As a freelance writer, there is a hierarchy of contact for all potential jobs. Within this, the middle level may be the worst. I’m referring to the job interview, better than a vague email, but no where near as great as an actual job offer. Job interviews are a strange animal because they have the ability to make you feel as if a job is in your hands, or embarrass you to the point where you don’t even want to think about sending a thank you card. No matter how you feel about it, a job offer may or may not materialize. Let me explain.

Earlier this year I had two job interviews lined up. One with a company in the journalism industry, the other with a company in the education industry. The journalism job felt like a big deal not only because I had passed a preliminary phone interview, but because the company asked me to travel to their home office, in New York for the second interview. Suddenly, I felt as if I was also being courted for this job.

The interview went well from my perspective. I answered questions about my academic and professional background, talked about the job and what my responsibilities would be. I even asked “insightful” questions that I had thought up and written down beforehand to show that I did research before the interview. I even made a point to send a thank you card and follow up two weeks after my interview. Pretty much hit all the right notes, right?

That interview was in January. I have yet to hear back from that job. Yes, the interviewer mentioned something about the fourth quarter of the year being the time when new sites would be opened, but if that’s the case, why are you interviewing people in January? I understand the idea of foresight and planning but that seems a bit extreme.

My job interview for the education-related position did not go as well. To start, there was some confusion on their part concerning what time my interview was to be held. I was told one time over the phone and then told and earlier time via email. We all know it’s one of the biggest “no-nos” to show up to an interview late. They don’t tell you that showing up early can be just as bad.

I ended up sitting in the waiting room for close to 20 minutes before someone came out and brought me back to a conference room. I was interviewed by two people who sat on opposites sides of the table from one another on either side of me. It was stressful fielding questions from them because I would have to swivel in my chair to look the questioner in the eye while I answered. It meant that I was not looking at the other person. Then my nose started to run.

Answering questions from two people is hard enough without sounding like an irate goose every three minutes.

I didn’t get the education-related job. But they did have the decency to call me and inform me that I did not get it. Supposedly it was between me and the candidate that did get the job. I can’t verify that but it sounds nice. When I replay the second interview in my head I always wonder where I went wrong. Maybe it was showing up too early and making them rush to see me, maybe I didn’t provide the exact answers they wanted. Maybe I blew my nose one too many times.

What I’ve taken away from these experiences is that I can’t tell what an interviewer is thinking. All I can do is attempt to present the best version of “Professional Dash” possible. Eventually, an employer will see my worth and want to hire me.