Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Post Interview Conundrum

As you know (or may not know depending on how much of my blog you've read), I lost my job two weeks ago. It would be cool to say that I went out in a flaming ball of glory, ending in a high-speed car chase, but in reality it was far more mundane. I was part of a round of layoffs at my small company. These things happen, and to be perfectly honest, being unemployed can be okay as long as you stay busy.

Therein lies the rub, or so they say (what on earth does that mean, anyway?). Staying busy. You have no where to be, no responsibilities, and no reason to really get dressed (see previous post about the hidden dangers of sweat pants).

That being said, there is that rare opportunity when you get called in for an interview. You spend most of the day prepping for it, researching their website over and over again trying to find minute details that will give you unique insight into answering that endlessly frustrating question, "Do you have any questions for us?"

You want to be suave, cool, and original. "Why, thank you for asking. Indeed, I do. I would like to know if you feel special when you wear colorful underwear?"

So you spend hours pouring over the questions, and the answers, and coming up with original comments that will make you stand out amid the plethora of other candidates. Finally, it's time to shower. Of course, you give yourself an extra thirty minutes - who knows, you could have a horrible shaving accident that takes extra clean up time.

An hour later, you're clean, freshly shaven, looking sharp, and smell like a pot of fresh flowers. It's time. Only you have that extra thirty minutes that you didn't need. No matter, you can just hang out for a while. Except that you can't sit down or even move too quickly because your house is generously peppered in pet hair, and any sudden movements could leave you looking like you're wearing a fur coat that would incite PETA members everywhere.

So, standing perfectly still, you check the clock every two minutes, waiting, as the time slowly ticks by, until you only have two minutes left before you were planning on leaving. You give up on waiting, collect your things, and bolt out the door, ready to rock this interview. You drive to the end of the street, and promptly turn back around because you forgot your resume/phone/wallet/notepad/pen/whatever else you might need to make sure you look prepared and on the ball.

Now, after waiting around for thirty minutes and doing nothing, you're actually running late. You charge into the house like a tornado, seize your resume/phone/wallet/notepad/pen off the table, and give your confused roommate nothing more than a mumbled, "I forgot something," before you bolt out the door, awkwardly walk-running to your car.

Naturally, you hit that inevitable slow in traffic that makes you immediately wonder whether or not you should call the company and let them know that you're going to be late. Finally it lets up, and you're off like Mario Andretti. You push the speed limit, drive slightly dangerously, and pray that you don't see any cops. About a mile shy of your destination, you slow down dramatically. You don't want anyone who might be your future employer to see you driving like a crazy woman. Casually, you pull into the parking lot, putting on your, "I never get stressed out, and I always drive safely" face, and look at the time. You have fifteen minutes to spare.

You mill the time away in your car, and with ten minutes left, you start to wonder should you go in now or wait another five minutes? Finally, after much debate, you decide on eight minutes. You figure, it'll be at least 7 minutes by the time you reach the door, and that makes you look slightly more prepared, but not overly eager, or imposingly early.

With your most charming smile, you tell the receptionist who you are, and take a seat, where you sit straight backed and wait, trying to decide whether you should play on your phone, admire the decor in the waiting room, or make small talk with the receptionist making valiant attempts to sound smart and witty.

Without warning, the interviewer appears, and takes you back to a conference room. You answer all their questions, talking yourself up like you are god incarnate, stopping just shy of walking on water and healing the sick (unless you're applying to be a doctor). You even get through the awkward one where you spin your weaknesses as a strength, and everyone in the room knows you're doing just that, but has the politeness to pretend that they don't know that's what you're doing.

Thirty minutes later, they see you to the door, and you get in your car and drive home, rethinking every detail of your interview, and trying to read a person who you don't even know. You get home, and look around.

You look like a million bucks, spent at least an hour and a half getting ready, all your employed friends are at their jobs, and you're home alone before an hour has even passed.

And the same question crosses your mind every time. "What on earth do I do now?"

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