Through the wringer

This is a repeat of an old blog — I’m gradually moving older posts over to this new blog — so the first few lines about being offered a job are old news. The job I was offered is where I’m working now.  (From Sept. 17, 2011)

I guess I’ll start this off the Kurt Vonnegut Jr way and give you the ending first — I was offered a job this afternoon, a long-term temp job in medical editing, and I am very happy. I start on Tuesday (no more sleeping late!).

But I still wanted to write a bit about some of what led up to that, as yesterday was quite challenging emotionally and physically.

To start off, I wasn’t happy with my interview suit, and I’d picked shoes that went with the suit but were uncomfortable. I knew this, but I figured I could tolerate them for a short time, and I put them in my shoulder bag. I’d wear sandals and switch right before I got to the interview.

Oh — I also wasn’t having my best hair day. I managed to get it reasonably under control. I was wearing jewelry when I left the house but when I saw myself in the mirror later I didn’t like the look, so I took it all off. Basically, I was approaching the interview a little uncertain about my appearance even though I was wearing the “right” clothes and should have felt just fine.

I was meeting a friend later in the afternoon and would have a few hours to kill in between. So I brought the current manuscript I was proofreading plus my journals. I shouldn’t have brought them, I should have just grabbed a few sheets of scrap paper in case inspiration hit. Then there was the folder of materials to prep for the interview and a small makeup kit and hairbrush. The bottom line was that my bag was quite heavy.

The recruiter had called me on Wednesday and set up the interview for 10 a.m. Thursday. Unbelievably, I had gotten a second call on Wednesday from another agency, which wanted me to do a phone interview at 10 a.m. on Thursday. I haven’t gotten a bite in months and now two potential employers want to see me at the same time? I told the second agency I couldn’t do 10 a.m.–what about the afternoon? She said the company didn’t do interviews in the afternoon–what about 11 a.m.? I said that was cutting things rather close. She suggested 11:30 and I reluctantly agreed to that time, knowing I was still cutting things too close and there was a good chance I would not be done the first interview.

The second job, by the way, was a temporary fundraising/telemarketing gig. I wasn’t exactly jumping at the bit for that kind of position, but since I wanted to show the agency I was willing to work, I thought it best not to turn it down flat. I simply should have said, “No, I won’t be able to do the phone interview on Thursday morning.”

I got to my 10 a.m. interview a few minutes early, just as another person was arriving, and she was there to see the same recruiter I was seeing. Wasn’t sure if this was a bad sign or not. I tried not to think about it.

The receptionist then handed me the most massive application packet I’ve ever seen. Besides the application itself there were at least 20 other forms to read, fill out and sign. I even had to give them a voided check and routing numbers for direct deposit.

The paperwork took a long time, almost an hour and a half. I estimated I’d printed my name 19 times, signed it 16 times, given my date of birth 15 times, provided my Social Security number 10 times, and wrote my address and phone number 9 times.

Then they took me into a computer room where I had to fill out information and my job history again–electronically this time. Then I had to take a proofreading, MS Word and MS Excel tests. I finally met with the recruiter at around 12:45, and was finished at 1:05.

Jumping back, a few minutes before 11:30, I asked for a bathroom break. I had the second company’s name and number and needed to call to try to reschedule the interview. That was all I was calling about; I didn’t think I needed to have the agency’s name handy.

The lady on the other end of the line didn’t seem too happy about my requesting a new time. It turns out I’d written down the name of the interviewer wrong. I remember repeating the name to the agency representative, but either she had mispronounced it or I just hadn’t heard it correctly. I had written down a similar-sounding, but different, name.

As a result of this mix-up, I suppose I didn’t sound very bright on the phone (I didn’t know I had the wrong name until later–I was simply surprised when they told me there was no one there by that name). They told the agency rep that I was “unprofessional.” I guess if I were the person awaiting my call and didn’t know what had happened I would have called me “unprofessional” too, but there was a lot out of my hands. It was unprofessional of me to agree to the interview, that’s for sure.

I wasn’t sure about writing about that event in my blog, but I think I am going to leave it in because I want to show that not everything goes perfectly all the time. I’m sure others can identify with similar mix-ups. Even though we’re supposed to be competitive and knowledgeable and always well-prepared, sometimes things happen.

Anyway, the main interview went well, I thought, but you never can quite tell. Later that day the rep called back and said I had an interview set up with the actual company for 1 p.m. today.

It was business casual, she said. Business casual, huh? Is this going to be a trap? I decided to wear black slacks, a nice button-down shirt and a suit jacket. The shoes were comfortable. The bag wasn’t too heavy. I had all my information and gave myself plenty of time to get there. And I had researched the company as best I could with only one night to do so.

What a relief to see the interviewer come into the room wearing blue jeans. She was friendly, the second staff person I met was friendly, and I was ready with prepared questions (yes, I wanted to do everything right after the previous day).

I took a fact-checking and two proofreading tests, and that was it. Handshakes all around. The interviewer said I was the last of the interviews and they hoped to make a decision by that afternoon.

And less than two hours later I got the call–I’d made the cut.


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