Since I graduated from university almost a decade ago (yikes!), I’ve been on dozens of job interviews for all sorts of positions in a wide array of industries (well, except for those in the math and science areas because my brain is more of a righty than a leftie). It’s obvious that we must dress appropriately and come well-prepared to an interview, but what about those unnamed scenarios that could possibly arise when you’re out there vying for your dream job? Like, let’s say, what to do when your interviewer starts hitting on you? Well, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes because I’ve made a lot of ‘em.*
Scenario #1 – You’re really trying to prove to the interviewee that you’re the best candidate for the position, but she’s just not buying your long-term commitment to the job. In fact, she doesn’t believe anything you have to say for yourself.
So I’ve just laid out my education and work experience, touted my strengths, made my weaknesses look like strengths, but Madame X isn’t buying it. She doesn’t think I’m up for the job. At first, I’m thinking she’s testing me, but her arched eyebrow and pursed lips say to me that she’s thoroughly not convinced. I refer back to all the things that make me great, but she’s disputing every single one as if I am flat-out lying to her. What’s her deal?
What I did: Confession: I can get pretty feisty at times. So when this woman began to question my work ethic and integrity, I got into “Oh, no she didn’t!” mode and started arguing with her. Employment, be damned.
What I should have done: Cooled it. Sure, Madame X’s interviewing style came off as strong and was even disrespectful but I should have remained calm and collected. Arguing with her just reiterated that I wasn’t, in fact, right for the position. And in this job market, it is all about being the bigger person and not burning bridges…even if she did start it.
Scenario #2 – The interview is going great. You’re really bonding with your interviewee and then dude starts macking on you. What’s a woman to do?
Talk about awkward. Here I am trying to be charming and professional, and yes, I’m wearing a summer dress, but it’s freakin’ 40 degrees outside, and also, totally my right to wear one, and then “Joe” (“just call me Joe,” he says at the beginning of our interview) starts looking at me weirdly (a.k.a. his eyes dart between my barely-there chest and my legs) and then he starts commenting how attractive I am and how I’d better “watch it” because all the young guys will want to “party with me”, and wait—am I on an OKCupid date or an interview?
What I did: The thing is, I really, really wanted this job. The experience was great, it was in the industry that I had been trying to break into forever and the pay was good. So I kept smiling and nodding and steering the convo back to the reason why I was sitting across from him—uhh, the production assistant job? And then I mumbled something about having a boyfriend, which was a big fat lie.
What I should have done: Get the hell outta there! One should never have to bust out a cock-block move on a job interview. Ever. Yes, the job sounded great, but the hours did suck, and the thought of facing that inappropriate perv on a daily basis was more than enough for me to call El Creepo out right then and there, and leave.
Scenario #3 – You want a big change in your life. You so desperately want it that you get overly emotional at your job interview and you break down in a puddle of tears.
I’m almost thirty and hating my job and myself, so everything in my life seems like a huge make-it-or-break-it moment. I so desperately want to impress Mr. and Mrs. Z that I am coming off way too nervous. Mr. Z asks me why I’m so nervous and I reply “because I really want this job!” He asks me why I want it so much, and suddenly I spew out that “I hate my job, I live with my parents and I’m turning 30!” like I’m Julia Roberts in some sappy self-discovery rom-com and I burst into tears.
What I did: I just kept unapologetically crying and crying and cried some more. Mrs. Z finally poured me a glass of water and handed me a box of tissues and then we remained under the biggest blanket of awkward silence that seemed like it lasted for an eternity.
What I should have done: Kept it together, sister. Looking back, the flood of tears was obviously some sort of emotional release that was best left for nights at home watching “Downton Abbey” and journaling, obviously not at a professional job interview. I should have been getting my life in check and processing my feelings before even applying to jobs. Sometimes you do need to look before you leap.
*(Note to all future employers: I have learned my lessons and I am ready for an interview because I will, for sure, kill it—in the best possible way).