The Shyness Project

First Debut in Interviewing

Although I’ve had several jobs before, I’ve never had to actually interview for a position.  I’ve always known someone who was leaving a job or have been a part of a program that led to a job. Last Friday, however, I had my first job interview.

I applied for a job at my community college as a basic skills tutor for students with intellectual disabilities.  I loved the mission of the program to help these students on their path to a fulfilling career.  As a loving sister to a brother with learning disabilities and epilepsy, I thought the work would be very rewarding and meaningful to me.  So I edited the resume and cover letter I had made for a general tutoring position in my previous Career & Life Planning class, and showed up to the junior college to fill out an application.

Soon enough, I received an email saying my application had been received and that I would be contacted at the end of the week.  Well, a week went by and I had heard nothing, so naturally I began to worry a little.  I wasn’t quite sure what I should do, but I sent a reply to check-in to make sure nothing else was needed from me and that everything I had submitted was complete.  Shortly after that, my phone rang.

I recognized that it was the tutoring program calling me, and I tried to compose myself and get my head together before answering.  After getting rear-ended and having to take my car in for a week, I wasn’t sure of my schedule until I got my car back and didn’t have a clear picture in my mind of what days I’d be free to interview.  Luckily, however, the woman asked if I could come in for an interview on Friday at 9am (a day I didn’t have class), which kept me from having to think through my school schedule. I enthusiastically agreed and thanked her for calling.

In preparation for the interview, I wrote out possible questions I thought I would be asked and detailed responses.  I made flash cards and looked them over and practiced several times.  I even had my friend Hayley do a mock interview with me 2 or 3 times, and although it was a little hard to get into at first and get over my embarrassment, it was very helpful.  She caught that I was ending some sentences without inflection, so I worked on that until I ended my sentences on a firm note.  She noted when I was looking away, and I worked on making better eye contact.  So by the time Friday came around, I felt more than ready.  That didn’t keep me from getting nervous the night before, but at least the actual day of the interview I felt fairly calm and confident.

The interview went well.  The questions weren’t what I had expected, but I was able to use the answers I had formed in my mind about similar questions in response to these questions.  I wish I had been asked some questions that had allowed me to talk about some of my accomplishments or personal traits, but the interview was very skill-focused as it came to tutoring.  I left feeling good about the interview, and relieved that it was over.  Hayley and I each got a donut to celebrate.

On Monday, I found out that I didn’t get the job.  I was disappointed, but considering it was my first interview, I didn’t feel too discouraged.  My head did begin to spin as to what had gone wrong though, making me wonder if I hadn’t appeared confident enough, if my voice had come off too soft, or if I hadn’t done a good enough job with the mock tutoring portion.  I thanked the woman for letting me know, and asked if she could give me some feedback on how I could improve for the future.  Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with my interview, as she said I interviewed wonderfully.  She said they had a great pool of applicants but ultimately decided to go with someone with a little more experience with this population and a little more teaching experience.  I thanked her for letting me know that, and felt better knowing why I hadn’t gotten the position.  It does seem like a bit of an oxymoron to me that to get experience we have to have experience, especially people around my age who are still very much in the learning of skills stage, but that is how it seems to go.  I plan on checking out some other possible work and volunteer opportunities, as I would like to go through some more interviews again and gain more experience in this area.

If any of you have any thoughts on interviewing or any experiences you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them!  As some of you may know, I just started a Facebook page here if you would like to follow me.  Also, I just got an article published on Susan Cain’s Power of Introverts website here that you may like to read as well. Thanks again for reading my blog and making this an interactive space.


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13 thoughts on “First Debut in Interviewing

  1. Wow, well done! I am impressed by your preparation with the mock interview and flash cards etc. It is also great that you had the courage/initiative to ask why you didn’t get it. I remember a few interviews long ago where I was too perplexed to ask, and as a result the continued speculations about what I did wrong last time wasted a lot of energy when preparing for new interviews.

    The last time I was rejected and asked why, and then addressed the reasons, I actually ended up getting the job anyway later… it is my current job. (the link is to the post I wrote about the surprise rejection, also after a job interview that went really well).

    Great topic to take up, by the way… Very relevant.

    • Thanks Mados! 🙂 Just had another interview yesterday which I will write about soon, it went really well. Thanks yeah I wanted to come really prepared since it was my first one, and in general I like to be prepared for things like this. I kind of consider interviews like tests in school in a way, and want to make sure I have my answers and thoughts clear and formulated ahead of time. I was a little nervous to hear the answer as to why I didn’t get the position, but it was a relief to know and I’m glad I did ask. It’s definitely helpful to know that information for future interviews.

      That is pretty cool! Asking definitely does show that you are a person who strives to improve and can handle constructive criticism. I will read that post now! Thanks for commenting, I know you have a lot of experience with interviews!

      • Congratulations with getting to another interview! (regardless of results)

        I think I’ve heard the saying that ‘preparation is half the victory’ or something like that. I also remember my cousin saying ‘Yes, but he searched his luck’ on several occasions where she was told that someone was lucky to get a really good position … Meaning – Yes, luck exists, but it takes hard work to create settings where luck is most likely to strike:-) and there’re usually plenty of misses before it happens… Luck takes a lot of practice. That is what you do too by preparing so zealously, I think… set up situations where luck is likely to strike. And I am sure it will!

        Asking definitely does show that you are a person who strives to improve and can handle constructive criticism.

        I agree … It is a good ‘signature’ to leave behind when leaving behind an interview that didn’t lead to the desired result. They might even mean what they say about keeping the details on record, and be more likely to actually call when they get a new opening. Maybe… in any case, leaving a positive impression can only be a good thing. You never know where those people who do the interview will be in the future.

        I know you have a lot of experience with interviews!

        Not really. I guess I have a lot of experience with needing a job:-) I have written lots of applications over time, and a small percentage of them led to interviews (and of those, I have written about 2). My applications are good (that is the feedback I get from others), but my job history is a mess… Although I try to make it look like a meaningful path of progression. I’ve been terrible at job interviews most of my work life. I find both the verbal and non-verbal side of job interviews hard (Verbal: what they and I say. Non-verbal: body language, face expressions, eye contact, position, timing, dealing with noise and distractions et.c – not sure how visible those problems are). But the last one went well.

  2. Great first step Brittany. I am always inspired by your posts
    Yeah, you should accept the fact that obtaining a position doesn’t depend only on one factor.
    All you can do is do your best, which you already did. We are not responsible of the results.
    Just keep it up and I assure you you will be the best person you can.
    Every time I pass by your blog I get encouraged to start my own blog, the thing I am still thinking of.

    I also read your article on the powerOfIntrovert, It is a great article and I wish it can reach everyone to benefit from it.

    I am not that much into facebook these days, however it is a greater media to reach broader audience.

    If I start blogging, I will certainly appreciate your comments.


    • Thank you Tamer! 🙂 Yeah there is a lot of competition for jobs right now and it is more about doing your best than the results like you say. I still think you should start that blog. 🙂 At least write one post, and then see what happens from there.

      Thanks for reading the article and for your kind words! Yes I have reached quite a few new people through Facebook so it was a good thing I started that page. Facebook seems to be better for asking short questions and starting discussions than blogging is since I can update in short statuses rather than detailed posts. Thanks for writing and continuing to read this blog!

  3. Hello again Brittany. I have tagged you for the Liebster Award🙂

    (the other post I mentioned earlier is still in the process of completion… ‘it’s complicated)

  4. I really applaud what you have done. It is brave to put all your personal issues out there for everyone to read, especially after being bullied.

    I would like to give my opinion on a couple things.

    First the Shyness Project.

    Really great. It is wonderful that Susan Cain has supported you and helped you out. I am reading Quiet right now, and it is good. I go a bit further than just being Introverted. I discovered another book a while back that speaks to me even more:

    Party of One: A Loners’ Manifesto
    by Anneli Rufus

    It really hit home. I have always been told I was “Too Nice”. It was told to me so repeatedly it became my manifesto. I was said like it was such a problem. I always wondered, “how can someone be too nice?”, and “what is the problem”. I learned pretty quickly. People take horrible advantage of you if they find your weakness and use it for personal gain, or to belittle you. My weakness was not understanding boundaries. I gave so much and was so open to people, I didn’t protect myself. So Party of One spoke to me. I realized that I have always been perfectly happy being totally alone. It isn’t some horrible problem to be quiet, introspective, and sit on the sidelines not wanting to join in. To rather be home in the quiet. Somewhere where I can control how much noise (noise is my most touchy feeling, loud people, places and things really rub me raw) I take in.

    So my thing is being ok with it just being me. I am a 41 year old guy, who wished he had books and people to have told him being alone is not some horrible disease, being quiet isn’t cause to be put in the Psych Ward, being shy doesn’t mean you are a terrible person an need tons of medication for depression, stat! It just means you have a different way of approaching the world. A different level of feeling normal.

    I am not saying you are necessarily the same as me. I live in a small studio next to the ocean. I feel best perched over a cliff on the far west coast overlooking great spans of openness. I like being left alone. I love writing. I don’t want to work ever again at a job. I can handle very little stimulation, and need to be in charge of my own levels, and need the freedom to say when enough is enough and pack it in and go be quiet. Never have I been ok with loud crazy egos, with banal small talk, with Frat parties, or loud cars, or pushy people. Find your own thing and do it your way. (which it looks you are already on your path, way to go). I wish there were ways to do it like you are, back in the 80’s when I was a senior or freshman. I started my own newspaper after working on the school one for four years and not caring anymore what only the “popular” kids were doing or had to say, and taking pictures of Football games (which I could care less about, I loved Tennis (so uncool) and Soccer (only slightly less uncool). But I didn’t do things to be cool I did them because I enjoyed them, they just happened to be super uncool, but real). My own paper “The Alternative” got a lot of great feedback and response, but I couldn’t sustain it on my meager minimum wage job ($3.35 an hour). I got advertising, but it wasn’t something that could last.

    Which brings me to my second part:

    Jobs, find any other way if you can.

    I did what everyone else said you should do. I was a writer and artist, both my parents were artists, but my Dad was a Truck driver to pay the bills. I was pushed and pushed into going to school. I got accepted to my dream college UCLA to go to film school, right out of high school, and I got accepted to U of Oregon, and The Art School of Oregon (which only accepted 500 people a year). It was awesome. So I did none of them because I fell in love and had my first serious girlfriend, and spent the next 3 plus years doing that instead. I was unemployed, but had enough saved from my minimum wage jobs to live for a year with friends and pay the whole year up front. It was a great time and I loved it, but then had to take minimum wage jobs then a high paying job driving for the Post Office. I did it at 2:30am and 4:00pm split shift. While going to college full time and driving 50 miles each way to see my girlfriend. I got 1 hour sleep every day, except Sunday where I got a few more (it was my one day off but I still spent all day with my girlfriend).

    I started a business Silkscreen T-shirt printing with a friend and left college. I had joined a 2 year program at school instead of the regular program doing Documentary film production. I should have stayed, maybe? I kept doing regular classes also Chemistry, Biology, writing, art, etc. I got amazing feedback from art teachers, but my Parents were relentless about getting a degree I could get a job from. So my business became my line to get a job.

    I taught myself how to be a Graphic Designer, all on my own. Never took a class, just read a ton, and looked at everything I could get my hands on. Magazines at Borders were my school. Communication Arts was my College, and it is the greatest magazine for Designers ever.

    I went on to work as a Designer for 15 years. Working in Newspapers and Ad Agencies and the last big job for Nike in Oregon. My family and friends all excited. That was THE job a designer should have. Well, it was the LOWEST paying work I ever had. It was a 1984 like Big Brother Watching system. Any kind of Free Thought was considered too radical. It was the worst 5+ years of my life. In all after having probably 100 design jobs working for as many different companies, the “Real Job” at Nike my family and friends supported so much, was the worst job of my life. Please, please, don’t listen to what everyone else says. Don’t believe Anyone. No one knows anything. Trust your gut. My gut said I would be ok doing my own thing and that was it. And it was right.

    I was walked over treated horribly at jobs. Always trying to “fit in” what a ridiculous thought, always trying to make more money, get a “Better” job. It all led to misery and being horrifically poor. I climbed Down the ladder. By the end I owned two houses because I thought that is what everyone did, went Bankrupt, lost everything, ended up living for years with my Parents, who, not being able to see out of their box, still pushed me toward College as the end all. Get a MASTERs now! that will fix everything! Go back to Nike! that will be best. I made 1/4 the earnings at Nike I made at an Average year as a Designer. Not even a Best year!

    All I ever wanted was to be a Screenwriter and Filmmaker, which going to school doesn’t really help. I have since left Design, taught myself how to be a Screenwriter am learning how to be a Filmmaker and have turned 41. It has been a hard life. If I had it to do over again, I would never take a job. I would do anything to be a writer, to do my own thing. Jobs keep you locked in being servant to the man, literally. Jobs are a 20th century invention keeping people in line to the people who run things, keeping you buying stuff and in debt.

    The other books I would check out:

    Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America


    Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America

    both by Barbara Ehrenreich

    pretty much read anything by Barbara Ehrenreich. She is Amazing!

    If you can find a way to be a writer instead of taking a job: Do It!

    I seriously urge you. Yes you can learn a bit from going to College. But take it from someone who spent 20 years doing what everyone else did. Going to College, getting jobs kept me smack dab in the middle or under average. It is not the path to a better life, it is the path to nowhere and a sure fire way of being very unhappy.

    Get a book deal, write to make money.

    Most of all: live on as little as possible. A great life is made, by not needing THINGS! by not being shackled to a system that isn’t in place to help.

    Being an Introvert made it Impossible to work my way up in jobs, made people think I was incapable of being a boss (which in the end I was, because it would have been the worst thing to do to my personality), I was treated terribly and looked down on by all the other people at jobs. In a world where being a “Team Player” is considered the greatest thing in the world, and being involved in a million meaningless, time wasting, water cooler blabbing, small talk minded people run world, all I can say is: if you find yourself stuck in it, don’t wait, Get Out! as fast as you can. It doesn’t get better until you free yourself from it. I know, I have lived it all.

    Money does not make you happier, jobs most certainly don’t either.

    I have lived all over America, I have travelled all over, and that is learning.

    I am now a Minimalist, a Vegan (what you can learn about how the world is driven by money and how Climate change is all happening strictly because animals are being factory farmed an slaughtered will change your life alone), a finder of TRUTH with a capital T, and someone who wants nothing more than to do what I want, live a simple life, and do it MY way.

    I am not saying you should in any way emulate me, as I never wanted to emulate anyone else in my life, but there are certain people you could do worse than to take after. Henry David Thoreau being one.

    I would read

    -Walden by Henry David Thoreau
    -Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman, and Kim Barnouin (easiest way to learn to be a vegan and why, hands down)
    -Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
    -Diet for a New America by John Robbins
    -Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr
    -The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

    I know a lot of those are diet related, but they are great learning books about life too.


    great sites about living simple by Leo Babauta

    I know this was a ton of info, and I could go on for years, but I hope I can help some, I wish someone could have Really Talked to me when I was 19 about life and the world, instead I had my family pushing me with closed minded ideals about the world, which didn’t help me much. Kept me poor, poor in monetary ways, not rich in life ways.

    Thanks for reading, I am happy to have found your blog and your writing, and I will keep following as long as you keep writing.

    Take care,

    • Wow thanks so much for all your input! I had a friend in high school who was often called too nice, and she was taken advantage of by people for that for sure. You bring up a good point about boundaries and protecting yourself.

      Yeah there are definitely different ways to enjoy life and be happy, and for some of us being in our quiet spaces and enjoying the peace rather than going out partying is the way to go.

      Dang sounds like life got insanely busy for you after high school! It’s amazing that you were able to do all that you did with as little sleep as you got. I don’t think I could do that. That’s great that you taught yourself to be a graphic designer too rather than having to pay for classes. And that you have also taught yourself how to be a Screenmaker and Filmmaker now. I’m sorry to hear you had some pretty awful times working for Nike and other jobs, hopefully you have more time for your writing now than you did before. And it’s cool that you’re a minimalist too, I enjoy reading the Zen Habits blog as well, they are always very insightful. Thanks again for writing and I’m glad I got this out of my spam box after all the effort you put into writing this!

      • Thanks so much for posting it, there is no way I could remember all that I wrote. I am so happy you were able to read it. I appreciate your reply. Take care and thanks again.

        I really like what you are doing here. I wish you the best and I will be following you and how you are doing. Too bad I got involved after your year experiment, but it looks like you are continuing. So way to go, and keep up the good work and vibes. Thanks.

  5. Uh oh, did my last, super long, book like reply not post?

    • It went to my spam, just saved it though thanks to this comment! 🙂

      • I appreciate you finding it and posting it. Wow, apologies! I looked at it and it is an incredibly long book of stuff. Didn’t realize just how intense it was. Hope it wasn’t too much. I have a tendency to keep going on when I write about things dear to me.

        Again, appreciate you reading and responding.

        Take care,

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