Tag Archives: failure

Foot In the Door, Tossed on Your Bum Part 2


By sendmeonmyway101

The novelty of the table lasted only a few moments, and I was soon distracted by the notes scribbled all across the dry erase board. With nothing else to do, I tried to memorize what was on the board, as if I
 ould be quizzed on it, or something.

Finally the HR rep who had originally contacted me stepped into the room with a warm smile. (At this point we will refer to the HR rep as Judy).

Even though I knew I was about to be put under the same tormenting observations as a fish in the aquarium, I felt my jitters instantly recede. We shook hands, Judy and I, and then she took a seat across from me. I glanced down at the long, empty table, took a deep breath, and waited to begin.

Judy explained the 401K and health benefits that the company offered, as well as verifying some of the original information we had discussed over the phone (most of which were not my best answers). This time I was ready. With lines that I had gone over twelve times on the ride in, I expanded on my work history and my understanding of the job with absolute confidence. I could tell when I gave a good answer, because Judy would look down at her notes with a little, knowing smile.

After some time, fifteen minutes or so, she stood and left. I would now meet with three team members who had the job I was applying for. At this point I was relaxed – my back, which had been flush against the gray chair
when Judy first entered, was now slouching somewhat as I leaned over the table. The team members, each warm and friendly, proceeded to ask me questions, fervently scribbling my response. With every answer I wildly flailed my arms, barely noticing I was doing it. I’ve always been a very visual speaker.

When they were finished with their questions, they asked if I had any of my own. For any interview, I try to have at least three questions beforehand. One question that I use at almost every interview I’ve been to is “what are the best and worst parts of the job?” In the past, most interviewers have been caught off guard, but pleased, by the question, and this group was no different. They tried to hide their surprise, before explaining that the initial training was the hardest thing to get over. But after that, it’s like riding a bike.

I had a few more questions. That part of the interview lasted roughly half an hour. They thanked me in the end, and I made sure to get up and shake each hand once more, running over their names in my head.

By the time that the ‘big bosses’ came in, I was completely at ease. Until they started firing questions, that is.

“How would you define teamwork?”

“How are you at learning new things?”

“How do you perceive the responsibilities of this position?”

I did the best I could, spewing the first thing that popped into my head. I would normally stop to think about everything I say beforehand, but the way they were staring at me, like marble statues, made my brain turn to mush and my mouth into that of a child’s. Stream of consciousness, whatever popped into my head came out of my mouth.

The next twenty minutes were a whirlwind, and I can hardly remember much of what happened. Before I knew it they were asking if I had any questions, and I was dumbly saying, “No, I think all my questions have been answered.”

Judy returned, told me they would let me know if I got the job by the end of the next week. Then she led me to the door, and I was done. Just like that.

Dazed, I clambered into my car, started the engine and headed straight for the thruway. I spent the next few hours going over every word in my head, trying to find a weak spot, a failure. I arrived home, napping until my Father arrived.

The next day I sent a thank-you letter, but even as I hit ‘send’ I knew there would be no return call.

Foot in the Door, Tossed On Your Bum Part 1


By sendmenonmyway101

My past few posts haven’t been as hopeful – or helpful – as I had wanted them to be, so today I think I’m going to recount my first ‘real world’ interview. Hope this gives some of you a clear picture!

It was the end of June, and I was surprisingly giddy that morning; even though I had gotten up at 4:30 am to make the three hour drive to Buffalo. I may have downed two whole bottles of 5hr energy by the time I bounced onto the elevator, so I suppose being giddy explains itself. I spent the whole car ride into town going over potential questions, and my best answers. Then I begged the interview gods that I wouldn’t forget them.

I was aware of the interview for a week before hand (after surviving the phone interview), but the only person I had mentioned it to was Kyle. I didn’t want my parents to get their hopes up for me, and then be disappointed when I didn’t get the job. In the end I caved – unable to think of a good enough reason for why I would be getting up at 4am (well, I came up with some pretty good reasons, but I wanted some advice from my Dad, and when I told him he insisted I tell my Mom).

I had gone to bed late the night before – not my best idea, but I was up gathering as much research as possible on the people I would be meeting with. I could tell you who graduated from what university, with what degree, and exactly what their extra-curricular activities were. Creepy, I know (the fact that I was able to find this information so readily, and the fact that I memorized it), but I wanted to be prepared.

I knew I was going to have to step my whole game up a notch, so I dressed in one of the outfits I had bought specifically for post college interviews almost two years ago (fortunately, the pants and shirt still fit – black slacks and a beige blouse).

I was there for an office position where, if I had gotten the job, I would be responsible for handling customers, answering questions about the software, and editing the surveys (it was a survey company. Not exactly my first choice, but I was impressed with what the company aimed to do – forge a bridge between college students and the faculty/staff that affect their education).

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I could feel the vomit building its way back up my intestines. Hell, I could taste the stomach acid burning in the back of my throat.

I swallowed it back as a woman guided me inside. The main work area was small but open. No cubicles. I was deposited into a glass conference room off to the side, and left alone.

Someone had once told me that employers will leave potential employees alone for a few extra moments just to psych them out. With this in mind, I tried focusing my thoughts on anything other than my nerves.

First I tapped my fingers along the counter top, marveling at how small I was in comparison to the bulky, tall table. I wished there was a telephone book or two to prop me up.

The novelty of the table lasted only a few moments, and I was soon distracted by the notes scribbled all across the dry erase board. With nothing else to do, I tried to memorize what was on the board, as if I would be quizzed on it, or something.

Finally the HR rep who had originally contacted me stepped into the room with a warm smile.

READ PART 2 Tomorrow Evening

Can A Parent Be Too Supportive?


By sendmeonmyway101

My dad graduated from University when I was eight. I can still remember being crowded into stadium seating for what felt like four hours, watching parades of people I’d never seen before crossing the stage, all dressed in bulky black robes and looking like penguins from our nose-bleed seats.

He was hired in October of that same year. By Michael’s birthday in November, our family had packed up and moved halfway across state. Kyle and I were already in elementary school. Kyle prospered in our new school, but it took me much longer to adjust. This new school expected more of students than our previous school, and I had a difficult time keeping up during my first few years. Since then I have only reflected on how that move affected me, and I never thought to ask what was going through my dad’s head at the time.

Following my first failed interview, my dad and I sat down and talked about his own experience post-college.

He was a chemistry major in a time before chemistry was a cool thing (i.e., before forensic-fueled shows like CSI came onto the scene). He had also been out of his mother’s home for close to nine years. He was independent, in a rather non-competitive market, and he had a wife and children to support. Bills were piling up, and the job that he had wouldn’t do much good once student loans hit. He had a reason to find a job.

I told my dad about the questions the interviewers asked, and the answers I gave (and then I told him about the better answers I had come up with on my drive back home). He told me about the four interviews he had prior to being hired, and how he had bombed his first with poor answers; how he had been promised a job on his second, only to have the company declare bankruptcy before he could get started; and how he had been unable to impress a key member during his third interview. But he learned from each interview, and by the time he landed his fourth, he was ready for them.

After telling me all this, my dad said, “You watch any newborn first learning to walk, and they fall down, and they fall down, and they fall down. But they have the natural instinct to keep trying until they’re successful. Every person has that natural instinct, but somewhere along the way life beats it out of them. The thing that you have to do is find that drive that you had as an infant.”

It’s great advice, and it does make me feel less harried about the whole job thing (which I suppose was his intention). But at the same time I’m afraid he’s too supportive. He had a family to maintain post-graduation. I live at home, and living at home isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. I suppose I’m afraid that knowing I have such a soft cushion to fall back on will hinder my interest in job hunting. I don’t have the same motivation that he had. His advice, which would be brilliant if I was in the same spot he’d been in at my age, only reminds me that failure is OK.

It is, but failure is really only OK if you learn from your mistakes and keep trying. Any infant keeps trying to walk because they’re motivated to get somewhere on their own. I have a roof over my head, my bills are paid, I get paid for doing housework (something that I quickly realized I love to do), and I have freelance activities to keep my mind occupied. The only goal I’ve held my whole life that has motivated me is graduating from college. Without that, how do I figure out what to do next?

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