I'm nervous. I go to the mirror and check my reflection. Not bad, not bad. Not good, but not bad.
Wait, is that a hair out of place? Where's the gel?!
I firmly believe that job interviews are worse than first dates.
Interviews are scary. After graduation I felt completely unprepared to answer the question, "why do you want to work here?" I felt that perhaps my Ancient Humour class hindered my interview performance because, as I painfully discovered, interviewers just don't appreciate ancient knock knock jokes.
I'll be the first to admit it -- I psych myself out. When the ordeal is over I automatically assume the worst. Thoughts of "they hated me," or "did I seriously make a joke about Grumpy Cat?" or "I hope they didn't see those sweat stains..." run through my head for hours after the interview.
I'm always about 30 minutes early to a job interview. That's the perfect amount of time to check out the location of the interview, go to the café across the street, have a mental breakdown, call my parents during the breakdown and then get it together before I go and meet the person who decides whether I can start my career.
However, before one particular interview my dad gave me some advice that really helped me get over my fears. Though I suspect he gave me this advice so I would stop calling him all the time.
Gather round the fire kids while I tell you a story.
I was walking to a job interview that happened to take place at a restaurant. While walking to the location I reminded myself that I was a strong, confident person who was well liked and had nothing to worry about. They would obviously like me -- nay, they would LOVE me.
When I got to the restaurant, I checked out the location.
Lighting wasn't too bad. Hopefully it would hide that zit that was just under the skin, but would inevitably rear its ugly white head right as I met interviewer for the first time. I swear zits have timing!
Restaurant was a little pricey. Yikes, maybe a lot pricey! Um, who was going to pay for that $25 side salad? Do I pay? Do they pay? Is going dutch tacky?
I left the location more nervous than before.
That's when I went to the café across the street to have a mini-mental breakdown.
Every awkward thing I'd ever said or done swirled in my head.
I remembered the time, in kindergarten, when Toby Martin persuaded me to eat a worm. I started thinking about that day and convinced myself I was still that person. I was a worm eater! If the restaurant served worms, I would probably order it!
"Oh waiter, would I be able to have my worms grilled, with some lemon juice? Thanks."
I called my mom. She didn't answer. Then I called my dad. He didn't answer. Frustrated, I reminded myself never to list my parents as emergency contacts.
Eventually my phone rang -- it was my dad.
"I don't have much time, what's up?"
"I'm freaking out! They are going to hate me! I'm going to eat a worm!"
"You're just going to have to get over it. Got to go, bye!"
Get over it. That was his advice.
My dad's advice may seem blunt, but it was really about control. To have a successful job interview I needed to learn how to control my negative thoughts and keep my insecurities from impacting my performance.
For example, rationally I knew I would not order worms with lemon juice because that's disgusting and it was unlikely that the restaurant served it. Irrationally, I convinced myself that I would and that it did.
Part of learning to how to control my thoughts came with confidence and part of it was just "getting over it." At some point I decided I was awesome -- well-ish, awesome-ish -- and that, despite having just entered the workforce, I did have something to contribute.
It's not like all of sudden I rocked my next interview and got the coolest job in the world (replacing Jeff Probst as host of Survivor), but building up my confidence certainly improved my interview skills.
Here are a few tips to rock your next interview:
1. Keep Your Imagination In Check
It's highly unlikely that you'll be asked to eat anything weirder than a honey-glazed walnut during your interview.
2. Creep Their Twitter Feed
Then you'll know whether that Grumpy Cat joke will be appreciated.
3. Don't Use Hair Gel
No one has used hair gel since frosted tips were in style.
4. Act Confident, Not Arrogant
There's a fine line between confident and arrogant. Find the line and don't cross it. My parents are quick to tell me when I've entered into arrogant territory. Hopefully your parents are just as quick.
Eventually I did manage to convince someone to employ me. And so will you unless you already have a job and in that case, kudos.
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