Remembrance of College Interviews Past

I’d exposed the fact that by age eighteen, I had learned that someone would always, always be better than me at everything.

Crazy Interviews and What They Cost

One morning I got up early and put on my only suit, which I bought off the rack for $230 from Ann Taylor Loft and which luckily fit well enough that it didn’t have to be tailored. I took the subway to Penn Station ($2 then) and one NJ Transit train to Newark-Broad Street so that I could catch another to some quaint clapboard suburban town, South Orange, I think? (~$6, off-peak). From the station, I walked to an boutique advertising agency that had an opening for a Junior Copywriter. I arrived ten minutes early, proud of myself — until I discovered I was actually 24-hours-and-ten minutes early. “I have you scheduled for tomorrow,” the receptionist said, apology and wonder in her voice. No doubt she was curious whether I would turn up.

Well, I showed her. I went home ($8) and then next day did it all again ($8). The best part is that at the end of the series of interviews, which included a writing test where I had to create a marketing plan for Dove chocolate, my potential boss beamed at me and said, “This is great! Thanks so much for coming out two days in a row. We really like you, and we only have one last question: Why do you want to be in advertising?”

You could have heard the buzzing emptiness in my head from three states away. I looked at him, my potential boss, the man I had spent valuable money and time commuting all the way from Brooklyn to impress twice in two days, and was as articulate as a fluorescent light.

Eventually he put me out of my misery and I went home ($8), crossing “advertising” off my list of potential careers as well as “anything in New Jersey.”

I have other stories too, terrible stories, as well as some great ones. (“Are you lying about any of this?” a potential boss once asked, pointing to my resume, and when I said, “No,” he said, “Great, okay then,” left the room, and I got the job.) Tell me yours! Especially any that necessitated a supreme waste of funds.

Though You Were a Strong Candidate, We Decided to Go With Someone Else

Every interview that goes well lets you fall in love, just a tiny bit. You’re flushed and high off the rush of saying all the right things at all the right times. There is common ground, there is laughter. The answers you trot out every time feel organic, like you actually mean them. The interviewer has stopped checking her phone during your long-winded monologue about how you wound up in advertising when you studied Post-Colonial Lit, and is actually engaging with you. The frantic tap dance with teeth bared and jazz hands flying relaxes into a slower, smoother groove. The interview is over, but you have already picked out your desk on your way out to the lobby. You follow up, you wait, you start to Google Map the commute in-between refreshing, and then: nothing. Silence. You simply shift that projected future over to a pile of things that didn’t work out.