Interview Tips for the Rest of Us

I had my first real interview the other day. I’d read the tips — dress well, research the company, have questions — but here are some extra tips I came up with after my interview.

1. Pretend you’re not crazy.

My interview took place on the third floor. When I walked in, I immediately looked for the stairs because I have this “fear of entrapment” thing. (Different than claustrophobia, I learned from my friend Lance after telling him about the time I tried to pry open some elevator doors after being “stuck” for about 12 seconds.) The place I had my interview wasn’t a large building, so I was perplexed when I couldn’t find the staircase. I decided to ask one of the ground floor people.

Me: Hi, where are the stairs?

Lady: Hmm, I don’t know. Joe, do you know where the stairs are?

Joe: I don’t know.

Me (Incredulous): What are you guys going to do in an earthquake?

Joe: I never go on the other floors.

Lady to a man behind me: Hey Aaron, do you know where the stairs are?

Aaron: No.

Me: Hey, are you the Aaron I’m meeting at eleven?

Aaron (Looking scared of the crazy lady who asked what everyone was going to do in the event of an earthquake): Yes.

I should have just sucked it up and taken the freaking elevator in the first place. Which leads me to my second tip.

2. Your interview starts the second you enter the building.

That was one awkward elevator ride with Aaron. I should have had my game face on the moment I entered the building. Plus, I didn’t get to do my Wonder Woman pose in the stairwell. (See the TED Talk on this subject.)

3. Pretend you like yourself.

Aaron and Abby interviewed me. At least let’s pretend those are their names. Let’s also pretend that they work for a local radio station.

Aaron: And your creative writing skills?

Me: I think they’re good.

Abby (Trying to help me out): Your resume says you’ve won two writing contests?

Me: Oh. Yeah.

Crickets: Chirp.

Really. I said “Oh. Yeah.” And then nothing else. Did I even want this job? Also, when they asked what I knew about their station, I actually said “Not much.” Not much?! I had read every word on every page of their website. I knew more about “radio stations” in general than probably 99% of the population. Do I hate myself? Well, maybe a little, but this was the day to pretend otherwise.

4. Pretend you like other people.

After many short answers like the above, which always came after five seconds of my searching my brain for an answer that wouldn’t make me look stupid, I was asked, “What’s your biggest pet peeve related to other people?” And this is the question I answer almost before she’s done asking it?

“PEOPLE WHO SOUND LIKE THEY’RE A HUNDRED PERCENT SURE ABOUT SOMETHING AND THEN YOU FIND OUT THEY WERE WRONG! I MEAN, WHY CAN’T THEY JUST SAY, ‘I’M NOT SURE, BUT I THINK IT’S…”

Smooth. Great time to come alive. All my talk about how easy I was to work with was negated by my pet peeve fervor. How were they to know that I have my pet peeves listed, and that’s why my answer came to me so quickly? I could have at least told them that this was only third on my pet peeve list, the first two being gory commercials during family friendly TV shows, and leaf blowers.

**********************************************************************************************************************************************

On the way out, I found the stairs. I took them down, and I came out an ugly little door not in the lobby, but outside. When the door closed, I tried to open it, just out of curiosity. It was locked. I guess the stairs are for emergencies only. No offense to those who work there, but I still think it’s kind of funny that I discovered all this about the stairwell my first time in the building and no one else had ever been curious about whether a building in California had stairs.

I didn’t get the job. I had a good resume and great references. I read the interview tips. I had my pants pressed. I had a question prepared. My only desire now is that my lameness could maybe benefit you when you have an interview. Hide the phobias, pretend you like yourself and others, and for heaven’s sake, be ready to meet your interviewer on the first floor — even in the parking lot. I’m not going to lie. It was kind of my dream job. But at least I won’t have to take an elevator every day.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Interview Tips for the Rest of Us

  1. Good one. I laughed out loud. (Sorry.) However, you can bet I will be revisiting this blog before I go for an interview.

  2. Gorgeous take on the interview process!! Love your writing!!

  3. I’m shaking remembering the days of horrid job interviews. Phew! So glad I don’t have to live through those anymore.

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