As soon as you put down your phone and look at the little note in your hand where you wrote time and place for your job interview, you start feeling nervous. It’s a very different kind of anxiety compared with the one you felt while waiting, because now the responsibility is in your hands again. You can make it a success or screw everything up. But you are happy and excited too, because something is finally happening!
The first step now is to carefully prepare yourself. Nowadays even the smallest company has a website, so you can read up its history, mission, vision and products. Once you know what they do, you brows through your University books and notes to brush up on that subject. Internet is also a precious source of information. After a while you have a such pile of research material that you begin feeling you’ll never be able to read it all, not to mention remember it.
Somehow you manage to store enough information in your mind to underpin a not-too-deep conversation on the subject, but other questions start to pop up.
What should I wear? Surely I can’t put on the lucky-jeans I used for my University exams nor my sneackers. Something formal is needed, but what? I should probably wear a suit or a dress with a jacket, something that gives a professional air. Or maybe a pant suit is better. A skirt might be too feminine and you don’t want to give that impression, do you? On the other hand it’s highly probable that every other woman candidate is going to wear a pant suit and a skirt can be a sign of distinction. But is it the right way to be remembered?
Then there’s the other big issue: high heels or not? You need them to feel a bit more confident and imposing, but you can’t wear something that can make you look foolish. What if you tumble? Moreover you don’t want to look as if you are going to the disco. You have to find a compromise between style and safety.
And then… what if they ask you to talk about yourself? What to say and what to leave out? You are not good at adulating yourself (and, unless you are Tony Stark, who is?), but you also need to avoid to diminish yourself and your competence (and another question rises: what competence?).
Beside your concerns, you also have to deal with a lot of unrequested advice: remember to look at the recruiters in the eyes but don’t stare at them, do not play with your fingers but don’t leave your hands unoccupied, don’t cross your legs and sit with your back straight but not too straight or you’ll look like you have a broomstick in your… Everyone seems to have an opinion and is looking forward to sharing it with you.
Before you even notice, the day of the interview comes and you show up at the company with your luggage of doubts and fears. You are a bit early, because you left home ahead of time, but it’s better to be prepared for any hitch.
Once you are there, most of your anxiety seems to vanish. You sit down in front of the Human Resources Manager and the interview bengins. In my experience you can run across two different kinds of interviews: the one where you are unable to say a single word because the interviewer does all the talk and the one where you do all the talk. In the first case, you end up with the sensation that you didn’t all you can to make a good impression. In the second case, in the end your mouth is dry for all the talk that you did and you fear you said far too much.
The questions range from your studies and your previous experiences to the reasons why you choose that faculty (quite pertinent). Then the questioning part begins.
Which are your best qualities and your worse flaws? Ok, do you really believe anyone can answer honewstly to these questions? How can I tell you what my flaws are? In the best of cases I don’t want to tell you, in the worse case I am an egocentric and I don’t know. Find some qualities is easier, but risky nontheless, because you raise expectations.
Are you a good leader? Another difficult question. I can’t tell, because I don’t know. Give me a job, challenge me and we will see!
For what kind of job are you most suited? Since I don’t know what kind of person you are looking for, how can you possibly demand that I compromise myself with an answer?
There is a whole compilation of these psychological-crap questions that in the end say very little about who you really are and nothing about your professional skills. When you begin to expect to be asked “where were you on July the 2nd 1998 at 3.00 pm?” the torture ends.
The fateful sentence: “we will let you know”.
And then another waiting begins.
[…to be continued…]