Job interviews are a particularly dazzling example of why I shouldn’t be allowed to interact with other people. Nearly everyone hates them, even the ones doing the interviewing, and they’re pretty much 99% verbal bullshit and 1% dressing like you will never actually dress for the job, but for some reason, they remain a requirement. Ostensibly, it’s to ensure that the job candidate isn’t the type to stir up trouble, has the right attitude, and doesn’t pick their nose like it’s a goldmine. I get that. The problem is, I’m one of those people that warms up to people slooooowly. It takes time for me to get out of “pat answer time” into “actual person mode”. And while I can deliver those pat answers like a pro (“An example of a time in my past job that I used problem-solving skills? Oh, let me count the ways!”), I get into major trouble when the interviewer deviates from the expected set of questions. I also sometimes just blow the entire thing like a two-dollar hooker. For example:
- 2004: What began as an ordinary spring picnic ended with me getting The Black Eye to End All Black Eyes. The backstory was just ridiculous enough that no one actually believed me: I’m allergic to mosquitos. One bit me on the cheek. BAM! Instant swollen, disgusting black eye. Unfortunately, I showed up to my job interview with a shiner. When the interviewer asked about my black eye, in a nervous fit of ill-timed humor, I replied that “I mighta had a few… disagreements…
with HR, but they got what was coming to ’em in the end”. Awkward silence. “I mean, I’m allergic to mosquitos, and I went on a picnic…” Too late.
- 2006: An interview with a newspaper company in Birmingham that I was sorta-into-sorta-not gave me the weirdest noncommittal jitters, likely made worse by the fact that I’d stayed up too late the previous night celebrating passing my thesis. I showed up too early and had nothing to occupy myself with while I waited. I realized that I didn’t put on perfume so I grabbed the vial of Light Blue Bath and Body Boring Office Friendly White Musk whatever that I had rolling around the bottom of my purse. I didn’t read the label and slathered myself in a vial of “Lady Macbeth”, an oil with the base note of… red wine. Naturally as soon as the eau de alcoholic scent began to waft, they called my name before I could wash it off. I don’t remember much of the interview itself due to the sheer panic and bodily contortions I was managing to control the onslaught of the perfume, but the interviewer kept giving me disapproving looks while I talked about how reliable and responsible I was while smelling like the bottom of the dregs of a wine bottle at 8:30 in the morning.
- 2007: Missing an Autocorrect misspelling of my own name on a cover letter which claimed I was “detail-oriented” and a “perfectionist”. Whitney became Whiney. I have no excuse. I have only shame. They waited until my job interview to tell me of my typo and then dismissed me accordingly without another question. Dick move, but I get it.
- 2007: Hooking up with a hot stranger at a bar only to discover he was my interviewer the following morning. To my credit, he said that I cleaned up nicely. To no one’s credit, I think I remember throwing up in his shower.
- 2008: I was rockin’ this meeting with the boss’s boss. I was focused, I was funny, I was making her laugh, I was That Awesome Intern, I had prospects, I was on fiiiiire. And then I was actually on fire. When we broke for lunch, I was so nervous I forgot to watch my soup in the microwave, and pulled it out haphazardly. The soup was beyond boiling (what the fuck HAPPENED? Was it the microwave of FIRE and RETRIBUTION?). I got a second degree burn on my left hand and had to go to the hospital and was permanently known by my boss’s boss as “that soup girl” because I had to wear a hand-covering for a month. Oh, and it eventually got infected and her company had to pay for it because it was technically workman’s comp. My internship never became a Real Job. I ran into the lady three years later and after we talked for a bit, she goes, “Oh! I remember who you are, now! Soup Girl!” Great…
- 2010: The interview had been going well enough so far. I’d not set fire to myself nor mimed having a drinking problem when the interviewer suddenly leaned forward, bracing his hands against the table with a nasty expression on his face. “What if I told you,” he said, “that this was the worst interview I’ve ever sat through in my life? That this was a waste of my time, my company’s time, and your time?” Gawking, affronted, and terrified, I went into Babble Mode and answered him literally: “I’d probably run away, find a bathroom somewhere, throw up my Captain Crunch, and then cry in the floor in a ball until the janitor found me.” Apparently, his question was a “tough love” feint. My answer was supposed to be “find out how to improve”. I didn’t get the job.