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.