Interviews can be #awkward

By Salim Bhattachan

Staff Accountant II | Audit and Advisory

“Hi Salim, grab a seat”.  It was a Talent representative and a partner on one side of the table and me by my lonesome on the other side. Three things were going through my mind at this moment:

  1. Do I have bad breath? What if my breath smells too good and they’re intimidated by my incredible minty scent?
  2. Today I used hairspray for the first time… ugh! Salim, you idiot! Why was the first time you used hairspray the day of your interview?
  3. It’s kind of chilly in here. I’m feeling pretty prickly, so I wonder if the interviewers feel the same?

Then out of nowhere the partner gives me a smile, instantly putting me at ease and asks me a casual question. At that moment, I felt like Andy Dufrane when he escapes prison in The Shawshank Redemption: absolutely free and with no worries. I relaxed and the interview went well.

Jerry Seinfield once said interviews are like first dates and I believe him because sometimes they can be awkward. You want to appear warm and approachable like Taylor Swift and not come across too obnoxious, but you want to let them know that you’re special and unique, again, kind of like Taylor Swift. This can be challenging to master when you’re battling nerves in your interview, and it can sometimes lead to awkward moments when you’re not as cool, calm and collected as you hoped you would be.

In another less successful interview it didn’t start out well. No smile from the interviewer made me nervous. But I had researched my interviewer and found out she had a background in finance and had travelled to New York for a secondment. My nerves got the best of me and I asked “Could you please describe your secondment in Australia? You worked within a retail company there correct?” Well, she corrected me, which was awkward, and it threw me off for the rest of the interview.  

But, you can turn these situations around. The key is to keep your composure and recover, which is easier said than done. Always remember, to “keep calm and carry on”, meaning constantly move forward, regardless of what just happened. We’re all human and one slip up in an interview isn’t the end of the world. Don’t let it deter you from wrapping up an interview on a high note.

By the way, the partner that put me at ease that I mentioned at the beginning was from Deloitte, and a large part of why I chose this job was because of how comfortable he made me feel right away.

Salim is a recent graduate of Sir Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor of Business Administration. He is currently a Staff Accountant at our Toronto practice.

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