Saturday, April 23, 2011

Job interviews - the good, the bad, the ugly

I don't know why I was thinking about this today. I'm not actively looking for a job. I know a lot of people are these days. I feel bad for those people because even in a good economy it's tough to find a decent job.

I was out of work for six months in 2005 after the company I worked for closed its doors. Everyone was let go so it was nothing personal. My last day was two days before my 44th birthday. Isn't that special? Like a good little unemployed person I got on the phone with my state's unemployment office the following Monday. Actually, it might have been a Tuesday because I'd heard it's hard to get through on Monday, what with all the newly laid off peeps calling at the same time. I got the unemployment benefits rolling along. Then I had to start the process of an active job search. The state doesn't like it when you just sit on your ass and collect unemployment. Although sometimes I think they don't even pay attention because there are quite a few people who do just that. But we won't go there...

Job hunting sucks. What sucks even more are job interviews. I only had a few interviews during those six months. I had to bow out on the very first one because I ended up with a raging sinus infection that knocked me on my butt. I cancelled twice due to my illness and ended up telling them to forget it. It knew it didn't look good for me so I backed out gracefully.

The next interview was with a small commercial printer. The gentlemen gave me a tour and explained the job requirements in detail. I felt it went well other than the fact that I wasn't qualified for the position. Sadness. Note to self: If a prospective employer asks you if  the job seems intimidating, do not say yes. Live and learn. Someone more qualified got the job. At least the guy called me and told me that. I respect him for being honest.

The next interview qualifies as one of my top two worst interviews ever. It wasn't because of the job itself. It wasn't anything I did. The interviewer was lame. The job was an office position. I dropped off a resume and filled out an application. They called me and scheduled an interview a week later. The interview lasted 5 minutes. The woman explained the job, then told me she'd call when she'd made a decision. She didn't ask me a single question. What kind of interview is that? I can still remember walking to my car and thinking "it took me longer to drive here than the interview lasted." For the record, it took me 15 minutes to get to the place. Oh by the way, she never called.

One of the best interviews I've had was for my current job. I had all but given up on my job search and my unemployment benefits were running out. I sent in a resume when I saw an ad from a company I'd tried to get into for years. It's not a big company. It's a family-owned business in town and that appealed to me. They called a week after I sent them my resume. I wanted this job so bad I could taste it. I needed this job. I mentally rehearsed the interview until the day arrived. The interview lasted almost an hour and I aced it! The interviewer asked intelligent questions. I followed up with my own questions about the job and the company. We connected and I felt like I belonged there. I landed the job and started the very next week. YES! I'm still there almost six years later. I survived three layoffs during the worst of the recession.

My last interview, which was a few weeks after I started working again, rates as the worst ever. Even though I'd started a new job I decided to check this place out. It offered more hours and who knows, maybe better pay. The first thing I discovered was that their help wanted ad was misleading. They asked for one type of skill but when I got there, I was asked to take a test for something different. It wasn't one of my strengths and it showed. That was strike one. He interviewed me in the production area while another employee was present. Apparently he'd never heard of privacy or confidentiality. That was strike two. He discussed salary in front of the other employee. Strike three. That was the deal breaker. Even if he had offered me the job I would have refused. The funny thing is, this company runs help wanted ads all the time. Gee, I wonder why there's such a big turnover?

This is just my personal experience based on a handful of interviews I endured six years ago. I know there are great companies out there. I just happened to find a couple of lemons. I'm happy at my current job and hope to be there for awhile.

I'd love to read about the experiences you've had on job interviews - the good, the bad and the ugly! Leave me a comment!

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