First interview | Two Decades of Kids and Counting | Sally Torbey | Palo Alto Online |

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By Sally Torbey

First interview

Uploaded: Dec 16, 2014

As each child departs for college, I console myself by thinking of all the free time I will have to finally tackle the to-do list. Well, somehow, before I make any serious headway on the list, they graduate. How is it that they have earned a college degree and I have yet to have the cars detailed?

We have a son in the throes of graduate school applications and a daughter graduating next June and looking for a job. She called last week excitedly sharing good news. The college's career center had just informed her that she had her first job interview scheduled for the next morning! It was an interview to determine whether or not a prestigious publication would invite her to apply for a fellowship. I was confused. An interview is required to apply for a job? Not for the first time, I am glad I am old and went to college and had a first job, as I am absolutely certain I would not manage either in today's competitive environment!

She was thrilled, but panicked. She had less than 24 hours to prepare for the interview. What to wear? Hair up or down? Should recently-applied edgy grey nail polish be removed? We spent the next few hours dissecting every outfit in her closet that might meet the criteria of "professional business attire," and in which she would survive the mile walk to the career center in 14 degree Fahrenheit weather. After hashing and rehashing the various options, including renting a Zip car for a last minute mall run, she was no closer to a decision, and then there was the need to actually prepare for the interview by assembling writing samples and responses to probable questions. She had been working with a staff member at the career center and decided to call her for help and reassurance in these last minute preparations.

A while later, I received another call from my daughter, but with a decidedly different tone of voice from her earlier elated call. The helpful staff member was not available, and the available staff person had an interesting approach to coaching a nervous senior through her first interview. His response to her questions and concerns was, "I really wouldn't fret about this too much. You only got the interview because one of their first choices dropped out, so you are a last minute fill in." He seemed to think that by informing my daughter there was little chance she would get the job, she would relax! Part of me was furious, but most of me found the situation incredibly funny and I dissolved into laughter. Now my dejected daughter was confused. She failed to see the humor in the situation, and was questioning whether to bother with the interview at all.

In between giggles, I managed to convey to her that I am completely confident in her capabilities, and certain that she will find the right job. This was a golden opportunity for great interview experience without pressure. But, mostly, I was envisioning her some years in the future, established in her career, and telling the tale of her first job interview. By then, I am certain this story will make even her smile!