The Interview From Hell


Somehow, if the head is not occasionaly  lifted out of the PC screen, it seems that the job search lasts forever. You feel you’re the only person on earth without a job. Surely, everybody and her sister knows your shame as if you were branded with a big, fat red “U” (and it’s not for university) on your shirt. Then the eyes sorrow over and suddenly you hear the voice of the strawberry ice cream in the refrigerator.

One of the good things about networking and doing the odd “walk about” in the good, open air outside the house is that you hear stories…heart whapping  tales of how somebody messed up an interview; the kind of tales that find their way into books with “what NOT to”  do in the title.  Well, it’s a drippy enough day in Northern Virginia today; ’tis a fine day for a tale.

My family moved here Christmas week past from Prince George’s County, Maryland: miserable place somewhere near DC–especially for the particular sector of the economy I was mining for work in. Before we relocated I thought I had done all the  necessary pre-job search planning to ease the transition into my new area. What I didn’t count on is my 50+ body’s being so beat from days of  intense setting up house and fighting with the cable company(name withheld for decency’s sake).

 When I got to my very first interview in Virginia at The Temporary Employment Agency,  it was a nightmare.  After handing back a form full of white spaces where I could not give a current phone number or address, I sat down before screens of questions about jobs I could not remember when I held them, how much they paid me, or who supervised me. Phone numbers? Addresses? Fuggeddabowdit!

 After that, I was summoned into an office hardly big enough to breathe in to be further interrogated by a woman I was sure had not yet been born  when I finished my bachelor’s.  The test had taken the entire morning. Now, half the day later, I had not eaten since 7:30a.m.  That proved to be my undoing. I had forgotten to prepare against the possibility of  a missed meal and medicine. By the time I saw the interviewer, the medical condition I live with had me light headed, confused, and slightly slurring my speech.  The employment counselor  glanced at my resume and surmised I wanted a job located in Maryland.  I stammered with righteous indignation that I did not. 

After it was over,  I looked again at that resume and realized that I had given the lady an incomplete and inappropriate resume with an old address on it.  Little Miss Employment Counselor advised me, a 15-year professional, that they did not handle retail assignments and to “Google, ‘ resume templates’ ” (like, what are you doing here, granny?). Embarrassed, feeling old, and angry, I thanked her and left to coast into the break down lane.  In the mirror over the sink in the ladies’ room I caught sight, for the first time in many days, of the bland face with the dark eye circles below a head of hair with over half its perm grown out: Grandmother Death warmed over.

Now, brothers and sisters, what did we learn from this?

  1. Never, ever, even go “application surfing” when you’re not physically “at the top of your game”.
  2. Make sure your resume is updated, clean, critiqued and ready before you go out.
  3. Remember job hunting is a marketing campaign at heart and all the rules apply (more later!).
  4. Do the research on the company before you get to the interview.
  5. Promise yourself that you will do no interview before it’s time.

 Of course, a letter of thanks followed, but in my mind, I credited that interview as “the going price of wisdom”. It was, “the one that got away”. There really is not a second chance to make a first impression.

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