What happens to logical, otherwise articulate people in job interviews? I assume it isn’t just me that has this problem.
Getting an interview is not the issue. On a CV or covering letter you can sound like a normal, functional person. The same goes for when you actually manage to get the job. Once in, you’re often just as good at it as you said you were in your logical and articulate CV (or pretty damn close). However, no matter how much experience you have, or how capable you know you can be in the role, as soon as you walk through the door and are confronted by a boardroom and a suit, you suddenly transform into some kind of rambling idiot who is more akin to someone who has been let out on day release than a potentially capable member of whatever company it is you’re applying for.
I am still plagued by the ongoing and unsolvable problem that during my day-to-day life, whatever it is I’m doing (be it checking into Hotels or doing the payroll at work) I still feel like a big kid playing at being an adult. However, it’s only when I walk into a job interview that it feels like I’ve truly been rumbled. As soon as I see the suit looking back at me, I get that long forgotten feeling of being hauled into the headmaster’s office. I can already hear the line;
‘We’re very disappointed. Now I’m afraid we’re going to have to call your parents’.
The only upside is now that I’m a proper grown up, I can choose not to inform my mother that I’ve behaved so disappointingly, and can hide the fact that I still have no idea what I want to do with my life, and therefore avoid the lecture about ‘applying yourself and having a little direction’.
This has all sprung freshly into my mind as I recently got an interview for a job a genuinely think I would enjoy, and be very good at, thank you very much. However, the interview was yesterday, and I spent most of yesterday afternoon reliving the horror in those short sharp bursts the re-enter your consciousness like a malicious pixie poking you in the head and laughing, reminding you what a useless berk you are, despite the fact that you’re doing your best to lose yourself in red wine and conversation. The interview was for a part time journalist position with a lovely little company who want to help the community, and when I read the job spec, I was really excited. Not only did it sound like something I could do, but something I would enjoy, whilst simultaneously appeasing my social conscience a bit. The initial panic set in when my interviewer mentioned he was the financial director of a company. There go the alarm bells. I forgot instantly that I am actually a manager, and I can do my own finances responsibly (well, unless I see a really nice dress or something, but hey, I’m female, that’s standard). My first thought was ‘Shit. He’s a proper businessman’. Good start. Second pitfall of the whole debacle was the mention that someone else running for the post was currently working at the BBC.
‘Not the Beeb! I can’t compete with a proper jouro from the Beeb.’
And that was it, thus began the comedy of errors. I proceeded to madly flap my hands about in a show of gesticulation closely resembling semaphore for the alphabetically challenged. The manic nervous laughter kicked in. Closely followed by forgetting my interviewers name shortly after mentioning how good I am at remembering names, which, incidentally was one of the necessities of the role. It is as if your mind has an evil, or at least playful, side with a very bad sense of humour. It’s the side that normally laughs under its breath at other people’s humiliation. I suppose it’s probably karma for laughing at the woman I saw running to catch the bus and who went full pelt into the Perspex bus stop last week. Anyway, I digress.
Basically, the result was that after doing a very convincing impression of someone unable to perform any requirements of the role, a role which I had entered the room thinking I would be perfect for, I left feeling like a small child having who hasn’t worked hard enough, and is letting no one down but themselves. At least I didn’t get a letter home. However, my little sister had informed my mother that I had an interview. She called just I had got to the pub with a consolatory glass of red to see how it went. And the conversation began thus:
‘So it didn’t go very well then?’
‘Well, I’ll wait to hear ma’.
‘You should have done more research’.
‘And where are you? It’s very noisy. Are you in the pub? You’re not drinking at this time of day are you Natalie…’
I might just skip the middleman and say I’m grounded for a week so I don’t have to go outside and deal with anyone. Better luck next time?