Surviving Your First Interview After Baby

After I had my daughter, I had the distinct pleasure of returning to work three months after she was born. For the next six months, following my return to work, I was so very happy and fulfilled, that I contemplated how I might change careers, quit my job, or sail away, on a daily basis. I stewed and marinated and wished and hoped and researched. Then, a few weeks ago, a little glimmer of hope shined through, and there was an opening at a company that seemed just right. So, I set out to get an interview with them. When I got one, I was all at once completely terrified, like, "OH SHIT, now I have to be interviewed?!" And thrilled, "Look out world! Here I come!"

I did my homework. I studied the business, studied their websites, I googled. I got a good night's sleep, I ate well and I exercised. I got my hair done. Highlights. Cut. Blowdry. Money was no object. (Except it is, and it was. And the next week, my husband and I ate a lot of cereal). I planned my outfit. I received consultation from my most fashion-conscious friends. It was The Perfect Outfit.

And then the morning of the interview happened.

I'd like to share my lessons. And if I help just one new mother, then my experience won't be for nothing…

1. Take the baby to his/her preferred childcare in the morning, and give yourself that alone time to prepare. Alone. Child-less. Baby-less. I got cocky, and kept my little drooling, whining, crawling pup home with me. I attempted to manage her– feed her, clothe her, nap her, wrangle her– while simultaneously getting myself ready. This was, of course, the morning that she would then try to hurl herself off the bed, head first onto the floor, and be saved only by the corner of a giant Euro pillow. She later decided to sing and talk her way through most of her nap. Which meant that, after 30 minutes of the cooing sweetness, I was treated to the screaming cries only a tortured, depraved baby can make. Good luck trying to apply your make up, fix your hair, and map out directions to the interview while this is happening. It's an exercise in psychological warfare on a mother. So, (rookie mistake) I sidelined the make-up, and instead, I tended to the nap eschewing cherub. Which leads me to my next point:

2. Do not assume that you can or should postpone applying make up, or doing anything else for that matter– reviewing notes, meditating, eating, whatever– for right before the interview. I rationalized this move by telling myself that I had a good while until the interview was actually happening, so the make-up would be fresher if I saved that step for a Starbucks bathroom (where I would be having a leisurely coffee, because I would get to the spot so early, I'd have time to kill). This will be the morning that your liquid concealer will spill, coating the contents of your makeup bag. And you will then find yourself furiously applying this concealer laden makeup//studying the notes//chanting your oms in the parking lot of an Office Depot, three blocks away from the interview, with three minutes left to get to the interview. This is not ideal. This is sweat inducing.

3. For breastfeeding moms: Plan to pump before you leave home. And make sure you have all parts available. What I mean is, do not leave the power cord to the pump under your desk at work. Otherwise, you will find yourself milking yourself (cow & udder style) over the kitchen sink after you've dropped your cherub off at his/her childcare destination, while wearing your perfect interview outfit. I think it was at this moment that I realized I was not in Kansas anymore, to the tune of, "Wtf."

4. Plan out your route the night before. Your GPS will fail you. DO NOT rely on your phone's GPS. It will not just fail you, it will conk out at the most crucial junction, leaving you to drive blindly across the wrong stretch of highway, while you crazily try to refresh your GPS, losing precious time, and then, of course, cursing your GPS and your unapplied make-up (see #2).

5. Breathe. After a lot of the build up, and (maybe) some feelings of desperation, this first interview might start to feel like your only life vest. But it's not. There will be plenty of other life vests. There will even be life rafts, and boats, and Coast Guard helicopters. You might actually realize that you don't needrescuing You are valuable, you are capable, and you are more than just a boogie wiping, milk machine. Something will come to you, you will make things happen.

So, in the words of Florence and the Machine, Shake It Off and be your wildly amazing, intelligent, beautiful, spirited self. One interview at a time. One breath at a time.

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