Obviously I couldn’t blog about this right when it happened, but I thought it would be fun to share an anecdote from my job hunting experience.
All in all, I probably went in about 9-10 interviews this time around. Many of those were at the same places — I actually made it to the third round of interviews at two different companies. (Though I didn’t get either of those jobs.)
One of those third-rounders was probably the worst interview I’ve ever been on.
The company was one that organizes sporting events (like dodgeball and softball games) for adults in the city to network and meet new people. I had already survived an initial meeting with their HR recruiter; it went well and we both seemed to get along. A good sign, in my book.
The second round, I was required to write an entire 3-month social media strategy, including a step-by-step list of the first three things I would do if I got the job.
Pause for a second (Zack Morris-style).
Can we just discuss how messed up that is? I mean, my ability to create a social strategy and help a brand define their digital voice is what I do for a living. That is my intellectual property. It’s what, you know, I get paid for.
And now I was forced to basically hand it over with zero promise of a return. (And since you already know I didn’t get this job, I’m not spoiling anything when I tell you this company ended up with my entire strategy, step-by-step tactics, and sample social posts. And I ended up with…well, you’ll see.)
The second interview went okay. The two guys I met with we’re a tiny bit bro-y, but nice enough. They kept up their poker faces the entire time, and, to be perfectly honest, I felt a little but judged for wearing heels and curling my hair. It could have been in my head, but it wasn’t in my head that this was not a girlie-girl setting.
Regardless, I thought I handled myself well. I was prepared for all of their questions, and my strategy even preemptively answered most of them. I felt I came across as capable, organized, and enthusiastic.
About a day later, I had an email setting up my final interview with the CEO and founder of the company. I assumed the second interview must have gone well.
When I arrived for my final interview, I was quickly ushered into a conference room with the CEO. He was an unassuming man from Long Island in his fifties, barely taller than me. He had a teasing sense of humor that I couldn’t quite get a handle on because it was a little, well, condescending.
I turned to face him, and he lifted a piece of paper that I assume had the questions he wanted to ask me on the side facing him. What he didn’t realize was that the side facing me had some writing on it too.
Notes. About me.
I know it was about me because it said Justine LoMonaco at the top.
And under that it said:
Not that into sports
Not funny or creative
There have only been a few moments in my life that I would describe as punches to the gut. This was one of them.
(Obviously, I’m talking about the second sentence. Anyone who knows me knows I make no pretenses about having a passion for sports.)(And this.)(And this.)(AND THIS.)
Let me be clear: I have no delusions that I’m the funniest or smartest person out there. But these are two specific adjectives that people use to describe me all the time. I mean, I’m a classic late-bloomer — sense of humor and personality carried me for years, folks. I work with people who literally will not schedule a brainstorming session unless I can attend. Funniness and creativity are just not things I am insecure about.
And then…suddenly everything changed.
I’m one of those people that if you really want to push my buttons, accuse of something that is just patently untrue. It’s like my brain can’t even process what you’re saying and I become simultaneously dumber and less eloquent. My cerebrum is all, “Wait…you mean…but the-what? SKY IS GREEN AND GRASS IS BLUE AND NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANYMORE.”
Obviously, this is not a good mental state to be in for, oh, let’s say a job interview.
Suddenly I found myself incapable of coming up with a single intelligent thing to say. I was trying to be funnier, which everyone knows rarely works out. And, honestly, I was on the brink of tears for most of the half hour.
The interview wrapped up quickly (clearly I hadn’t impressed), and I hesitated for just a second, wondering if I should address these two accusations against me. In the end, I said nothing (though I did stand up for myself a bit in my “thank you” email). If I had known I wouldn’t get the job anyway, I would have been bolder. Hindsight, amiright?
Instead I shuffled dejectedly to the subway, still fighting back tears, and called my friend to unload what had happened. When I got home and started telling Joey about it, I broke down.
Remember when I wrote this? That was right around the time I found out I didn’t get that job. (Or the other job that I had made it to the third round of interviews for.) I was so frustrated, and my confidence was at a low. Now I was confronted with the possibility that maybe I was just stuck where I was — and not funny or creative on top of it.
That’s a lot for anyone to take.
But wait! This isn’t a sad story. Because, in the end, I realized that I probably didn’t want to work with people who don’t share my sense of humor anyway. I don’t want to work for people who judge me the moment I walk in. I don’t want to work for hypocritical people who claim their business model supports one thing while their actions prove they don’t.
And the job I ended up getting? I’m a million times more excited for it than I was for the other one anyway.
So things work out how they’re supposed to. And the experience also showed me what a great support system I have when I can’t pick myself back up right away. Ironically, when I got my new job, they told me the people I had interviewed loved how “funny and creative” I was. As if that coffin needed one more nail, right?
Anyone else have a job interview story to top mine? Leave it in a comment so we can commiserate together (and laugh about how, in the end, it was their loss).