I knew it was a long shot from the beginning—I was under-qualified for one thing, and lacking experience. Come to think of it, I didn't really want the job anyways. It was in Indianapolis and it was working with numbers, yuck and yuck. Getting the job was more of a competitive adventure for me. Once I decide I'm going to go for something (even if I don't want it) I go all out.
One of my professors had given me a contact in the Department of Labor who was looking for a Spanish-speaking 'Compliance Specialist.' It sounded so professional and grown-up, and I would've been able to use my degree! So I contacted the guy and after a few emails back and forth, and a phone conversation, he asked me to have a conference call slash interview with his supervisor.
I really had no experience with interviewing at that time, so as soon as he said it, my heart raced and I broke out in a cold, nervous sweat. During the days leading up to it, I googled everything imaginable about nailing a job interview, writing the perfect cover letter, etc. The lesson I've learned since is that googling doesn't really help -- interviewing is just one of those experiences in life that one has to go through to master.
Surprise, surprise, I bombed the interview.
I was a nervous, sweaty, fidgety, hot mess. But the part that really got me was when they asked me to do a "simple" math problem…something that I'd have to do everyday if I were to get the job. To say math was never my strong suit is putting it mildly. I write and paint and lead with my emotions, all of which are indicators that I suck at math. It was a word problem (to boot) with many little caveats, and I must've missed those key words. The interviewees told me that I'd come up with the wrong answer (by a lot) and it all went south from there as my self-confidence had been fatally wounded.
That was my first (real job) interview and since then, I've gotten much better, but not without a couple more fails. I have several under my belt and my confidence has been restored. So, in the spirit of helpfulness, I've compiled a list of what NOT to do during an interview:
1. Get really nervous and fidget a lot.
2. Complain about the bad day you're having.
3. Forget how to do simple mathematical functions.
4. Blank on what your best qualities are.
5. Blank on your future goals.
6. Interject "uh" and "um" whenever you can.
7. Forget to ask the interviewers questions.
8. Try to be cute and funny, especially if it's a serious government job.
9. Get flustered when you don't know the answer to a question.
10. When they start to test your Spanish skills, speak French.