How to Fail an Interview
So you may or may not have noticed that I have been absent from The Collared Sheep for a few weeks… or months… For those of you who noticed, I apologize wholeheartedly. I know many of you depend on me for giggles and sweet distraction from your routines. Unfortunately, I spent the last however many moons cycling between illness and depression. You see, last year I reached an awkward point in my life where wonderful things started happening to my friends. Everyone seemed to be starting a career, getting married, moving to the city…. And screw you Zuckerberg. Now I have to read these joyous life updates on a daily basis. It used to be you could wait until your high school reunion to feel inadequate. Being bombarded with everyone else’s good news really has a detrimental effect on a person’s wellbeing.
When my boyfriend started planning to move to Blacksburg, Virginia to attend graduate school, I panicked. I knew if I didn’t act soon, I would end up moving with him to the countryside, getting another sad waitress or cashier job, and becoming an initiated member of the Mountain Folk. I knew I needed to look for a real job. Astonishingly, within five minutes of googling, I found an open position for a media specialist in Blacksburg. I read the description and the prerequisites and I knew this job was mine. My computer emitted a golden aura as a choir of angels sang “Hallelujah!!”
For the first time in months I felt excited. I was even pleasant to customers at work, which is unusual. But this new vibrant nature soon ended. You see, I totally bombed that interview. It wasn’t totally my fault, but we’ll get into that in a bit. First, I’d like to identify the egregious errors I made so no one else has to make them.
1. I didn’t know enough about the job
…to qualify driving for six hours and spending $90 for a room in a deserted hotel. I’m not going to beat myself up on this one, because I knew my boyfriend would be living there and it was worth a shot. But still, there were warning signs. The people hiring had never employed a media specialist before. There was no website of videos or prior work I could investigate. It was a local government position, not some fancy production or PR company with reviews and testimonials. Additionally, it was in the mountains. Not New York. What was I expecting?
2. I was sick. Not just sick, but siiiiick.
Unfortunately I have an extremely stubborn personality. I refuse to be a quitter. I knew they only had one day of interviews, and if I missed out on it, I missed out on the opportunity. But seriously. I was poppin’ DayQuils like M&Ms. My coat pocket was a hazmat waste bin of snot tissues. My skin was pale and my lips were chapped from sleeping with my mouth open. I couldn’t hear well out of my ears and on top of everything, my brain wasn’t functioning at tip-top speed that day. Every question the interviewers asked me I needed repeated, and my answers didn’t totally make sense.
3. I couldn’t verbalize eloquently why I wanted the job.
I knew why I wanted the job. I wanted to start my video career, I wanted to make money, and I wanted to live with my boyfriend. You don’t say those things though. You have to come up with a bs version that involves a little ass kissing. I should have known they would ask this most basic of questions, but I think my illness prevented me from using any common sense. “Uhhhhh…. I… I like video! I enjoy cameras, I enjoy… uh media. I like Blacksburg! Go Hokies!”
4. I was a little too honest.
For the most part, honesty is the right decision. You don’t want to start a relationship with a lie, but sometimes gearing your answers ever so slightly toward the needs of the employer is just fine. I went with the honesty route. Unfortunately that gave them the knowledge that I am shy, work better alone, have issues adjusting to changing technology, and have a bit of an animal obsession. So, in other words, I am an elderly cat lady.
5. I wasn’t prepared.
I know you can’t exactly rehearse for an interview. You don’t know who you’ll meet, what they’ll like, what they’ll ask, where you’ll be, etc…. But I should have at least been prepared to face certain situations. Somehow I went into this thing expecting to be interviewed by a fifty-year old, technologically impaired countryperson who would be interviewing me in a cozy office. He would be looking for someone young who could handle a few ads and marketing videos a year without being bothered. But instead I was interviewed by three people I would have never grouped together in my life: a youngish man, clearly jaded by the industry and the fact that he is working PR for a town who’s motto is “A Special Place,” a middle aged woman who probably started out in sales but inadvertently got wound up in the world of local government, and some other intimidating lady of few words who claimed to manage social media, but seemed to somehow lack welcoming communication skills. In addition I was interviewing in the world’s coldest office. I had a sweater on but I was still shivering. These folks were somehow accustomed to such frigid temperatures and thought that I either had a severe anxiety problem or was going berserk.
For a more visual lesson on why to be prepared, here’s Tobias:But there’s a twist to this story – Even if I had not completely bombed that interview, I still wouldn’t have gotten the job. I opened a letter the next week that stated that, “after lengthy consideration,” the position for media specialist would remain vacant. Now, there was at least a days worth of interviews for the position (I looked at the schedule on the board). That means that either every single person who applied was equally as moronic as I, or the Community Relations Office conned a bunch of unemployed hopefuls to drive up and make plans when they weren’t even sure they wanted a media specialist.
So what can you learn from this novella? Absolutely nothing. Except that if you fail at an interview, it’s ok. It’s good practice, and clearly you’re not the only one failing.