You finally did it: you graduated college. You are officially a degree-holding, debt-ridden, soon-to-be rent-paying, semi-adult. Yikes?
Okay, but it can't all be bad. No more going to class all day and writing papers all night only to be rewarded with a meager B+ in a required class that demanded more time and energy than some of the classes for your actual major. You can finally get a real, paying job, doing something you like. You're going to have money to do cool adult things like go to Happy Hour multiple times a week and make a day trip to Ikea to buy a bunch of shit you probably don't really need for your new apartment. If you ever figure out how to set up that LACK coffee table, your place is going to look so Scandinavian!
But before you can go nuts buying white minimalist dinner service for eight, you have to actually get the job, which requires sending your resume out pretty much a thousand times before enduring the confusing and nerve-wracking fun (if you're a Sadist) of the entry level job interview. Chances are, if you've ever sat through one, you've found yourself having more than one of the following mental conversations with yourself.
1. "Is that security camera actually streaming a live feed of my waiting style to HR for observation and scoring?
You know you're being watched after you take a seat in whatever location a receptionist or greeter has led you to, but you're never quite sure to what degree. "How long can I gaze curiously at the walls without risking looking simple or like I'm trying too hard? And how long until I start to strain my neck? Ow." Question answered. If you're lucky, there will be some sort of relevant magazine or publication that you can "skim" while you wait, even if skimming is really code for "going through a mental checklist of company knowledge, relevant experiences, and intelligent questions" again.
2. A running tally of how many employees are wearing open-toe shoes/jeans/colored nail polish versus suits and blazers
A wave of unexpected confidence and ease washes over you when you find yourself surrounded by sandals and sundresses. Not a suit in sight, and you nailed the interview dress code in your linen blazer and sleek trousers. After getting comfortable with a more casual uniform you've been able to embrace at start-ups and small, creative companies, your choice to wear a jacket and pants that aren't part of a matching set to an interview in a more traditional work environment felt risky. And the cost of an actual suit is pretty far outside of the budget of a recent college grad. "If you want me to be able to afford that kind of dress code, you're going to have to hire me first," you argue to no one.
3. "Is this a trick question and why have I suddenly forgotten everything about myself?"
"Tell me about yourself," means something different every damn time. While one interviewer expects you to recite a summary of your resume ("are they really so lazy that they couldn't scan my embarrassingly brief entry-level resume?"), the next has started snoring (or, more likely, checking their phone) before you've moved on from your college major to your last internship. And on top of all that, you seem to be suffering from some sort of sudden, causeless amnesia. "Somebody please call a doctor. Is this what dementia feels like? I'm too young to need Lumosity!"
4. "Don't you think if I had the super relevant experience of X I would have put it all over my resume, with flashing neon lights?"
This interviewer wants to know if you have, for example, ever written any (published) art-related press releases. "Uh, let me see...don't you think I maybe would have mentioned that in my resume AND cover letter for this PR internship at an art gallery?" Usually the same person who needs you to read your resume to them, but not always. Bonus points if it's an interview for an unpaid position. They always seem to have the highest expectations.
5. The sudden crippling awareness that you have zero clue where you see yourself in five years, other than HOPEFULLY receiving a regular paycheck.
Fingers crossed that you prepared for this question, and that your response is a bit more nuanced than "Working here!" In reality, you usually find yourself talking in circles as you clumsily attempt to explain your career goals. Kind of a massive undertaking when you're not even sure what those goals are yourself. "I've never really been a "goal-setter" anyway," you tell yourself. The last goal you set was to start working out more, but then rain kept you from going to the gym, then it was too cold, then it snowed, then it was too nice outside...did you mention that you're looking for a job? Who has time to work out?
6. "But, you've already answered all of the genuine questions I prepared for this... How do I ask you something that doesn't make me sound like an idiot now?"
"Never say you don't have any questions," you remind yourself as you bite your lip and struggle to come up with something intelligent to ask without being repetitive. "Yes, I had questions! Didn't you hear me ask them throughout the course of this interview? Was I supposed to stockpile them until the end, even though it seemed to make sense to ask you what I could expect a typical day to be like when you were going over the position's responsibilities?"