On Tuesday, inexplicably (unless you are willing to grant that the universe is ruled by a malicious and spiteful entity who likes to kick people when they’re down and who believes, deep down in the core of his petty little soul, that I am a great big loser) …
Let me start again. On Tuesday, God crashed my hard drive while I was conducting simultaneous Internet searches for job opportunities in New York and naked pictures of celebrities. Suddenly, a lot more depended upon the solitary interview that I had managed to scrabble together—as a brand-new Mac laptop costs more money than I have ever even imagined.
So, on Wednesday, the morning of the interview, I woke up early and looked at the notes I had jotted down from my brief conversation with the prospective employer to make sure I was prepared with everything I needed. Which brings me to my first, easy tip on fucking up a job interview before it starts:
At the time of our conversation, both the friendly woman who was setting up the interview and I considered it an exceptionally reasonable request that I bring with me a printed copy of my résumé and references. But at 9 a.m.—two hours before the interview itself, when I turned my thoughts to this request in earnest—I realized just what a monumental challenge I had been presented with: A pathological lack of foresight means that I have ever lived my life without such amenities as printer paper, printer ink, or, indeed, a printer. And even had I been able to overcome this particular obstacle, my useless, whimpering hard drive was a stark reminder of the fact that divine intervention had quite recently deprived me of almost all traces of my résumé as well.So I spent the next hour amusing Our Lord by attempting to install a driver for my roommate’s new printer while frantically cobbling together a résumé and set of references from the salvaged wreckage of earlier endeavors. Which brings me to my second tip:
With just five minutes to go before the absolute last second I could leave the house and still stand a chance of arriving at the interview on time, I looked up from the pile of cables, malfunctioning printers, and paper jams that had become my personal hell and processed the dawning realization that I was still in my boxer shorts, and that this would simply not do.
I rushed to my closet and pulled out my nice dress pants, which have a pin-stripey thing going for them, a shirt that looked like it was at least vaguely familiar with the concept of an iron, and my only tie, which is actually a good tie and does not generally make me look like an idiot. But fortunately, I would not be calling upon my tie to perform such a role just yet, as my suit jacket was quickly pressed onto stage for the part: Something you will know if you know these things is that a black suit coat and pinstripe pants have the exact opposite effect from what’s intended—i.e., they make you look like you just got out of fucking clown school. But there was no time. No time for anything except a swift kick in the pants from Jesus Himself on my way out the door.
For no good reason except to deliver a final, crushing blow to my sense of self worth, my nice tie, instead of sitting quietly in my closet for the past three years like it was supposed to, was busy creating out of thin air a small brownish stain right in the middle of itself. This tastefully positioned blemish is just a few shades darker than the rest of the tie, but it really stands out quite prominently in, for instance, daylight, as if to say to anyone who would listen: "I'm a nice tie, but the guy who's wearing me is a bum! A bum, I tell you!" I did not notice this stain until I stopped briefly in front of a mirror to curse at myself as I sprinted towards the subway. Which brings me to my penultimate tip:
If you have ever tried running half a mile in dress shoes that are two sizes too small for you, you will know what I’m talking about here. The pain is exquisite, and, no matter how much you might want to look like a normal human being (as opposed to, say, a drunken Orangutan) there is very little that you can do to stop yourself from lurching and grimacing with agony every time you move. Potential employers do not generally find this endearing. Fortunately, I had one last trick up my sleeve.
Being British originally, I have a deeply rooted "survival mode" which consists of alternately thanking and apologizing to anyone who happens to be within earshot. Think Hugh Grant right after he got caught with that prostitute, except, like, nowhere near as charming or sexually fulfilled. The more stressful the situation, the more feverish and inane my expressions of gratitude and remorse become—the idea being that whoever I’m talking to will either take pity on me or just for God’s sake leave me alone. In England—where we consider actually communicating with other humans extremely impolite—this mode of discourse is universally understood and respected. Unfortunately, behavior of this sort tends not to go over quite so well at an American job interview, where you are supposed to say things like "utilize" and "proactive" instead of, like, "I'm so sorry I didn't bring my résumé and I'm limping and there's a stain on my tie. Thank you so much for being so understanding, but would you mind terribly if we printed it out from my email? I’d be ever so grateful. Awfully sorry about this."
"This is the shortest résumé I have ever seen," she said, once we had finally obtained it. She was very nice, and I thanked her profusely for her time. I'll let you know if I hear back.