My Top 5 Biggest Job Interview Fails

I was going to write an entry about how I’m adapting to a new-old routine, which would playfully explain why I’ve been absent from blogging and also why I am currently in the throes of an existential crisis. But frankly, I’m tired of all that! Let’s have some fun.

I will, however, add that I think one of the reasons for my recent depression was a very poor diet. I decided to commemorate my leaving Astoria with a takeout extravaganza. This turned out to be less of a celebration and more what my stomach has been training for for the past 25 years. Since moving back to my parents’ house, I’ve been drinking water and eating salad like some human or something and it’s made all the difference in the world. Cheers to you, FDA. Make no mistake, folks, they ain’t lying.

Anyway, onto today’s topic. A lot of those closest to me are on the job hunt and, suffice it to say, they are finding it to be a grind. We all know the old paradox: you need experience to get a job, you need a job to get experience (plus, in today’s economy, some witchcraft and a rosary might help, just so you have all your bases covered…or do they cancel each other out? I should learn math). It took me two years after college to find a “real” job (the quotes are based on the somewhat misguided colloquialism that blue collar work isn’t real work and the fact that I don’t think my current job is that real). I had some admin experience by the time I got to this point through internships and the like, so it wasn’t hard for me to land the interview.

However, if you couldn’t guess where this was going so far, and if you’ve never met me or read anything on this blog, you might be surprised to learn that I do not interview well.

I’ve gotten better. You live and you learn. I read advice articles and whatnot. The funniest thing was that the number 1 piece of advice on most of these articles was “be yourself.” Over the course of my job search, I learned the best course of action was to most certainly not be myself. I am the person who will get the job done, but when most of these extroverted HR whackos interview you, they also want someone they can have fun in Vegas with. Hey, I could go to Vegas! Someone needs to hold everyone’s stuff.

Anywho, here are 5 times out of many when I walked out with a more than fair degree of certainty in my failure as an interviewee.

Where am I, again?

Interviewer: So, do you know what we do?
Me: No.

I had no idea.

This was part of a freak two-week period where I just had a marathon of interviews. I was tired from the 2-3 hour commute and from the essence of complete hopelessness that filled the air. So here I was at another agency possibly vaguely related to my career goals for a low-paying assistant position (or maybe it was a receptionist position?), not ready for anything other than another rejection.

She explained what they did. It turned out to be incredibly boring. But that doesn’t mean you should miss the lesson here, kids. Do your research.

I like to think, though, that since the interview was cut very short once it became obvious that this wasn’t my passion, the interviewer was able to use the extra time to accomplish amazing things.

Look Good, Feel Okay

I had landed an interview at a fashion firm (I hope you weren’t drinking anything as you read that, and if you were, I apologize for the spit take). I’m not a fashion person. I hate shopping. But this was one of the first positions I interviewed for that had any creative aspect to it whatsoever. So, I had dressed for what I thought might be success.

I walked into the conference room to meet my interviewer. He gave me the once over.

Him: Well, the font on your resume was pretty.

It was the shortest interview I’ve ever had.

Cutie Patootie

 The interviewer introduced himself to me. He was really, really good-looking. You can see where this is going.

Him: Hi, I’m Adam.
Me: *long pause* I’m Jill.
Him: Is that tape?

He pointed to the hem of my pants, where the duct tape I had used to shorten them in a pinch was falling out.

Me: Yes. Yes, it is.

Some things never change.

Cry Me a River

For this one, I didn’t even make it to the actual interview. I was having a hard time finding the office, so I called, only to be told the position had been filled and no one had bothered to tell me in advance.

And I was so frustrated. I’d been looking for a job for over a year. I was exhausted, I was lost, I was emotional. I tried to hold back the tears. I cried at him into the phone while saying, “Thanks…for *Sniffle* letting *snort* me….knoooooowwwwwww.”

Not really an interview fail, but super duper awkward.

Dreams Can Probably Come True if You Don’t Make it Weird

 One of the first interviews I had was with a publishing house. It was an internship that paid minimum wage, wouldn’t even cover my train fare, but it was something I really wanted. A step. I was so excited for it. And extremely nervous.

I was also fresh from homecoming weekend at my alma mater and was probably still a bit hung over.

Him: So, what sort of aspects of publishing are you interested in?
Me: Editorial.

I ended it there. I felt no need to expand. Why would I? I had answered the question. We were off to a great start.

Him: *Drumming his fingers on the table, thinking about the nap he could have had instead of interviewing me* Did you do anything fun this summer?
Me: No.

I’d actually had a really fun summer that year. I had worked at a Shakespeare Festival. I’d gone zip-lining for the first time. All of these things escaped me and shockingly, he did not find me to be the most interesting person in the world. Stay where you are, Dos Equis man.

For the interview with my current company, I knew where I was going, what I was interviewing for, and the interesting things I had done that summer. I wore the same outfit I had worn for that fashion interview. The best thing about publishing is we’re too occupied with hiding behind our words to notice what we’re wearing.








Too Awkward to Fail: My First Week as an Accidental CEO

On January 1st, I became CEO of my company. This is not because I am a power-hungry stony bitch who wears a lot of pencil skirts and is determined to claw her way to the top of the corporate ladder, nor am I a hip, young engineer, with a pool table and tap beer in my office, who has figured out a way to make apps greener or something. I became the CEO pretty much for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I’ve never been an overly ambitious person (ambitious people have to network). I’d always thought I’d end up a jaded lit professor at some mid-tier private college who spouted worldly wisdom in a 60-year-old-chainsmoker voice and gave everyone As because what does it even mean anyway. But I’ve always somehow ended up being in charge at nearly every job I’ve ever worked. This is because a) I cannot physically function without a system in place. I need to know when and where and how things are going to happen. Surprises are for extroverts. Give me schedules and reassurance! And b) I am very, very bad at saying no, especially to work, because I am too stubborn to admit that I am lazy.

To make a very long story short, my company was acquired by a much larger company as of January 1st. The acquisition was nearly an 18-month-long process filled with renegotiations, disputes, and a bit of grown men crying, but when it was all said and done, the new owner came to find he did not want the ex-owner (my boss) in charge. Then he met with me and asked me a question about finances, and I said something ingeniously along the lines of you-shouldn’t-spend-more-money-than-you-have, and badda bing…due to the age-old mixture of logic and spite, I was CEO.

I was technically asked but didn’t really have too much of a choice, and the position came with a bit more money, and I have essentially been living off of peanut butter and pretzels. So here I am, a CEO, and I feel really obnoxious about it. And after one week on the job, I can officially say I have no idea what a CEO does.

It’s true. I tried googling it and everything. I don’t really know what the nature of my job is. I just know Bernie Sanders hates me.

But like a true American, I suppose I’ll have to figure it out as I go.

Here are some of my observations based on my experiences of the last few work days…

  • CEOs delegate: I decide what gets done and when it gets done. This is actually something I can do. Time management is one of my two skills (that and rapping, obviously). The challenge here is being assertive enough to tell people to do something, and to occasionally do it faster and better than they are willing to. On top of that, I do not want to come across like an asshole. I do not like assholes. The people or the things (seriously, who came up with those anyway?). Thus far, this has resulted in a lot of stammering and confused sentences.
  • CEOs solve problems: Heat broken in the office? Either I talk to maintenance or everyone freezes. Freeze, it is! (Just kidding, I talked to them, but I did not like it one bit!)
  • CEOs make decisions: Keurig or coffee pot? Excuse me while I deliberate with myself for 3 hours.
  • CEOs talk on the phone: And evidently, it is often about things I know nothing about, like professional liability insurance, interest rates, and profit margins. My only hope is that I can confuse them with big words like “synergy” and saying things like “correct” instead of “yeah.” Still have yet to uncover the appropriateness of “okey dokey.”
  • CEOs sign checks: Which either makes me the most popular or most hated person in the room. I’ve always been too apathetic to be either, so this’ll be interesting.
  • CEOs look at spreadsheets: At this point, I’m just nodding a lot.
  • CEOs are the face of the company: Hope you like masks!
  • CEOs wear professional outfits: So I guess it’s time I learn how to walk in heels and if I’m an autumn or a summer. I still don’t understand a lot about fashion, and I especially don’t understand why I must get dressed up to sit in a cubicle. My computer has seen me at my best and worst and loves me just the same. I also could never get behind the “look good, feel good” mentality. Ya know when I feel good? When I get the extra fifteen minutes of sleep. But I am a CEO now, and so may my eyes be lined, may my blazer be pressed, may my pants be trousers, may my mirror be sturdy.

Clearly, I am currently faking it. Right now, I am sitting at my computer typing this with a furrowed brow and look of determination so my staff will think I am up to things of utmost importance. I really miss being an editor when I just got to read stories all day and nobody’s livelihood was in my hands. But I will not fail. I will climb the ladder very carefully in the hopes that I do not slip and fall in my insensible shoes.

That is not because I crave success. It is because I really don’t like it when people yell at me.