Dealing With Interviews

Job interviews are funny things. I haven’t had many of them, and fewer still have panned out. But I did have one recently, and it got me thinking about the recurring patterns I go through each time the opportunity comes up. It’s no surprise that I get stressed. In fact, if I didn’t stress out at least a little bit, I’d probably be worried. But what’s interesting is what I stress out about.

The first big thing I stress out about is “being prepared.” This generally takes the form of a last-minute cramming session, where I try to learn as much about the company and the job as possible, desperately looking up buzzwords in an attempt to brush up on my relevant skills. But mostly this boils down to me trying to guess at things I have no realistic chance of finding out. Are they going to ask me about X? Or will they want to know about Y? The possibility exists that they could ask me to demonstrate Z, but will it be z, Z, or even zed? This tends to edge me into a downward spiral of neurosis and speculation.

Another big issue I stress about is myself. Or, at least how I present myself. Of all the silly things to worry about, this is probably one of the biggest. After all, I can’t exactly just change who I am to fit some arbitrary presentation that I think would be appreciated by a recruiter. But being who I am, I can’t help but worry. Will I appear confident enough? Will I come across as too apologetic? Will my desire to be precise and truthful with my statements be construed as vagueness and incompetence?

I make no claims at any rationality regarding either of these worries. That being said, I have figured out some ways to deal with them, or at least mitigate the loss of sanity.

For the first set of worries, I generally handle getting prepared like I do for any big presentation: I don’t prepare! Okay, that’s not 100% true. My preparations tend to be fairly vague, maybe a series of bullet points I’d like to talk about or questions I’d like to ask. Once the big day comes, I am generally banking on the fact that the amount of brainpower it will take to say on top of things will keep me busy enough that I won’t be able to panic. Like my writing habits, I tend to work best on the fly. Or at least, I think I do.

The second issue is a bit thornier, and I haven’t really sure how to deal with it. But I did have something of an epiphany around the time of my most recent interview. I realized that, in all honesty, I would likely be better served by just being myself, as any artificial masks I attempted to wear would most likely come back to haunt me later. After all, I am myself, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. So why worry about constants? That’s like refusing to leave your house because you’re worried gravity will pull you down and you’ll fall and hurt yourself. Or something.

I guess you could make the argument that I’m fixing these problems by ignoring them, but I don’t think about it like that. To me, I’ve found the most efficient way to deal with the issues at hand, given my finite resources of time and energy.

We’ll see how that works out for me.