Growing Up Professional: Mistakes I Can’t Believe I’ve Actually Made in Job Interviews

So, yesterday I had a job interview. It was sort of a big deal.

My best friend was positively useless. 

Me: I don’t think I could be more prepared for this interview, but I’m terrified they’ll ask some question I just haven’t considered.
Gail: “Do you fidget at work and, if so, is it a result of meth use?”
Gail: “Yes. I mean, I fidget. I don’t do meth. I don’t do any drugs. I mean, I’ve taken prescription drugs, but they were mine. I mean, they were prescribed to me for conditions I legitimately had. I don’t steal prescription drugs or do meth, but I sometimes fidget.”

Those who know you best, mock you best. Congratulations Gail. You’ve been replaced by a houseplant. You know, the one you gave me and I facetiously named Blaylock, after the redheaded gay vampire warrior from that paranormal romance novel, but now refuse to plant in soil, because I’m afraid I’ll kill it and cry, because I named it? That one.

Anyhoo. I was prepared for this interview, y’all. I created my own workbook of possible interview questions, filled it out, and quizzed myself for a week. That kind of prepared.


That kind of prepared.

I didn’t substitute teach for three days this week so I could obsessively go over everything from “What don’t your coworkers like about you?” to “Wait. Should I wear silver or gold jewelry with the pearls?” The latter was part of a text/photo message conversation with Jane, in Vegas, that started with “Good friends stay local for I Have Nothing to Wear! crises!!!!”

But why? Why would anyone prepare for an interview on such an extensive level?


No. Besides that.

Here’s why. These are mistakes that I have actually made in the past… and that I can thank the good lord I didn’t make yesterday.

That time I showed up with a mangled neck…
After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I was desperately trying to save my marriage. Certain that getting a teaching job would provide the finances and security to do so, I applied for every applicable job… including one 80 miles away. This was going to finally fix my husband, y’all!


It’s just that exorcisms are so expensive.

In hindsight, the whole thing was stupid, particularly the part where my ex-husband gave me a gigantic hickie the night before. Now, do not misunderstand. I know I exaggerate a lot, but this was hardly the kind of mark that could be covered with concealer. Seriously, it was like what Old Yeller looked like after the wild boars got a hold of him. At the time, however, my hair was nearly to my waist, and I felt I could hide it. So, off I went, for the two hour drive, to the high school in a town of 2,000, with no concrete plans as to what I would do about the distance were I offered the position.

Lucky me, that last detail was never something I had to consider. Halfway through the interview, the snaggle-toothed principal left me to write a short essay, and I heard him discussing the gaping wound on my neck, with his secretary. They were talking about sizeAt that point, there really wasn’t much to be done, so I sort of just blew off the essay and left. Not only did I not get the job, but I never got any kind of acknowledgement that I had even interviewed.

That time I wore a fairy princess costume...
Just a few months after I started working at my first library, I had the opportunity to interview for a 3/4 time position, as opposed to my half time one. Having recently lost a lot of weight, I really didn’t have many clothes that fit me. Even the dress I’d worn to my interview just four months earlier had been given to Gail. Not long before this, though, I’d bought a flowy, strapless, black dress with an uneven Tinkerbell-style hem. It was adorable and comfortable and sexy… and entirely inappropriate for an interview.

sexy fairy costume
I really wish this were more of an exaggeration.

In my defense, I did pair the dress with a black shrug, to conceal the fact that it was strapless, but I also referred to it as “not-much dress” when Gail wore it in Crawfish and Smarmy

Bee tea double ewe, Gail, thanks for taking my hand-me-ups. It makes me feel skinny.

In addition, I only had one bra, at the time. Seriously, y’all, losing weight is expensive. You have to buy new everythingand a black bra didn’t make the list, when I was in grad school and working two jobs. Unfortunately, the only one that did was a white racerback bra, that practically wrapped itself around my neck, so there was just no way to keep from repeatedly flashing bright white bra straps from beneath my black prom dress. I don’t know that the outfit was the sole reason for my not having gotten the job, but really, I can’t see how it wouldn’t have played a part. I would not have hired someone wearing that costume.

That time I couldn’t walk in high heels…
As I worked my way through school, I applied for each and every position that opened in the library system. When an associate librarian position was made available at my location, I jumped at the opportunity, even handing my boss a copy of my resume, personally. Although I wasn’t done with school and it’s rare to hire librarians without a master’s degree, my boss still gave me a shot… and I blew it. Desperate to look professional, I bought new shoes for the occasion: four inch heels.

Like every little girl who repeatedly wished someone else was her mommy, I never had a woman to teach me how to walk in heels. As it was, Gaily and a Youtube video taught me to apply eyeliner at 23. Not wanting to mess up my pretty new houndstooth heels, I didn’t walk in them much prior to my interview, either. I also wasn’t sure how heels were actually supposed to fit.

foot binding
Hint: not like this.

Not only were the heels too high to walk in, but they were also excruciatingly painful. Realizing, too late, how incapable I was of wearing these foot vices, I speed-hobbled into my manager’s office and tried my hardest not to have to walk in front of him. Zetus lapetus. I’m having hindsight embarrassment just picturing how I refused to move to the left or right to grab something and just leaned way over.

Beyond the shoes, I really just wasn’t ready to be a librarian. It’s a much more difficult job than people think and I’d yet to realize just how involved it is, so I don’t blame my old boss for not having chosen me. I also, however, wouldn’t blame him if he decided that taking off my shoes the second I left the office, and running through the library and the parking lot barefootwas an inappropriate exit. I’ve since sold the heels to Gail. Joke’s on her, since they’re filled with my blood. 

That time I didn’t know my boss’s name… or who was interviewing me…
Okay. There’s an explanation. It’s just lame.

Despite all of my panicked and tearful phone calls to Gail, where I insisted that I was going to have to join the armed forces, because I was “never going to be a librarian!!!!!”…

… just one day before my MLIS graduation ceremony, I received my first call for an interview. Unfortunately, said interview was given during a truly busy and exhausting time. I had been working about 55 hours per week, in addition to finishing up the last of my graduate coursework. I was also still coming down from the stress of presenting my portfolio, upon which the future of mankind rested. I was overwhelmed. I was just so very tired. Just parking downtown for my interview had me near frustrated tears during the elevator ride.

The woman giving the interview was my boss’s boss. I had read her name in print and had possibly met her in person, but I was mistaken on the pronunciation of her name. You see, a nearby branch manager was named Maria. The woman interviewing me was named Mariah. In my head, I’d been pronouncing them both Maria. Not only did I say this woman’s name incorrectly in my introduction, but I continued to mispronounce it throughout the interview. I corrected myself each time…

“Maria… I mean Mariah.”

… but it got to the point where the other interviewer was laughing. No really. That happened. My interviewer laughed at my awkwardness. That deserves a fucking trophy, not like that means anything these days, but come on!!!!! 

Aaaaaand, speaking of my other interviewer…

I wasn’t aware, upon entering the room, that Mariah was going to be the primary interviewer. She’s the manager of the managers, and as far as I understood, she was just supposed to sit in on the meeting. So, the entire time she was asking me questions, I was addressing my answers to Chuckles McGee. Only later, did I realize that Chuckles  was the interim manager of the hiring branch. He was supposed to sit in on my interview with Mariah, not the other way around, because he wouldn’t be the one making the decision. So basically, I turned the interview into a conversation with the ventriloquist’s dummy. To make matters worse, I started to get nervous, realizing that this interview was going horribly and my answers quickly deteriorated. Recently, an unstable coworker had yelled at me for not breaking policy for a customer.

Mariah: “What don’t your coworkers like about you?”
Me: ::to Chuckles:: “I tell everyone no.”

As I left the office, I did one thing right. I thanked my interviewers.

Me: “Thank you. It was nice meeting you, Maria.”
Mariah: “Mariah.”
Chuckles: ::laughs out loud::

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4 thoughts on “Growing Up Professional: Mistakes I Can’t Believe I’ve Actually Made in Job Interviews

  1. At work we recently received an application from someone who studied at a City University of New York, which is abbreviated C.U.N.Y. Except that he wrote C.U.N.T. on his resume. He did not even get an interview.

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