In my twenties, I practiced job interviews.
Like, I would apply for jobs I had no interest in so that I could do the interview portion and then turn down the offer if it got that far.
I was working security at the time. My first job out of college. I had jobs before and during college, and I was raised in a blue—collar, bootstraps kind of household, so I took the first offer that came along. It wasn’t a bad gig – far from it. I wasn’t doing any of that “stand around in a guard shack or next to a doorway” stuff – though I did do that once for some pretty nice overtime, it wasn’t worth it. I worked in the SCC—the Security Control Center—at a tech company and I watched monitors while taking phone calls all day long. But if those calls weren’t coming in (which happened frequently around midday or on the late/graveyard shift), then we were kind of left to our own devices.
For about the first year, we were allowed to read after 7 PM, which was great, since my shift started at 6. I powered through comic books during that time. Then, for some unknown reason, we suddenly weren’t allowed to read anymore. Ever. Just another weird rule that the tech company had for their contract workers—in addition to “if your badge is a certain color, you can’t use the company breakrooms or touch the free food”—which made it feel like an unimaginative allegory for classism. So my tactics for staving off boredom shifted.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not one to make small talk, but I did become fairly familiar with my coworkers at the time. A weird sense of comradery that felt like it stemmed from shared trauma—being locked in a windowless room for eight to twelve hours on a near-daily basis will do that to you. But we couldn’t always entertain each other. Sometimes the chatter would die down and we’d look for other means of entertainment. They didn’t take the internet away, so that was part of it. On holidays, we could even watch movies. Those were simpler times. I got really into Twitch Plays Pokemon when that first got big and achieved an unreasonably high level in Clicker Heroes—an idle clicker game that would always give me away to management when I activated a power-up and started clicking at lightning speed to finish off as many enemies as possible.
But as much as I can look back at it with rose-colored glasses, it wasn’t all fun and games. I knew that I couldn’t stay in that dark room, staring at computer monitors my whole life. So I decided to start practicing my interview skills. Because of my introversion, I didn’t have that networking thing down, and thus entered the workforce with no inclination of a path I should follow. Knowing this, I took it upon myself to start improving the skills that I could control. I decided to start using my spare time to apply for whatever job sounded interesting, maybe something that I would like to learn about, but not a job that I would want to do. If my application was accepted, I would interview in a very low-pressure way (calm as opposed to lazy or sloppy—I just didn’t care about getting the job) and try out new material, for lack of a better phrase. I found that talking about being a male cheerleader, and later an independent professional wrestler would make me more memorable to the interviewers, so I kept that in my back pocket. Honestly, now that I’m reflecting on it, I’m sure that part of the reason I started doing this was to practice speaking for wrestling. Promo skills, character studies, etc. This would have been about the time that I read Wiliam Regal’s book, Walking A Golden Mile, where he described doing similar things to help develop wrestling skills and character work (gosh, he’s just the best), so I guarantee I was inspired by that.
And it wasn’t just job interviews.
This was also around the time that I was single and constantly swiping on Tinder. So if I got a match and it got to the point of us meeting for a date, I would practice bits on them. But I would often lie. My goal was to get better at coming up with or presenting stories off the cuff. My goal here wasn’t to get better at interviews, I just wanted to try new stuff. I probably wasn’t the best person in the world in my twenties. Though, if you’re looking for a ‘just desserts’ moment to this part of the story, I ended up getting fired from my security job after being consistently late for my shifts, because I would sleep about three hours per night—then sometimes nap in my car at lunch—and would often oversleep.
I tell you all this because I recently got a promotion, based strongly on my interview abilities, or so I have been led to believe. One of the nice things about this gig is that I got some good feedback regarding my interview and one of the big compliments that I received was that it was a “very competitive final three” and the ultimate decision-maker was my interview. This last interview was technically the third I’ve had for this job (one for the temporary version, and two for the permanent role) and I sort of liken it to wrestling or any other form of storytelling (I assume). I was able to craft a story out of my experiences within the organization, and then over my time in the temporary role, applied my time in wrestling to the professional world, while also making some jokes and being open about my struggles with mental health.
I’m known to be pretty quiet and introverted and I’ve gone through periods where that has broached anti-social and hermit territory—the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped with that—but if there’s one thing in the world that I am comfortable with, it is portraying a character for a group of people who are there specifically to hear me talk. Human interaction is still scary, but I’ll be glad to read you a poem or introduce my Educated Enforcer or tell you a story from my previous work history.
Life is weird.
THE WORLD IS YOUR BURRITO!
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