Photo by Allef Vinicius.
If you have an interview coming up, or are just nervous about interviews in general, this story will ease your nerves.
I already wrote about the time I showed up late to an interview, but this interview story is even more embarrassing.
It’s about the time I asked my interviewer for some cold. hard. cash.
My first “real job” interview
The interview was for my first “real” job out of college, so I felt a lot of pressure. But since I already had a good relationship with my boss through a class he taught at my university, I felt I had a pretty good chance of getting the job.
Before his company hires someone, though, they require the candidate to do several rounds of interviews with a variety of employees to make sure they’re a good fit.
My first interview was in the small satellite office where I’d be working under the boss I already knew. Easy peasy.
Then I had to drive an hour up to the big office in the city, where I was immediately scheduled for two back to back interviews.
Things didn’t go as planned…
The interview in the satellite office went long, so I had to scramble to get to the next two interviews on time.
An hour later, I pulled into a parking garage a few blocks from the office in a total frenzy.
But despite taking forever to catch my breath and trying to cover up my pit sweat with my hair, the first big city interview went well. I developed a blaring headache though, but there was just one last interview and a drive home between me and nap time. I could do this.
While waiting for the second interview, I fantasized about the drive home. I wondered about the best route to take.
How do I even get out of the parking garage, anyway? I’m assuming I’ll just pay at the exit?
I grabbed for my wallet to see if I had enough cash.
Where was my wallet?
I triple checked my purse and wracked my brain where it could be. Until…until I saw a clear vision of exactly where my wallet was. On top of my dresser at home.
I forgot to bring it.
How was I going to make it out of the parking garage without money? No cash. No card. Nothing.
I could text my family to come pick me up. But it would be over an hour before they got here. Plus it was the middle of the work day and I didn’t want to bother them.
My mind raced with other potential solutions but I failed to come up with a plan before I heard someone say, “Hi, Jordin. They’re ready for you now.”
The last interview
I walked into the last interview with a smile on my face, but straight up freaking out on the inside. And my stupid head would not stop throbbing!
A round of introductions told me everyone in the room was senior level staff. Of course they were… Just great.
They asked a few questions and I think I did a good job answering them even though my brain kept shouting, “BUT WHAT ABOUT HOW YOU’RE STUCK IN THE PARKING GARAGE, JORDIN?!?!”
Stupid, stupid brain.
Toward the end of the interview, theses higher ups had to jet out early for other important tasks. One by one they thanked me for my time and skirted out. Until I was only left with one person; Peter, the office manager.
In other words, my boss’ boss.
How was I supposed to tell my boss’ boss about losing my wallet and getting stuck in the parking garage? He was going to think I was so irresponsible.
Worst case, he wouldn’t hire me.
Best case, he would hire me but I would always be that girl who doesn’t have her shit together, you know? Seemed like a lose-lose.
But I needed a way to get out of that damn garage.
By the time it was just us two, the interview was clearly winding to a close. But I kept saying weird things to keep the conversation going, trying to figure out what I was going to do.
Once I was sure he could tell I was lingering, I realized I just had to go ahead and say something.
“Do you guys validate parking?” I asked.
He looked surprised. (Looking back, this must have seemed super snoody for an interview candidate to request her parking be validated. Not my best move.)
“No…why?” he answered.
“Okay,” I sighed, “I have something really embarrassing to tell you.”
I explained the situation to him the best I could; how I forgot my wallet and was stuck in the parking garage.
His face broke out in a smile, “What, you need money?”
I nodded shamefully.
Then he pulled out his OWN PERSONAL WALET and handed me $20.
“Are you sure?” I asked. Which made it even more awkward because what was he going to say, “Oh yeah, actually nevermind?”
He said he was sure and how about I just pay him back the next time I see him.
The next time I see him, I thought…Does that mean I got the job???
I left in a mix of shame and delight. Taking the $20 out of his hands was maybe top 5 most uncomfortable things I’ve ever done, but hey, at least I’ll get out of the parking garage.
Within the first week of starting work, I wrote him a letter thanking him profusely. I sealed it shut with $20 and a $10 Starbucks gift card for “interest.”
Four years later, Peter is now the president of our entire company. So when I tell this story now I call it, “That Time I Asked the President of the Company for Money During an Interview.”
The moral of the story
I guess there is two:
- When in doubt, just be honest and vulnerable.
- You’re not the only one who cocks-up interviews. You’ll do great. But even if you don’t, you’ll still be in good company ;]
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