It’s an amazing thing, really, the degree of stress one feels when preparing for a job interview, especially when 1) you’ve been out of work for two-plus years 2) you know that there are scads of well-qualified candidates being interviewed for the same job and 3) you’re feeling rusty because you haven’t been called for an interview in awhile.
Regardless of how well I’ve prepared for a particular interview, the dominant thoughts in my head on the day of the interview all sound something like this:
I don’t want to do this. I don’t have to go. I can just not show up. I don’t want to go. Why do I have to do this? I don’t have to do this. No one's making me do this. Why do I have to go through this? I hate this.
Still, masochist that I am, I do it.
The amount of research I do and advice I read and decisions I make and people I contact before each rare and highly-prized job interview astounds me. I study up on the company, its mission, its goals. I peruse articles and discussions and websites that offer helpful tips, techniques and to-dos for interviews.
I also tailor my portfolio of writing samples to the particular job and company. Should I include this or that? Can I find more examples of a certain type of written communication vs. another? On which computer did I create the document I want and will I be able to find it now? Do I have hard copies of this or that article I've published? Do I have a binder, clear plastic sleeves, dividers for the sections so everything’s organized?
I talk to people I know at the company or to people I know who may know people there. I do a lot of reading to make sure I’m conversant about the latest communications tools and their applications in the specific field for which I’ll be interviewed.
What to wear is always an important decision too. Should I wear a skirt and jacket or a suit? Which one combined with which top? Or maybe a dress? And which shoes and purse? Are my hair and nails OK? Do I present a youthful – appropriate to my age, of course – appearance? Do I exude energy and enthusiasm and confidence and interest?
Even the drive to the interview requires preparation. I MapQuest the route so I have an idea of how long it takes to get there. In my car I use GPS, so I hope it’ll take me on a sensible route that isn’t delayed by road repairs, blinking traffic lights or cars with flats.
Remember, all of this thought and consideration and planning are required and I haven’t even gotten to the actual interview yet!
An interview is the absolute epitome of multi-multitasking. You try to remember the advice you received and the information you read and the points you want to make and the anecdotes you want to tell, all while actually listening to and understanding the questions being asked and responding thoughtfully and appropriately while not rambling on (and not forgetting to make good eye contact and to project positive body language and facial expressions).
After what feels like an eternity but fortunately isn’t, it’s done and they smile and thank you and you smile and thank them and you shake hands (firmly) and make your exit. And when you get home, the very first thing you must do is dispatch a perfect and memorable thank-you note.
Once that’s done, you can finally collapse, dog-tired, on your couch (and in my case, with my cuddly Pug), curl up, close your eyes, pull up your “blankie” and shut it all out.
For me, at least, job interviews, and everything leading up to them, are utterly exhausting. I'm surprised I even managed to find the energy to write this post!