It sounds kind of ridiculous, right?
What kind of idiot would show up for a job interview with no pants?
It just so happens I know a guy. It also just so happens that this guy is me.
Much like another unfortunate incident where I accidentally ordered a veggie pizza, this story begins with me landing late in a Chicago airport.
It was fall of my senior year in college and early in the interview season. Accounting firms looked to get first dibs, so this was one of my first interviews and the first one requiring me to travel.
A couple of my teachers seemed to forget many of us students were only there to land a job, meaning job interviews trumped their elaborately planned field trips. Knowing that, I took a flight that landed close to midnight to avoid any issues with my mildly egocentric professors.
I had spent a lot of time interacting with my recruiting contacts in California and felt pretty good overall going into the interview – until I got to the hotel.
Check-in was fine. Since I slept the whole flight and had some pre-interview jitters, I needed to unwind, so I pull out my laptop. It’s dead so I reach in my bag for the charger.
Slightly inconvenienced but I figured I’d survive that little mishap.
With no internet to distract me, I decided to lay my clothes out, iron my shirt and make sure everything is good to go. I start pulling the clothes out of my bag – jacket, shirt, tie, socks – but I was missing something – pants.
I was supposed to be at the office for the job interview by 8 am. It was midnight and no stores where I might buy new pants opened before 9 am. My heart was racing at this point, so I did what any sane person would do.
I called my mom.
Yes, Chicago is my hometown, but I hadn’t lived there full-time in almost ten years. She came through for me.
I ended going to the interview in a sweater I thought I’d never wear again with some pants I thought for sure had been given away to Salvation Army.
The funny part about this is I didn’t get the job offer, but I ended up working for the firm in the end anyway, and I’m glad it turned out the way it did.
Should you find yourself in a similar situation traveling for a job interview and you’re not in your hometown, you shouldn’t worry. Show up in your jeans and own it. Here’s why:
Your job interview is more memorable
The good news is you’ll stand out amongst the masses of people in black or navy blue suits, and the experience will make for a hell of a story – for you and the interviewer. The bad news is you have to be nearly perfect for that story to have a happy ending. Stick to your gameplan that remains intact and you can pull off one of the great upsets
You demonstrate the ability to handle unexpected crises
You want to know a highly sought quality? Effective under ambiguous, stressful, or high-pressure situations. If walking into an interview questioning your first impression before you get to the door doesn’t fit the crisis criteria, I don’t know what does.
You may not get another chance at the job interview
Always shoot your shot when you have the chance. You may not be fully prepared, but taking a flyer on a slim chance is better than no chance at all. Put the superficial aside and remind them of why they wanted to fly you in for the interview in the first place. And make sure you never have another pantless incident.