Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Job Interview Panic Attack

As you guys know, I’m a proud stay-at-home mom, even though it’s not the most glamorous or appreciated job. Lydia already covered this topic and I agree with everything she wrote in that post because she is a damn genius. In spite of my SAHM pride, a few months ago I started to get that itch to go back to work outside my house.

I’m not sure what caused the itchiness…my youngest is turning 2 and has started losing his last shred of baby-ness and will soon be off to school…or maybe it was that the tax forms reminded me I hadn’t contributed to our annual household income AGAIN…or was it that I am hitting my four (FOUR!) year anniversary of being at home…or maybe it was just that feeling of general unimportance that settles over a stay-at-home mom from time to time.

Don’t get me wrong, I know my job is very, very important to the people in this house and to those who love us. But sometimes I miss that sensation of coming home, walking through my front door and feeling like I was out all day kicking ass in the real, big world out there.

So I started getting the itch (gross) and I sent out a few resumes for part-time jobs. Even just sending those out made me feel a million times better. Yeah, until I didn’t get a call back. That part sucked. These were jobs I was legitimately qualified to do and I didn’t even get a smidge of interest from the employers. It was such a blow to my ego that I entered a self-doubt spiral. It wasn’t pretty.

As you may imagine, it involved a lot of moping about how no one will ever hire me because I’ve been out of the workforce too long…and the kids have stolen all my energy and most of my IQ. I tried to hide my mini-depression but my new friend Lulu (mom to three kids under five years-old and a SAHM) called me out on it. She emailed me and was all, ‘What’s wrong with you this week? You seem so sad!’ So I emailed her this image (found by my husband through Stumbled Upon) back as a response:

Her email reply read, “My husband is working late. Do you and the kids want to come for a late play date and stay for dinner? We can drink our way through it.” (You can see why I’m friends with her, no?)

Well, I think Lulu’s meatloaf and wine has actual, magical powers because the very.next.day I got a call for a job interview! Squeeeeeeeeeee! I was right in the middle of simultaneously emailing my husband the news, calling Lulu, and doing an M.C. Hammer dance of joy (which Kate once witnessed in a Target parking lot) when I froze like a deer in headlights.
What the crap?? I have to go on a job interview!!! What followed was a three-phase freak-out over the course of one week:

Phase One: Arranging Childcare (a.k.a. Take my children! PLEASE!)
The interview was on a Friday afternoon and I have a great babysitter who can come on Fridays, but only until 4:30pm and then she has to leave for class so what if I’m not back in time because there might be traffic on the Mass Pike (who am I kidding, of COURSE there will be traffic on the Pike) so maybe I can get my fabulous next door neighbor to come over at 4:20pm and relieve my sitter so the kids are covered and my sitter doesn’t hate me for making her late. Uuuuh, holy schmidt, this childcare thing is really complicated. But I figured it out! At least for one day.

Phase Two: Wardrobe (a.k.a. Finding Pants without an Elastic Waistband)
On this blog there is a spectrum of Mom Fashion: Lydia’s end (where yoga pants and clogs are considered playground-chic) and Kate’s end (where you wear your four-inch Choos and a gorgeous designer dress out…to the Wegmans). On this grand spectrum I fall strongly on the Lydia side. I do not wear clogs and yoga pants but I do regularly wear the same pair of old jeans that are so droopy in the butt it looks like I just took a dump. I pair those stunners with a hoodie and some seven year-old brown sauchony sneakers that should probably be burned. (I can hear Kate lighting a match right now…!)

Clearly, this was not going to fly for a job interview. And needless to say all my pre-child work clothes don’t fit at all. So that weekend I spent a solid two hours wandering around TJ Maxx trying to familiarize myself with new trends in what I call “grown-up clothes” because I wanted to look and feel great for my interview!

Here’s what I learned: there is not much made in fleece anymore. (Editor’s note: I think Kate just dropped dead. From horror. –Lydia) And I’m perplexed by the skinny belt. It looks cute but seems impractical and it makes my hips look big. I started freaking out about an hour into the trip and left with three different outfits and the return policy in-hand. After emailing photos of all of them to my besties they agreed on a simple blazer and cute dress pants. Simple, professional, classic, and aaaalmost affordable.

Phase Three: Reviving My Brain (a.k.a. making Louise look like less of a freakin’ idiot)
The night before the interview I was confirming my babysitter and watching my husband iron my cute new dress pants (oh yes) and feeling pretty damn good about myself…and then I had yet another wave of panic: what if all those jokes I cracked about being an idiot were TRUE?? I broke into a flop sweat. What if my interviewer asks me a simple theoretical question…one I would have nailed five years ago fresh my M.A. program…but tomorrow all that comes out when I open my mouth are the lyrics to the Dinosaur Train theme song?? GAH!!!

In a flurry I slithered under my bed and found three old text books and started frantically flipping through them, as if cramming for an exam. Then I hopped on the company’s website and started memorizing their mission statement, in hopes that some of their key words would replace phrases in my normal lexicon, such as ‘Pinkalicious’, ‘chicken nugget’ and ‘rectal temp’.

All in all, my panics and freak-outs were both unavoidable and completely necessary. When I walked in to that interview I held my head high having successfully overcome my mom obstacles. I had orchestrated patchwork childcare! I got dressed in nice clothes and wore a bra! I was prepared to use fancy words and have a solid 65% chance of using them accurately!

My last thought as I opened the door to the fancy office building was this: “Nothing is harder than the time I had to clean up one kid’s puke while puking on myself and cooking the other kid dinner…!” In that instant I realized staying at home has made me tough. Resilient. Creative. Industrious. I have a whole new set of life-skills to add to my resume. After all my moping and whining about being irrelevant it turns out being a SAHM is actually really excellent training…and besides, if they don’t give me the job I’ll just send them all to Time Out.

p.s. I got the job! I'M TOO LEGIT!

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

38 comments:

  1. I totally feel you! Congrats on job well done!!

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  2. I'm unemployed and awaiting a response from a second job interview at a company I would LOVE to work for. I hope I hear those magic words that I got the job. I'm really tired of trying and failing. But I suppose that everytime I fail, it simply makes me stronger for the next attempt!

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  3. Also, congrats on obtaining the job! You go girl!

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  4. I'm with you all the way! Congrats, first off.

    Second (off?), I had not had legitimate employment outside of the home in nearly 8 years. Howdy, panic. I have this nightmare scenario in which the Hubster leaves (death, divorce, mental incapacity—I'm waaay fun to play make-believe with), and I have no job ever, becuase I'm a husk of an adult.

    Ahem.

    And recently I got back to work in a very freelance way, doing what I've always done, but better, because I really appreciate both the paycheck, the adult interaction, and the sense of self-worth in a way that I didn't 8 years ago.

    Hammer time.

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  5. Hooray for Guru Louise! Congratulations! Too legit... and too close to my life. I'm just about to send out a batch of resumes tomorrow morning after being home for 2 years. You've given me hope. And I absolutely love your insight about nothing is harder than... darn straight! It makes me realize there is (hopefully) a 90% chance my interviewers at least won't puke, pee, or poop on me: I have 2 pairs of kinda nice "work" pants that still kinda fit me, and, because I don't work, I can't afford more. I had a "networking" meeting with someone a few weeks ago - and my toddler peed on the better pair of the 2. While I was wearing them. Ten minutes before I was set to head out the door. I knew I should waited until I was alone in the car to put on nice clothes! You rock!

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  6. Congrats! I love the last paragraph, especially this line - “Nothing is harder than the time I had to clean up one kid’s puke while puking on myself and cooking the other kid dinner…!” Great way to put it in perspective!

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  7. I read this as I prepare for my first interview in 17 years....thanks for the smile and the reality check!!!!

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  8. Awesome! Good luck in your new position. You will rock it.

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  9. Going through the same thing now. It's beyond intimidating even thinking about it all, scary as schmidt, makes me want to start guzzling wine at 8:50 in the am. But you are right, being a SAHM does make you tough and creative, and lots of other good things too. Congrats on getting the job! (I'm assuming you took it!)

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  10. CEO of the Delgado householdMarch 6, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    Couldn't have said any of it better myself! I'm still in the "irrelephant" stage, but the rest is what I contemplate ALL THE TIME. If I found a job to apply for what would I wear? Who would watch the tiny troublemaker? What about my lack of ability to recall grown up stuff? Most of the time I end thinking "forget it. I'm sunk." Thanks for the inspiration. Maybe I'll send out some resumes today. I REALLY need to get "out there" again.

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  11. Wow! Congrats!

    I have to say, I've been a SAHM for 6 years (about to have babe#4 this summer, if you wonder what I've been doing with all that time) - I am TERRIFIED of the day when all 4 are in school full time because I know that's when I should want to go back to work. And I'll be qualified to.... I have no idea.

    Kudos to you and your bravery!

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  12. *I do regularly wear the same pair of old jeans that are so droopy in the butt it looks like I just took a dump. *

    Thank you SO much for that- now I have to clean off my screen- and I wasn't even drinking anything!! :D

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  13. Oh thank you! This post couldn't be more timely, I have my first interview in 17 years tomorrow. It's with five separate people so I'm freaking out. Hopefully I will have the same kind of luck. Congrats!

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  14. Bridget Y. Louisville, KYMarch 6, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    OMG!! I just totally laughed out loud, because Dinosaur Train came on just as I read this!!!

    My kiddos are 2 and 3...older one will go to pre-k this fall...so if I don't get pregnant soon, I'll be looking for the PT job, too!

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  15. Congrats! I too went through everything you described when I went back to work six months ago, after seven years of being a SAHM. I was so glad my interviewer was a woman with pictures of grown-up children on her desk. She understood the SAHM thing and the frustrations of trying to re-enter the workforce after being out of it for several years. Had my interviewer been a man, particularly the Vogon who is now my boss, I'm not so sure I'd have got the job.

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    Replies
    1. Heeheehee. Vogon. Does he recite poetry at you? ;')
      I'm sooooooooo praying for an understanding interviewer at my next interview - hopefully not a childfree person or, worse, a vogon!

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  16. :::waving::: Hello? I'm in the same boat (sort of) as I have worked from home for almost 20 years as a medical transcriptionist while raising my son. I have 2 degrees (associates and bachelors) in healthcare. In the eyes of prospective employers, I might as well have written NO JOB EXPERIENCE on all of the applications I have sent out! Your picture of the elephant made me cry, but also gave me a good laugh as I am so deep in feeling "irrelephant" that it is not even funny. After being married almost 20 years (when the hell did that happen??), having my baby turn 13 (WTF?), turning 43 (just.shoot.me.now.please) and feeling as if I have no job skills, thank you for reminding me I am not out here alone!

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    Replies
    1. Hey, momma. I just wnated to send you some good thoughts and good vibes. I feel for you.

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    2. I understand. While I was home with the rugrats (3), I cobbled together a BSc. and a B. Ed. I have been looking for teaching work for the past 15 months and all I have to show for my 3 trees' worth of paper (plus several internet applications) is a sub job that I've been called in twice for in the past 6 weeks!

      So...Head up, you're not alone, you can't get the job if you dont apply!

      Good luck to all of those looking with me!

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  17. THANK YOU for the motivation I needed...and that thanks goes to all the women that have commented. I have interview #2 this afternoon for a job I so very much want...And it's more than just the self validation. If I don't get a job soon there's a very good chance that we will lose our home. (Third round of unemployment in two years.) I was feeling very "Looooser-ish" and this has reminded me of the very significant strengths I have beyond knowing how to organize an ad campaign...I can clean poop out of a carpet while making sure that no one else plays in said poop as I get four loads of laundry folded while on crutches. It's not quite as glamorous as “Nothing is harder than the time I had to clean up one kid’s puke while puking on myself and cooking the other kid dinner…!”, but it's a personal best.

    Thank you, all!

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    Replies
    1. Good luck! Eye of the Tiger, momma. Hope your interview is a big, fat, success (which, implies no poop clean-up and a job offer).

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  18. I'm going though this right now! I actually went out and bought a pair of pants and (gasp) they're not yoga pants! Also congrats on being legit ;)

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  19. This post makes me want to cry with relief. I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE!!! After my MBA program, I was pregnant within 3 months....great timing, Butthead. But, anyway, two kids later and 4 years since I've had a REAL job, I can't find a damn thing and I'm feeling completely "irrelephant." But I do remember the interview panics and the "my husband threw ALL of my work clothes away?!" moments, and remember how those suck, too. So congrats, and thanks for the smack in the getting-depressed head. Now where do I sign up for this magic meatloaf and wine???

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  20. Congratulations! This is EXACTLY my life and I love you for being able to put it into words for me.After seven years of SAHM, the prospect of having to put my self out there again as a grown up is so anxiety inducing that my husband is liable to commit me before I even have the chance! But after reading this, I GOT THIS! thank you!!

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  21. I kind of hate you Guru Louise. I have only been out of the workforce for 8 months. And I feel more than irrelephant. And so much more stupid than I was as a working mom of the 2 under 2 crowd. Which was very stupid. And now you have a job. Because you are awesomesauce. Me not so much. So until someone notices how amazing I would be for their organization I will continue to hate you just a little. While also being stoked for you. Go Guru Louise.

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  22. I am in the exact same boat. My moment of truth came in early December. I had been cooped up all day with 3 kids who were in full blown Christmas crazies. My husband came home late and dead panned "What did you do all day?" I lost it. I told him I was quitting my job as a SAHM. I promptly found day care, which was the easy part. Finding a job was ever so much harder. Out of dozens of resumes sent for Full and Part Time positions, I got just one interview, and failed to get the job. A job I had done previously and had more than 6 years of experience doing! I came to the obvious conclusion that I am vastly over qualified. The only thing to do of course is to go back to grad school. I just had the grad school interview (set in the panic but square it, as this is the one and only school I applied to and I can't go to another state like the rest of the applicants). I'm still waiting to hear if I was accepted or not. Then I have to apply for an assistant-ship. I may get back into the work force one of these years. Hopefully by the time the kids are set to go to college, because we will need to pay for it somehow.

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  23. After being out of the workforce for 7 years now (8, really, because the year before I got pregnant I quit my "real" job and started a small pet sitting business) I'm not even feeling the confidence enough to apply for positions and feel that "these were jobs I was legitimately qualified to do." I don't feel legitimately qualified for much of anything these days. I still have a year and half before my twins are in Kindergarten full time, so I guess I have time to...go back to school? Do SOMEthing that will seem remotely relevant on a resume? Oh no, now I'm nervous and I don't even have to apply for a job anytime soon! Congrats on getting past your "irrelephants", Guru Louise, and even *getting* the job! Woot! I'm going to go throw up these butterflies now...

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  24. Congrats, "Louise"! Thanks for turning the yoga mamas on to this blog, it's been way fun. Always fun to read your contributions!

    Xo

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  25. Of course you got the job! Because you are a guru and offices know that without a good guru things just don't properly run! Congratulations! :)

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  26. oh, you give me hope. as a new-ish mom to a 1 year old who was conceived fresh out of grad school, i know all too well the feeling that my knowledge and skills are growing rusty from disuse, potentially making me un-hire-able. you are now my guru, too. one day i will follow in your footsteps.

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  27. Congrats! This post is awesome!

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  28. Sigh--I'm trying to decide to go back to work or not. Being a mom for the past 5 years and having literally no qualifications whatsoever are not helping!

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  29. I feel your pain, ha ha. I have gone back into the workforce from home TWICE in the last nine years, and there is always a weird moment of "Oh crap I have forgotten everything I Learned in college and also I don't have any nice pants." But it works. The trick to nailing a job interview is confidence, and I always tell myself, "I pushed three people out of my who-dad and kept them alive with my boobies. THIS is a walk in the park by comparison." My current job, I was offered before I even left the interview.

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  30. My life is not calm, peaceful, organized, or even close. But, a few tricks. Clothes: kids get dressed for next day before bed; pajamas are for weekends. I set out a week's worth of clothes in Sunday for me. Food: all meals for the week have the same ingredients & are all cooked on Sunday so each night I pull a storage container out of the fridge & warm up dinner. I have as much groceries delivered as possible. Housework: dishes before bed & a load of laundry a day, everything else is in chaos.

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  31. Epic failure on planning a business trip:

    www.momintwocultures.com/2012/03/dear-asinine-airline.html

    Sigh!

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