Friday, August 10, 2012

Interview Hell

In less than a 24 hour time period, I found out that 3 companies who I had been interviewing with have declined to offer me a job.

Under different circumstance maybe this wouldn't be a big deal, but in my current living situation this is huge.

Job #1 - An online community management position with a know (and profitable) website. The job was half a mile from my house (I could have biked to work!), had great benefits, and a friendly work environment. An excellent job in almost every way. I was interviewed twice by the staffing agency. On a Wednesday afternoon, I interviewed with the hiring VP. At the end of the interview he gave me the task of creating an entire marketing plan and presenting it to all of the company VPs that Friday morning. I had a little more than a day to complete this task. On Friday morning, I showed up at 8:45. I had an interview, and then gave a one-hour powerpoint presentation to the top executives, all of whom interviewed me one-on-one that day. I was there until almost 4pm. These where not easy interviews. I was grilled on my marketing plan and made to defend it under a microscope by a group of very intelligent people. At 6pm that same day, I was by their HR rep telling me that they were very impressed with me and would like me to come in the following week to interview with the CEO. I was hoping that this was a formality, that the interview would be a little bit of him telling me more about the company and the position, some questions about my background and why I wanted to work there, etc. I thought I had this job. The interview with Mr CEO was slatted for one hour. It was not at all what I expected. The interview felt more like a police interrogation than an interview. He said that he wanted to start with college and go through every job I've had up until today. I had no idea the level of detail he wanted.

- Why did you choose to go to this school? What other schools did you consider?
- Why did you choose your major?
- What was your favorite class? What was your grade in that class? What was the teacher's name?
- What was your least favorite class? What activities did you do while you were in school?
- Why did you take this job?
- Why did you leave?
- What projects did you work on? What are the names of the people who worked on the project with you?
- Why did you move from Dallas to New York? Why did you move at that time?

And on, and on, and on. For over 2 hours! Explain to me the purpose of asking me the name of a colleague who I worked with 8 years ago. Why is this information relevant? How does it convey whether or not I will be able to perform the job duties of the position that I'm interviewing for? What is the fucking point of an interview like this?

He gave no response to any of my answers, only wrote down everything I said, and moved on to the next question.

Almost a week later I find out that they are not offering me a job.

I can't believe it. After all of that work; nothing. This was the job I was counting on to come through.

What baffles me more than anything else is why it takes a company 11 interviews to figure out that I'm not the right person for the job. WTF people?

Job # 2 - A strange hybrid position, part account manager/part marketing strategist/part technical developer, for a growing agency. This place was strange. This marketing job reported to the CIO. My second interview was with the CFO, which is even stranger because this position has NOTHING to do with finance, but I did get a good story out of it. To goes something like this:
Instead of asking me about my background and why I'm qualified for the job, the guy wants me to do one thing: create a full sales pitch for the job I'm interviewing for. I now understand why I'm interviewing with the CFO. He wants to know how to monetize the work. During the course of this "interview" almost every sentence he says begins with, "When I was the CEO of a *very big* company...", and gives me a look and a sly smile to make sure that I know he was the CEO of a *very big* company. Yeah, I get it. It was a big, hard, company. Classy. This was the first time that I was flirted with during an interview. Very awkward.

The next week I was called in to meet with the CEO (BTW - What the fuck is up with CEO's interviewing people? When did this start becoming the norm?). This interview was more in line with what I had expected from the CEO interview for job #1. It was 30 mins long. He told me a little about the company, asked me a few questions about myself, and it was over. The only annoying part was this question:

"In the next 20 seconds tell me 10 to 15 adjectives that describe yourself. Go!"

Honestly, what information does this give an employer about me? How fast I think on my feet? How well I bullshit? What do they want to find out by asking this question?

It feels like something you would ask a game show contestant to trip them up. Really, when it comes down to it, most of the questions in interviews have this same feel. Is this a game to companies? Do these people get off on making people feel uncomfortable and getting them to jump through hoops for no pay?

Job #3 - a temp email marketing position filling in for someone while they are on maternity leave. The only downside to this job was that it was for 3 months. I was upfront and told them that I was waiting to hear back from two full time positions, but if neither of them came through that I would like to take this one. The company filled this role the same day I found out about job #1, a day before I found out about job #2.

I have been actively looking for full time work since January. I got a contract job in April. They didn't pay me for my work, and I've filed suit against them in California. I have been on at least 40 interviews, probably more. I have gotten to 3rd, 4th, and 10th interviews with companies. In the end they all go with other candidates.

At this point, I'm wondering if the universe is trying to tell me something. I think I need to find a new profession. Maybe I should go back to my plan of going back to school to get my master's in acupuncture, which means graduating with six figures of debt. and living in with that debt for the next 20+ years.

I don't know what to do. I don't know how I'm going to pay my bills next month. I'm sure I'll find a way, since I always do, but it's so stressful. The next step is lying about my experience to get a waitressing or bartending gig.

People tell me that there's a better job around the corner. I'm trying to stay optimistic. I really am. I just don't think I can do this for much longer.

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