Commiserate: Job Interviews

Today, I thought I’d follow up with a few things that suck about the next step in the job search process: interviews. There are just so many things to hate about desperately trying to impress the dead-eyed stranger sitting across from you with the power to decide your financial future. Let’s explore, shall we?

You’ve finally gotten it – that coveted call! You’ve got an interview next week, it’s time to prepare.

Lying to Your Employer

Of course, the interview has to be scheduled for a time you’re working. Can’t there be some special after hours program for interviews? Is 8pm too hard to ask?

No problem, all you have to do is tell your boss that you have an appointment and ask to leave at that time. People do this every day. Your boss isn’t allowed to ask you the details about what you’re doing, you got this!

Here goes nothing…

Is your voice always that high? It just squeaked! Are you breathing normally? In out, in out. They know you’re hiding something! ABORT, ABORT, ABORT.

Damn it.

Unsolicited Advice

Ok, you got the time off.

Now you can focus on getting yourself prepared. You excitedly tell friends and family about your upcoming interview.

You start to hear a chorus of “MAKE SURE YOU…” “DON’T FORGET TO…”

It starts to feel overwhelming, so you make a list of all the things people tell you are important: posture, eye contact, talking slowly, knowing about the business, showing interest, suggesting you have options, coming with a paper copy of your application, looking professional, sounding professional, having questions prepared, practicing answers in the mirror…

The list goes on for miles, and just looking at it gives you vertigo. Your excitement is replaced by fear as you try to get a handle on everything you should be thinking about.

Tomorrow is the big day…

Getting Lost

The office you need to find is on the other side of town, and you don’t know the area AT ALL. But, like a good little scout, you spend the last part of your night screen capping bus routes and memorizing cross streets.

You wake up feeling damn prepared. Good hair day, outfit looks perfect, bus fare in pocket, headphones on, you’re good to go! You hop on the bus like you own it. Nothing can stop you.

You listen carefully for your stop, but your hands start to sweat when you cease recognize anything around you. It’ll be ok. Finally, your stop comes up. You walk down the street in the direction you know the office should be.

Tall grey buildings surround you, and you can’t find the right street to turn down. You begin to feel less confident with the direction you chose.

You consult google maps. No, the arrow is pointing in the right direction. Wait, is it? Just walk for a few feet to see if it turns around. Is that…what? You look around for a landmark to help you orient yourself. Looks like you have indeed been walking in the wrong direction for 15 minutes. Time to run!

Weird, Unexpected Questions

Catch your breath. You still made it on time. Just fix yourself up and walk in with confidence. What does confidence feel like again?

The receptionist asks for your name and shows you where to wait. Time starts to slow and you begin to wonder if you still understand English. The interview walks over, calm and warm. Smiles are exchanged, hands are shaken.

The first few questions are easy: tell me about yourself, how did you hear about the job, what do you know about the company? Then…how would you sell hot coco in Florida?

This isn’t what you prepared for!

Going Blank

You know they just want to see how you react on the spot, but you don’t want them to know the truth: that you react with overwhelming panic. It isn’t fair, you know you’d be great for this job which does not require you to answer obscure questions on the spot.

All you need is a few seconds without expectant eyes clawing through your skin to come up with something amazing!

Not gonna happen.

You try to remember the advice you’ve been given. Sit up straight, keep good eye contact, but don’t stare. How long have you been silent now? The interviewer’s brow begins to furrow, or are you imagining that?

The silence becomes defining. Oceans crash against your brain. All sensory input is cut off.

Saying Something Stupid

The silence has gone on too long now. Just say something, anything. What do you know about Florida? Orange juice and crime. You tell the interviewer that you would position hot coco as a comforting drink that distracts from skyrocketing crime rates in a way that orange juice never could.

You wait for a laugh. Nothing comes.

You giggle to yourself to show it was supposed to be funny. Ok, that was definitely a brow furrow!

The interviewer stays calm and professional, politely moving on to the next question. But, you could swear their heart just isn’t in it anymore, and all you can think about is screwing up.

The questions are done, and the interviewer asks if you have any questions of your own. You pull out your notebook to show that you’re prepared. You read your questions and nod eagerly to show your interests in the responses.

But you don’t get the feedback you’re looking for. The interviewer has an unbeatable poker face and does nothing to reveal their hand. Goodbyes are exchanged, hands are shaken.

You’ll be hearing back next week. Yes, they will be calling all applicants.


You go back out into the maze of tall grey buildings and slowly make your way home. You send your interviewer a thank you email, then return to your old post by the phone, waiting for the call that will determine your future.

It’s all out of your hands now.

Hope you enjoyed this installment of commiserate!

Tell me about your most embarrassing or awkward interview moment in the comments below.

For me, it was returning home only to realize that my fly was down for an entire interview…where there was no table…and my legs were crossed…pulling the material open.

2 thoughts on “Commiserate: Job Interviews

Add yours

  1. A couple months ago, I had an interview with someone I knew (we’ve hung out together informally, for dinner, with a group of people…I’m a grad student, he’s a new instructor). I applied for this position and he got back to me and asked if we could “connect” the following morning for a brief chat. Little did I know that this would turn out to be a VERY formal interview with him and his colleague. The job position was fairly vague as well, but it mentioned conducting a literature review as the main aspect of it. In the interview, I was asked all sorts of questions about how I would conduct workshops with an Indigenous population in a rural area! I ended up emailing a few days later to say I didn’t want the job as it wasn’t what I expected. It was actually very angering to not only spend the time to apply for the job and write a cover letter, but to be misled about the position and the fact that it was a formal interview, not a “chat.” I was embarrassingly unprepared. I will not be applying for any more positions with this person…


    1. Ugh, that’s absolutely brutal, interviews are hard enough without being completely blindsided! And, if you’re getting desperate for a job it can almost be tempting to accept whatever you get offered, even if you know it’s going to be horrible. Good for you for having the guts to say you weren’t interested! Hopefully you’ve found something you like now?


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