Interview with the Panic Attack

Jun 4th, 2014 | By | Category: Columns

I sit here in my jammies sipping a massive cup of tea, like I’ve just witnessed horrific crimes against humanity on a global scale. I’m fragile, stressed, and nervous all at the same time. What brought this on, you may ask? Well, I’m glad you did, because I can’t afford to see a proper therapist – it was a job interview for one of the world’s largest technology firms that must remain nameless, lest I also be sued by them. Let the catharsis unfold…

In the interview, an f-bomb was dropped, along with the words “murder,” “meth-lab,” and “violent,” – none of them by me, which I can’t decide even now if it’s awesome, or a sign of imminent doom – social norms are completely out the window in this industry.

It began simply enough with getting lost on my way even though I was ten minutes to the building. It took me a full hour (but I still wasn’t late because I am super type-A with work) and it ended with a random guy that I met on a busy highway having me follow him down all sorts of back roads to find the office. I’m either the luckiest attempted murder victim ever, or finally my trusting nature really paid off because he got me right to the door of the place with time to spare. (Score, plenty of time for a panic attack in the privacy of my own car in their corporate parking lot. Yeah, that’s me, a legit professional.)

So that you understand the format of this interview, it’s a panel interview with multiple people at all levels and all varieties of backgrounds (business, technical, maybe the guy who made the lunch boxes) and it lasts six hours. Now, if you’ve never been barraged for six hours with oddly specific, complex, and esoteric technical situations and questions, then you cannot say you’ve looked into the deepest pits of hell and lived to tell the tale. I can safely say that now. The meeting was utter chaos – the room number they gave me didn’t exist. (Literally, they had renumbered all the offices and I was assigned a former office that no longer occupied a physical space in the realm in which all of humanity exists.) Finally, it was decided that I would be put into one of the executive offices and then I was dialed into a conference call with my first set of invisible interviewers who had now been waiting for me for about five minutes or so. Fucking great.

In one of many next series of interviews, I was asked a simple question, “How do you handle stress?” Well, I wanted to say: not well; with extra strength men’s deodorant; by abusing my body with junk food, but I kept it light and said “coffee, because I can’t afford cigarettes.” But then I started to internally analyze that as more questions and discussions were rattled off around the room – would switching from coffee to cigarettes actually produce an immediate cost savings for me? Isn’t a pack of smokes like 100 for $10? I’d definitely get more breaks in my day. I’d die sooner…wait, I’d die sooner, so I could work less. EPIC! Weird, I never thought there would be a good argument to START smoking! Well, besides the obvious one, that it just looks cool…

Plus, honestly, who freaking deals well with stress? People who say shit like, “I just don’t let it bother me,” are either total liars, or are incapable of experiencing human emotion and probably have some form of as-yet-unidentified mental illness. If you deal so damn well with stress then man up and lead a successful crime syndicate, you’ll make way more money and I bet their interviews are less painful. They probably just water board you, or play a super violent game of capture the flag, or connect a car battery to your nipples. All of which were better forms of torture than this set-up. Hell, you might even enjoy the last one – I don’t know you, I don’t know your weirdly manifested adult proclivities, and unlike these interviewers, I am NOT here to judge you on that.

All intangible qualities I could bring to the team were massively overlooked – hell, I even managed to quell the instinctive urge to put on the novelty oversized ear headband that I found in the guy’s office and do all of my in-person interviews wearing giant ears. But I didn’t, because I’m a responsible adult. Where the hell was that golden nugget of employability mentioned in my review? Do they even know or appreciate what kind of unimaginable will power I had just exercised?

Before I was freed from the bondage of interviewing, one of the interviewers mentioned she had some (yes a qualifier was used here)positive feedback about me (um, hopefully enough to get me hired) and that all of the interviewers were going to get together and discuss my candidacy for their firm. So basically, I’m finally getting a roast and I don’t even get to attend – like high school all over again.

God, I need a cigarette.

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