Diary of an Interview


4:31 PM: I arrive at the Charles Hotel for my 4:40 interview. Dozens of my classmates are in the lobby. It’s a sea of navy and charcoal grey. Most of the ties I see are red. Mine is blue. I’m screwed. I find the chart with all of the firm names and the locations of the “hospitality suites.” I’m going to room 743. I don’t need to write that down. I’ll remember it. 734.

4:32 pm: Dozens of my classmates stream out of the elevator. I don’t know how they all fit. I get in. I press 4. 437. That’s where I’m going.

4:33 pm: No, that’s not it. I get back in the elevator. 7. 743. Got it.

4:34 pm: I arrive at the hospitality suite, where they ask my name and tell me who I’ll be meeting with. They hand me a packet filled with brochures, pamphlets, a comic book history of the firm, and an eleven-page bio of the guy I’ll be meeting with in 6 minutes. I have 6 minutes to read eleven pages. Go.

4:35 pm: “Oh, hi.” “Yes, I’m interviewing with them too.” “Oh, you interviewed with the same guy four hours ago?” “Oh, he was a purple three-eyed monster?” “Oh, thanks.” “Yeah, good luck with your Wachtell interview.”

4:36 pm: My fly is open. Didn’t notice that before. Let’s fix that. Zip.

4:37 pm: “Oh, hi.” “I really have to go the bathroom.” “Yes, that’s right, I should probably talk lower here in the hallway, for all to hear.”

4:38 pm: Someone down the hall has just knocked on the door. It’s two minutes early. And this whole knocking thing seems pretty rude.

4:39 pm: I swear, a girl just bent down over the keyhole and cleared her throat. She cleared her throat into the keyhole in order to get the guy’s attention without knocking. People are weird.

4:40 pm: Someone else has knocked. I feel funny knocking.

4:41 pm: Everyone else has knocked.

4:42 pm: I knock. A voice from inside says, “You think I don’t know you’re out there?”

4:43 pm: Cleared-her-throat-in-the-keyhole girl just knelt down on the ground and blew air into the crack under the door to get the interviewer’s attention.

4:44 pm: The door opens. The interviewer and my classmate are laughing heartily. He must have liked her. I have to follow a funny person? Goodness. “Hello, I’m ‘A Lawyer.'” “Hello, I’m ‘Not.'” “Come on in and have a seat.”

4:45 pm: Someone told me never to sit down until the interviewer sits down, so I stand there awkwardly for three seconds until he sits. I put my resume folio on the table. Then on the floor. Then back on the table.

4:46 pm: “So, how are you?” Good, this is an easy one. I know the answer to this one. “I’m good. How are you?” “Good.” Oh, great, we’re connecting quite well here so far.

4:47 pm: “I see on your resume that fourteen summers ago, you played in a sandbox. Tell me about that.” There’s twenty-six unique “askable items” on my resume. He has just picked the one I ranked twenty-sixth on my list of which items I most wanted to talk about. Great.

4:48 pm: “I also see on your resume that you went to college. How was that?” “Well, I thought college was a great experience. I wippledly hoppled.” That’s my best anecdote. The ‘wippledly hoppling’ story. Always gets a laugh. He doesn’t laugh. “And then I snickeldy triffled.” No reaction. Plan B. “And, in one class, I blah blah blah blah blah –” Stop talking. You’re not making any sense. Take a breath, and start over. “Blah blah blah blah –” He’s not listening, I’m not even listening. “Blah blah blah.”

4:49 pm: “That’s interesting.” Neither of us have any idea what I just said. “So, do you have any questions I can answer for you?” Uh oh. There’s 11 minutes left, and he’s already pulled out his trump card. This can’t be good. “Actually, I noticed on your web site –” Indicate you’ve done research. Check. “That you have a very strong fiddledy floo practice, which I’m very interested in –” Say what you’re interested in. Check. “And I was wondering if that’s a place where a lot of people start out.”

4:50 pm: “Actually, we don’t do fiddledy floo. We do bliddley bopple bollywock.” I mixed up my firms. Jeez. That was dumb. “Oh. You don’t do fiddeledy floo? Not even just the floo? What about internationally, in countries like Gobble, Gibble, and Grog?” I figured I’d at least let him know I knew where the international offices were.

4:51 pm: “Well, not in Gibble. And we don’t have any offices in Gobble and Grog. You might be thinking of Toronto, where we are planning to expand next fall.” “Yes, I must have meant Toronto. I hear it’s a lovely place.” “I hate Canada.” “Yes, me too.”

4:52 pm: “What to do. Let’s see. I went to Harvard. I had Professor Zipple. What about you?” “I had his wife, Professor Zapple. She’s wonderful.” “I hated her.” “Me too.”

4:53 pm: “Did you hear someone knock?” “No.” “I think I did.” “Yes, me too.” He stands up. This isn’t good. “It was a pleasure to meet you. Best of luck with all of your future endeavors.” That surely sounds like he’s never planning to see me again. That can’t be good language. “I’d shake your hand, but I hate you.” Also not real favorable. “Go away now.” At least he’s being subtle about it.

4:54 pm: The hallways are empty, and will remain so for six more minutes, until the good interviews end. I go back to the hospitality suite, pick up a foam squeeze toy in the shape of a pen, and a pen in the shape of a piece of foam, and go on my merry way. Callback? I’m guessing not.

Jeremy Blachman’s column appears weekly. He posts commentary daily at http://jeremyblachman.blogspot.com.

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