Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Three Worst Job Interviews Countdown

#3: I answered an advertisement for a sport clothing salesperson with a major distributor (think t-shirts, shorts, polo style shirts, sneakers, flip-flops). I should have politely declined when the hiring manager asked me to meet him at a Wendy's fast food restaurant (in a pre-Starbucks-in-every-city era), but I was fresh out of college and fairly desperate for employment.

At Wendy's, I met at a small table for two with a poorly groomed, sweaty, not very confident recruiter. He opened a binder and began showing me pyramid shaped distribution charts, I immediately clued in that this was a multi-level marketing scheme; not a job, but an investment opportunity, that I did not want in the least. Within five minutes I wished the poor guy well and made a hasty exit. He called out after me that I wasted his time. I resisted the urge to reply that he should not have misled me about the "job" and thus wasted my time. He made me sad for many reasons, chiefly because he looked like the opposite of success, the antithesis of aspirational.

#2: The manager (this time at a bonafide, brick and mortar, workplace) met with me in her corner office. She did all the talking, telling me about her history with the company, and how she rose through the ranks after starting as a lowly receptionist. I hardly got a word in edgewise. I'm not sure she asked me many questions, but I guess I said enough to impress her, or at least did not spoil the delusion that I was a younger version of her. I left thinking I totally blew the interview.

I got the job, staying there for about eighteen months, one promotion, one huge raise and one annual bonus. It was a terrible fit culturally, but impressive work experience and financially lucrative. Had the interviewer/my boss bothered to let me speak more, we both might have realized how out of sync the job was for me and I was for it.

#1: Fresh from a former retail management stint, I interviewed at a very cloistered, but very well respected workplace that was founded as a family business in Texas and grew beyond the state's borders. I met first with a young man who didn't bother to explain what his role at the company was. He shook my hand, said his name, and started talking. He asked good questions. I answered them well. First indications pointed to a good job match.

Then the young man asked if I could meet with another person and essentially have my second interview right then and there. Sure! After a ten minute wait, during which I completed application paperwork, a lady appeared in the office. She was not introduced to me, but began having a conversation with the young man as if I wasn't in the room. Context clues led me to believe that this was the man's mother, also his boss, and the heiress to the family business. Later sleuthing confirmed all of this.

After a few moments of ignoring my existence, she glanced at my résumé, and said, "What's J.Crew?" Before I could answer, the son let out a micro-sigh of exasperation and said, "You know what J.Crew is. You have clothes from there." Then the mom asked why I only stayed employed at J.Crew for four months. I politely, but firmly stated that I was employed at J.Crew for two years and four months. "Oh, I misread that," she said with a dour expression and no apology. She asked if I had any children, displeased when I said no. She asked if I had pets, and completely tuned out when I started to talk about my two cats (at the time). "I don't hire cat-people," she barked dismissively. I defended my love of all companion animals by saying that I wanted a dog, but my rental agreement didn't allow it. She seemed somewhat appeased, and said that I would have to submit to a background check and drug test. No worries. I leaped through background check hoops with flying colors when I got my Securities Exchange Commission Series 6 License a few years before.

After leaving the interview, I knew the job was mine, but that Mama Bear and I would continually butt heads if I worked there. Within the hour I called Baby Bear (the son, with whom I interviewed first) and told him to please pull my application from consideration. He seemed surprised, and asked why. I couldn't tell him that his mom/boss was awful, and that I could never work with her or for her. I said I'd rather not give a reason, and thanked him for his time.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Bad Decision

I made a bad decision. I took a job that I now hate.

I was in a semi-desperate, sleep-deprived state of on-call, part-time employment, when the recruitment offer came. My former employment situation was somewhat similar to being in a cult, but without the support network or uplifting sing-alongs. I allowed myself some magical thinking when the new job offer came on a day I had worked at my previous employer from 3:00 AM to 8:00 AM. I saw the monetary benefits and the promise of more reasonable working hours at the new/current employer, and loved the idea! I also fell victim to a bit of bait and switch, thinking that I was hired as the visual coordinator (a.k.a. the make-it-pretty-boss) at my new/current employer. In reality, I spend most of my working hours assisting customers and dealing with customer service issues when other employees over-promise and under-deliver.

I'm a bit of an introvert with an outgoing personality. I put on a good show of loving people and handling interpersonal challenges efficiently, but too much time interacting with people drains my energy. I need quiet time to finish projects and think about things, versus a constant barrage of interruptions and forced interactions.

An unreasonably irate customer called the store today. Unluckily, I answered the call. He proceeded to yell at me, curse at me and then tell me to quit apologizing. One of his verbal gems, "I don't know what the hell to do, maybe jump off the roof. I want the damn jacket I ordered." I managed to finally get the man's name and phone number, told him not to jump off the roof, and that I would research the situation before getting back to him. I did research the issue and outline some good possible solutions. Then I begged another more-seasoned, male employee to call the awful customer back with some options for problem resolution. The customer apologized profusely to the older male employee for how he treated me, even offering to apologize to me directly if I wanted to call him back. No. I never want to talk to that awful customer again. Never, ever.

The majority of my working life has been spent in retail, thus reflected on my résumé. The job offers I get are for retail or sales positions. And I never want to work in retail or sales again. Never, ever.

I'm going to speak with a career counselor before I jump into another job. I never want to be the square peg forced into the round hole again. Never, ever.

Now I need to figure out how much longer I can bear to stay at my current job. I never want to utter the words, "I don't know what the hell to do, maybe jump off the roof." Never, ever.