Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Interviewing is Hell (Or: Why my life has Sucked these last 2 months)

Now that I finally have a job and don't have to worry about jinxing myself, I can finally say it: Job Interviews Suck Ass. The last two months have been sheer absolute Hell. There cannot be a more demoralizing, de-humanizing process than interviewing for a job. And this is from someone who, up until this process began, had a high confidence level – I liked to think that I was a good package (good interviewer + good resume).

And everyone says, "Oh, you should be relaxing! Take advantage of not working and go out and have fun." Fun my Ass. I'm in Chicago and it is winter and I'm broke. Watching E! and hanging out at Starbucks will only take you so far on the Fun Bus.

And it is true - looking for a job is full-time work: applying for jobs online, surfing company websites for leads, contacting friends who may or may not be able to help you out ("My neighbor’s cat-sitter’s second cousin works for so-and-so. Let me talk to him and see if he knows anyone” blah blah blah), customizing your resume, customizing your cover letter, going in for interviews that last hours at a time, fucking LUNCH INTERVIEWS, follow-up thank you notes.

Part of the problem is that, for better or worse, the last ten years or so my job seemed to be a large part of who I am. Your job is part of your identity. So when you don't have one and are searching for one, you feel morally, socially and civically lost. Let alone when you don't get the job you apply for. You come out the other end of the process scarred, sleep deprived, over or underweight (depending on your “relationship” with food), alcoholic and quite possibly with a substance abuse problem (luckily in my case I’ve come out only “scarred”; I was overweight and alcoholic before this process started).

At my level in my field, the job opps can be slim pickins. With two agencies I interviewed with, they liked my resume and wanted me to come in for "informational interviews" because they didn't have anything available at my level (which is code for: "If we like you enough we can find something, but otherwise we're off the hook on committing to anything."). One of them said nice things about me during the interview but ended the day with, "We'll let you know if something comes available." (Which I took to mean, "Yeah, we liked you but not that much."
The other said, "Even though we don't have anything at this time, we like you and we're going to try to create a position for you." Which was great because I liked these guys and it would have been a good job. So I was excited and flying high for about a week, only to get a call from them a few days later saying, "We tried to work it, but we simply can't hire you at this point." I felt like someone had slammed a car door into my head.

Then there was the previously mentioned douchebags/agency that had me come in three different times to meet with four different execs. Personally, I think when you've met with four different Vice Presidents the agency must be pretty serious about you, right? Wrong. After the last interview they said, "We'll be making a decision at the end of the month and will let you know." When the end of the month came and went and I didn't hear from them, I sent an email. Two days later I get a response saying, "We went with another candidate. But thanks for coming in." Now, that's an Ouch on many different levels. That's like, "Not only didn't we hire you, but you sucked so bad that we didn't even bother to call you back to let you know."

All the while you have to keep repeating to yourself: “I am a good person. I am a smart person. People like me.” But after a few weeks when the phone don’t ring and you don’t get that email response back, you don’t believe it so much. Surely I can’t be the only person that knows what a good person I am?

As I’ve mentioned above, I have good experience, but much of it coming from working with a certain large software maker. This can be a bad thing when employers assume that you’re only good for hi-tech work. Two different interviewers said to me, “Hmm, you’ve got good experience with hi-tech, but we do consumer work. Why would you think you’d be good for our company?” Now, I know they ask me that because they want to see how I will answer (and I think I answer that question well). But you get so frustrated that you want to spit back, “I dunno, why don’t you tell me why I might be good for this job? You called me in for the interview, asshole.” You either like my resume or you don’t, but don’t sit there and nit-pick my experience. So I spent a few years helping to launch an operating system and getting press to understand how software can help people with disabilities and elderly, and not working for Purina Cat Chow and Dannon “X-Treme Fruit Smoothies.” My background is what it is and I’m not going to apologize for it, douchebags!

Besides, my interview shoes – the ones I never wear except for interviews – hurt my feet and I was getting really tired of wearing them. So if nothing else, I’m glad to be employed so I no longer have to wear them.

2 comments:

Wingman said...

You are good enough. You are smart enough. And gosh darn it, WE LIKE YOU!!! (and by "We" I mean me & Styling Rob)

Congrats on the new job!

Oh, and consumer PR can bite my arse.

Pablo said...

Will,

From DC a huge congratulations !!! And yes I can not agree more, I have been layed off twice and looking for a job sucks, its worse than dating !!!

Pablo