Interview Skills 101

Monday, April 29, 2013

#1. Never cry in an interview.

I didn't cry in my interview today, but I came damn close.
Not because the interviewer was mean, he was really quite nice
(in a sweet little puppy dog who looks like Paul Giamatti kind of way.)
This is Paul Giamatti, one of the better actors of our time I'd have to say.

Actually in looking back, one might assume I was the interviewer because I asked a majority of
the questions and I announced when the interview was over.
But that's beside point.
Anyway, the reason I almost started crying was simply because I started picturing myself
working in this terrible job and it was just too much for me to handle.
Whenever he'd say things like "discuss their office supply needs" and
"you have to be passionate about providing the best paper products possible"
I'd wince a little and ask myself how on earth I'd gotten so off course in life.

#2. Try not to judge a book by its cover.
Or do.

Initially, when I was walking toward the building where this office was located I allowed myself
to get a little excited about the thought of acting like a big city working girl again.
The office was right off Madison and Clark in the heart of downtown Chicago.
So yeah, the Tess McGill in me had about thirty seconds of excitement as I walked from my bus stop
to the building.

And then I got into the actual office and saw it was a complete dump.
I judge certain places, like offices spaces for example, by first appearances.
And this place was rough.
Bad decor, or lack thereof I should say, makes me homesick.
It always has. It's a weird disorder I've had since I was a little girl.
I refused to stay the night at anyone's house that didn't feel "homey enough to me."
And in this office there was nothing on the wall, no plants on the ground,
and I didn't see a single framed photo on anyone's desk.
I literally almost bolted.
But then I saw the Paul Giamatti come out and he looked so kind so I figured I'd better stay.

#3. Don't bolt before, or during, the actual interview.

Once I sat down to begin the interview Paul told me that this office was just their
"landing pad."
I still don't know what he meant by that because from what I gathered most of the employees go into
the office at least once a day, it's not strictly "outside sales" as I previously thought...
Paul then asked me my knowledge on paper products,
so I said I've never worked in the industry myself,
but I have a few friends named Greg and Pam and Dwight who have been in the industry for years.
Paul didn't seem to catch the reference so he just went right into his speel about selling
office products.
And then it was somewhere in between him talking about their new line of office trash bags,
and their new break-room paper towels, when I felt as if I actually floated out of my body for a second
and was able to view this interview as an outsider looking in.
And to an outsider, it was quite comical.

#4. Just smile and nod, occasionally add an "of course" and "oh definitely"
when need be.

It was probably during this out of body experience when I just stopped paying attention completely.
I didn't mean to, but I really had no idea what he was talking about so my mind started to wander.
And for as long as I can remember, whenever I'm in situations when I need to pay attention but can't,
I always feel like I'm Homer Simpson from this one specific episode.
(You probably only need to listen to a second or two and you'll get the point.
Of course I listened to all five minutes of it because I find it that oddly amusing.)

It gets me every time because that's exactly how I feel.

#5 Try to pay attention rather than pretend you're Homer Simpson.

"What are you professionally passionate about?" asked Paul, as I slowly returned back into my body.

This was a question I had never been asked before and for a brief second I wasn't sure what to say.
Because I'm not passionate about paper products. Or anything else I assumed he had talked about for the past 30 minutes.

"I'm professionally passionate about all of the things I'm passionate about in life in general.
About writing, and blogging, and Harlow, and going out to eat with Chris."

JK. I didn't say that.
 I said I'm passionate about helping people pick out the correct manila folders and
 the right sized paper clips. Duh.

#6 Don't settle.

In the end, he asked me where I saw myself in five years.
I knew what I was supposed to say, "I would like to be in a managerial position within this company and still have more opportunity for growth within the paper sales market."
Woof, no thank you.
I thought for a second, then decided what the hell I might as well Tin Cup it and just go all in,
so I said,
"Ideally in five years if I could see myself anywhere,
 I would love it if I could be making a living as a writer.
I don't know if that would be from a book, or a blog, or writing at SNL, I really have no idea.
Just working off hope is all...
But in five years that would be pretty cool."

Good day, sir.
This interview is over.

And just like that she's back to square one.



  1. Crazy world that you posted about interviewing and I just interviewed at a school district in NE nebraska that you may be familiar with :)

  2. I love reading your interview posts because I relate so well to them. Having been unemployed since February I feel like I am a pro at interviews and telling them what they want to hear even though I have no desire in working for these people & whatever their dumb company does. Interviews can really suck sometimes! Especially when the office is a dump like the one you described...and paper products?? Boring....! Glad you didn't settle! You're better than that! =)

  3. oh my goodness i have been in interviews like that. like what am i doing here type of interviews. looking around and it looks like the front for a sweatshop in the back.
    Hang in there!!

  4. interviews are the worst. i hate them. they give me hives but the fact that paul giamatti was there makes all the difference. and love your last answer. it's gonna happen.

  5. Sometimes you've just got to be honest with yourself and others and you never know. There was this episode of The Middle (I may be the only person ever who watches this) but this same thing happened to the mom, where she had to talk about herself in the interview, and she had nothing interesting to say, but she got the job anyway!

  6. It is all good. I can't job hunt anymore because I realize I don't see myself at any of those places. Blah. Why can't I make sis figures cuddling puppies and snuggling up to their owners? This hourly stuff is nonsense. Anyway...I blogged about How Not to get hired's a great partner to this here post!

  7. When I first started at my boring office job, I related myself back to Pam and Dwight too. Love the Office drop, totally made my day :)

  8. At least you went and gave it a chance! Bravo to you!

  9. Oh my goodness, I can so relate to getting homesick based on decor! Hahaha! So funny, my husband thinks it's weird. I'd love it if you wrote a book (another one that is!) :)

  10. Ugh I was sweating just thinking about this! I hate interviews and I wish we could all just get jobs and be rich without having a job... not sure how that would work. I'll let you know if I work out the kinks...

  11. Ugh interviews. I can't believe he didn't get your Office reference! Don't you hate it when jokes fall flat like that!! lol. But Taylor your post definitely had me laughing and girl I feel your pain. Who wants to be a manager at a paper supply company anyway. On to the next!

  12. I love that you knew that wasn't the right fit for you. Often times people will settle into a position like that and then spend their lives at Dunder Mifflin, sad, bored and basically brain dead.

    There is a position out there for everyone, just don't give up. You never know when something will come along and fall right into your lap.

    If I were Deepak Chopra I'd say, throw your pebble into the pool of life and watch for the ripples : ) But since I'm not him I'll just tell you to stay positive and keep making people smile. It's what you do best.


  13. Sorry it was a suckfest! How did he not get the Dwight, Greg, Pam reference and work in the paper industry? Don't think put that in the orientation package? Duh! Consider yourself lucky you didn't find yourself in an episode of Office Space!

  14. love your posts about interviewing! they're so real and so fantastic. sounds like a terrible place
    kw Ladies in Navy
    Target giveaway!

  15. This is so hilarious! I so do the Homer Simpson space out, more often then I like.


  16. I have two interviews this week, and I know this feeling EXACTLY. Oooh life.

  17. That job interview, actually that job in general, sounds like a sitcom... um I guess it kind of is. Insane. And I agree about the decor. I wouldn't want to work somewhere or with people who are okay surrounding themselves with such dismal "decor" (if a lack of decor can be called decor).

  18. I have wanted to bolt multiple times as the person being interviewed and as the interviewer. Mostly as the person doing the interviewing. Man when I worked retail and had to hire people I wanted to claw my eyes out! I once had someone tell me they got in a fist fight with their boss. WTF!?

  19. How true is all that! So sad that we have to pretend these days to get a job. Better to walk away when it just is not right. You'll find the write one and will be so much happier when you do!

  20. Keep chasing that unicorn pony girl

  21. First off, I love your blog. I love reading about Harlow. He reminds me so much of my golden retriever, Charlee, who thinks he's a daggone person. You're a great writer, you should look into the magazine industry. It's a tough field to get into but you could intern and move your way up. You have too much talent my dear to be stuck in that type of job. :)

  22. So glad you posted this. I've been unemployed for a while but after I finnish finals this month I'm off looking for another job and because I have been out of the work force for a while I am terrified to go back for some reason. I may or may not cry in my first interview.

  23. But Homer Simpson is so funny and pretending your him is kind of funny too...but you are right there is a place for everything and that may not be the place..........I guess the same goes with crying.............

  24. Man o man. Being a B School major and all I think I'm well averse in interviewing and schmoozing. One time a lady challenged my knowledge of a software (she was right to do so) and made me to a play by play of each screen I would encounter. Fo reals. I failed. Ben & Jerrys happened.

    My mom works in the paper industry and I will say you are missing out on a great deal of material though. The shear amount of Office material she gets for Christmas is obscene.

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