Read part one Here.
For the most part, the interviews I had weren’t especially difficult.
Some of them I even enjoyed.
I was made to feel comfortable by welcoming, friendly people who were interested in getting to know someone who may soon become a new member of their team. They were happy to engage with me. Receptionists made small talk while I waited. In one instance, my interviewer made jokes that normally I’d reserve for quite close friends.
And they were definitely all interesting. And I learned a lot.
The first and last were the two that I had put most effort into. Just going to the interviews, seeing the offices, getting to know the sort of people that worked there gave me a chance to see what life could be like if I put enough effort in the right direction.
Both offices were in beautiful parts of London that I enjoyed wandering around, both beforehand and afterwards, imagining what it would be like to go there every day. Between the office and my tube station, I saw gorgeous fountains and adorable independent shops. One was in a huge glass tower overlooking the Thames. The other was in a colourful building with offices that were shaped like jellybeans and full of pot plants.
I’d never had a job like that before. Such a professional occupation, in such an iconic place. Just going in made me wonder – again – how I’d managed to get so much as an interview.
Throughout both of those interviews, there were parts when I felt confident and parts when I felt my preparation was somewhat lacking. I tried to improvise as best I could, but in those moments when I realised I wasn’t ready for a question, I felt the pressure far more keenly.
Luckily, those times were few and far between compared to those when I felt comfortable and at ease. Being a roundly awkward child has helped me develop much better social skills as an adult. Managing a little bit of small talk at the beginning, I felt, helped. Attempting to balance a friendly connection with maintaining a structure, in what I was saying, that was acceptable by interview standards, also had a positive effect.
I reminded myself constantly of all the advice you can get for interview behaviour – staying relevant, staying interesting, showing good knowledge of the organisation, showing how you would benefit it and, where possible, giving examples. Half the time, it felt like I was trying to plan an assignment for university rather than an answer for one question.
One interview in particular made me think about what I didn’t want.
It was a simple enough job and it came with a yearly salary, rather than hourly pay, which meant that it wasn’t a bad prospect at all. It was something I was definitely capable of doing and even related well to volunteer work I had done before university.
But going there and seeing the building and talking in greater detail about what I’d be expected to do (which probably wouldn’t have seemed like so much of a problem if I’d just been thrown into it) really put me off. It just felt like something I wouldn’t enjoy doing, especially compared to the other interviews. And it was the kind of job that required a commitment to a certain amount of time, which would mean spending a significant amount of my life working towards a career I didn’t really want.
If I was going to accept a job I didn’t want to pursue, I may as well be in a bar or a shop or something else that was similarly flexible and unimportant. Something I could leave at any time and not have to worry.
Even before I’d heard back from any of them, I had been inspired to properly think about my future. About how the decisions I made now would affect the rest of my life. It made me think about what I want – about who I want to be – and how I could go about getting that.
Starting right now.
Read part seven Here.