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May 13, 2010

Finding inspiration in your undergarments

Fl Your interview is today and it's all you can think about as you awaken. It's for a big promotion at work, one you really, really want. You've watched that position sit vacant for over a year, hoping against hope that it would stay vacant until you met your time-in-grade eligibility requirements. Just two weeks after you were eligible, the hiring announcement was posted.

You were on maternity leave and your mind wasn't focused on the ins and outs of your place of employment. You prepared your application at home, hoping you weren't fuzzy on any details that would come easily to your peers who were actively engaging in work while you folded clean burp cloths and dirtied them again. You submitted your application and hoped it was good enough. You waited and tried not to be antsy, knowing the mysterious ways of the personnel office half a country a way would churn at their own pace.

It's government. Sometimes there are no real time tables.

But you thought about the position. The description was worded broadly so that it might fill any of several jobs. If it were to be used to fill Option A, the one you watched sit vacant, you knew you had a great chance. If it were to be used for Option B or C, you weren't sure you'd be so appealing as a candidate. The description said three candidates would be hired. Did that mean one each of A, B and C? You hoped. But you also knew that the hiring managers might decide to hire three people for Option C, maybe, if that's how they felt the best candidates were best qualified. You fed your baby and pushed his stroller and tried (and mostly succeeded) to daydream about other things.

You returned to work and the very next day you were invited for an interview. You grew excited, and nervous. You heard in the intervening days that six candidates were invited for interviews. By the power of gossip, the list of six was quickly compiled and the whole department discussed and speculated. Many people were openly surprised that you've been selected. You tried not to be offended. You know that you just met the eligibility requirements by a sliver, and you know that you're the youngest candidate by a decade. You're the least seasoned candidate overall, but you also know that if they're hiring for Option A you have the most specialized experience.

The first interviews were yesterday. You hear from those who survived it that a panel of three men fire questions at you. You hear that the interviews are lasting about 80 minutes. You hear that there are eight candidates, not six, but that there might be four hires, and not just three. You hear that decisions will be announced two weeks after the interviews are concluded. You listen to all the talk, try to perform some personnel mathematics, and become simultaneously both more and less confident.

So now it's interview day and you've only been back at work for a week. You wake up and you know you'll need to wear that strange garment from your closet rack: your black suit. Your baby is just shy of three months old and your suit doesn't fit as perfectly as you'd like. You try it on this way and that and you realize with an internal groan that you'll need to go to the dreaded tummy-sucking unders.

Uck, you think, I'll have to be in these all day! You tug and you tuck and you pull and you suck and you smooth and when you're dressed, you still may not be sleek but you've certainly traveled the continuum from shlumpy to presentable.

Better, you think. But still, groan. This is not comfortable. Am I going to be distracted?

And that is when you have a flash of inspiration. Your unders are a metaphor. They stand for your willingness to go an extra mile for the cause of a good finished product. They demonstrate your personal sacrifice in the face of potential for greatness, and your dedication to what needs to be done. Even when nobody else can see your efforts, you know that you make necessary difficult decisions. Even when there will be no accolades for making them. You have character. You're the kind of person a hiring manager wants to promote. You're going to rock this interview. When you walk into work today, you're walking into your own destiny.

Image via stans_pat_pix.

Want to know if Robin gets the promotion? So does she. Oh, so does she. Stay tuned to her personal blog at The Not-Ever-Still Life or on Twitter @noteverstill to see what happens next…

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