Interview FOMO

When a job seeker’s passion exceeds the actual interview experience

Two months ago I applied for a fundraising/development role. I didn’t hear back until last week. In a job application lifespan, that’s 7 years – just like a dog’s. Needless to say, I was beyond ecstatic to receive an email invite for an initial interview. It was like finding an orphaned $20 bill in my jacket pocket.

When I called the HR contact, her first response was “are you accepting or declining?” My giddiness could not be contained, “I’m accepting – and I’m so excited to receive your invitation!” I heard a subtle chuckle as the HR rep started writing down my name and offering a time slot for the interview.

The week of preparation for the interview was underway. Hair appointment – check! Dress and suit jacket dry cleaned – check! Shoes – what shoes? Not too high as I’m 5’10 and heels on a first interview can be a deal breaker. I decided on a 1.5 inch block style – check! Review my resume again – check!

The interview was going to be different than others before. It included a panel that reminded me of a civil service style format, entirely one-dimensional since the team  simply took notes and read questions off a prompt. It was not interactive where answers naturally developed into another realm of inquiry.

To quote a former colleague of mine, “it was a show up and throw up” type of meeting. If I had known beforehand, I would have brought Saltines and Sprite.

After listening to myself for more than a half hour, the verbal vomiting had ended. The hand gestures could rest. The eye contact and nodding for understanding was over. My notebook closed, but the handouts confiscated. (So you don’t share with other candidates, I was told.)

The organization would be whittling down the choices and having final candidates back the following week, I learned. As the new work week began, I was tethered to my cell phone and obsessively refreshing my email inbox. I felt like a teenager waiting for the house phone to ring. antique close up cord dial There was no activity. Pouting ensued and lurked around for a few days until the reality of my new hair and block heel analysis was for naught. But was it?

That’s when my interview FOMO kicked in. For readers unaware of this phenomenon – it’s the acronym relating to a “fear of missing out.” My mini-retreat of pity had concluded, but now I wanted to know who the final candidates were? (You know the ones I was supposedly going to share my interview notes with). What did they talk about in the panel interview? I imagined these phantom candidates having a more lively discussion, filled with laughter and entertaining stories about the culture there and what the available position holds. They probably talked about their hobbies, their pets and the taboo area I was warned about for years – their children. And then they fist pumped at the end in celebration.

Since I was bursting with excitement about the initial interview, naturally I shared my news with everyone beforehand. “How did the interview go” was a favorite greeting. When I explained I didn’t make the second/final round, I was supported with well wishes about my next opportunity and how it “simply wasn’t meant to be.”

But FOMO does zap the gift of time. If interview FOMO is creeping into your psyche, tell it to politely leave. If that doesn’t work, just scream at it. (The garage, shower or the car are good locations). Find an outlet to delete it from your current state of being. Take your dog for a walk. Drive to the beach. Visit a favorite store and simply browse. Buy an indulgent hamburger and chocolate shake. Eat it selfishly and alone. And make those irritating choking sounds with the plastic straw as you reach the bottom without worry from the Manners Police.

And then start applying for jobs again.


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