The 5 Stages Of Job Interview Grief

1. Denial

No. No, that did not just happen. Did I really just say my biggest inspiration in life was Carly Rae Jepsen? No; and I also couldn’t possibly have said that my biggest career goal was to “get rich or die tryin’.”

No one in their right mind would say these horrible things during a job interview.

He couldn’t have noticed how much I was sweating, could he? Oh god, but he shook my hand… he must have felt how disgustingly sweaty my palms were. Christ, that must have been like shaking hands with an armpit.

When he asked what my biggest flaw was, I’m pretty sure I said, “Booze… jk!” I actually said “jk” out loud, didn’t I?

Did I fart? I think I farted. I think I blacked out in there.

No, no. There was no job interview. What job interview?

2. Anger

Then again, it might have gone a little better if the interviewer hadn’t been such an asshole. “Oh, look at me, I work in HR, and my shirts sleeves aren’t too short for my arms, like this stupid beady-eyed guy I’m interviewing! I’m so cool!”

Well, excuse me, dickwad! Sorry I couldn’t think of a time where I worked as part of a team to solve a problem like you wanted me to. I guess I’m not good enough for an entry-level job licking stamps, am I, Mr. Trendy Glasses? Well, don’t mind me, I’ll be leaving your stupid little office as soon as you conclude the interview with a bunch of fake promises about getting back to me. You won’t have Ted Pillow to kick around anymore. If you need me, I’ll be trying to use my food stamps to buy Funyuns from the vending machine in your lobby. Jerk.

3. Bargaining

I’ve really done it this time. That job was perfect — exactly what I wanted to do, with good pay, and that health insurance thing everyone’s been talking about. All I needed to do was walk into that interview and calmly and coherently state my qualifications and aspirations. Instead, I freaked out, spending half of the interview talking about how I think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is unfairly maligned, and that my greatest strength was my “familiarity with Microsoft Word.” “Familiarity with Microsoft Word”? What is this, 1994?

God, I’d do anything for a job. Seriously, anything; picture me winking at you as you read that, because that’s the kind of desperation I’m trying to convey.

4. Depression

I’m either: a) A complete f-ck-up, or b) Hell-bent on sabotaging myself. Regardless, I am un-hirable. No one will ever offer me a job that is not predicated on hourly wages, menial labor, and/or volunteering for unregulated medical procedures.

I deserve unemployment, because I am a stuttering, stammering moron. Also, because I used to steal my neighbor’s mail for fun when I was six, and because I usually tell white lies whenever someone asks me if I like their new tattoo. Because I don’t work hard enough. Because I haven’t set myself apart. I deserve this.

Well, I guess I’ll just spend the rest of the week intermittently sleeping, watching trashy 80s movies, and experiencing the vague sensation that I’m on the verge of weeping. I’ll probably eat fried chicken for dinner and then fall back asleep without washing my hands. Or maybe I’ll buy some Colt 45 and listen to Morrissey.

Well, screw it, I guess. I don’t need a fancy entry-level job at a mid-sized corporation, anyway. I don’t need friends and family constantly asking me, “How’s the job search going?” or “Found anything yet?” I don’t need anybody. I can just be one of those guys who live in a studio apartment in a crappy town and work at the bowling alley. Or maybe I’ll be the guy who’s always rooting through garbage for cans to deposit — The Can Man.

“There goes The Can Man,” they’ll say. “He used to have a future; he was gonna be somebody. Then he went on a job interview, and when they asked him where he saw himself in five years, he got nervous and whispered, ‘Inside of a cloud, wearing a jetpack.’ And ever since, he’s been The Can Man.”

5. Acceptance

How long can I keep obsessing over one interview? Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison had more inventions than every late-night infomercial combined, so this appears to be a coy attempt at false modesty. But, his point rings true.

Maybe today I’ll get my resume out to a few new companies. Send a few emails, check out some Help Wanted ads. Schedule a few more interviews. Drink half a bottle of Sailor Jerry’s rum instead of the entire bottle. Get myself back out there.

Selling yourself isn’t easy, especially if don’t believe in what you’re selling; although processing and repackaging all of your qualities and experiences into a desirable commodity is a bleak enterprise, it’s a necessary hurdle to getting hired. And mark my words — I will get hired, goddamn it. I’ll make one of you bastards hire me; I’ll walk into that interview and floor you with my knowledge, professionalism, and meticulous hair-part. I’ll trick you into thinking I’m not the kind of employee who sleeps in the bathroom stalls after a heavy lunch.

I may have bombed one job interview. But I plan on bombing many more before I’m through. TC mark

image – Richedphoto


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  • Raymond Thimmes

    This could also be titled “5 stages of grief after every date I’ve ever been on”


  • Alice

    as someone who just graduated with an MBA two weeks ago and has yet to score an interview, considering I worked for 5 years before going to school and won a national competition for a business plan i submitted. – I’d feel your pain. you know. had i gone on an interview yet.


    someone write one for the 5 stages of job hunting grief. maybe i will.

  • Dalia Asfoor

    This is the best article I have ever  read on TC. 

  • FIO

    The whole time I was laughing at you, not with you. I’m sorry. This piece was just pathetic. 

    • Moon Temple

      This is just rude.

    • guest

      Says the person who probably has a job already.  Try being unemployed and maybe you will understand.

  • EarthToNichole

    I decided to read TC today to distract me from my NY job hunting nightmare and this was the first post.

    • TGold

       Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

      • Guesty

        I can’t even find myself a job to work at for free…

      • EarthToNichole

        Me either. I should’ve skipped undergrad and started working at a factory or something.

  • Tanya Salyers

    I wish I was at least getting interviews…

  • Guest

    This describes every internship interview I went on this year. I’ve resigned myself to accepting that I am okay enough on paper to land myself an interview, but so underwhelming in person that I likely will never be employed again. 

  • Brittany Bommelman

    This makes me feel less alone. Thank you. 

  • Ali

    “my greatest strength was my “familiarity with Microsoft Word.” “Familiarity with Microsoft Word”? What is this, 1994?” reminded me of “this is 2012, Winston, typing is not a special skill” (New Girl)

  • Laurabeth

    If it makes you feel any better you’re one of my favorite writers..

    and chill out on the drinking, you’re too good for that shit.

    • Ted Pillow

      It does actually…thanks!

      And the concern is greatly appreciated. I drink less than I used to, and kind of channel that urge into my writing. So if I stop writing about drinking altogether, that might actually be the time to worry because I’ve probably entered some some unending binge.

      • laurabeth


  • lola

    oh god i feel your pain.

    thank god im not the only one who feels like a colossal failure

  • Yessi Raya

    Thomas Edison was a fraud who stole most of his ideas from other scientists, like Nikola Tesla for example. Just sayin’.

  • brittanyraeann

    This line is absolutely perfect:

    “I guess I’m not good enough for an entry-level job licking stamps, am I, Mr. Trendy Glasses?”

    Totally how I feel at times.

  • Joanna (@jo_io)

    Like everyone keeps telling me, “it’s not you… it’s the economy.” Right.

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