Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Job Interview from Hell

We all had them – job interview from hell that leaves you drained, upset and second guessing yourself.
Once you land a job, you are too busy recalling what you went through.

So for all you (potential) jobseekers, when you feel like you had the worst interview in history – read the following stories and smile. And whatever you do, don’t doubt yourself!

In 2004, I went for my third job interview at an Israeli biotech company in New Jersey.

I met their female, Chinese Vice President half a year ago, and she told me then that they were looking for someone like me. “Bingo!” I thought.

I went on my second interview a month before, but was turned away from the office since the VP (aptly named “Asia”) was out of the country on business.

I double-checked this time, and was informed that they were waiting for me. So far, so good….

My b-f drove me to my job interview and told me not to worry about him and take as much time as I needed. (A prince among men, non?)

I went in at 11 am and stumbled out at 12.30am. The interview was a disaster.

Asia started by informing me that she is an excellent boss who never stabs people in the back.

Furthermore, when she is unhappy, she will give her employees hell, but not in front of others.

“I am very loyal to my people, you see” she said.

Needless to say, I did not see; my laser eye correction in 2000 must be less successful than I thought…

She told me that the present position is for a Director, but that she will appoint him/her as a manager, so she “can place another person over his/her head if I am unhappy”…

She also told me: “you are single, no kids? Excellent! You can work long hours!”

She went on telling me that I have to work “at least twice as hard as I did before”.

Since I work an average of 10 hours a day, it would mean that I have to forfeit sleep, eat and other such unnecessary activities to meet her demands……

I asked about the financial situation of her company. The investment round only generated $1M. which is peanuts for a technology-driven company . They are under pressure to be commercial ASAP.

We did not discus salary, but she told me that all employees received a salary cut of 20%….She said that nobody left the company, despite the salary cuts.

I wondered if that was because they are chained to the wall and cannot physically leave….I decided not the ask.

When asking “where I see myself in 2 years” she informed me that she loves to hear a candidate telling her that he/she wants her job. I looked at her nose, expecting it to grow like Pinocchio’s, but no such luck.

She also talked about the Israeli CEO as a “wonderful, caring, honest man” in a dreamy voice, looking at the ceiling with a smile around her lips - which gave me some clue about the dynamics in this company.

Her plan is simple: appoint a tandem consisting of a Marketing Director and a Business Development Director. Their successes are hers, the failures are theirs (and “off with their heads” as the Queen said in Alice in Wonderland).

She then went on criticizing and second guessing all my qualifications, wondering if I was really “up to the job” and that she had “some reservations” about my being able to write materials.

This did not stop her from making notes of all my suggestions and opinions that I am pretty sure she happily implemented afterwards.

She polished it off my informing me that she had given me 1,5 hours (and not the standard 30 minutes) since I came in vain the previous time, thus nifty making me feel responsible for it.

Her parting shot was the best: “I am interviewing 30 other people, but keep in touch, I expect questions from you by email”. (Sure, and please hold your breath until I do!)

I stumble out of the building, emotionally drained. B-f was very supportive (he always is!) and gave some colorful feedback harboring on character assassination. (Asia’s, not mine).

B-f knows me well, so he treated me to a wonderful lunch (salmon in a cream/mushroom sauce on a bed of wild rise with cooked asparagus + a glass of excellent dry white wine) to cheer me up. Guess what? It did the trick!

Needless to say, I never heard anything back, not even a polite “thank you, no thank you” email........

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