I made that meme a couple of months ago when Sam was on his fiftieth application and hadn’t heard anything yet. Now, he’s settling nicely into his teaching job and I’m the one satirizing “Call Me Maybe”. I’ve filled out 20-25 serious applications so far, and nothing has worked out yet. I landed one interview with the local newspaper for a reporter position, and that was a complete disaster. I left that place feeling like I was wearing the Cone of Shame.
So, when I got an email yesterday from a local chiropractor’s office regarding my application for a receptionist position, I was beyond nervous. It took a lot of guts for me to accept the interview slot they sent me, drive 20 minutes, and walk in there.
But, Sam told me to be brave and, gosh darnit, I was going to be brave. I braided my hair into a pretty bun, put on some make-up (that’s a rarity for me these days), slipped on a skirt, and stepped into my “power pumps” as I affectionately call them.
On the drive to the office, I easily pictured myself running out in panicked tears. So, I promised myself whatever happened, whether the interview went well or not, I would go to the library afterwards to look at books. That way, I would have something to look forward to even if the interview ended up resembling a plane crash.
I took a deep breath, and walked up to the door. Another woman, dressed in green scrubs, got there before me. I assumed she worked there, but when I entered the office, I found out how wrong I was. She was there for the interview… along with nine other women.
Someone handed me a clipboard with an application, and I got to work. Soon, I realized I was the last one working and everyone was staring at me. There was an essay question, so naturally I ended up writing a short novel. Oops. My cursive got extremely loopy as I started to rush. I handed in my clipboard and the doctor walked out to meet us.
I had assumed we would be called into his office one-by-one, and was concerned by the number of applicants there. I thought my slot was just for me. I was thinking, “We’re going to be here past dinnertime.”
Wrong again. The first thing the doctor asked was, “How many of you have participated in a group interview before?”
I was one of the only ones that didn’t raise her hand. I was in so over my head. We were asked to take turns standing up and introducing ourselves. Everyone took the opportunity to explain their experience with the medical field and secretarial work and rocket science and curing cancer– Okay, it just felt that way. These were some pretty accomplished women. My turn mostly sounded like this:
“Well, I just graduated from college, I just got married, I’ve been out of work for several months but I have experience in customer service and editing…”
Then, the doctor spoke to us for a while about his practice, his business principles, etc. It was all really fascinating and the doctor was funny and friendly. It made me want to work there, and I felt a new sense of determination.
At the end of his speech, he asked if, after hearing about the job, anyone needed to leave. About half of the women apologized and said the hours were too early because they had kids, and they walked out. I was in it for the long haul and stayed glued to my seat. The next part was even more intense. We were given a fake introduction on a piece of paper that we might use to introduce the doctor before a big presentation. It was a couple of paragraphs long, and we had about five minutes to memorize it and give it back. Another girl left while I was trying to figure out what some of the more obscure medical terms meant.
After he took back the papers, he talked for a while longer. Very sneaky tactic. The ones who had filed the introduction in their short term memories quickly lost it listening to him talk. I volunteered to recite it first because I wanted to show that I had it memorized from the paper and not from the others reciting it. I stumbled a little, but I did okay. Most of that is due to Dr. Bailey’s Public Speaking class from college. Who would’ve thought that a class I was dreading taking ended up being one of the most useful in the “real world”?
He said we could each ask two questions. I tried to think of some thought-provoking ones. The whole process involved way more improvisation than I expected. Afterwards, I shook the doctor’s hand, feeling numb and a little confused. However, I feel really good about the interview. I doubt I got the job just because we were one group of many that they were interviewing, but I didn’t feel like sobbing afterwards, so that’s a huge improvement from last time.
Today, I feel encouraged. Even though this is probably the first of many tough interviews, I survived the unexpected and I know I can do it again.