With the anniversary of the release of Mean Girls coming up, it's time to reflect on applicable job seeking lessons in the film. The eponymous mean girls in this critically acclaimed 2004 movie starring Tina Fey and Lindsay Lohan can teach us plenty about navigating the wilderness of high school. Then again, the lessons also provide a handy roadmap through the not-terribly-different landscape of the entry level-job search. In honor of the film's 12th birthday, here are six take-home messages from the movie that can be applied to interviews.
Bump in the road? Move on
Five minutes into the movie, respected teacher Ms. Norbury (played by Tina Fey) accidentally takes her coffee-soaked shirt off in front of a classroom full of teenagers. But does this define her character in the movie? Nope. Does it even register as important plot line in said movie? Not at all. Ms. Norbury's bra is flashed, then her shirt is replaced, next she briefly addresses her fumble, but then the moment is over. If you experience a stumble during your interview (involving blurbs, farts, wardrobe failures, or — far more likely — fumbled responses to your interviewer's questions) address it, then move forward. Forget about it immediately, and your interviewer probably will too.
Ask for guidance
Cady Heron (played by Lindsay Lohan) begins public school for the first time at age 16. Cady's new friends — Janis and Damien — craft a social map to help Cady familiarize herself with the school. When introducing the map, Janis and Damien explain the cliques and show Cady where each sits in the cafeteria. Take a cue from this. In your early 20's, you're the new kid in school, and pretending you have it all figured out when you don't won't score you points. Ask questions when you'd like more information, and listen carefully to the answers. As you receive answers, start to create a map of the company in your own mind. Like Cady, we win the day by keeping our eyes and ears open and remembering the details that we pick up along the way.
Walk like a boss
The mean girls of the school (also called "The Plastics") strut the halls to the beat of Missy Elliott's song "Pass the Dutch." They look effortlessly cool, even to adults watching the film. Think about the confidence displayed. Non-verbal cues send a strong message. During the interview process, this message is far from subtle. Your walk, posture, eye contact, handshake, and the way you take control of your chair will be observed by your interviewers. Walk for the job you want, not the one you have. Imagine your personal anthem playing as you walk.
Recognize your interviewer as a person
The Plastics intimidate all of their peers (and a few teachers). Despite that, each girl is massively insecure. Remember this if you feel threatened during your interview. Your interviewer may have something to offer that you want, but that's where his or her comparative superiority ends. Don't imagine that the person across from you is larger than life, has control over your destiny, or can determine your value as a person. Your interviewer is just a regular, vulnerable person with normal insecurities, bills to pay, and a job to do. Give your interviewer a break (and give yourself a break while you're at it).
Don't hide your true personality
Cady spends the majority of Mean Girls pretending to be someone else. When she tries to woo Aaron, he finds he isn't attracted to her. It is only until Aaron sees Cady's childhood pictures that he recognizes (and likes) Cady's personality. Take notes from this. Don't try to be someone you aren't. Yes, you'll need to sit up straight and speak with confidence, but you'll never find happiness or success by feigning anything. Be proud of your personality, past accomplishments, approach to problem solving, and the unique passions that drive you.
Solve the problem in front of you
By the end of the movie, Cady learns that bashing her classmates does not make her a better person by comparison. All Cady can do is focus on the problem in front of her. Same goes with your interview. In your interview, tackle one problem at a time. Don't try to change things you can't control. Live in the moment. As Cady shouts at the end of the math competition, "The limit does not exist!" Embrace the idea that your potential is limitless. No matter what happens during this session, you'll be just fine. So enjoy it!
For more on how to ace your interview, land an offer, and start your next adventure, explore the resources available on MyPerfectResume.