Monday, August 18, 2003

Tips for Interviewing in a Recession

Having traipsed hither and yon through the streets of our capital city, peddling my meager wares and my commitment to excellence, I've earned my stripes in the job-hunting world. Having suffered various failures and toasted rarer successes, I would like to give all of you job-seekers the interviewing tips that nobody gave me. Oh sure, they've told you to be confident, to give concrete examples of your achievements, to wear sexy lingerie so that you will feel confident and more concretely aware of your achievements. Much of this advice is furthermore geared toward a booming tech market. "Don't leave the interview without asking the interviewer if he/she is ready to offer you the position!" admonishes one source. Don't think so, kiddo. Interviewing in today's economy is not for the weak-hearted. You must have an iron determination. You must have abandoned principles. You must try not to be drunk.
Here are my Tips for Interviewing in a Recession

1) Do not wear sexy lingerie
You will not feel more confident. You will feel more uncomfortably aware of your ass. This is not the way to focus on your concrete achievements. I believe this technique was brought to you by the makers of Secretary. (A fine film, but not an appropriate career guide for young girls pursuing their options off Capitol Hill.)

2) Sing.
You're walking to the interview, and your nerves are starting to get the better of you. You're hashing through all your canned-response answers in your head. You're threatening yourself with deprivation and lashings if you forget to mention how well you work without supervision. Relax. Sing a song to yourself while you walk. You'll feel like you're in a movie with a personalized soundtrack, and this will give you pizzaz and will calm you. A few words of warning, though. My walking-to-interview song used to be "Confidence" from the Sound of Music. It worked for Julie Andrews, right? "I have confidence, and confidence alone! Besides which, you see, I have confidence in me!" A winner, right? You'll feel like a million bucks? No, you'll feel like a nun who's about to be strapped with 7 singing Austrian ankle-biters, so that one was a dud. Also, don't sing The Smiths. "I was looking for a job and then I found a job. And heaven knows I'm miserable now." If you sing The Smiths, you might skip the interview altogether, and take Morrisey's advise and you'll "go home, and you'll cry and you'll want to die." I recommend straight-up rock. I had that McLusky song in my head a few days ago and used that while strutting down K St. I felt like a rock star. And if they don't want to hire a rock star like me, then fuck 'em.

3) During the interview, try to avoid cussing, swearing, or sexual advances.
That advice comes courtesy of a fellow job-seeker, who has since landed a fine post and is convinced that the above issues were what held him up for the first couple weeks.

4) Do not make fun of the current presidential administration when the organization is chock-full of former Reagan-appointees.
Talking about politics in a supposedly non-partisan environment is a crap-shoot anyway, but try to know the general political environment of the company you are interviewing with if you insist on saying things like "Bush is a punk-ass chump."

5) Google your interviewer
If you get the name of the person/people you will be meeting with, by all means, stalk them. Find out if they have any special interests that might show up on the internet, and then co-op those interests to your advantage. Do they run the marathon? Slip in a reference to your split times. Are they the ringleader of an underground S&M site? Wear leather to the interview. Every little bit helps, but beware keeping up the artifice if you are hired. I hear those early-morning races are brutal.

6) Celebrate everything
Did your interview go well? Don't wait until they give you a job offer! Happy Hour! Did somebody call to schedule an interview? Round up the posse, it's Happy Hour! Did somebody e-mail you to confirm receipt of your resume? It's mojito time! In these uncertain economic times, you have to take what victories you can find. Postponing celebrations until you actually receive a job offer probably means you just won't be drinking. And that is the one thing you will need most of all to survive this process. Bottoms up!


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