Last month I had my first graduate job interview. I spent absolutely ages completing my application, and sent it off convinced that it would be thrown into the metaphorical recycle bin like all the others. But it wasn’t. I ended up with an email telling me that I’d made it to the next stage: the interview stage. And I was absolutely terrified.
In my application I sound like a genuinely employable person. I sound like a super-professional human being with excellent communication skills. I sound like a person who goes to bed in business-wear and organises important documents into an alphabetised briefcase. But in person I don’t feel like I’m that sort of person. In fact, I’m not. I come across as more of a nervous, messy teenager who lives in an old shirt and monkey pyjama bottoms. Which hardly screams ‘hire me’.
This was apparent at my interview. As I walked up to the door of the building I was confident that I was a super-amazing candidate and would be snapped up instantly. But inside I was convinced that I would probably die from the rejection that awaited. So, based on my experience, and also due to the extreme levels of sarcasm I possess, I have written some tips for what the do at a job interview. Be aware, there is a lot of sarcasm here.
1. Press the bell 14 times to show you’re eager
Having rarely been to anything official before, I have never before been faced with a reception desk. Especially not an unmanned reception desk with an intimidating sign saying ‘Ring bell for assitance’. I was instructed to “ring” the bell and it did not ring, so I continued to press it in the hope that it did. And it did. Fourteen times in the office that hid behind the reception. I have never seemed more eager in my entire life, and I was born 3 weeks before my mum’s due date.
2. Psych yourself out by comparing yourself to the other candidates
“The other candidate has got there for her interview 45 minutes before the time slot, Amy. You came in 15 minutes before and you’re already hunched over in your chair hoping that no one comes to get you while you’re not smiling enough. She’s sat up straight, ready to go. She’s eager. She’s wearing a formal suit, with a fancy blazer. You’re wearing a £3 skirt, pinstriped red-buttoned shirt and a cardigan. How unprofessional. She is at least five years older than you, Amy. She has at least five years more experience. She could write in her sleep. And you still sit staring at blank pages after four Belvitas.”
In my head I was sat facing the corner and rocking back and forth. Officially. Psyched. Out.
3. Have a bag with a panda on it. You will look like a professional.
A professional panda-lover, but whatever.
I have never been a person who does big, posh leather-look handbags. I have never grown past the stage of wanting bright colours and silly characters on all my bags. So, when looking for a bag to carry my stuff in I was stuck between my bright orange bag with Zippy from Rainbow on it, a David and Goliath bag with humanised bread pictures all over, and a tote bag with a picture of a panda wearing a top hat on it. I went with the panda in the top hat. Because top hats are pretty suave. But, unfortunately, they are not professional job interview suave. Not at all.
4. Explain how much you like writing by saying ‘I love writing’ like 50 times.
Not many people love writing 50 times, but I do apparently. I sounded like a bad Valentine’s card on its wedding day. With writing as its groom.
5. Take compliments like you take your coffee. With an overly hyper smile like a school-child on acid.
If I actually drank coffee I imagine this is how I would drink it. This is how I also take compliments about my writing. The man interviewing me told me I had done well to get so far with so little experience. He said my writing samples I’d sent in were really impressive. And what did I do? I smiled like I was going to go all Hannibal Lecter on him and his colleague. Writing skills – 1, Inability to take compliments properly – 2000.
6. Tell the interviewer that you are bad at stuff. They employ people who are bad at stuff.
He asked me what I write and I said reviews, so he asked if I published them online. I said no, so he asked why. I truthfully said they are not very good. Which they are not. I do not have a job, so I seriously need to get onto my mother about that whole ‘honesty is the best policy’ thing. I was perfectly honest about my failings as a human being and it did nothing for me.
7. Write a 200 word press release that is probably not a press release and is also 110 words.
Because breaking the rules is cool and edgy. And writing stuff that sounds like an advert from the sixties is also cool and edgy.
In the interview my brain decided to completely freeze before my twenty minute allotted writing time. I had to come up with a press release but my brain was being all like ‘what are words, how do I spell cat’. So in the end I just sat there until some cheesy rubbish came into my head. Let’s just say it involved rhetorical questions beginning with ‘do you’. Because I’m all for originality. Do you want to use silly questions like these to start your press release? If I don’t have to spell ‘cat’ then yeah, actually, I do.
After my brilliant questions were thrown about like an unwanted baseball at a bouncy castle party, I then looked for sentences to help me meet the word count. But I couldn’t find any. So I ended up leaving looking like Barry Scott’s cheesier sister with the counting abilities of a cabbage after a pint of tequila.
If you haven’t ever done any of these things at an interview then you are definitely a better candidate than me. Hopefully next time I will learn from my mistakes and not press the bell 14 times. I’ll aim for under 10, instead.