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A Job Interview With The Fashion Police

, , , , , | Working | September 11, 2020

When I am a teenager looking for my first job, the market is really bad; they are requiring two to five years of experience to be hired in “beginner jobs” like cashiering or waitressing. They are picking on every single thing they can to weed people out, as many are looking and few are hiring. The struggle is real.

I am finally called to interview for a salesperson position at the mall in a cookware shop. It is all fine until the woman interviewing me starts to tell me about the dress code.

Interviewer: “So, we have a semi-professional dress code here; you might be asked to change.” 

Me: “No problem. From what I’m wearing now, can you tell me if it’s doing it, or if some part should be kept for home?”

I’m not so confident about the clothing part, despite believing I’ve made a good attempt. 

I have no tattoos or piercings. I just have mascara and gloss for makeup. I’m wearing a pair of black ankle winter boots with zips on the inner side and a mini belt-like strap going around, fancier plain black pants, a long-sleeved blue button-down shirt, a small silver pendant with a blue stone, and a two-centimetre-wide black bracelet with a blue ribbon laced in a tiny bow matching the shirt color. 

Interviewer: *Sternly* “Well, the accessories have to go.”

Me: “Oh, okay. I kind of expected that. Better not wear anything that can get caught in anything, right?”

Interviewer: *Going up and down* “Yeah, and those boots definitely won’t do it.”

Me: “No worries. Indoor shoes are more appropriate to spend the day in.”

Interviewer: *Judging* “The shirt doesn’t really make it, either.”

Me: “Oh, so, just the pants?”

Interviewer: *Staring* “Hmm, yeah… but it would be better if you didn’t dye your hair black like that.”

I kind have been positive until this point, but I try to keep my thoughts positive; clearly she’s not giving me a feel for the dress code anymore but is still hopeful to give me a job.

Me: “I don’t dye my hair; it grows dark brown on its own.”

Interviewer: *Like it’s a revelation* “Oh! Then don’t wear those icy blue contacts; it’s a weird color combo.”

I don’t understand this because I clearly have prescription glasses on, and no one has ever mistaken my eyes for contacts before. Yes, they’re blue, but they’re ordinary, nothing so unnatural or unique. 

Me: “That’s just my eyes. If I had contacts on, the natural color would peek in the middle, especially if it was a darker color.”

Interviewer: *Not believing me* “Uh-huh. The glasses aren’t looking so good, but if you must.”

I don’t bother answering.

Interviewer: “Anyway, we’ll call you back if anything…”

Blah, blah, blah, closing speech…

I don’t know what her problem was, but I don’t think my fashion choices were the problem there. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get that job.

A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 6

, , , , , | Working | September 8, 2020

I am job hunting and have just been invited to my first interview. I have also just been awarded my doctorate and am using my new title on my application. When I arrive at the interview, I am asked to sit in a waiting room with a number of other visitors and prospective job candidates. After a while, a receptionist enters.

Receptionist: “Doctor [My Name], they’re ready for you now.”

I stand up.

Me: “That’s me.”

The receptionist looks at me with a puzzled expression.

Receptionist: “Are you sure you’re Doctor [My Name]? Because you don’t look clever.”

Gee, thanks for the confidence boost just before the interview! She did later try to explain that she was expecting somebody more nerdy-looking.

A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 5
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 4
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 3
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 2
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist

Maybe They Should Hire His Wife

, , , , , , | Working | August 25, 2020

A coworker and I were conducting an interview for an open position with a man who had applied for the job. As the interview progressed, we both noticed that his answers tended to be vague and evasive — not as though he had something to hide, but more like he simply had trouble making up his mind. For example, we’d ask about a time where he had to get information from someone who was uncooperative, and he’d start to answer, and then backtrack and say that probably wasn’t a good example and give him a moment to think of a better one.

Finally, in exasperation, my coworker tried to see if she could better understand his decision-making process: “If we were to offer you this job, what process would you use to decide whether you wanted to take it?”

He hemmed and hawed for a couple of minutes, and then said, “Well, I’d probably have to go home and ask my wife about it.”

He didn’t get the job.

Recruitment, Harassment; What’s The Difference?

, , , , | Working | August 8, 2020

While looking for a new job, I’m contacted online by what appears to be a recruiter. I phrase it like that because his profile doesn’t actually say that but rather something along the lines of “anonymous start-up”.

The job description he sends me is a PDF without headers or even different font sizes, making it look more like notes, and contains lines like “search for someone with Dutch citizenship.” Wow, just a copy of what he received from the company, apparently.

Still, the job looks potentially interesting, so I send my resume. After some questions like how many years of experience I have — which can be found in my resume — it becomes clear that the recruiter doesn’t speak English very well. It turns out that he’s Indian. Who cares, but it does add a bit of challenge to communications.

The next week, I get a call on my Monday off and he asks if I can come in for an interview the next day. Obviously, I can’t. I tell him that, at the earliest, I might become available that Friday, but I need to check tomorrow — Tuesday.

Come Tuesday at 9:15, I get a call to confirm my 14:00 interview on Friday. Wait, what? I tell him I couldn’t confer with my manager and coworkers yet and he texts me several times that day badgering me for confirmation, which I give at the end of the day.

I’m a bit annoyed with the recruiter, but I’m willing to put up with something for a new job.

The next day, he sends me the appointment details from an email address which is just his name at [Mail Server]. At this point, I decide to look up the company online because it looks sketchy as h***. The company and position seem legit, though, so I move on. He also tells me the budget the company has for this new position. This is… novel, but I’ll take it as good intentions and a bit of cultural difference.

The interview is pleasant enough, but it’s a bit challenging since the manager also turns out to be Indian with a very thick accent and limited English. He mentions that it would be greatly appreciated and sometimes required that I join in with certain third-party meetings since many higher-ups in the company are straight from India and both the language and culture are still difficult for them.

I decide the job is not what I’m looking for because it doesn’t offer enough technical challenges. 

I let the recruiter know this through text and this is where the fun really begins. He mentions that if I took the job, I would soon be promoted to [position X], a title that I have never heard of after fifteen years in the industry.

Out of curiosity and politeness, and slightly intrigued by a higher position, I agree to postpone my decision. There is a catch, though. This is insider information which he is sharing “because I’m his friend” and I shouldn’t discuss it with anyone from the company.

This is the start of two weeks during which I get at least daily calls and texts asking if I have changed my mind. I keep declining because I’m not going to accept a job offer with an unsubstantiated promise from a third party to get promoted to a job for which I have received no description whatsoever and which, frankly, sounds fake to me.

He keeps offering more money, mentioning what a great opportunity it is, etc., and even lets/makes me speak to employees at different locations and HR, but when I ask them about the new position, they just get confused — the language barrier doesn’t help — and the recruiter chastises me that I should keep quiet about it.

Eventually, I’ve had enough and tell the recruiter very definitely, NO! I don’t want to take this position.

At some point, the recruiter had given me the manager’s telephone number, so I decide to text the manager and explain that I rejected the offer because of the technical level of the position, and I also tell the story of what the recruiter has told me, that he wanted me to keep quiet, and that this kind of insistence is considered quite rude in Holland. I send him the full log of my text conversations with the recruiter as proof and clarification.

The manager asks for a brief telephone conversation, during which he explains that is rather confused since he was told I was very interested. We summarize our respective stories and wrap it up.

I’m writing this the next morning, hoping the recruiter isn’t going to contact me anymore, and I really hope the manager took my advice and won’t be using these kinds of recruiters going forward.

That Is One Powerful Candidate

, , , , , , , , | Working | August 7, 2020

We’re interviewing a job candidate by phone. As part of the interview process, the candidates log in to a mockup of our database system to demonstrate their technical skills. The current candidate has been doing well but is struggling with a particular task. When she gets an error, we see her circling a part of the error message with her cursor on the shared screen.

Interviewer #1: “Hey, we see you indicating part of the error message. Can you tell us what you make of that?”

Interviewer #2: *On mute* “It would be nice if she could because I don’t have a clue what that means…”

Candidate: “I’ve seen that before in [our kind of system]. Pretty sure someone didn’t set it up correctly, so it’s kind of a security vulnerability.”

Me: “I know we’re not interviewing you for a security role, but can you tell us a little more about what you see here?”

Candidate: *Typing* “Sure. If I were an unscrupulous user, I’d see this error, and… actually, I don’t want to break anything.”

Interviewer #1: “You’re in a test environment. If you break it, we’ll just reset. I’m curious now. Do your worst!”

Candidate: “Okay!”

We wait a few minutes while she types a very long command on the screen.

Interview #1: *On mute* “Who the heck flagged her as ‘less experienced’? I’ve never seen half these words in my life.”

Interviewer #2: “She only has three years of experience with [System]. The rest of the candidates had at least six.”

Candidate: “Aaaaaand… there we go. Okay, I think this is gonna work. Let’s see what happens when I do th—”

As all three of us lean forward to watch what’s about to happen, the computer running the test environment — and the phone call — shuts off. We jump back in surprise.

Interviewer #1: “She was in a virtual machine! How’d she do that?”

I start frantically hitting the ON button on the PC tower.

Me: “The machine won’t even start!”

Interviewer #2: “[Interviewer #1], why’d you have to use the phrase ‘do your worst’ here?”

I get the candidate on the phone, and she says something must have gone wrong and overwhelmed the test environment. When she hears the computer won’t even start, I can hear her start to panic.

Me: “Don’t worry; it’s an old desktop that we needed to replace anyway. If there’s an exploit that can actually break a computer, we needed to know.”

Candidate: “This is a longshot, but… when you were leaning in to look at the code, no one hit anything on the computer, did you?”

I look down. [Interviewer #1]’s elbow is firmly planted on the on/off switch of the powerstrip that the computer is plugged into. We all have a good laugh and everyone calms down, and we restart the computer and resume the call.

Interviewer #2: “By the way, we see you only have three years of experience with [System]. How’d you recognize an obscure error like that?”

Candidate: “Oh, those were three years at [Company that makes the system].”

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

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