Yet one interviewer didn’t get the memo when she told me, “I need to fill this position quickly, but I’m not sure about you.
“How so?” I asked.
“Frankly, I’m concerned at how you’ve skipped around in more than a few jobs,” she replied.
Her tone was angry, hostile, and frustrated. So was her act of holding up my resume in one hand and hitting the papers with the fingers of her other hand. I felt as though I’d ruined her entire day, which caused my childhood trauma to return. Once again, I was that little boy who became petrified whenever he disappointed his mother. Thankfully, I resisted reacting to those emotions and gently pushed back instead… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I Applied for a Copywriter/Marketing Specialist Position
It was an opening with a company that describes itself as an “engineering systems integrator, value-added product distributor, and advanced motion control solution provider.” (Corporate gobbledygook always sounds impressive while saying nothing at all, doesn’t it?) I was pleased as punch when a recruiter from the company emailed me on August 22, 2022, and said:
“Thank you for applying to [company name redacted]. Your application for the Copywriter/Marketing Specialist position stood out to us and we would like to invite you for an interview at our office[s] to get to know you a bit better. Can you please send me a few good days/times for you?”
I promptly responded with, “Thank you for the reply and thank you for the invitation to interview with [company name redacted]. I’m available at any day/time that is the most convenient for you and your team. Please let me know what works best for you and I’ll be happy to accept that interview date.”
I clicked send and that was the last I heard from that recruiter.
Someone Else Reached Out
On August 29, 2022 – a full seven days after I replied to the initial recruiter – I received a connection request on Linked In from someone else from the company. I accepted the request and thanked the person for adding me. Later that day, she responded with this:
“Hello John! Great to hear from you. I just sent you an email. Wondering if you have an opening in the next three days for an interview?”
I reiterated what I’d sent to the recruiter, and the new person agreed to interview me at 11 AM on August 30. My mind was immediately filled with thoughts of what it would be like creating content for an “engineering systems integrator, value-added product distributor, and advanced motion control solution provider.” (Again, I still don’t know what the hell that actually means!)
The Interview Started Out Well Enough
She lead with the usual question that asked, “Tell me a little about yourself.” I responded as I always do to this question – I made it relevant to her and, more importantly, the position. I took Jeannine through the evolution of my career from newspaper journalist, to business-to-business magazine writer, and finally to marketing copywriter and SEO keyword strategy specialist.
After a brief explanation of the position and its requirements, the interviewer began fumbling through my resume. She complained that it was printed front-to-back and three pages long. (Such a thing should be expected from someone who’s been in the workforce since 1997.) It was then that she noticed that I’ve had two jobs at two different companies in the past six months.
“I have a problem!” she huffed.
“Oh?” I said. “What’s that?”
That’s when she said those two sentences that will forever be burned into my memory. “I need to fill this position quickly as possible but I want to fill it with the right person. Frankly, I’m concerned because you’ve skipped around in more than a few jobs.”
I explained that my resume also indicates that I’ve been at one job for 15 years (B2B publication) and another one (electronics retailer) for nearly six years. She asked me why I had left those job, which I clearly explained during the tell-me-a-little-bit-about-you phase earlier in the interview.
For a recap:
- The B2B publication didn’t have a strong online game so there was no opportunity to work with SEO, which was starting to take off at that time. (The company also hadn’t offered me a raise in the past seven of those 15 years.)
- The electronics retailer hadn’t provided a raise in three years. Add to that a radical shift in managerial philosophies and I determined that the place, however well-intentioned its human resources manager is, was not a good fit for me.
I pushed back with this information, adding that, “My goal has always been to find a good company so I can plant some roots. But to do that, I need fertile soil, which is a company that offers a cooperative and friendly culture.”
That didn’t seem to placate her even though she tried to pretend it did. She ended the interview by saying she would have her assistant email me a writing test but as of 11:23 PM, no such email arrived in my mailbox. I doubt it will. Then again, responses tend to be on a seven-day delay with this company so who knows? (No. Really, they won’t be getting back with me; I’m certain of this.)
In a Normal World…
Hiring managers wouldn’t act this way during job interviews. Back in my day, Dr. Jekyll love-bombed me during the interview while Mr. Hyde made his appearance during my second week on the job. In today’s post-COVID working world, this bizarre behavior has become the norm. It seems the stresses of being the guinea pigs in the world’s largest psy-op have taken such a toll that employers are now lashing out at applicants during the interview phase. That’s not a good look.
My Advice to Management:
Taking a week to get back to applicants about interview dates and times is not the move. And your hiring staff should take the time to review the resumes of candidates you’re considering. If you see something you don’t like – such as someone leaving poorly-managed companies – you can take a hard pass on those applicants before you schedule an interview. Sending an email that reads, “We have decided to move forward in another direction at this time” is preferable to a mid-interview meltdown.
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If You Enjoyed What You Read Here…
Check out my memoir, “Wasted Youth: The Narcissism Recovery of a Punk Rock Kid from Flint.” I thought music was my escape but I was having problems wherever I went. I blamed everyone but myself. When that didn’t work, I lashed out at the people I cared about. Then one day, I got punched in the face by the ugly truth about myself. It knocked me out of my shortcomings and into self-discovery. It’s from this place that I share my cautionary tale. I hope it helps anyone suffering the scars of childhood trauma.