Tomorrow I have a phone interview with a well-known reputable company. It’s not somewhere I care to work, actually, but I do think I could handle it. It’s in my career, but I don’t believe I’d be happy with the culture of this company and my commute would be terrible. The pay is decent, comparable to the average for comparable jobs.
While I face this phone interview tomorrow, I am reflecting on awkward interviews I have had. One of my worst interviews was for a temporary receptionist position at a water bottling company in a town I’d never heard of. I got the interview through my temp agency after I complained about their inability to place me despite their constant praise of my “excellent qualifications.” After I whined and complained a lot, they told me that I could go to this interview at 11am.
They told me that the office was near a town called Puyallup, but not as far away as Puyallup. I did not have Internet at home, and I was unable to make it to the library, so I asked the woman at the temp agency for directions. She gave me the address, and told me that the plant was on 155th Street. Just turn right and you can’t miss it. The directions were straightforward and easy enough. I read them back to her to confirm.
I made all the twists and turns as directed. Unfortunately, I had been misled about the distance. The first street I saw was 112th, and so I had to haul ass to 155th in about 10 minutes. I made it to 154th Street at about 10:59 am.
155th Street was nowhere to be seen on the right side of the street. It just wasn’t there. 153rd, 154th, 159th, and that was all. I made a U-turn at 159th. I finally found 155th, but then saw that there was no way to turn right (er, left…since I’d turned around). I went the other way and found myself in a grocery store parking lot. I called the temp agency and told them where I was.
“You were actually supposed to turn right on 115th Street.”
Gee, thanks. I’d passed that 10 minutes before.
Anyway, it was 11am at this point, I was late, and I was 40 blocks away with slow traffic.
At 11:20, I found myself in their gravel-paved parking lot. I had to walk across the gravel to get to the office. My black shoes, black stockings, and black skirt were all covered in gravel dust. I was a mess.
I checked in at the front desk.
“Your interview was supposed to be at 10 am.”
Yes, one hour and twenty minutes earlier. I also know that I was told 11am. I remember her saying it and that’s what I wrote down on the same piece of paper I wrote my bad directions. She had said “11am” at least twice during our conversation, just as she had said “155th Street.”
I will never know if they did this to me on purpose or not. They only gave me this interview after I complained. It’s possible that they wanted to put me in my place.
I showed up an hour and twenty minutes late and I was flustered. The first question the interviewer asked me? “So, why are you interested in working for our company?”
Oh geez. I had never even heard of the company. I had never even heard of the town where the company was based. It’s not like I’d been just waiting for the perfect customer service job at a bottled water plant and was so excited to see this position open up. I did then what no interviewee should ever do –I answered the question honestly.
“The temp agency sent me over.”
The interview continued and she asked me the usual set of questions I hate: How does this position relate to your college degree? If you’ve worked so much in education, why are you trying to get customer service jobs now? We don’t hire people who we don’t think are going to stay with us long, you know.
I asked about “opportunities for advancement,” you know…to show that I was looking for long-term employment. Her response? “Well…I don’t want to use the phrase ‘dead-end job,’ but really, that’s what it is.”
Great. So, they were looking for someone who was eager to stay in a dead-end job long-term.
On three separate occasions, she mentioned my tardiness to the interview, and rubbed it in by saying “If you’d shown up on time, I would have been able to show you around the plant.” I had explained repeatedly that I had been told the wrong address and the wrong time, but I don’t think that anyone there believed me.
The woman was a little nuts and kept telling me random stories and I was never sure why she was telling them. She told me that water delivery men frequently get bitten by dogs, and that I would have to deal with dog owners sometimes. I’m not sure what I would have had to tell dog owners.
She told me about a co-worker whose family’s house had burned down while the teenage daughter had been burning candles. I think she was trying to convey how great the co-workers were in that they rallied around this guy whose house had burned down after his other child had died in the fire accidently set by the teenage daughter. She also told me about the daughter’s descent into madness. Ok, she didn’t say much about that. I’m being dramatic.
It’s probably needless to say this, but I was not offered the job.
I guess that several years of bad interviews have toughened me to a great extent. This interview was frustrating enough to put me into a deep depression. I ended up getting a different job with the psycho, abusive coworker, and I was so distraught with my job search, that I didn’t apply for a single job for months. I still have my moments like this, but I’ve become more tolerant of ridiculous interviews.