Panic! At The Job Interview
I fear job interviews the way most people fear public speaking. It’s a fate (almost) worse than death, and it can feel just as threatening. Especially if you have anxiety like I’m pretty sure I have, and think about all the ways you could screw up this interview, not get the job, not be able to pay your bills, lose the house you just bought, and end up having to sell all your things to pay off your debt and move with your fiancé and dog back into a single room in his parents’ house, with five other dogs that yours does not get along well with.
So, job interview — absolutely no reason to panic!
I tried not to panic or be anxious before the interview I had last week. I told myself that I needed to nail it because I needed the job, but I also couldn’t help thinking about how much I really wanted the job I was interviewing for. I hadn’t even known how badly I wanted it until it was within my reach. I never felt like I was dying to be a journalist. But now…
So I prepared, and probably over-prepared to an extent. I always used to do that, especially whenever I had a French exam coming up in college. I used to have an exam review, and even if it was for easy, beginner-level stuff that I’d known for years already, I covered the front and back of that review with notes and verb conjugations. I caught myself semi-consciously going over French vocabulary in my head, when I woke up during the night to roll over and settle back to sleep.
Over-preparing doesn’t calm my anxiety, but it does seem to be effective. I tried not to over-prepare, but for days before I didn’t even know whether I’d get an interview, I thought about the usual interview questions — Why do you want this job? Why should we hire you? — and prepared answers. I tried to research the company as much as possible, even though I’ve already been freelancing for them for over a year now.
“Just be yourself,” my fiancé said. I planned to be, but still I worried.
I never felt like I was dying to be a journalist, but now…
On the day of, I put on an outfit I used to wear when I worked in a publishing office: white pants, blue and white striped top, deep orange blazer, sandals. A favorite outfit, one that felt like me.
I have no idea whether “clothes make the woman” but it certainly helps to feel confident and comfortable in what you wear.
I swiped on just enough concealer to cover the circles under my eyes — my constant companion, along with cold hands and a nose “like an iceberg,” my fiancé complains.
I had extra copies of my résumé printed and tucked in a folder, ready to go. I’d already planned to leave early enough to get there ten minutes early; I was ready to go before I’d planned, so I left, and was 20 minutes early. I waited in the car.
Job interview — no reason to panic!
Ten minutes passed, and I went inside. Spoke to the person at the front desk, took a seat, and waited another ten minutes. Thought about my answers to probable questions again. Flipped through one of their magazines — “The Man Issue,” which might have looked weird if anyone was watching me through the glass. Probably no one was.
When my two interviewers finally came out to greet me, I took a deep breath and followed them into the conference room. Here goes everything!
They asked about my résumé: my education, my history with writing. “Tell me about this Brazos Monthly,” they said, and I clasped my hands together.
“Well, you’ve read my stories!”
We laughed. We talked. I tried to stay out of my head for a change: don’t think about what you’re saying, psych yourself out, and lose your train of thought!
Just be Corinna.
After it was over, we shook hands, and I filled out a general application. Then I took another deep breath, and stepped out into the sunshine.
They didn’t even ask me any of the questions I’d prepared for.