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The Hugh Grant Effect

Once upon a time I wanted to be a lawyer (THAT is a story for a whole other blog post).

When I was applying for law school I had this recurring dream:

I’m sitting in my law school interview. Things are going well. The female interviewer and I are hitting it off. Everything coming out of my mouth is eloquent and witty. I’m making a good impression! I think she likes me! She really, really likes me!

Then, mid conversation I SUDDENLY realize that I am wearing my retainer that I used to wear in 8th grade (yes, I was that kid – retainer + glasses = total Nerdsville). The retainer starts to swell inside my mouth, growing bigger and bigger and bigger. The larger the retainer gets, the more difficult it becomes to form sentences.


Interviewer: Miss?


Interviewer: Um, Miss?

The retainer becomes so large that I can no longer close my mouth. I start salivating all over myself.


Interviewer: Miss?


That’s when I realize that I am no longer speaking English but, instead am just making Wookie noises.

My face is bright red. Tears are in my eyes. Embarassment and panic is at an all time high.

Before I can say anything else, the retainer flies out of my mouth, shoots across the desk and lands right in front of the interviewer in a giant puddle of my own saliva.

Interviewer: EW.

I look at her, surprised, panicked, eyes wide open. Just when I am about to hit her with a witty come back, all my teeth fall out of my mouth. I look down and see my teeth lying on the desk like a package of spilled chicklets. The interviewer looks at me and says,

“Clearly you’re not cut out for this”

That’s when I wake up.

Obviously, this was an anxiety dream about getting in law school. Ironically, none of the schools I applied to even required interviews. But, the truth is – most of my interviews don’t really go all that much better (minus the tooth loss and Wookie noises – thankfully that has yet to happen in real life).

I like to think I have pretty good communication skills. I’m well spoken. I don’t have problems speaking to new people. I can write. I spend all day at my job talking to people on the phone, meeting with students, writing. But, put me in a job interview situation and I swear, I become completely socially retarded. I tense up and its like I forget how to speak English. I stammer. I ramble. I say stuff like:

“Errr, well, yes I did stuff…I mean, like marketing stuff…MultiTasking!…yes, work..well, you know what I mean…errrr, project management. Yes, that’s a good thing…err, all things considered”


I turn into a stammering bumbling idiot – minus the charming English accent & large teeth. This works for Hugh when he is trying to woo Julia Roberts in a Rom-Com but doesn’t work so well for me when I’m trying to convince someone that I am employable (because I am. I really am).

Yesterday, THE HUGH GRANT EFFECT happened at the most inoppertune moment. I was in this meeting – it wasn’t really an interview per se – it was just a meeting with someone important that could potentially lead to positive things in my career – when IT happened. I forgot how to speak in full sentences.

“Yup…logistics, good at that…Marketing!….creative can do that too!”

I realized I’m really, really horrible at talking about my work experience. I think its because I’ve never had a job that I really enjoyed. I’m good at what I do but, I don’t like what I do. As soon as we started talking about stuff that I am actually passionate about: design, pop culture, the web, literature, alternative rock from the 90’s – I resumed some sort of normal composure and conversation skills.

After the meeting, my colleague asked me: “How did it go?”

“It went OK but, I’m pretty sure _______ thinks I’m semi-mentally retarded”

So, this is what I propose: I think all job interviews should have a 3 drink minimum for all parties involved. Some scotch. Some vodka. I think it would really cut the tension for everyone. Besides, I think most people are way more charming when they are slightly buzzed. I’d love if all my job interviews went down Mad Men style: me & Don Draper, just shooting the shit over a couple glasses of Canadian Club.


But, its not the 60’s (thank god) and I’m not a dude trying to work in advertising so, I’m going to have to figure out a way to deal with this problem without the help of whiskey.

If you also feel you suffer from THE HUGH GRANT EFFECT please identify yourself. Its a serious affliction and we shouldn’t have to suffer alone.


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