'Cause You're Hot and You're Cold...'
My first night in Seattle, after I’d spent a day at TPE running around and interviewing, scheduling appointments, socializing and generally hovering over my mailbox, my mom called. She wasn’t quite sure what I meant when I said that employers and candidates all come to the same place and interview all at once, so I thought of the only way I could metaphor it for her so she’d understand. “It’s like speed dating plus job search,” I told her.
All these dates I went on at TPE start the same. You sit in the waiting room for your date to come pick you up. You anxiously flip through the notes you took about your date earlier that day as you researched them online, trying to figure out the right things to say so that they’d be impressed and really want to take you on a second date. You check your shirt and make sure there’s no leftover lunch on it, and rub the sweat off your palms. Just when you think they’ve stood you up, someone calls your name.
You lock eyes for a minute and the first judging begins. This is where the interviews can go in many different directions. My first interviewer was smiling brightly, gave me a firm handshake, and immediately started to get to know me as we walked back to the university’s table. My second interviewer had a dead pan face, a cold, clammy handshake, and we walked in silence as I floundered with my weak attempt at small talk.
Once the interview gets started, I realize I’m so nervous that I’m picking up on every little thing the interviewers do, good and bad. My first university is nodding a lot and commenting back on my answers: good. My second is spacing out, and a couple times I catch them stifling yawns: very bad! How can two similar interviews be so different? Shake it off! I tell myself. I can’t let this stick with me the rest of the day. Finally my six the first day were done and I limped back to my hotel room in my heels, only to have it in the back of my head that I have to do it all again tomorrow.
I know interviews aren’t supposed to be excruciating. I’ve prepped myself and pondered my answers to all possible questions, but the truth of the matter is that I absolutely loathe talking about myself. And when you’re placed in essentially a 30-minute infomercial in which you have to sell all your amazing qualities, I know I give a lackluster performance. It got easier as the three days carried on, but I don’t think any amount of prep or studying could have prepared me for a weekend of that. I couldn’t help but leave TPE feeling a little defeated.
On a positive note, I left TPE informally being offered an on-campus interview the following month, at a large, public university in the northeast. While none of my top schools have yet to follow up with me, I hope to reach out to them soon and make some connections there. In the meantime, I must explore my options given to me, and just continue to push along in the process.