Job interview routine, the morning of

Every batter has a routine – what he does to get ready for the next plate appearance. Some are elaborate and laced with crazy superstitions. Others are basic and pretty utilitarian. Getting ready for a job interview is like warming up in the on deck circle, without the million-dollar payouts for mediocrity.

The time and effort I spend researching a company and preparing answers in the days before depends on how much I want the job. An interview last year at a video game company merited three days of preparation, including countless hours of gameplay (let’s just call that research). Other job interviews barely inspired me to print out extra copies of my resume. On the day of, I tend to prepare the same way regardless. The ultimate goal is to get myself comfortable and ready to perform. And years of layoffs and job searches – thanks to corporate America and its wacky ways – have left me with a routine that works.

I decided what I wanted to wear the night before my last interview. Everyone has certain clothes that they like better than others – clothes that look and feel good. I opted for a charcoal pinstripe suit, cream-colored shirt and a light blue, flowery tie. (Ladies… please, I’m writing here.) Style and comfort instill confidence, letting you be your best self. Worrying about matching a tie to a shirt is just an unnecessary distraction. Anything that could possibly be a problem the morning of an interview should be taken care of the night before.

I woke up early that morning, allowing an extra half hour to get ready and an extra half hour for travel. Who knows what could come up? The building’s hot water may be out. The subway gods may conspire against me and strike down the train ahead. Gravity could reverse itself. Nothing kills an interview like a late arrival. Even if all pregame preparation and travel goes smoothly, there’s still no need to rush, get flustered and not be at my best.

Having already Mapquested the location, I walked to the subway with a purpose – catch the next 7 train, but dodge the dirty drips from the ice melting on the tracks above. I failed, at least in catching the next train, and was forced to wait as one after another outbound train passed (like I said… subway gods). Another 7 eventually came in my direction, and I squeezed on.

I often review the job description and my prepared answers on the train going in. This is more of a confidence booster than anything else, like scanning the textbook five minutes before an exam. What can really be learned? I already knew the company anyway and wasn’t hugely excited about the meeting. On this morning I played the iPod, never bothering to brush up on anything.

Because I left my apartment ahead of time and didn’t encounter any problems, I arrived early – not early enough to get a cup of coffee, but too early to just go in. My stomach was calm, so there was no need to find a bathroom. I lingered on the corner across the street, rocking out, texting my wife and killing time. I always expect the Wall Street area to be packed with people walking fast and looking important. But the streets were empty and the people seemed a bit embarrassed, like they’d done something wrong but couldn’t quite put their finger on what. Only the tourists were unabashed. (Look Agnes, there’s the company that lost our retirement savings. Take a picture.)

Ten minutes before my interview’s scheduled start time, I went in.

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  1. John wrote:

    Good luck with your search. You will eventually find one if you just keep on persevering and staying positive.

    Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  2. Dalilama wrote:

    I’ve had some fun interview outfits that were less than stellar, but opened the door to fun dialogue and I got both the jobs. Remember, a unique story makes you more memorable.

    For the first one out of college, an interview was setup for an hour before the senior dinner dance- so I planned to go in the Tux I had rented for that night. Until it was moved last minute, til that morning instead- tough to pull off the impending formal dinner explanation there. Ended up wearing a roommates suit- he was only 3 inches shorter- and we ended up meeting at the bar I was at the night before until late… which apparently used to be a strip club when my interviewer was in the area years before.

    More recent one was after 2 years of not wearing a suit, plus a year layoff, (all while not working out at all) had an interview the day before we moved up north, so everything was already packed. Grabbed my backup suit for the interview. Sing along to a Chris Farley favorite here: Fat guy in a little coat… Good thing my interviewer was as fit as me and could understand.

    But a flower tie? Seriously Norm… At least go piano tie with a great back-story! I’m trying to remember if you had one of those smoove Tux- T-shirts back in HS. 😉

    Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
  3. Norm wrote:

    I stand behind my flower tie.

    Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Permalink
  4. unemployed wrote:

    I have gone on soooooooooooooo many interviews that my answeres come across very rehearsed. I have to “pretend” to think of an answer now. How much longer can we go like this?

    Monday, March 9, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Permalink