Dealing With Your Body’s Bad Language In The Interview

Certain subjects are seldom discussed in articles dealing with the job search at midlife. Wonder why? Perhaps there is a very real possibility of age discrimination swirling around certain things that only happen to “a woman of a certain age”.  I believe youth-oriented American corporate culture finds elder women an embarrassment. Can we gather in the kitchen, away from recruiter chatter, and have a candid discussion about climacteric and the interview?

Ladies 40+, has this ever happened to you? I was in my best black suit and heels when it happened to me. It was at one of those “eliminating” interviews. Much like a theatrical “cattle call” ( Perhaps this is the essence of  the interview: an audition for the role of “employee”. That’s Twilight Zone spooky, isn’t it?)

Being one of the  finalists sifted twice from a pile of applicants in a half day interviewing marathon the day before, I showed up that Friday morning for the even finer sieves nearing the end of a protracted selection process. A day of sitting out in the lobby all day stretched before me: taking tests; talking to managers; waiting to know if  my name would be shaken down to the “training” list–the ones who would get the “welcome letter”. While we were there it happened; something you never want to happen during an interview anywhere. ever.

Suddenly, the room spun like a drunken top and the lights grayed. A feverish heat burst out of my belly and pushed its way up into my scalp. Water burst out of my forehead, ran down my slightly jowled face and met under my double chin. I snatched a copy of Forbes off the coffee table and fanned while sweat popped out all over my upper body, making a big wet spot around my waist. The other women to my right and left began to comiserate with knowing giggles.  As my creole hair was drawing up into tighening curls on the back of my neck, we all began to tell war stories about hot flashes.

In pajama party whispers we talked about the woman in the supermarket who stood in front of the open freezer case and took out neither eggs nor milk; the woman in Macy’s Department Stores who kicked off her shoes and stood in her stocking feet on the air-conditioning cooled floor; being the only one fanning in an air conditioned building; waking up at 3:00 a.m. and not being able to get to sleep until daylight; running thoughts. It begins when the menses stutter and builds into a real pain in the neck especially during an interview. It can be the cause of general tiredness, moodiness and “brain fog”.

The only thing I could do then was run to the ladies’s room, pull off some paper towels and mop. Mop and fan. Mop and fan. I went ahead with the interview, but was a little less than satisfied with how I did. Some of us will decide to handle this time of life with a “little help from our friends”–hormone replacements (HRT). Some of us will decide to go “natural” like I did. Either approach pushes us toward thinking about a few other health management issues we may have been putting off  like:

  • Chronic conditions management
  • Preventative testing (colonoscopy/mammograms)
  • Food, supplements and nutrition
  • Maintaining an active lifestyle
  • Quitting smoking
  • Depression

These are just a few things that directly influence energy levels and must be addressed in order to be at your best in the interview, though seldom discussed in articles targeted towards midlife job seekers.


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