First off, this is not one of those "How To" blog posts. This will not tell you how to write a resume, remind you to floss and use mouthwash prior to meeting a potential employer, or give you tips on how to best answer interview questions.
Rather, this will be categorical. Should you once have interviewed me and you think you recognize yourself, you don't. All accounts are humorously fictionalized, and all names, dates and locations have been removed. I have also merged events together. This last item is not due to a desire to make interviews seem more action-packed or interesting, instead it is the result of a 40-year old brain trying to recall what has surely been at least eighty (this is not an exaggerated number) job interviews over the past eighteen years.
1. Great, kid. Don't get cocky.
These are the interview experiences you hope and pray for. Your driving directions are accurate and you arrive the requisitely early-but-not-too-early time prior to your scheduled interview. You walk in feeling great, immediately forge a personal connection with at least one of the interviewers as well as the receptionist in the lobby -- a shared love of quirky earrings or lavender-scented handcream, perhaps. You confidently and enthusiastically respond to each question, remaining on point and even manage to earn a chuckle or two. The interviewer even begins using the word "you" and "will" rather than "would" when referring to the person who will eventually get the job. As in, "How will you manage student behavior in your classroom?" or "How will you handle multiple assignments in a timely fashion in our department?" You leave the meeting feeling triumphant, sweat-free and ready to take on the world. You begin mental salary and benefits negotiations and note the Starbucks and Walgreens locations along your eventual commute.
Why you don't get this job: the employer actually has someone else in mind before placing the ad and just has to go through the motions or a job search and/or you are the right race, gender, age, etc to fit the location's demographic needs.
2. I Have a Very Bad Feeling About This.
This is the opposite situation, altogether. You feel unprepared, so much so that you very nearly call and cancel the appointment. Immediately before the interview, for which you are arriving exactly on time, or even a minute or two late (later than five minutes late is unthinkable), you realize one or more of the following: you have a substantial run in your nylons, you have broken the heel of your shoe, your nail polish is glaringly chipped, you have a stain on your necktie/shirt/lapel/pants (!!!), and that you have forgotten to write down the suite number you're looking for in the ginormous office complex in front of you. As you make your way toward the receptionist, you feel as though every part of your brain has suddenly forgotten everything it has ever known. Flopsweat doesn't even begin to describe it. Not only do you fail to adequately answer the interview questions, you forget your main points you'd meant to shoehorn in somewhere. When asked to tell the group about yourself, you ramble aimlessly through a list of reasons why you're no longer at your last four employers. No one smiles, makes eye contact or even looks up from their designated list of questions. Upon leaving, you thank Janice for meeting with you and she politely corrects you, "Rhonda."
Why you don't get this job: Really?
3. These aren't the droids you're looking for.
This interview may start out like glowing example #1, but at some point shades of #2 kick in as you realize you are completely unqualified or otherwise inappropriate for the position in question. You continue to politely answer questions and rather than lie through your teeth, blatantly admit that you have no experience in the area in question. You brazen through with examples of quick-thinking, on-the-job learning and other shining moments of your brilliance and creativity. After all, a job is a job, and if you manage to whangle your way into this one, you can always look for something more appropriate, right? Sometimes you manage to forge a great connection with your interviewers, but more often you feel as though they are speaking Portuguese (this example assumes an utter lack of fluency in Portuguese). While continuing to forge ahead, part of your mental process is continually asking some form of, "Why am I here?!?" or even "Did they even read my resume?!?"
Why you didn't get this job: Because you're 100% wrong for it and always were. Alternately, this is the job you are most likely to get. It will be awkward and uncomfortable and you will struggle madly to succeed. In the job offer phone call there will be some mention of how you will bring your unique viewpoint to the position. This is not true. They really want you to fit their existing mold as soon as possible.
ps. Today's interview? Very much #3. I remain unsettled.