The word “awkward” is obscenely overused, but interviews are so awkward. It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are about your craft, how many years of experience you have under your belt, or how personable you can be: It’s totally normal to kind of feel like an alien when you sit across from someone and essentially persuade them to hire you.
During in-person interviews, I’ll forget what to do with my arms, or worry that I’m either blinking too much or staring at one person too intensely. Now that interviews are remote and done via phones and video calls, the awkwardness has somehow intensified.
It might have to do with the fact that, with video calls, you have to deal with your reflection on the screen. Or that you’re still in your house, wearing sweatpants and a blazer, like an imposter. Maybe it’s the spotty internet connection. Whatever it is, I’ve had my fair share of video interviews lately, each one a little more smooth than the one before it — but nevertheless, awkward AF.
Here are some thoughts that, without fail, go through my mind right before and during a video interview.
1. Maybe if I just joke about how terrible video calls are it will make this one less terrible.
2. How much small talk is okay, by the way? Hmm.
3. What if Zoom glitches and the video screen freezes while I’m mid-sentence and making a really stupid face? They are going to see that frozen face for like six whole seconds before Zoom reboots.
4. Okay, it’s 10:59 and our call is at 11:00 and I suddenly and desperately need to pee. Fuck.
5. It’s 11! I made it. Now it’s 11:01. I literally do not know what to do with my body or brain. Do I check my email? But then I’ll lose track of all my tabs I have open and I need my LinkedIn and resume tabs and I don’t want to be searching for a tab and introducing myself at the same time, this is SO STRESSFUL.
6. Okay! They’re calling! Do I say “Hello?” like I don’t know who it is? Or should I address them by their name right away? First impressions are IMPORTANT.
7. Cool, I forgot the word for “Hi.”
8. Did I really just ask them how they were doing twice? Maybe they didn’t notice. They probably noticed.
9. How do I brag about my accomplishments without sounding like a) a jerk, b) I’m unsure of myself, and c) I’m not reading the numbers off my LinkedIn page, because I am.
10. I’ve said “That’s so exciting” like seven times now, stoppppppppp.
11. Does the amount of times I’ve said “umm” or “like” make me sound dumb?
12. I think I just made up a word.
13. I just made a joke about something to showcase my ~personality~ but it didn’t land and also maybe it was inappropriate? Why do I not have a filter? What is wrong with me?
14. Okay, they laughed. But maybe out of PITY.
15. Shit. They’re asking about my salary requirements. Why can’t I just say, “Why don’t you just pay me the highest amount you can?”
16. Am I willing to relocate? Not really, no. Have you ever traveled with a dog and two cats? But I guess I’ll say yes because otherwise this entire call will be for naught, and remote work is becoming more of a thing anyway, so.
17. Fuck, sirens. #CityLife
18. Speaking of pets, my dog has started howling along to the sirens, amazing.
19. I can’t stop staring at myself on the screen. This is very distracting.
20. What is it about Zoom that makes you forget about everything you’ve done with your life in the past three years?
21. Wait a sec, I’m recalling a few things. Let me squeeze those into the remaining two minutes of our call.
22. Do I have any questions? No, but I’m going to have approximately 12 an hour after this call.
23. This interview was either atrocious or like, I’m totally getting the job.
24. “Next steps” is one of the more daunting terms in career lingo. I’m not sure if I can bear to hear it any longer!
25. Can I say “have a great weekend”? Are we having great weekends again? Should I say have a great, safe weekend? Fuck it, that’s what I’m going with.
26. *Remembers 20 things I wanted to bring up*
27. That was horrible, but probably fine. I need to go eat a cupcake now.
Gina Vaynshteyn is an editor and writer who lives in LA. You can find more of her words on Refinery29, Apartment Therapy, HelloGiggles, Distractify, and others. If you wanna, you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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