I am supposed to be excited to interview at seven out of the nine places I applied, but I’m not; I’m dreading it. It seems so pointless. I am told that the reason places bring you onsite for an interview is to find out how you fit into the culture and community at their facility. That’s all well and good, but no one wants the girl who doesn’t talk. The girl who doesn’t talk doesn’t really fit in anywhere.
I try to think realistically. I know I have grown a LOT. I might look like a middle schooler, but I am no longer the high school kid with very few friends counting a friend as someone she might be able to say hi to maybe 50% of the time if confronted face to face in the hallway. I am not the first year getting high fives and congratulations for saying hi to my friends when I see them. I am not the second year going everywhere with a laptop to type out the parts of conversation that can’t be answered with nodding and pointing.
…but I still think of myself that way. It has always bothered me when people called me the quiet girl as if that were my only identity or even worse “quiet girl” as if that were my name, but that label sunk in deep enough that I still think of myself that way. I have made a lot of progress since then, but I do still frequently think about how to communicate potential needs without spoken words.
Those thoughts, while sometimes absent-minded brain games, are sometimes legitimate preparation even now. Sure, most of the time I am now a chatterbox that people wish had an off switch, and most of the time I can communicate verbally in such a way that no one needs to know that this isn’t how it always was, but not always, and an interview situation is different.
First, an interview is a high stress situation. High stress situations are the situations in which I am most likely to lose the ability to form coherent words. It isn’t cool when “tell me about yourself” is met with a blank stare or when “what is a strength you have” is met with a deer in the headlights.
Second, I have been observing conversation for years to learn patterns and scripting, and am getting better and better at applying what I have learned to new situations so that at this point I seem like a competent conversationalist most of the time. Unfortunately, interviews are not something I have had much of an opportunity to observe…let’s see, I had an interview-ish conversation in middle school when I was getting my first job, but in reality, the boss asked me to apply for the job and the interview was mostly just me filling out the application and getting the information I needed for my first day. I also had an interview at a university I did not attend. That one was a real-ish interview, but was a super fail. Umm, so the person interviewing me was apparently an English professor. She spent the entire time questioning me about one event that I had put on. She seemed to be trying to get some kind of information out of me, but clearly I was getting the answers wrong, because she just kept asking the same questions over and over despite my attempts at answering. The only other interview I’ve had was at school for the interview into third year. That one they gave us the questions in advance, I wrote answers and memorized said answers to regurgitate in the interview. It was scary because as a first year I was told there was no reason for me to even be in school because I was just going to fail the interview into third year anyway. As it turns out, I wasn’t good at interviewing, but if you showed up you automatically passed, and I might be lousy at interviewing, but I am good at showing up.
All that to say, I feel like they aren’t going to want real me. I admit that paper me sounds like a reasonable candidate – okay grades, involved, excited, good references – but, I don’t think that the people who liked paper me will be interested in real me. Who needs a girl who shuts down in interviews? For all they will know, shut down really is my constant state of being.
One of my awesome friends reassured me that confidence and eye contact are really the most important…which I mean is a good reminder that what I say isn’t as important as that I say SOMETHING (which given my history, even saying something is an accomplishment), but it is also scary, because the two things I get the most constructive criticism on are eye contact and confidence. I try really hard, and my preceptors tell me that I have made a LOT of progress (or at least the ones who have seen me present more than once)…and a lot of progress each rotation times five completed rotations is definitely something I should be proud of, but it doesn’t seem like enough. I don’t think anyone is going to want me. I hope someone is going to be willing to take a chance on me, but I feel like they’d probably rather have someone who can consistently communicate and do it well…and when you get a choice, why go second class?
I feel like I am going to have spent all this time and money and all I’m going to get in exchange is the knowledge that I wasn’t enough. I was actually thinking today that maybe I wasn’t too far off thinking I could take a year off and work at McDonalds or Caribou if I didn’t match. Besides the yummy food, those are two jobs in which I would be forced to have constant communication time. Being in pharmacy has pushed me into part time communication, but even then I often get breaks to do things that get me away from direct communication for a little while, which I’m guessing doesn’t happen quite so much in the food service industry.