The cautionary tale of Elle Charlie

I was chatting with my sis C last night, and she convinced me that my horrid Austin interview was, in retrospect, kind of funny. And teaches an important lesson. So in that spirit, I'll share.

Naturally there are many things I wish I'd done differently throughout the course of my phone interview, all of which came flooding to mind the minute I hung up. But as is the mark of a truly devastating interview, while I couldn't quite think of what better to say in the moment, I also knew as words were tumbling out of my mouth that what I was managing to say was baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.

Much of what they asked me I should have been prepared to answer, but I wasn't. I hadn't interviewed in five years, and I was rusty. Plus I hadn't correctly anticipated how much forethought was necessary in this type of interview. For the Mayo interview I had note cards spread out in front of me with examples of my work and its theoretical basis - believe me, by the time I sat down for that conversation I had learned from my previous mistake.

But that lesson came at the expense of the Austin experience.

By the time the Austin interview was drawing to a close, I already knew nothing good could ever come of it. I had said 'ummmmmm' enough times to ensure they were NEVER going to hire me. At that point, even I wouldn't have hired me. In keeping with the theme, the last question they asked me was one I hadn't thought about at all until the moment they asked it: "On a scale of one to ten, how interested are you in coming to campus for an interview?"

Now, my two cents? That's a crap question. Invite me and find out, b*tches! I don't ask you "on a scale of one to ten how interested are you in hiring me?" the moment we conclude our conversation. First off, much as you'd like to know, it's not really fair to ask. Second, hello time to process???

So I wasn't thrilled to have that ball tossed in my lap. Still, the question is kind of a given. If I were to ask you what one should say in answer to that question, you wouldn't hesitate: "Say ten! You say ten! Unless you want to suck up and say 13, which is probably even better!" It's a bonus question. Even if you couldn't get the harder, more substantive questions right, this one is being handed to you as an opportunity for redemption. Show enthusiasm! Everyone loves enthusiasm! You're trying to get a job, naturally you show nothing but the utmost excitement! Ten, ten, ten!

Yeah, you're probably already guessing that I didn't say "Ten!" And you're right. No, no, I said, "Eight or nine?" That's right, not even "Eight or nine!" I'm such a dumb ass that I put a question mark on the end of that.

I'm not so totally idiotic that I didn't realize, as the words passed over my lips, that it was the absolute incorrect answer. I did. But how do you come back from that? You don't. Some responses are too horrible. Once they hit the open air and sail through the telephone wires you may as well just disconnect right then and there. You're finished. The interviewers are rolling their eyes at one another and making the international sign for a throat being slit across their necks while they're mentally calculating how much money they wasted on the long distance. Fin. Done.

And that's my sad story, my warning to all of you: never do what I did. Never tank on the bonus question. Think before you answer the bonus question. And if all else fails, here's another hint: on a scale of one to ten, TEN IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT ANSWER. You're always as much of whatever they want as the scale allows for.

I tried to explain myself to C with a pout, "I was just being honest."

She paused a moment before asking me gently, "And what made you think there's any place for honesty in an interview?"

She makes a valid point.



Bob said...

you are soooo funny!

11:36 PM
Eileen said...

Sorry about the interview, but phone interviews are just hard period!!! I hate not being able to look at the person(s) and be able to read the facial expressions/body language.

I am glad you can find the humor in this and just move on. It sounds like Austin was not a great fit anyway. With your qualifications the right job will come along very soon. Or your husband will get a job and you'll have to limit your search area any way.

Enjoy your weekend!

3:45 AM