Thursday, February 26, 2009

...and the horse they rode in on...

Several weeks back I had a job interview for a position I really wanted. I walked into the office and immediately liked the environment. All the folks there seemed nice and friendly with the exception of the unfortunate creature on the phone who gave me the stinkeye, and it seemed like a place I could feel at home. Ya can't win 'em all, right?

At first in the interview, I spoke with two women. They seemed pleased with me, and I felt very comfortable. I started thinking this was going very well. They asked me to stay there and then the women left the room. A couple minutes later, the director came back and said that they were going to re-interview the top three candidates and that since I was there, they'd go ahead and re-interview me then, that I was in the top 3 of the 11 interviewed. Naturally, I was pleased. Three more panelists came in to ask me more questions. Some of my answers were recapitulations of earlier answers, and again, I felt comfortable and that I was holding my own.

The job would involve marketing and promotional work, albeit in an industry completely different from my own. I do a lot of event planning and promotional and advertising type tasks, so it seemed to me this would not be that much of a stretch. Clearly they liked me, I liked them, and this seemed a good fit. I started really feeling they would choose me.

The second group of panelists left me alone with the director again, and she asked if I had any further questions. I said I felt we'd covered my questions, and then she began talking, sort of riffing to perhaps fill the time. She said this would be the first time she alone had trained someone for this position and that she was concerned about how it would go. IF the wheels fell off at all in this process, THIS is where it happened: I said "I'm composing a procedures manual for the person who will follow me in my current position, and if you'd like, if I'm in this marketing position, I can compose the procedures documents as we go along."

*cue record scratch*

Came the response "oh, we have a procedures manual," and I think she may have taken umbrage at my suggestion.

Y'see, if I were hiring someone, I would take such an offer as the mark of someone interested in using their time and skills to help others to do an equally good job. I would see that as a mark of initiative and intelligence. I would want that person working in my organization.

She went on to say another person who'd been hired once wrote a computer program to enter and maintain their filing system, but that they had always used a paper system devised by the company's founder, and that they were not interested in changing their system, thank you very much. *cautionary tale, much?*

She said they'd make the decision in about 4 days. This was a Thursday. On Monday, I called Fraulein Direktor and thanked her for the opportunity to interview and expressing my continued interest in the position. She bluntly told me they'd filled the position. I thanked her and hung up the phone. A few minutes later in my mailbox, I found a poorly written form letter [Dear Applicant - seriously - it said Dear Applicant] which had been mailed to me on Friday, the day after the interview. The letter contained a list of bullet points, any one or combination of which may have been the reason the job was not extended to me. Criminal History? SRSLY? Lack of References? Untrue. Why could they not simply say someone else was more appropriate to the task rather than imply that it was in some way unseemly or vulgar for me to have aspired to this position?

Anyway, for the past few weeks I have puzzled over this turn of events, and felt a little sad not to have gotten that job despite the horribly gauche rejection letter. Then Wednesday night I talked to a dear friend on the phone and she expressed horror that I should lament not being chosen for the job. Well, I hadn't thought of it that way. She said how patently ridiculous it was that this company so stalwartly refused to simplify their lives by utilizing computers for their record keeping. She said they were obviously morons for not desperately clutching at the opportunity to have a diamond like me on their staff. Srsly.

This sort of turned my thinking around - I'm smart, capable and damned handy to have around-- what's wrong with them if they don't recognize this? Moreover, the director rattling on at the end of the interview about her own insecurities with regard to training did not bode well for her degree of organization. Perhaps my statement of confidence with regard to organization was intimidating.

After all, I never told her her job would be safe after I arrived. Oh well.

25 comments:

Christina LMT said...

Their loss, Phlegmmy, their loss. Obviously!

steff66 said...

Your friend was right!!! She saw you as an obvious threat! And another tip, if the receptionist ain't happy it tells you a little something about the place as well. I guess you won't be calling her for feedback, huh??? You will find the right place and people.

Liz said...

I once had a job interview, where the man interviewing me (one could not call him a gentleman) asked me what my GPA had been in undergrad. Given that my grades in the applicable field had been stellar, I was a little put out. And you know how I get. So, I told him and then asked what his was in undergrad. He was completely offended. I told him that any question suitable for me was also suitable for him since the interview process was designed to see if I was a good fit, but on my side it was designed to see if this was a company I wanted to work for. Basically I told him, "You want to see if I'm smart enough to work for you and I want to see if you're smart enough for me to want to work for you."

Oddly, I never heard from them again ;>

Cliff47 said...

You can bet dollars to donuts that their procedures manual is hand-written. They may yet discover post-it notes.

phlegmfatale said...

Christina - Thanks, hon!

steff - good point about the receptionist. I thought she was just a bitch, but mebbe there were other cracks in the facade.

Liz - what a great story! I need you to coach me for interviews in future! This makes me feel better - what moron wouldn't want to hire YOU? Tosh!

Cliff47 - hee! Good point. Ugh. I'm getting writer's cramp just thinking about it

Stingray said...

You really dodged a bullet on that one, phleggmy, trust me. I got into this company basically on the will of the one half of the management that wanted to adapt and move forward. Since then, the idiot other half burned her out through sheer obstinate stupidity. Now my time is spent rather than maintaining and upgrading and improving the systems smart boss got rammed through, I'm explaining 6-year-old capabilities to stupid boss and being made to comparison shop for "supplemental" services that would basically outsource me & said systems and lose a third to three quarters of the functionality in the process. Oh, the real kicker is a little bird told me she feels patronized when I explain things to her because she doesn't understand jack or s#17 about computers, no matter if I explain in the technical terms or with sock puppets. I've been sticking to the sock puppets and she seems happier.

...and the horse they rode in on, sideways, with a steel girder and a diesel engine until the bearing seize.

Stretch said...

Got an acceptance letter from a Law Enforcement Agency followed 2 days later by a rejection notice. Tempted to just show up with acceptance letter and watch the bureaucratic two-step but decided any outfit that FUBAR didn't need me.

Buck said...

As all the others said: You dodged a bullet. Life's too short to work for asshats. Some folks don't realize this until it's too late and they feel they don't have options. NOT good...

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have to echo the sentiments that:
a) that corporation don't know its ass from a hole in the ground
b) you are far better off without dealing with the frustrations that would no doubt come with the job
c) it's their loss

Jon said...

"Rain Man" companies are tough to work for. I worked for one; it only lasted a month. The owner was threatened by my effort to use a computer for preparing bids. He prefered his own method, which required a legal pad and an arcane system of preparing information.

We agreed when I went to work we would give it a month to see if it would work. It was a long month.

phlegmfatale said...

Stingray - Thanks. I'm feeling better by the minute about not getting this job. Frankly, I felt a little embarrassed about it and thought maybe I shouldn't post this whining entry, but I felt stung by their rejection, honestly. Yes, feeling much better. Thanks for telling me about your experience.

Stretch - Yes - that did bode ill of their organizational abilities and would surely have just been the start of a long and tedious cluster event.

Buck - have been too BTDT re: working for ass-millinerians. Thanks for the encouragin' words.

Barbara - Thanks, honey. I appreciate you saying so.

Jon - wow. Yet another relieved sigh escaped my lips when I read your comment. Yes, I'm better off out of that one. Thanks for passing that along.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I'm sorry this has caused you such turmoil. I have to agree with everyone by saying you dodged a huge bullet. You deserve to be working for a progressive new millennium technology embracing company.....
despite your prison record and lack of references(!!??)
Overqualified is what you is Darlin....Hand-strung equisite pearls to swine is what I'm talkin about....Better things are in store for you, I'm convinced!
hugs....
Schnoob

Bridget Jones said...

Sorry that they wasted your time, but seriously you would not have liked that place at all.

They sound (and acted) like morons. And morons are hell to work with!

phlegmfatale said...

Awwww, Schnoober! Thanks so much. I appreciate your confidence in me. :)

Bridget Jones - Thanks, hon. Yeah, morons are difficult to bear, truly.

Jay G said...

Hmmm. Someone said you were too good for that job, eh?

Sounds familiar...

Good luck tomorrow, not that you'll need it...

:)

Old NFO said...

Gotta agree with your friend. You would NOT have been happy in a hidebound company that obviously was not interested in updating themselves.

Mark Alger said...

It's hard sometimes. You really want a job -- NEED a job, even. But you really REALLY need to be able to say, "Hell no!" when the fit isn't there.

M

OrangeNeckInNY said...

You were lucky you didn't get that job. I worked almost 5 years for an asshat of a boss who had his best friend as his assistant. It was a nightmare. She (his assistant) would not shut up. All day long, she'd make all these weird noises. She'd be on the phone laughing and talking out loud. You can imagine what a disruption she was in an open office space where sound tends to travel. To this day, asshat boss still doesn't understand why every one of us chugged away at our computers with headphones on. I suffered there for almost 5 years and getting laid off from there was the best thing to happen to me. You're lucky you didn't have to spend a single day there.

Anonymous said...

Showed up for an interview the other day - have been in the market for a while - only to have the potential employer say, "I'm not really sure why I called you to interview other than the fact you have such an 'interesting' resume." Huh? I suppose that's better than being classified as "over qualified" (either I am or I'm not) and 'interesting' is way better than being boring. Still, a waste of his time and mine - guess who's time is more valuable? *grin*

On the upside, at least you received a form letter. These days that's an unusual occurance. Most employers/HR depts. don't bother to give a hat tip for your interest in their companies. Shame all over THEM! Obviously their Mama's didn't raise 'em right. Harumph!

DirtCrashr said...

Lucky YOU!
They seriously failed the interview, especially with the TMI stuff towards the end. When the Cheese starts acting chummy and revealing after only brief exposure, they've lost it. That person probably would have left (in relief) as soon as you'd taken the job since they had secured a replacement. Then YOU would have been stuck in THEIR hell.

Becky said...

I agree with your friend -- I think the director's response would've been the red flag for me that they would probably be too antiquated to appreciate what you (or me in your shoes) could've brought to the organization. If initiative and forward-thinking aren't valued, that doesn't seem to be the right place for you.

I'm unfortunately in the job searching boat now, as I was laid off on Monday. I absolutely hate this process b/c it reminds me of dating and how you can say the same thing to different people, yet it really comes down to your chemistry with each person. You could've said the same thing to another director and he/she might love the suggestion.

Brigid said...

It was for the best. Clearly she was insecure about her own position and wasn't going to hire ANYONE that might shine brighter than her dim bulb, therefore exposing all the dust in the corners of their antiquated dwelling.

You have rare talents, and soon, someone will want those on their team. But no point in being the one to rearrange the chairs on the Titanic, wait for another ship.

Stingray said...

Bonus weekend update: Yesterday the aforementioned idiot told me point blank in front of all senior management to go talk to some new bff who whispered sweet delusions of adequacy in her ear and get a quote from him for how much he could do my job for! Yay dignity!

...after the bearings seize, replace engine and girder and continue to them and their horse.

TOTWTYTR said...

Their loss, not yours. You'll find a better job and be much happier.

There is another public safety agency we respond with that we characterize this way,

"200 years of tradition, unimpeded by progress".

Sounds like this outfit is much the same.

Kim Carney said...

dear FRIEND:

really really, it is THEIR loss!
xoxo
Kim