Overcoming interview jitters

Just to clarify, I did not take this photo. It is one of the few images of Betancourt during her captivity.

A little over a week ago I had my first face-to-face interview in D.C., and my nerves were a wreck.

This interview was much bigger than what I have done for my campus newspaper. It wasn’t with one of the professors I pass every day in the hallways of my university or another Christian studies major praising the musical talent of Mumford & Sons. I was going to sit down with Ingrid Betancourt, a Colombian presidential candidate who spent six-and-a-half years captured by a guerrilla force in the Colombian jungle. She’s a woman with a haunting yet amazing story.

Of course, Murphy’s Law, that morning in my office was hectic and time-crunched. I had more things to do that day than I had yet to encounter and less time to accomplish them. I also had not eaten breakfast and there was no time for lunch!

My mind was whirring with questions and worries as I walked toward our meeting place, the Fairmont Hotel. When I got there, where exactly was I supposed to meet her? How would I know when she arrived? Did I look professional enough or was it obvious I was some college student new on the job? Would she take me seriously? Would I offend her with my questions? And the list went on.

I finally arrived at the swanky hotel with 10 minutes to spare, and I could picture all the fabulous people that had stayed there. So now on top of my interview anxieties, I was overwhelmed with soaking up the grandeur of this place. (You see, at home we’re more of a Holiday Inn Express kind of family.)

Eventually, I met Betancourt — with the help of her kind media contact, of course — on the outdoor patio. Once our question-and-answer session began, most of my worries fluttered away. She answered my questions with a soft French accent between bites of her colorful salad. At the end of the interview, she assured me that I did very well. We even parted with a hug.

Lesson learned. People are people no matter what they’ve done in their lives. Hopefully, I’ll remember that the next time I’m overcome with a bad case of the interview jitters.

Til then!

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