“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
I’ve had so many bad job interview experiences. For years, it felt as if every time I went for an interview, I walked out feeling dejected and miserable. There were times when it felt like it would never improve. As someone that is now in the position where I interview others to join my team, I’m empathetic to those that come in looking for an opportunity.
A few years ago, I had an epiphany where I began treating my job search like I was a prized free agent rather than a desperate soul begging for a job, but before that I jumped at nearly every interview opportunity. I’ve had hundreds of interviews with dozens of organizations in three different states over the past twenty years, so I’ve experienced everything across the spectrum. Many were disappointing and even humiliating. I’ve had a group of people interview me at once and I’ve had four people cycle through while I sat in the same chair for over two hours without a break. I’ve had to take the interviewer through my entire resume and I’ve had interviews were I was not asked a single question. I’ve gotten some of those weird, critical thinking questions — “If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and placed in a blender, how would you get out?” — and I’ve been asked why I’m applying for a job that I clearly didn’t want (although I really did want it). I’ve been given a laptop and asked to perform a short project, I’ve had a person bring me in just to tell me how bad of a candidate I was, and I’ve sat while a group of seven relentlessly fired questions at me and obviously did not want to hire me.
I’ve experienced it all. And that’s not even including recruiters who rarely know exactly what they’re doing, telling you to change your resume, and strongly advising that you take the first opening they offer just so they can get it off their desk. I once had a recruiter tell me that I’d never get a job beyond the one I had right out of college and that I should be content to be employed at all. I’d love nothing more than to find him and attach my resume to his forehead with a staple gun.
The best interviews, of course, are the ones that are more like a casual conversation about culture and fit and what you can accomplish together rather than a well-dressed interrogation. The bad ones are when you just know you’re not making a connection with the other person and the worst are when you know the job is yours if you don’t fuck up and you go in there and completely fuck up. You know it’s going bad and you want to stop in the middle and say, “Can we start over?”
By then, it’s too late.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that there will always be another interview and another chance to crush it. Then, before you know it, you’ll be on the other side interviewing the younger version of yourself.
Hopefully you’ll remember how it felt being in that position.
Christopher Pierznik has an MBA, a Six Sigma Green Belt, and a Business Analytics Graduate Certification. He is also the worst-selling author of nine books. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Connect on Facebook or Twitter. Please feel free to get in touch at CPierznik99@gmail.com.