One of the worst things in the world is job hunting. It’s time consuming, exhausting, repetitive, and stressful. It took me 2 and half years to find a full-time job and in that time I applied to over 100 jobs. The lack of responses really took a toll on my self-esteem and I was often depressed. I have been working at my current job for almost three years and am ready for a move. So here I am back on the job hunt. Now that I have a job, I’m not as aggressive as I was when I was only working part-time. This is in part to being tired when I come home from work and not having as much free-time as I used to. I recently went on a second interview and my experience made me start to think about how awful the job market has become. This post is dedicated to my experiences job hunting from the good to the bad to the what the hell? And I’ll also be giving you tips as the job hunter about what to look out for.
I’ll start with the “what in the world first”. I’ve had more than one of these experiences in my job hunt but I think this is the worst. It was my last semester in college and I was looking to stay in Miami because of my boyfriend. I knew long-distance would not work for us so I was willing to stay there and started job-hunting. I think I volunteered for a behavioral psych firm and they were hiring consultants who would be trained on the job. So I made the interview appointment let’s say it was for 12:30 pm. I had classes before and after but would be back on campus with enough time. My boyfriend at the time picked me up and took me to the interview and I said I would be done in 30 minutes max. I go in and the receptionist says that the owner was out but was on his way and would be back in 10 minutes. Ok cool, I was early of course so 10 minutes is fine. 10 minutes go by, 15, 20. He’s still not here. She says he’s coming he called he’s running late. Obviously. 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour goes by of me waiting for this man when he finally strolls in with a take-out cup in his hand holding his lunch. So at this point I’m looking like you can’t be serious? I think he apologized. We had the interview and I’m not sure if they offered me the position but I obviously didn’t accept because the owner had no respect for me and you wouldn’t have any respect for me as your employee. Tip 1: You’ve heard it said before, you are interviewing your prospective employee as much as they are interviewing you. Any red flags you notice during the interview process will become problems once you’re employed. Notice how the culture in the office is. Ask for a tour if at all possible. Really get a sense of where you will be spending 40+ hours every week. It should be an environment where you feel comfortable and respected.
Like I said, I recently went on a second interview. I’ve gotten feedback that I don’t come across as very bubbly and warm when I go in for an interview. This has never made any sense to me because 1. I’m not that bubbly person. My personality is very nonchalant. It’s not that I don’t care it’s that I’m a serious person. 2. An interview is not a date, I’m there to show you what I can do and showcase my skills. If you want bubbly then take me out to lunch. 3. People feed off of your energy. As the interviewer, you invited me in. You need to be bubbly and then I will be bubbly with you. If you’re serious and melancholy don’t expect me to be a cheerleader. Anyway, my first interview was fantastic! I felt confident despite feeling sick, I looked good, and the interviewer really liked me even told me to call him if I was thinking of taking any other positions. I was called back in for a second interview with the HR Rep and another Exec. The first thing the HR Rep did was ask if I had copies of my resume even though she had one in her hand. So I obviously did, I was a Girl Scout so I’m always prepared. I thought she wanted me to look it over while they asked me questions but she was like “Can I have it?” and then put it underneath all the papers she had. So, this was a test just to see if I was prepared. Her questions and her approach were almost agonistic and I almost felt like I was defending myself instead of being interviewed. As she walked me to the elevator, I asked her if her email was on the website. She pulled her card out of her pocket and said she always waits for people to ask. It was a lot of tests and her demeanor was not the best. But what can I do as the job seeker? Tip 2: Always be prepared. The interviewer will probably print out your resume but always come with extra copies. In my portfolio, I have extra copies of my resume. I try to bring at least five. I then print out the cover letter that I sent over and my list of references in case I’m asked for them. When you’re prepared you’ll be less nervous and more confident. P.S- This job posting was canceled which was unfortunate but it’s part of the process.
My next experience is also an example of “what the hell”? I was heavy in my job search and on this particular day I had two interviews. My second interview was with a very well-known Christian organization who needed a temporary administrative assistant. So I went into the interview and we would be on Skype with the rest of the team that was based in another US city. I was a little unnerved but I was ok. The team on Skype was conducting most of the interview and the in-person interviewer was not paying attention. Mind you this is who I would be working with on a day to day basis. Towards the end of the interview, he was blatantly texting on his phone. I’m not sure if he was on the phone with them or someone else but obviously I became very distracted. And at this point the interview was completely out of my control. I left feeling dejected and disrespected. Once I discussed it with my family, my aunt pointed out that if they can’t respect me during my interview then that’s not the place for me. I agree and was not upset when I was not given the position. Tip 3: Some closed doors are blessings in disguise. Now that I’m older I can see how so many jobs that I thought I would love were really not suited for me. Could be the office culture, or the location but whatever the case it wasn’t a good fit. Don’t let closed doors make you discouraged but continue to go for what you want, believing that you will find the perfect job for you! This is also an important point to remember when you know that your skills and qualifications are a perfect match for the job but you still don’t get the response that you were hoping for. There is something better out there for you and it just is a matter of time before you find it!
My last experience that I will highlight makes light on a new practice: Homework Assignments. I had applied for this position with a Social Justice Organization which I was super excited about. I had the phone screening which went well. The next step was to complete an exercise over the Fourth of July weekend. I immediately noticed that many of the emails I was receiving were after work hours, sometime between 8 and 9 pm. Ok cool, I was still excited to hear back. I worked hard on the exercise which took some serious time to complete. I was invited in for the second interview which was to last for two hours, during the work day, with four different people. I had never been on an interview like this but I was ready. When I arrived, two more candidates showed up which was completely unnerving. We were called in and my interviews went ok. I didn’t move on to the next round but I’m thinking that it might be a blessing. One of the other Executive Assistants told me how he starts checking his email as soon as he wakes up and stays in the office pretty late which seems to be the norm. Tip 4: Know what kind of office culture you are ok with and pay attention to the signs. I do not want to be working from sun-up to sun-down and worse I don’t want to be working over my holiday weekend. If it were for my own company yes, but not for someone else’s company. Even though I am very passionate about the cause, that level of commitment is not something I want to be asked of me. Once I saw those emails coming in to me at 8:30 pm, I knew that this was a red flag for me. And even though I was very disappointed I didn’t get through to the next round, its ok. I also want to flag that because so many people are applying for jobs, many companies are using more tactics to screen candidates. I’ve been asked to complete exercises on multiple occasions and it’s tiresome but part of the process. So keep that in mind and look at the type of work you’re being asked to complete because that will probably be what you would be doing day-to-day.
Below I am going to make a note of some tips that I’ve noticed over the years that might be helpful for recruiters to keep in mind.
Tip 1: Be mindful of your behavior during an interview. If you are running late, call the person and let them know. If you have to take a call or something came up unexpectedly, let the person know. Give them your undivided attention and if you are not able to do this at this time then reschedule the interview until you can. Someone is looking to join your company and your behavior reflects how they will feel about the company in the future. Anyone going on an interview is nervous and if you’re late or preoccupied during the interview, this will only make the person more nervous and you won’t truly get to see them put their best foot forward.
Tip 2: Remember that everyone has different personalities and a serious personality does not mean they won’t be the best at this position. I think one of the reason for such high turnover rates within companies is that we are easily won over by someone who interviews really well but isn’t always the best candidate. In our culture, extroverts are given all of the attention but people who are more on the introverted side have been shown to be better mangers and leaders over time. Interviewing well is not indicative of performance, it’s indicative of personality.
Tip 3: Keep candidates updated on the status of the position. If you know they will not be moving forward let them know. If the hiring process has been stalled, let them know. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you. Yes, I understand that you’re busy but it’s incredibly stressful for the candidate wondering where they stand. The last interview process I went on, I spent my whole vacation glued to my phone, refreshing my email waiting and hoping for good news. Remember that each candidate is a person. I think the humanity has been lost in the hiring process and we can’t forget it.
I am currently still interviewing but am getting call backs and I am becoming more comfortable with interviews the more that I have them. It is hard work but I do believe that in time it will pay off! Hopefully I can make a post about your first day on a new job soon!