Legal Career

What does interviewing even accomplish?

Courtesy of The Oatmeal
Courtesy of The Oatmeal

I can’t be the only person in the world that absolutely loathes the entire job search process, but specifically, the interview itself, and of course, the horribly agonizing waiting period after the interview(s). I landed my current position without ever applying to the “opening” (aka through the referral of a loving friend), but, I still had to go through  two rounds of nerve-racking interviews, although the turn around time was much quicker than anything I’ve ever experienced before. The interviews for my current position were nothing compared to some of the gems I’ve been to, though.

Back when I was frantically looking for a job before I graduated law school, and then again later after I passed the bar exam, I went on two interviews that I will never forget. The first was a relatively short one with a large insurance defense firm. I had zero experience in law school pertaining to insurance defense so I was somewhat surprised that they wanted to bring me in. Then, when I walked into the interviewing room, it all made sense. It was quite clear that no one had read my resume, and I could tell, even before a word left my lips, that they had already decided not to hire me. It felt awful to literately be judged on the spot like that. There were two interviewers in the room with me, and they both asked all of one question, and then opened the floor to my questions. Of course, I only prepared about two or three questions to ask and then you could hear crickets in the room. It was incredibly unnerving, and I wanted to disappear. I believe the interview lasted approximately 10 minutes. It was a gigantic waste of time.

I went on another interview for a law clerk position (because I was desperate) for a smaller firm and spent 95% of the interview listening to the owner talk about some sort of short story he had written and was attempting to get published. Nothing to do with law whatsoever. It wasn’t so bad, but I hardly got a word in edge-wise. This is actually a tactic in interviews: if the interviewer spends the entire time talking about himself or herself–let them. They’ll walk out of the interview thinking you were amazing even though they hardly let you even speak about your experiences and skill set.

But my favorite and quite possibly creepiest interview I’ve ever been on was for an extremely small immigration law firm. Again, I had zero experience in immigration law but thought it might be interesting. Not even 5 minutes into the interview, the owner asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. My face went blank. “I’m sorry, what?” To which he replied, “I need to smoke. Let’s go for a walk.” The firm was located in a semi-sketchy part of the city, and I was a little worried. I also made the instant decision that I would not take this position even if it was offered to me. However, reluctantly, I went for a walk with him where he proceeded to ask me off-the-wall and completely unprofessional questions pertaining to my loan debt and my husband’s salary. I was floored. In the midst of all of it, I had this weird feeling like he was hitting on me. Then to make matters worse, he explained that if I were to get the offer that I would make an abysmally low salary. I almost started to laugh. This one was by and large the worst I think I’ve ever been on to date.

I’ll never forget my interview with the public defender’s office during on campus interviews of my second year in law school. The interview took a nose dive not because of unprofessional-ism or creepiness but because I was completely unprepared, and the woman who interviewed me was SO GOOD. I had no desire to litigate, but I did have a passion for helping others and didn’t believe in the death penalty, so I thought that would be enough to get through the interview.

Nope.

She grilled me on my experiences and my passions, and I dug myself a hole so deep I almost excused myself because I was ashamed of the answers I was giving to her legitimate and well-thought out questions. Needless to say, I was not offered that position.

What does interviewing even accomplish? By the time you make it to the interview part it is safe to say that you at least have the basic skill set the employer is looking for to fill the position. I’d say interviews exist to see how people react under pressure and of course to see if you would fit in with the employer’s culture and current employees.

I hate them. I hate interviews.

I always, ALWAYS beat myself up after every single interview re-hashing my answers to questions, or berating myself for the way I phrased an answer. I feel like I am at the employer’s mercy even when I know I am a perfect fit for a position, and my nervousness shows more often than not through my clammy hands and speed-talking. I have got to get a grip. Now that’s not to say that I’ve had really great interviews and still no job offer. I like to think I’m a decent interviewee, but there’s always that nagging question: “what if there’s someone better?” Because that’s where you lose.

But the worst part of the interview is the aftermath: the agony of waiting to hear something…ANYTHING! I swear, waiting is pure hell for me. Sometimes I get to a point where I’d willingly saw off my arm to be put out of my misery. And most of the time, I hear nothing but silence. I obsessively check my e-mail. I put my phone on the loudest ringer. Waiting is THE WORST! The silence naws at my brain, and I eventually just can’t take it anymore. I have to just remove myself from the thoughts and force myself to move on emotionally at some point. But honestly, I just want some closure even if it is a rejection. I am always proud of my ability to stave off the urge to send a thousand emails or call the employer a million times when I haven’t heard from the employer past their estimated timeline, but I have reached points where I felt like I followed up too soon or I’ve bothered a friendly insider connection too much. There’s a fine line between desperation and interest–the line is extremely fine. I either never hear from the employer again or I wait months to find out the position has been filled by an internal candidate or I was outright rejected. Or, the nothingness lingers until forever.

Suffice it to say, rejection never, ever gets easier. Rejections are emotionally tolling, and there is plenty of medical evidence to suggest that job rejection is linked to depression. After a rejection, I have to literately (insert Chris Traeger voice here for all you Parks and Rec fans) scrape myself off the floor to try, try again. This is of course after I sob to my husband for an hour or talk my mother’s ear off. For me, rejection is one of the hardest things to cope with.

chris

For a hilarious comic involving the 6 crappiest interview questions, check out this Oatmeal comic.

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One thought on “What does interviewing even accomplish?

  1. I absolutely hate the interview process. I’m quite introverted, and also, growing up in an asian culture, staring someone straight in the face is so uncomfortable for me. I do it now, but I can tell you it’s an unpleasant feeling.

    It’s crazy because I always ace phone interviews, but in person, I sweat bullets and always beat myself up after every one of my answers too! I’m glad I’m not the only one that wants to hide in a corner and smack my forehead.

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