Monday, November 23, 2009

The failed interview

It took nearly five months, but I finally received an interview. Sure, the job opening had nothing to do with my communications/writing background, but it was for a position in a booming industry that I covered while at the Washington newspaper. That gave me a lot of confidence when I walked into the company's Southpointe office building Nov. 11 for a meet and greet with middle managers. My knowledge of the industry surely would be a bonus in the interview, or so I thought

It turns out I knew one of the managers interviewing me. We went to high school together and played in the percussion ensemble. It seemed that personal background could give me an edge when they made the final decision of whom to hire. The 40-minute interview turned into a gabbing session about drumming and my knowledge about their industry. We shook hands and I left the office, fully expecting to receive a job offer in the next few days.

It didn't happen.

So now I enter the holiday weekend with at least a taste of what it is like to go on a job interview in today's market. The interview didn't transpire how I expected it would, but the outcome -- or lack of one -- shocked me even more.


  1. Mike... plenty of time to still get a call. My wife just landed a job (got the call on Saturday) that she sent her resume in for 6 weeks ago... she had the first interview 2 weeks ago, the second interview last week, and was peeing in a cup this morning :-)

    Sounds like nothing bad happened in the interview... was this an industry that you were even handed in covering or was it more of an Erin Brockovich kinda thing?

    Not to say you aren't even handed... but if it's one of our local "get stuff out of the ground" businesses... well, news tends to not be so sparkly, ya know?

  2. Congrats to your wife, E. The problem I see is that they told me to expect a call in 3 to 5 days. I'm guessing it's Game Over.

    And I was always even-handed with my reporting! I do wonder if my reporting on the issues might have complicated things, actually. We may never know.

  3. Don't give up yet, Mike. In the corporate world, three to five days can mean two to three weeks. Sometimes one person who needs to sign off on a hire is on vacation, and they wait for him or her to return. When I was hired by UPI years ago, it took weeks to get approval for me to come on board, because of their convoluted management structure. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  4. "And I was always even-handed with my reporting!"

    I know, I know... You know what I meant, though... was it "fair" in THEIR eyes... or did you not go way out of your way to polish a turd? :-)

    Either way, Brant is right... and if they said "Expect" a call in 3-5 days... then it would be just plain rude to NEVER call you.

    But just to be a dick, I'd call them and say "they told me to expect a call in 3-5 days and today is like the 13th day... I just want to make sure they didn't call the wrong number or something... "

    Naw, that never works :-) If anything, though, I'd hold out hope at least until next friday or even the friday after that. In my business, everybody in the world is gone off to some remote island with no email nor cell service until at least next friday.

  5. Your title reveals your perspective, one that maybe needs another look. You say "failed," but the fact that you are writing about it, assessing what happened, or did not happen, says something about the experience. The question is whether the experience was worthwhile or not. At the time you wrote this, you are saying "no, not worthwhile."

    I think I've written about another person unemployed about 15 years ago. That person had 125 interviews (some were construed as meetings, not an interview). The outcome: not one job offer.

    Some of these excursions may not have been genuine. Sometimes the potential employer is using the occasion to dig for information they could not otherwise get. Their motivation did not include a new hire, rather was selfish in their reasoning. To be sure, sad, but that happens.

    Take 50 steps back, and look what the "take away" was from this experience. Maturation happens one block at a time, no matter age, season, or experience.

  6. Brant, do you have any good stories while at UPI?

  7. You're probably right that the title should be revised, Roger. I was looking strictly at the outcome, but it was foolish on me to suggest this was a failure or waste of time in the title. It was anything but because I had a chance to sit down and work on my interviewing skills. Looking back, there certainly are things I would change, so it definitely serves as a useful learning experience.

  8. Mike, I think my funniest experience at UPI was when James Brown got pulled over and charged with carrying a loaded weapon in his car without a license. I had to call him to get his comments on the situation, and I asked him, "Why are you carrying a loaded gun in your car?" He replied, "I'm on the President's Council Against Drugs, and I have a lot of 'impotent' papers. I'm an 'impotent' man. I have to protect myself." Yes, he really said "impotent." Of course, we later learned that James was TAKING drugs, not working to prevent people from taking them. But I will say this. Anytime I ever talked with him about his brushes with the law, he was extremely cordial and cooperative. A good dude, all in all.