September 28, 2011

First Dates and Job Interviews

I tend to earnestly remind people that first dates are not job interviews. "You're there to meet a friend or love potential," I'll say, "so be wary of that pesky habit where you're checking off your list and making sure the person has all the perfect answers to every question."

Today I needed to be reminded of this wisdom, but in its opposition: job interviews are not first dates. Apparently I've become so accustomed to meeting people as potential friends that I've forgotten how to act in a job interview.

For the last year or so, I've been applying nonstop for any and every job possible at particular organization. I've admired their work for years. Seven years ago I visited their building, met with the "higher-ups" and decided, "I want to work here." When I decided to move to Los Angeles, I started sending my resume' over and over again. I figured my name would sweep across desks and they'd say, "that girl is applying again."
My cycle was constant: I would apply. They wouldn't call.
Until today.

The phone rang. I was driving. I picked up the call (yes, on the speaker system, sheesh), and was floored when the woman on the other end announced it was So-n-So from PLACE THAT NEVER CALLS.
She saw my resume, wanted to know how I felt about the position, and wanted me to come in.

And then I started doing something bad. Something that people do on first dates and meet-and-greets - not on job interviews. I was way too honest.
This approach has never gone over so well for me in the past. I once had an interviewer ask my five year plan and I said, "I'd like to work with nice people and I hope to be married." Maybe a little too much information on my personal dreams.
So this morning, I told way too many truths:
*I hated the schedule she was proposing, but I loved the work.
*My husband and I share a car, but I will figure it out.
*My book tour starts tomorrow, but I'd be happy to work around it.

Way too many details. TOO, TOO many.

Instead, had I been more prepared, I would have been up front. I would have told her that, while my schedule is a little unpredictable these days, what I want more than anything in the world is to get a chance to work for PLACE THAT NEVER CALLS. I'd love to at least be the "fill-in girl," getting a chance to sometimes still be part of the industry that pulls so strongly at my heart. And I really wanted to just say THANK YOU for calling. But all that turned into a bumbling, babbling mess as I kept droning on about my personal issues while not noticing I'd driven three miles too far.

And then I realized I'd been treating this experience - not as a job interview with a potential future employer - but as a "first date."
She lost interest.

Her delight in my work experience and my future with the company faded instantly. I felt as if I could hear regret in her voice for calling me. In fact, I even tried to explain myself and let her know my interest level, and I just felt like there was no winning her over. I was like the bad first date experience that would never be given a second chance.
I'm so embarrassed.

So, since I just greatly reduced my chances of working at said PLACE again, I'm trying to use this embarrassing moment as a teachable experience.

1 comment:

Allison said...

Oh no!!! I love the post and think that the comparison is quite clever, but I'm sorry that it actually happened to you. (And with a job that you care about no less!)

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