From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul


Hundreds of thousands of us will change jobs this year. We will give ourselves a pep talk, struggle with updating our resumés trying to put our skills and accomplishments in the best light without embellishing, schedule appointments, and figure out what to wear.

Then comes the day of reckoning, what we have been looking forward to and dreading: the interview. The interview process may be broken down in to several component stages. There is the initial euphoria: “Queen of the Known Universe? That is the perfect job for me!”

As the interview date approaches, so do the jitters. One minute you are just fine, and the next minute all the extra blood in your body rushes to your stomach, your hands develop a tremor, your eyes start to water, your mouth dries up, and you find yourself shouting at your family, “What do you mean what time is supper? I am practicing shaking hands right now! Clasp, pump, pump, release.”

And then comes the day of the interview. You may have noticed, as I sometimes have, that God in his heaven has a kind of funny sense of humor. Not always funny “ha-ha.” You may rest assured that the day of the interview will be the day that your watch stops, the toilet clogs and over-flows, the cat develops grand mal seizures, your carburetor goes out, and you find that your three pairs of brand-new pantyhose have been made into the World’s Most Powerful Slingshot by your precious little feller. This will throw your whole schedule into disarray. (Please note that it is nearly impossible to put pantyhose on in a car.)

You are not a child. As a friend of mine once said, “You have been to two cow ropings and a county fair.” You have made allowances for the quirks of the universe in your schedule. You arrive for your interview. You are not late. In fact, you are early. Forty-five minutes early. No, thanks, you don’t need a magazine. You will just sit quietly and compose yourself. For forty-five minutes. While at home the toilet you thought you did not have time to deal with continues to cheerily gurgle on and on and on.

“Ms. Jones?”

You have been sucking on your tongue for forty-five minutes, with your hands splayed out on your thighs in the hope that they will be neither sweaty nor cold. This was wasted effort. As you stand to meet your prospective employer, perspiration gushes from every pore in your body. You reach out to shake hands, thinking, Clasp, pump, pump, release. Wait! Man! Did I just say pump, pump out loud? You gasp in dismay. And aspirate your chewing gum. That is okay, because you are not supposed to be chewing gum anyway, and although you meant to swallow it when your name was called, at least it is gone. But now you can’t get a breath and your vision is dimming.

As soon as the helpful receptionist has Heimliched you and given you a glass of water, you are ready for your interview to continue, and you can feel assured that you will be remembered.

Your interviewer knows that you are nervous and wants to make you feel at ease. She may give you a brief overview of the organization and the job to give you time to settle yourself. She may ask you how this sounds to you. Save your so-called humor for some other time. Do not mention anything about work-release programs. Remember, she does not know you and may not know when you are kidding.

As the interview progresses, you may find yourself experiencing a moment of calm. You know who you are, what your abilities are. This sense of calm is a great relief for a moment or two. You may feel that you and the interviewer are on common ground and that you are responding in an intelligent and professional way. But there is an aftermath to the huge tsunami of adrenaline you have been surfing since you woke up this morning. And that aftermath is the dreaded yawn. Pinch yourself, imagine disaster, pretend there is a spider in your shoe. Do whatever you must do, but do not yawn. Don’t. Do. Yaaaa-haaa-haaaa. It.

Also, do not mention clogging. I mean, if you clog dance and you love it, you may mention it. But suppose you are nervous and when she asks you to tell her a little about yourself, your mind suddenly becomes a big Mojave Desert of anything interesting. Try not to grasp desperately at the first irrational straw that comes to you. Especially if it is clog dancing. And isn’t it interesting, from a psychological standpoint, that the first thing that pops into your mind is clogging? Something you know absolutely nothing about. Interesting in a horrible, horrible way. Interesting in a way that you are bound to spend many, many sleepless nights considering.

Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal

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