Interview tomorrow and am a total wreck
February 17, 2013 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Hi I have an interview tomorrow and am in a total mess.

Presently I'm working full time and my position is so hectic I'm going in early, working late and at weekends. I've only been there 9 months after working at a company previously for 10 years.

I've managed to get an interview for a 6 month contract - part time hours doing admin. I'm trying to get ready and organised for it, but I'm going to absolute pieces just thinking about it.

I know the sorts of questions they'll ask me but because I'm in such a bad place I can't get my 'positive' head on. I'm worried about saying I've only been at my present company for 9 months and why would I want to give up a full time permanent position.

I'm in total panic mode now and have even burst into tears in front of this computer. I've looked on the company website and written information about them etc - but I can't even get it into my head what their vision is etc.

How can I get calm and cope with this - it feels like I'm going to talk myself out of the job before I even go for the interview.
posted by Flowerpower to Work & Money (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Can you go for a long walk? Just give the interview prep a rest for a while. That might help clear your mind. You already have the knowledge in your head that you need for this interview, and fixing your state of mind will help you more than cramming.

When you get back from your walk:

4 ways to quit your new job

How to explain leaving a job after a short stint


I've known other people to get into a job, realize it was a poor fit for them, and leave within a few months. So I *know* this is doable.
posted by bunderful at 7:49 AM on February 17, 2013

Step away from the computer and try to stop thinking about this job interview for at least an hour or two. Immerse yourself in something that will take your attention away from what's going to happen tomorrow. You seem to be in a spiraling pattern in your head right now, so I think a break will help "reset" things.
posted by xingcat at 7:50 AM on February 17, 2013

You're at work now?

I just have to assume 'no.'

1. Have a nap. I'm serious. Snuggle in, and relax. Sleep in today. You're not putting off preparation, you're starting to prepare by giving your body the rest and relaxation it needs to perform at the top of its game.

2. I'm worried about saying I've only been at my present company for 9 months and why would I want to give up a full time permanent position.

Recognizing a bad fit is a positive trait in an employee. You're willing to put in great effort—9 months!— to make it work, but won't hesitate to move on from a problematic situation. (You can even consider this an analogy for how you work efficiently and/or problem solve.) And when you do find a solution that works, it continues to work for decades. Your fantastic skill in this department is why you're at the interview!
posted by carsonb at 7:52 AM on February 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

In my most panicked, the day before the interview day, I stayed in bed and ate donuts.
It got me through the day, and I got the job.
posted by angrycat at 8:10 AM on February 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

In between napping and eating donuts (both of which are great ideas!), study for your interview using the "STAR technique." Being prepared with what you're going to say should help you calm down somewhat.
posted by hazyjane at 10:20 AM on February 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here's what I typically do: I'd go for a quick walk or watch tv right now - distract yourself a bit. Then, I'd open a word document and start typing questions I think they might ask me and how I would ideally respond, and questions that I want to ask them. Writing them down helps me a lot. Sometimes I go on job sites and just grab all their sample questions and figure out how I would want to respond. Then tomorrow, I would try to get to the interview area an hour or so early, and would find a close coffee shop or park, grab a cup of tea and read over my questions/answers so that I had them fresh in my memory. Good luck!
posted by JannaK at 10:40 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Honestly, I would just step away from doing any more cramming for the interview. For an admin position, they are primarily looking at qualities that you can't study up on or prepare for -- your human interaction skills.

I've never found that prepping by reading up on typical questions helps. It stuffs my head with buzzing thoughts, and the interviewers never seem to ask those questions!

Instead, just focus on getting yourself physically in a good state. Exercise, nice long bath, do something fun. Write down some mantras: "I am strong and calm. I got this. They would be lucky to have me."

P.S. Unclear on their mission? Ask that as one of your questions to them during the interview. I've found those types of questions go over very well, and take the burden off the interviewer (who is often stressed and anxious, too).
posted by nacho fries at 10:52 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I do a lot of interviews in a town where people change jobs way too frequently for my liking. I've heard every reason for changing jobs, from layoffs to "I wasn't performing well because they're a bunch of clipboard toting bean-counters who don't care about anything but the bottom line, and so I quit and started sharpening my axe..." But at the end of the day, I don't really care too much and most other interviewers don't either. We ask to make sure you're not an axe murder and then move on.

Some people stop the conversation from moving on. They go on and on with endless stories because they're nervous. It's a natural thing to do, but once you're conscious of it, you can control it.

Here is my advice, and it comes it two parts:

1. Not every job is a good fit. That's okay and it's nobody's fault. It just happens. So tell the truth but keep it positive so nobody gets confused and thinks you're an axe murderer: "I'm looking to try to find a better fit [culturally, career-wise, etc]. I was really excited to try [new stuff] at [current company] after the 10 years I spent at [previous company], but it turned out to not be the right fit for me because [not quite the right fit for my career path, or the culture wasn't what I'm looking for, or whatever]. What is the [culture, career path, etc] like here?"

2. Don't be negative, don't tell stories, keep it short. Stick to three sentences: here's what I want, here's why, and then a call to action in the form of a question to move the conversation along. Most interviewers will fall right into telling you about their company. Practice this in the mirror until you're comfortable with it and can do it with a smile.

Above all, don't be afraid. Change is almost always good. You're doing a positive thing by trying to leave a bad situation for a better one. Focus on that and use it to project confidence.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:58 AM on February 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

One thing that helps me prepare for interviews is to video tape myself giving answers to generic interview questions. After having practiced the answers in front of a camera and having been able to critique myself a bit and make some adjustments, I feel more confident that I will have good, coherent answers with a decent delivery. I would recommend doing something similar and then trying to relax - take a hot shower, a nap, eat some good food, maybe watch a movie or a TV show. You'll do great!
posted by thesnowyslaps at 11:03 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you were at your previous job for 10 years, you don't have to worry about looking like a *chronic* job-hopper. That's what companies are wary of. You've stuck out this job for 9 months and you don't like it so you are exploring other options. Totally normal.

Also it's normal to be a wreck before interviews! I like to do relaxation/calming exercises. There are a lot of free podcasts - in particular I recommend Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Deep Breathing Exercise from GW University Counseling Center.
posted by radioamy at 12:11 PM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - great help to me. I'm calming down now thank heavens and wish me luck!

Thanks again.
posted by Flowerpower at 1:22 PM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hey, I'm trying to avoid thinking too hard about a job interview tomorrow *right now*! The phone interview and first in-person interview were the worst, though, because I know now that I'm in with a chance. Which I did not before, because my employment history is *way* spottier than yours. (Have not worked since 2007 in a non-volunteer position, have been moving all over the US and to England and back and look like a horrible risk.)

You do *not* look like a horrible risk. 10 years at one company is awesome, and sometimes it happens that a job is not a good fit for you. Right now my greatest worries involve exactly that part. But, getting through it without mainlining Ativan, this is what I have been doing:

Read up, but not the night before. (I, on the night before, am reading Ask Metafilter, which is one of my favourite internet attention-sinkholes. You might want to watch a movie or something.) The day of, or earlier on the night before (for which I know it is too late now), hand-write a list of things you definitely want to talk about during the interview. Try to figure out what questions you know they're going to ask, and how to segue into something you explicitly want to talk about from there. Then, stop doing that. At least an hour or two before. Relax, *force* yourself to think about something else. Distract the living hell out of yourself. Twenty minutes before the interview, glance over the paper again, and then start going over responses in your head. Also, remind yourself that it is not the end of the world if you don't get this job.

Remember, too, that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. It may feel like it, but you're not in fact going in there as a supplicant, begging them for a job any job. Your current situation has no doubt made it very clear that you want to make sure the job is a good fit for *you*, as well as vice-versa. Go in with that confidence, and acting like it's mutual, and it will really help a lot. It's a better and more realistic attitude, *and* it makes you look like a better candidate.

I'm no interview expert, obviously. but this is what I'm finding helps me as a current job-seeker.

Good luck!
posted by Because at 10:34 PM on February 17, 2013

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