For as much general vitriol I spew forth on this blog, I like to think I’m a pretty nice guy. I like people. I am friendly to gate agents when my flight is delayed. I used to send a “daily dose” of internet humor around to co-workers every morning.
At an interview, you’re supposed to be yourself, and I generally am. But I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon: the night of and day after an interview, particularly one for which I’ve had to travel, I am not nice. For lack of a better word, I am an asshole.
I’m grumpy on the phone at work. My job is essentially sales, so I hear the word “no” a lot; normally I can take it in stride, but the day after an interview I slam the phone down and stalk out of my cubicle. I sulk around the common room for a few minutes with a metaphorical “DON’T TALK TO ME” pasted on my forehead before begrudgingly heading back to my desk, kicking puppies along the way. (This is me being dramatic.)
I’m rude to my coworkers. I put in headphones so it sounds like I’m listening to music, when really I just want to appear inaccessible. I put “>:-(” in emails to my boss, then blow the font up to size 72.
(For the 83% of my readers named Grandma, >:-( is an angry emoticon. Please use the spacebar when you email me tomorrow.)
I ignore calls from home and friends because I know I’ll be a monosyllabic jackass when they ask me how the interview went. I normally won’t even write thank-you notes until I’ve had some time to decompress; otherwise, my handwritten letter would read something like “I would normally thank you for a stellar interview, but let’s be honest – you didn’t like me very much. I got the sense you were winging it when you thought my name was Linda. But it’s all good; we both know your school won’t accept me anyway! Peace!”
It’s best to just wait until I’ve had some separation.
I’ve come up with a theory to explain why I behave badly after an interview: Everyone has a set capacity of niceness – a Reservoir of Nice, if you will. Some people have a reservoir the size of Lake Michigan, so their kindness seems limitless. For others, their gas tank holds about a teaspoon of nice, and they snap after thirty seconds’ worth of effort. They’re usually the most fun attendees at parties.
I like to think I have a decently-sized Reservoir of Nice. But after an interview day where I’m gracious and thankful toward everyone from the secretary to my fellow interviewees, I come home depleted and am generally a dickhead. Starting around 4 or 5 PM the day of the interview, I start feeling my stores run low; I look down into my niceness cistern and see Oscar the Grouch. I can generally skip town before he comes out, but God help anyone who calls me in the airport.
It takes 24 hours and a good night’s sleep to replenish the reserve.
Well, sleep and a large cup of coffee.