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She’s Old Enough To Know Better

, , , , , , , | Working | December 4, 2020

I didn’t go to university at eighteen. There were a lot of courses I liked the sound of, and I had good enough grades, but I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, so I took a year to travel and then settled into a job as a bank teller.

After taking some courses on media, marketing, and publicity, I discovered that I really enjoyed the work, and I found that the university where I lived did a course on it. I applied as a mature student. I graduated three years later, just after I turned thirty.

I applied for various graduate positions and got interviews with all of them. Most interviews went well. Except one.

It starts with a phone interview. The interviewer seems to be impressed with my extra-curricular activities. During university, I was very involved with various projects and events and did various summer internships. I am asked to come in for an in-person interview.

I have a good feeling about it… until I get into the interview room. The interviewer is smiling and reviewing what I assume is my CV, but when she looks up at me, her smile falls.

Interviewer: “Oh, no, sorry, I called in [My Name].”

Me: “I am [My Name]. I think we spoke over the phone?”

The interviewer looks me up and down.

Interviewer: “Oh. Okay. Well, please sit down.”

I do so, and there is a long pause while I wait for her to ask her questions.

Interview: “Okay, well… I feel I should be honest. This position is probably not suitable for you.”

Me: “I don’t understand. I have all the experience necessary and you asked me to come in for an interview.”

Interviewer: “Yes, well, this position is for… well, it’s meant for people who… who are, well…”

Me: “Younger…?”

The interviewer goes a little red and shakes her head.

Interviewer: “Oh, no, no. It’s just… the position is for people who haven’t had the same opportunities you’ve had.”

Me: “What opportunities?”

Interviewer: “Well… ah, you see they’re for people with no experience.”

Me: “I don’t have any experience in this industry.”

Interviewer: “Ah, no, I mean… Well, look here; it says you worked for [Organisation] and you also worked on [Project].”

Me: “Those were all opportunities through the university. All students have access to them.”

Interviewer: “Oh, but… well, here it says you worked at [Bank] for five years.”

Me: “What does that have to do with anything?”

Interviewer: “Well, that’s experience other applicants haven’t had.”

Me: “Any student could go and work in a bank. Plus, my teller experience has nothing to do with this position. It’s not the same industry.”

Interviewer: “Well, the thing is, honestly, I think you’d be… Well, don’t you think this job is beneath you? Wouldn’t you prefer a more senior role?”

Me: “If I thought the job was ‘beneath’ me, I wouldn’t have applied. Also, how can I get a senior role if I don’t have the experience?”

Interviewer: “Well, it’s just… Well, this job is designed for students who have just graduated and are looking for a place to start.”

Me: “I have just graduated and I’m looking for a place to start.”

Interviewer: “Yes, but… well…”

Me: “Are you sure this has nothing to do with the fact that I am older than most graduates?”

The interviewer frantically waves her hands, shaking her head.

Interviewer: “No, no, no. It’s nothing to do with your age. You’re just not the type of candidate this role is intended for.”

Me: “Then why did you ask me to come in for this interview?”

The interviewer continues to insist it has nothing to do with my age, that I’m just not suitable for the position. I eventually give up, thank her for her time, and leave.

The next day, I go to my university’s career centre; the interview was arranged through them and the company has a relationship with the university. I report what happened. The career advisor is shocked. She tells me she will deal with it immediately and she will call me to let me know the outcome.

A few days go by, and I get a call from another company I interviewed with offering me a job, which I accept.

A short while later, I get a call from the manager of the career centre. He informs me that he had a long discussion with the company and reprimanded them for their behaviour, stating that if they did it again, the university would cut all ties.

He says the company was extremely apologetic and offered me the position. I tell him I have already accepted a job offer elsewhere, and anyway, I don’t want a job just because they messed up. That would be unfair to the other applicants. The manager tells me he understands and will call them back.

A few hours later, I have a missed call from the company. They left a voicemail. I think it was them offering an apology just to ensure the matter is resolved. I am wrong. It was the interviewer.

Interviewer: “How dare you lie to get me in trouble just because I didn’t hire you?! If you want to be petty and immature, fine. I’m going to call every hiring manager in the area and have you blacklisted. You’ll never work in this industry!”

Shocked and a little scared, I rushed back to the career centre and played the message for one of the career advisors who rushed to get the manager. He listened to it and told me to wait while he called the company.

After a while, he came back and explained that the company was going to check whether the interviewer had called any companies to blacklist me, and if she had, they would rectify the situation immediately. Luckily, it turned out that she hadn’t yet contacted anyone.

I started my job a few weeks later without any hassle, and I continue to work there years later. I did not receive any more threatening voicemails. I don’t know what happened to the woman who interviewed me. I can only hope she learned her lesson.

This story is part of our Best Of December 2020 roundup!

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