1. All I want to do is swear.
Coming out of an interview, I do the typical replay-what-just-happened-mentally-so-I-can-freak-out-about-it deal. What could I have said better, given more time to think? Inevitably, the first mental redo involves me cussing up a storm. “What made you study Japanese,” the interviewer says, and I’m like “Man, NO FUCKING CLUE, should have studied Chinese, FUCK JAPANESE, seriously.” In my mind, this version of the interview goes a lot better; the interviewer sees that I’m a girl of the people, willing to get my mouth dirty with the most versatile words in the English language. My boldness wins me a job! Swear words triumph over political correctness!
2. I don’t know how to dress.
OMG, my mother was so right. Dressing for success when you’re a women is hard. Men have it easier: you pay a bunch of money, you get a nice suit. I think it’s easier for women to get nice clothes cheaper, but there’s too much choice, too much freedom. Dizzying. Plus, interview clothes are different from clothes-you-wear-to-work clothes; you have to go conservative with interview clothes and a lot of nice women’s clothes have prints and colors I would consider too loud for an interview. At a group interview for a tutoring company (a job I got!), one woman was in a formal dress (cocktail length, but cocktail length you could wear to prom), someone else was in jeans. I muddled through with a skirt / blouse / jacket combo, but that was literally every piece of clothing in my wardrobe that didn’t come from H&M.
3. I do too much research.
Really, this is my own failure at asking questions. People always tell you to ask questions in interviews, when all I want to know is how much money I’m going to make, please hire me, please. I’ve already researched your company, so why do I need to ask questions about it? The answer to that is obvious – you have to ask questions to prove you’ve done the research, duh, hello, what is this, amateur hour? This is an important skill for undergraduates as well; you probably all know that, in any given class, half the people who ask questions are idiots who lack basic reading comprehension while the other half are show-offs asking time-wasting questions to prove their understanding of the material. (Or at least, that’s how it is in liberal arts, maybe things are different over there in science~ world.) You must master the trick of asking questions you already know the answer to in a way that shows you already know the answer while still making it a question.
4. Going to a good school helped.
I have less to prove to interviewers just because I can put Columbia on my resume. I don’t know how this works out statistically or scientifically, but anecdotally, let me tell you that, during most of the interviews I’ve had, the potential employer will say something along the lines of “SO COLUMBIA, EH? PRETTY GOOD SCHOOL, EH?” I feel like it gives me a tiny gap of wiggle room in how articulate I have to be. Readers who only know my stunningly witty and carefully constructed prose might be surprised to know that I sometimes say “um” and tend to babble; I feel like, having gone to Columbia, I get maybe five extra “um” credits or something. So thanks for paying for that, parents! I could have gone to Fordham for free and have an extra $200,000 right now, but my resume looks good!
5. I’m really only suited for academia
It’s a sad, hard truth. When I put on a suit jacket, I feel naked if it doesn’t have elbow patches. I want to soliloquize about the delicate beauty of Noh and the linguistic implications of having three writing systems, one of which is meaning-based, to interviewers who just want to hear if how long it takes me to translate fifteen pages. All I want to do is go back to school. TAKE ME BACK, COLUMBIA. I’ll go to GS, I’ll go anywhere!