I’ve put up a bunch of posts the past week, but haven’t really talked about anything.
I could say I was busy playing with the various post formats, and sharing photos of volcanoes and British socialites, and recounting anecdotes about alcoholic beverages. All those things are true, but I also think I’ve been studiously avoiding reality. Because I learned early in the week I did not get the awesome job I interviewed for. Which, quite frankly, sucks.
Because I tend to overanalyze things worse than a neurotic Woody Allen character, I’ve figured out why I didn’t get the job. It’s not because I flubbed a question or lacked experience or had a coffee stain on my shirt. It’s because I broke a cardinal rule and decided I wanted the job midway through the interview.
There’s a secret to landing a job, you see. Sure, you should arrive on time armed with facts about the company, smile, maintain eye contact and execute a firm handshake. But I’m convinced the most important thing you can do is walk in there and not give a damn whether or not you get the job. Better still, work up half a dozen reasons why you flat out don’t want it. Maybe the commute is awful, or the pay is less than you’re aiming for. Perhaps the company is involved in a questionable endeavor, like manufacturing silencers for firearms or employing child laborers. Or maybe your ex-spouse works there. The more negatives you can come up with, the better, because when you walk through the front door all the pressure is gone and you can simply relax and be yourself. I would love to pull a stunt like Ray Romano’s character did on the season finale of The Office last week and grab a sandwich out of my briefcase mid-interview, but that takes huge cojones (and is a bit extreme – I’d settle for being quietly blase over the whole affair). Interviewers are like wild animals: they can smell fear, and when they do, their instinct is to pounce. On the other hand, a confident candidate will earn their respect (and quite possibly the job).
I knew this going in. Moments before leaving my car, I was on the phone with a friend, and she reminded me of this golden rule. “Remember, you don’t want the job!” she said discouragingly.
“Right,” I replied. “Who needs money and benefits? Eww. And I’d have to do some writing. Gag me with a spoon.”
OK, I didn’t really say those things. Mainly because A) This isn’t 1982, and B) I’m not a valley girl. But also because, you have to find some real reasons why you don’t want the job. In this case, the position required some public speaking. Not my strong suit. I didn’t know how much public speaking, of course, but I told myself I’d be giving speeches to auditoriums filled with 300 people twice a week. This mental argument was working really well for me, until I walked into the lobby and saw how awesome and modern and arty the office was. Nary a cubicle to be found. Damn. I was then greeted by a friendly (damn again) and cute (grr) receptionist who politely asked me to take a seat. While waiting, I thumbed through a beautiful coffee table book chock full of stunning photographs from around the Pacific Northwest. I hadn’t even met my potential boss yet, and I was already veering dangerously close to wanting the job. Clearly a course correction was needed, and fast. I imagined that she’d be a power-hungry cutthroat CEO type driven by greed and manipulation – sort of a cross between Donald Trump and Sue Sylvester from Glee – but as luck wouldn’t have it, she was cordial, nice, and smiled a lot. Still, I held the public speaking card in my back pocket, and quickly pulled it out. I asked her what that would entail exactly, and she said, “Oh, once or twice a year you’d meet with the board of directors for five minutes and discuss our marketing initiative.” That I could do. And that was the moment where everything unraveled, because suddenly I wanted the job, and the nerves kicked in while I tried to make the best impression possible. Don’t get me wrong, the interview went well, and I’m positive I was a finalist – but ultimately, maybe the lack of that devil-may-care attitude did me in.
So when the news came in the form of an e-mail delivered to my In Box bright and early Tuesday morning, I was pretty upset. Rarely do you find a job that you think sounds both intellectually stimulating and fun, and relies on your strengths and skills, and pays the salary you want, and is an easy commute from home. Naturally, this one had all of the above.
Fortunately, I had my parents to encourage me and cheer me up.
“No offense, but we don’t want you living under our roof again,” my mom said, nineteen years, seven months and some odd days since I left home for good.
“I think I’m more upset than you are,” my dad said, and then threw in for good measure, “If this keeps up you’re just going to have to take anything you can get.”
Gee, thanks, guys. So I turned to the couch for solace, and an afternoon of mind-numbing television followed by wine. That combination did the trick, and by the end of the day I was feeling better.
So, yeah. This sucks. The freelance writing assignments have mysteriously dried up, and my initial unemployment claim has just run out. I had to apply for an emergency extension which, hopefully, won’t take long to process (and approve) because they won’t send me any money before it’s OK’d, and I’ve got bills to pay. I’m really, really hoping something good comes along soon.
Err…I mean…not hoping.
What was I thinking there?!