“In every person’s life, there comes a time when they realize the world is a big, fat joke.”
Interviews come naturally to some and then there’s people like me. Let me give you the sequence of my last interview for a sales / marketing manager position for a gym.
Before the interview, I was confident, felt deserving of the job in question, and knew I could do and say what was necessary to pass their test of character.
This is a big deal because I have always struggled with professional confidence. That naturally happens when your father is an alleged science and technology business “guru”. Needless to say, he gives a substantial amount of unsolicited advice, unrelated to my creative career, paired with expectations exceeding my experience level.
Despite all of the confidence I allowed myself from the safety of my car, my palms grew clammier the closer I came to the building; like a nerd approaching the dance floor, I began to wonder if the world rotated against me just to see how much I’d sweat against the current.
Entering the building, I took a deep breath and convinced myself they’re just people on the other side of the desk. My confidence waivers regardless.
What if they’re not people?
Shhhhhh….of course they’re people.
Shhhhhhhhhhhh…don’t fuck this up.
I focused heavily on the surrounding, tastefully accented gym space to distract myself from the pending interview. I took note of all the natural accents of wood and industrial aspects of metal tied together to create a unique workout space for the clientele.
The interviewer approached.
“Hi, I’m Stan.”
Firm handshake, “Hey, Stan nice to see you,” compliment the workplace, “I like your wood.”
Oh GOD that came out wrong…add something to the sentence…
“I meant your wood accents. They’re nice. Gee, I love interior design—what a nice place you have, wow—I really like the atmosphere in here.”
He smirked, noting my oddness immediately, I’m sure of it.
“Thank you, have a seat.”
I took a seat and tried to take in the surroundings, getting a read on his character. Clearly the TMNT mug meant he was a fun guy. For god’s sake he was wearing a backwards baseball cap. It couldn’t get more casual.
Unfortunately, I found myself intimidated by how casual he was. TOO casual. I tried to act casual. It failed as soon as he started asking questions.
“I see you have awesome design skills. Tell me a little more about yourself, what do you like to do for fun?”
“I like to make stuff,” be more specific, “I mean, what don’t I do? I love anything and everything outdoors. And art. Art is fun. I also love to cook. And exercise. I love fitness.”
Am I casual enough yet?!
“Okay, cool, great.”
He then made notes I’m nearly positive read: Likes too many things. Mentality of a five-year old.
“Tell me what you think you can contribute to the team here, what makes you unique?”
“Uh, well as I mentioned, I’m a chef and I can make granola and you can sell it.”
Let’s stop and evaluate:
Can we just notice something here? This was a design / marketing / sales position. Why the fuck did I say the only thing I can contribute is granola?
There is ZERO reason for me to doubt myself. In fact, I sell myself so short, that I lie about my capabilities in the complete opposite way people usually do. Instead of saying, “Oh yes, I’m brilliant and I am so capable of doing this job because I am the best an only candidate just like me,” I say something more along the lines of,
“I know my resumé looks impressive and my portfolio is outstanding, but you really should know I suck at everything I do and I’m completely incapable of having a conversation with anyone in a professional environment—ha, ha—I left this out of my cover letter, but sometimes I’m most certainly insane.”
The interview continued just as atrociously.
“What do you consider the most valuable part of design in marketing?”
“Well, visual captivation is the gateway into informative advertising. You draw someone’s attention through images and color rather than through text as the design represents what the company being advertised is about,” would have been a great answer. What I said, after a long and awkward pause, was completely different from any answer that would have made sense,
“Colors are important. Design helps businesses.”
In short, I basically devolved into a cro-magnon carrying speech around as if it were some crude tool developed by an even cruder tool in order to smash gravel. That is probably even more sophisticated a description than I deserve.
The interview ended on the same note as an interrogation with a guilty suspect in denial.
“Well, I think I have everything I need.”
“I bet you do,” with my best shit-eating grin.
“You should sign up for some classes. Let me know if you think of anything else.”
“I sure will.”
I immediately went to my car and rested my head on my steering wheel in defeat.
What do I have to contribute?
This is one of the worst interviews I have ever had—I cannot be mad about it. The fucking ridiculousness of how badly I represent myself professionally is somewhat of a goldmine for anyone looking to feel better about their lives.