I am in the cab on the way to the airport, in tears on the phone with my husband. “I messed that up so badly. It was awful.” I am on my home from my first on-campus job interview, my first in years. I had forgotten how mentally and physically taxing the day is. I forgot and then didn’t manage my energy properly, meaning that during the last set of interviews of the day, I was a mess. I misunderstood the questions, got flustered easily, and generally seemed to say all the wrong things, judging by the looks on the people’s faces.
This was disappointing for me for a number of reasons. I felt like I had prepared well; friends in similar positions to the one I was interviewing for gave me test questions and reading material. I prepared and revised answers. I read and re-read advice on do’s and don’ts for interviews. I started the day sitting up straight, giving clear and concise (oh, concision) answers, trying to remember at all times to behave like a colleague. By the end of the day, all that was gone, and once I realized it, I couldn’t get it back.
But I was also disappointed because I felt like I had let a lot of people down. People who had encouraged me to explore this kind of work and these kinds of positions, helping me to reorient myself professionally. The person who encouraged me to apply for this particular position, who believed I would be an excellent candidate. My family, who were dealing with mommy leaving frequently, and with the uncertainty of what comes next. My daughter, when we explained to her what was going on, paused for a moment, and then looked me dead in the eyes and said, “Mom, I hope you get all the jobs.”
But there is still hope. I have another on-campus the next week, and now I can be more prepared. I know I need to do a better job of managing my energy, so I practice full days of professional interview me. Another stumbling block I hadn’t anticipated was the question of my “journey” to this point. My CV doesn’t seem like a cohesive narrative, and I wasn’t ready to answer how I went from point a to point b. I had the “why” down, but not the how. So I worked on shaping my narrative into something clear, concise, and compelling.
I felt more ready, but also more pressure. The second interview was in a geographic location that would have perfect for my husband. While I didn’t apply for jobs in places where he couldn’t feasibly find work, I knew that Interview B was his preference for landing spots. More snow days, more classes canceled, more scrambling, more uncertainty.