So that resume you left languishing on a job site that went bankrupt years ago finally got some attention, and lo and behold, someone in an office somewhere expressed actual interest in you. You! The person who stacks empty yogurt cups eight or nine high before throwing them in the garbage.
A lot of emotions will run through your mind. Is this is a joke? Will the interviewer be cute? How much will they pay me, and how much will they pay me off if I threaten to spill company secrets? Don’t respond with any of these questions.
You need to begin preparing. What, for instance, are you going to wear? This is not the time for one of your novelty t-shirts. I know the shirt that says “May Contain Nuts” and has an arrow pointing down may seem like the right thing to wear, but I assure you it’s not. The idea is to look like someone who works there, and not someone who’s come back to settle a score. It’s best to wear calming clothes like a nice buttoned up shirt and some dress pants. You can wear jeans, but wear them with a sport coat, as if to say, “I’m professional, but hey, I’ll spike the water cooler.”
If you really want to impress the interviewer, I suggest wearing a three piece suit, a top hat, and a brandishing an old fashioned pocket watch. “Sir allow me to introduce myself, I am H.W. McGillicuddy, formerly of Union Rail, and I seek employment with your fine organization, for the missus, you see, has developed a taste for fineries which are not commensurate with my current means. Thus I am before you today.” You could say all that, or just go with “Hello.”
The location of the interview will have a bearing on its tone, but it shouldn’t have a bearing on your tone, which is to say, even if the interview is being conducted knees deep in a Chucky Cheese ball pit, you’re still going to have to answer the questions professionally. The interviewer may love to appear casual (as all executives desperately do), but he or she is completely serious and expects the same. So if you find yourself descending the steepest part of a rollercoaster, getting a lap dance from a stripper, or flying through the event horizon of a black hole, try to stay on point.
Now we come to the questions. Every interviewer likes to imagine themselves as the Charlie Rose of job interviewers, but all their questions are essentially the same. It’s about how confidently you present yourself and how enthusiastic you are about working at the company. Most people have tremendous difficulty pulling this off, because it’s equivalent to receiving a bad present for your birthday and trying to maintain a smile. One crucial point that needs to be mentioned here is that you should never tell them about your dreams (dreams have no place in an office). If you even hint that you actually want to be an architect, a writer, or a professional balloon animal guy, they will toss your ass to the curb.
That being the case, one question that will certainly come at you is why you want to work there. Now the real answer is that you don’t want to work there… you want to live in a world where skyscrapers are made of cotton candy, where everything can be bought with a song, and where the sky rains the tote bags they hand out to celebrities at the Oscars. But this answer will not do, so you mention something about the company being on the vanguard of such and such, or wanting to be in a creative whatever you call it, or that the industry is reaching that phase where it, you know, does something.
The question I find hardest, in job interviews and in life is, “So tell me about yourself.” Why? Why ask this question when no one wants to hear the truth? As any of my friends know, I don’t like talking about myself, so when asked this question, I find it’s best to act like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting when he gets mad at Minnie Driver. “What do you wanna know? That I don’t have twelve brothers? That I’m a f-ckin’ orphan? You don’t wanna hear that… no, you don’t wanna hear that. You don’t wanna hear that I got f-ckin’ cigarettes put out on me when I was a little kid!” That’ll shut the interviewer up.
Of course you always come to the “What are your flaws?” question. Now most people prefer to give fake answers, as in, “I’m a bit of a perfectionist,” but I think it’s simpler to call the interviewer’s bluff and tell them about flaws that are couched in even bigger flaws, so the original flaw doesn’t seem that bad. You might say, “Sometimes I’m a little tardy, but that’s what happens when you take a swing at a cop.” Or, “I can be a little shy in group settings, especially at my monthly stoning. Hey as long as we’re sharing, what are your flaws? You strike me as a frotteurist, you know, one of those freaks who purposely rubs against strangers in public. Is this going well?”
Let’s quickly go over some other tips. Try to be on time, that’s an obvious one. If you’re going to be late, call ahead, if you’re going to be really late, tell them you’re no longer interested. Bring a notepad to take notes with during the interview, but don’t let them see that you’re secretly drawing penises. Finally, make sure you ask plenty of questions, as long as none of the questions are about the attractive picture of the interviewer’s wife (and don’t ask to take the picture with you).
By the end of the interview, you should have a good idea as to whether you’re getting the job or not (obviously being escorted out by security is not a good sign). You’ll spend the next few days waiting for a phone call, checking your email, and creepily walking past the empty office to see if there’s a new employee in it. After a week you may hear nothing, so you can casually check back by writing, “I’m just following up to see if there’s been any updates with the position,” and when they respond, “Die,” you’ll know this one isn’t for you.
Trying to find a job is certainly an exhausting task, but don’t let the rejections get you down. Always remember what Richard Nixon said, that “only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.” I’m more of a sandbar person myself, but you get the idea.