I’ve not really had any jobs that have required going through a whole formal interview process. I often didn’t really have interviews at all — I’d just send an e-mail in response to an internship posting and then have a phone interview. Or, in the case of Austria, I applied and then was informed of my acceptance by snail mail several months later. When I have had interviews, though, they have usually gone as follows:
1. I dress up in my finest college chic duds (usually khakis with a cardigan or something like that).
2. I attempt to arrive at the interview location 15 minutes early, which almost always results in my arriving exactly on time.
3. I talk to the interviewer(s) for five minutes about myself and the position. The conversation usually goes something like this:
Interviewer: So. Do you like American University?
Me: Yeah, it’s got a great program for [insert something related to position].
Interviewer: So. Why Turkey? (They always asked about Turkey, but never about Germany. Countries with squat toilets usually seem to evoke intrigue.)
Me: [Explanation of interest in Turkey]
Interviewer: Do you speak Turkish?
Interviewer: How did you like university in Turkey?
Me: [Discussion and elaboration on attending university in Turkey]
Interviewer: Can you use the Microsoft Office Suite?
Interviewer: OK, then, we’ll call you within the week to let you know our decision.
4. I am hired.
In June, however, I returned from the land of schnitzel and kaesekrainer and plunged into the world of Applying for Jobs in a Terrible Economy. Even getting to the interview stage has proved to be an agonizing process. My usual course of action is as follows:
1. Choose from one of the five resumes I currently have going (administrative, publishing, journalism, non-profit, exchange programs).
2. Further customize said resume.
3. Spend between five and forty-eight hours agonizing over writing a cover letter.
4. Send cover letter per e-mail and fax or snail mail.
If by some strange twist of fate someone at the organization I’ve applied to manages to see my resume amidst the thousands of others that have poured in, and if, by an even stranger twist of fate, they happen to be interested in me, I get a call. And then there is, of course, the interview process:
1. Set up an eyebrow threading appointment.
2. Pick out a suit to wear. Perhaps buy a new blouse.
3. Print out resume, position description, interview confirmation e-mail and information about the organization. Place in folder.
4. Look at various university career center Web sites in order to prepare for interview questions.
5. Wake up early day of the interview. Shower. Blow-dry hair (I never do this, so you know the occasion is special). Make sure make-up is absolutely perfect. Consider showing cleavage. Decide against it.
6. Catch an early train into the city.
7. Locate interview building. Drink an Americano at the Starbucks across the street. (It’s NYC — no matter where you are, there’s a Starbucks across the street. Even if you’re already in a Starbucks.)
8. Get to the office five minutes early. Read over organization information to make sure I haven’t missed out on some crucial aspect of the business. Think about answers to potential questions.
9. Interview with one person or several people. How the hell am I supposed to know what I’ll be doing five years from now? No, I don’t think I’m overqualified. I don’t know what I would ask me if I were you — we’ve already been talking for an hour! Foot enters mouth several times.
10. Thank interviewers. Leave the office feeling nervous. Drink more coffee.
11. Think about the answers I should have given and wonder why I can’t be more composed and confident.
12. Send thank-you letters to all the interviewers.
Usually it all culminates in a rejection e-mail — you know, one of those send-to-the-masses-and-cover-all-bases-type deals that says “we’ve unfortunately chosen someone whose qualifications better match our needs” or something like that.
But today I got a second interview — it’s scheduled for Wednesday. Here’s the expected process:
1. Repeat Post-College Interview Steps 1-15.
2. Wait some more.
3. Hope for the best.