Friday, February 1, 2008

Let the pre-interview jitters begin!

Tuesday I have my day-long interview process with Teach for America. I'm trying to remain calm, but I'm failing. I keep mentally replaying the last time I interviewed for something and wincing.

Almost four years ago, I had the interview for the scholarship that's paying for my education. Like any panicky perfectionist, I did everything I could to prepare. I checked out books and a video on interviewing from the school library, and I even asked my guidance counselor about the possibility of doing a mock interview before the real thing. She told me that would hardly be necessary, even though I had friends who were required by their school to do practice interviews. The night before the interviews, a group of us hung out in the hotel where the university put us up, reviewed one another's resumes and essays, formulated questions for everyone, and critiqued the answers.

The next day was a disaster. All of my friends there were applying for slightly different scholarships than I was, and they had different committees. Since my interview slot was late in the day, I got to grill most of them on their experiences before my turn came. Most assured me that they'd gotten to talking and laughing with their interviewers and the twenty minutes had flown right by. My interview was wholly different. Looking back, I can understand my committee's objectives and why they behaved as they did, but it wasn't pleasant. I did manage to get out of the room and down the hall at the end of the interview before I burst into tears.

This interview can't be any worse. After all, TFA won't ask if I believe in God or demand I justify my position on Mars exploration that I thought I'd fully explained in an essay they'd ordered me to write the day before as soon as I arrived at the hotel. (Important life lessons: admitting you like Dostoevsky on your college application can be perilous, and forcing teenagers to write several short essays on topics chosen from a list of current events with no advance warning is cruel even to those who read the newspaper religiously.) Maybe my attempts to prepare for expected interview questions will actually do some good this time.

I'm trying to psych myself up, but it really isn't working. I believe passionately in what I'm setting out to do, but I worry that I'll freeze and be unable to convey that on Tuesday. I need to project confidence and competence, and that isn't tremendously easy to do while being judged by total strangers.


DogAteMyFinances said...

Hope it went well!

Mrs. Micah said...

Best of luck, EC!!! :) I interviewed for two scholarships before college and I remember being terrified. One guy was great and we got to chatting about books. The other committee was tougher. In retrospect, I submitted a really weird essay *blush* and they were probably confused.

Blue said...

I'll send you good thoughts on Tuesday! Good luck!

E.C. said...

Thanks for the warm wishes. I think I'm going to need the luck!

Julia Dutta said...

So how did you finally do? I too used to get panic attacks, but now in my late forties, I just walk into an interview and imagine in my mind, I am talking to the interviewers in my living room!!