Waterboarding and Phone Interviews

Let me preface this article by saying I am usually a pretty confident, almost cocky individual. Before this interview I thought I didn’t get nervous. For most of my classes I can easily pickup the phone and interview a total stranger for hours, but when the role is reversed I feel like an awkward acne plagued 13-year old boy attending his first middle school dance. I think phone interviews should be added to the list of cruel and unusual punishment. They might have been one of the torture techniques deemed too graphic to be included in the film Zero Dark Thirty.

This morning I received an email requesting a phone interview for a potential internship position. This was no ordinary internship. This was my dream job. This was an internship for Esquire.com. I spent all day cyber stalking the person on the other line. I knew everything about him. The type of music he listens to, our mutual Facebook friends and of course read his latest blog posts. It turned out he went to the same college as me and was an extremely nice or as people of my generation would say ‘chill’ guy. While this calm-collected professional was on the other end of the line asking me questions, I probably sounded like a dying seal having convulsions.

As I look back, I figured out that phone interviews are like wrestling matches or for those of you who do not partake in combat sports a fight. You go over ever possibility in your head, hours before it happens. You plan for every variable and visualize every outcome. You can be in the best shape of your life or in this case be the most qualified candidate, but when the whistle blows or you pick up the phone to say hello, everything goes to shit. As your interview starts you struggle to get your bearings. Those countless possibilities that you already planned are a distant memory.

With each second, you become more familiar with the person on the other line. You gain a rapport and the conversation creates it’s own rhythm, but you still worry about the half sentence answers you gave for the first questions. After about 15 minutes your pulse has returned to the double-digits and you have probably lost two pounds of water weight just from all the sweat on your hands.

Like a fight sometimes you have to wait for the judges’ decision to see if you won or in the case of an internship if you get the job. You can look back and say I could have done this, I should have done that, but the fact of the matter is its over. There is no DeLorean that will allow you to go back in time and change things. Yes, you may have blown the interview or you could have hit a home run. Either way, you come away with valuable lessons for the next one. You can only move on, improve and hope you did enough to get your hand raised or your dream job.

Overall even with all the worrying and nervousness I had a great time.