Elizabeth Davies braves the rigorous beauty parade that is the job interview

Short headline: 
Just act naturally – and fake it

By Elizabeth Davies

Every time you stop having to go to job interviews you somehow manage to forget what a special and unique experience it is.

Just like a first date it can be exciting and uplifting while simultaneously depressing as all hell.

It starts with the initial application, a carefully worded cover letter explaining just why exactly you would be the perfect fit for a company which is more like a family than anything else, if it's really being honest.

It's wise to resist the urge to say you're highly dysfunctional like any good family member should be. Your potential future employer wants you to be funny… but not too funny. Though this family situation they describe is somewhat accurate in an unintentional way. They say you can't pick your family and we all know that when you're desperately unemployed, beggars can't afford to be choosers.

After this initial application you may be lucky enough to receive a follow-up phone call designed to make sure you're not a robot and can articulate fully formed human sentences. Act natural. But for the love of God don't be yourself or they'll never hire you.

If you're lucky enough to pass this test you will likely be invited for a face-to-face interview. This will require you to get out of your pyjamas, bathe and bury your current desire to cry every fifteen minutes – don't worry the car ride home will give you sufficient time to return to your cocoon.

First things first, pick an outfit that screams – 'hire me'. In most cases this will be something black, so you blend into your surroundings and people don't notice when you spill things on yourself. If you're applying for fashion retail go for classic, cool, chic, with a pop of your own personality ( not your real personality, the one you think the chosen brand wants you to possess ). Wear sensible shoes and have tidy nails, practise your firm yet subservient, confident yet calm hand shake.

Personal hygiene is always important, don't let on you've been living in your own filth watching Breaking Bad reruns for the last three days. Embrace deodorant, subtle perfume and the all essential breath mint.

When it comes to interview preparation make sure you have well rehearsed answers to the stock standard questions. Come up with weaknesses that aren't really weaknesses, examples of times you operated well under pressure and scenarios of when and how you've had to discipline staff (don't mention the use of public shaming or the dungeon!).

When all is said and done, breathe and relax, you've done your best. It's important to remember that your personal value does not hinge on whether or not you get this job. Most of the time you won't get the job, and that's ok because it means there's something else more suited to you out there.

Don't take job rejection personally, or let it damage your confidence. There will always be another interview, another sweaty palmed, fake smile day. If you get the job and it's not your dream job don't fret, make some friends, get some hilarious retail and or hospo stories and be grateful you can pay your bills and don't have three kids to support.

Now that you've mastered the art of the interview, congratulations, you're a healthier minded, more well rounded, generally better actor. You will be rewarded in forced smiles, your very own weird retail voice reserved for customers, and the ability to work in any chain retail store or family restaurant until the end of time – huzzah!

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Elizabeth Davies is a graduate of the Auckland University of Technology post graduate journalism course. She writes for interest.co.nz on money matters and financial struggles from a young person's perspective.