The Weekly Tiger: A Portrait of a Nervous Interviewee

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It was merely a Skype interview, so I could get away with wearing jeans, right? They would only see me from the waist up so I should be safe. But what if they ask me to stand up for some reason or I need to get up to get something in the middle of the interview? Maybe I should just email and postpone the interview so I have time to run home and change. What’s the name of the program again? 

The countless interview-help websites that we all visit before a big interview will all tell you the same things: don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” to a question, practice your elevator speech until you’re blue in the face, have good eye contact and practice a firm handshake. This was my first “big kid” interview and I read every tip and trick these websites had to offer at least twice. 

I reprinted my resume four different ways and sat them on the table in front of me trying to decide which was visually the best, even though the differences between the four were so minute you’d have to spend at least 10 minutes trying to find them like some strange version of “Where’s Waldo?” I was unnecessarily over-prepared for the interview. It was just a preliminary “get to know you” interview and I had 4 pages worth of typed notes about the program and talking points I wanted to be sure to bring up. Of course, the interviewer only asked me three questions and I totally disregarded my notes and spoke candidly on the subjects, so much for preparation. 

Before my interview, I wondered if my interviewer was nervous too. Do they frantically flip through pages of notes with sweaty palms glancing at the clock every 20 seconds? Do they practice their “sales pitch” for the company or school they represent? I could never interview someone for an important position like that. I think knowing how nervous the interviewee probably was, I would offer an alternative to every question. “So tell me some strengths that you have, or not that’s cool too,” I would say.

Graduate school interviews are different than other interviews. Interviewing for a part-time retail job in an disorganized back room in the only two fold out chairs available isn’t nearly as stressful. Most of the time, at least in my experience, there’s a good chance you’ll get the part-time job on the spot or will get a call the next day asking when you can start and that’s that.

There are so many more steps with “big kid” interviews; you have to send a follow-up email thanking the interviewer for their time, bring copies of your resume to the interview itself and do background research on the program/company. I wish I could’ve interviewed in the back room of the Target I work at back home for my graduate school interviews. 

After a 30 minute long graduate school interview, I hung up and sat in complete silence. My fight or flight response had been activated for the entirety of the interview and I needed my pit stains to stop growing in size before I could critically over-analyze every word I said during the interview.

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