her way. I cringe just thinking about it! Ugh.

My second worst interview happened a few years later. Adult job, real paycheck, high stakes. This time, I went shopping for a new dress (because how I'm dressed absolutely affects my confidence level. I realize this is not a lesson to teach the young girls of the world, but it is my reality and I have accepted it.). I was intent on covering my chest (thanks to my previous traumatic bra exposure and a tendency to blush) and purchased the first dress that fit the bill. What I failed to take into account however, was mobility. Ladies, the circumference of the bottom of the skirt does matter.

Following this seemingly successful trip to Zara, the dress hung in my closet for a few days, untouched. On the day of the interview - about one hour beforehand, to be precise - I got dressed and ready to go. Still carless, it would be another long commute to my (hopefully!) future place of employment.

But the second my foot hit the pavement, I knew it. This, too, would not end well. My skirt was so narrow, all I could do was waddle. And barely! It was kind of like this, but worse.

Alas, there was no time to go back and change. Channeling my hero at the time, Tim Gunn, I made an executive decision: I had to make it work. Taking a bus was out of the question (lifting my leg high enough to board would be an impossible feat - even if I hiked the skirt up to inappropriate heights, there was no way), and so I walked. Er, waddled.

Over a mile and a billion baby steps later, with only seconds to spare, I waddled my way around the last corner and, finally, made it to the school. Before I could exhale, however, I saw it. THE STEEPEST STAIRCASE IN THE CHICAGOLAND AREA (probably).

On the very first step, the fate of this interview was decided. It was the loudest, saddest, most tragic rip that I, or anyone in that quad, had ever heard. It echoed, people. All the way past my rear and halfway up my back (the lining stayed in tact, but at that point, does it really matter?).

Again, how can you formulate thoughtful, intelligent answers when you have just experienced such public humiliation? It was over before it even began.

Oh, if only that was all for interview horror stories. But since this is already way too long, some honorable mentions include: the one where I tripped on a doorframe, the time I got a case of uncontrollable hiccups, and when I repeatedly forgot the names of my former places of employement. How I ever manage to get hired at all is beyond me.

Needless to say, for today's interview, I was prepared for anything. Carefully selected (and rehearsed) attire? Check. Ten copies of my resume, filed into two separate waterproof folders? Check. An extra pair of shoes and two backup pairs of tights in tow? Check. Band-Aids? Keys? Bus pass? Cash? Bobby pins? Ziplock bags (you never know)? Bottle of water? Check. Also, I may or may not have arrived nearly two hours early...

Well, I am thrilled to report that yesterday's interview yielded no major catastrophes. But I was still crazy nervous. At one point (maybe two), I think I may have sounded a little like this... Oh dear.

In the end, I tried my best and that is all I could do. And afterward, Dave took me to Roam for comfort food. Because yes, a burger, a beer, and a few of the best French fries in SF can calm even the worst bouts of anxiety. It's true.

1 comment:

  1. So so hilarious!!! Thanks for an awesome laugh this morning. Chad and I literally laughed so hard we were crying :) Love your blog! We miss you though!!