Saturday, January 28, 2012


I hate telling people when I have an interview. It's like telling people you're expecting your AP scores in the mail. Or you're waiting to hear back from a grad school. People expect you to follow up with how things turn out. And if you don't follow up, people assume the worst: they didn't get the job/they got a 2/they didn't get in. And, let's be honest, they're usually right. The real monsters do the following up for you and ask, "Did you get the job?/What did you get on your AP tests?/Did you get in?" They just want to see you squirm in your defeat. Thus, I avoid talking about anything that involves trying and potentially failing. If no one knows you tried, then no one knows you failed.

However, I'm going to break my rule and tell you that I had an interview this week. I'm only going to break this rule because when you're unemployed, it's fairly self-evident that you're constantly trying and failing. And because I'm pretty sure I didn't get the job. So no need to follow up. Really.

Trying and failing aside, I mention this interview to ruminate on how completely weird the hiring process is. The first crazy weird part of the hiring process is that someone makes the decision about who to interview based on two pieces of paper (or, more accurately, two PDFs attached to an email). A resume and a cover letter. And sure, these documents can speak volumes about you--your education, the jobs you've had, your relevant skills. But they're still just two little documents with about 750 words written by the applicant about themselves. They don't give any essential information like "this girl never stops telling annoying stories about her cat," or "this guy will always refill the office candy bowl if it's his turn." I guess that's where the interview comes in.

Which brings me to the second really weird part of the hiring process: the interview. The hirer is selecting one person to offer employment, which means that as an interviewee, going to an interview could mean that you are driving your soon-to-be commute and meeting your future coworkers.

My interview this week was on Thursday afternoon at 4:00pm with The Outlook, a community newspaper in Gresham (just east of Portland). I google-mapped directions--16.5 miles and 27 minutes. I left at 3:00pm in case I hit traffic or got lost. And as I took exit 16 off of I-84, I, of course, tried not to throw up because I was so nervous, but I also thought about how natural the drive seemed. I made my way through Gresham, and it really looked like somewhere I could work. I got to the parking lot (35 minutes early) and could imagine myself pulling into a spot every day. And, as I sat in my car waiting for 3:55pm, I nervously chewed a piece of gum and looked around the area. The parking lot was charmingly covered in moss (as most things in Oregon and Washington), and just south of the parking lot was a cute apartment complex with little balconies. I imagined getting an apartment there and walking to work every morning without having to worry about traffic. I imagined walking to Safeway across the street to get groceries. I imagined driving up to Vancouver every Sunday to have dinner with my parents.

And as I met Joanna, David, Cheryl, and Josh, I made sure to remember their names in case I did end up as their coworker. And as they asked me questions about my resume and my portfolio, I thought about, if I got the job, how odd it would be to look back on this interview and joke about how Cheryl said this or how Josh made this joke, which was really out of character for him. But as I walked out of the old brick building, opened my car, and tossed my portfolio onto the front seat, I felt pretty sure that I hadn't just driven my soon-to-be commute and hadn't just met my future coworkers. This would just turn into a brief anecdote, and I'll likely never see any of these people again.

And all this imagining may sound crazy, but the third craziest thing about the hiring process is that at some point a company takes those two documents, the interview and maybe a background check/drug test, and they make a decision to hire someone to work with every single day. And when (if?) this is ever me, I have to take the little "About Us" section of a company website, a job description, and a thirty-minute meeting and decide if I want to spend every single day working with them.

And, yes. I got a 2 on the AP calc test. No need to judge. Math is hard! U substitution? Come on.


Elisa said...

"If no one knows you tried, then no one knows you failed." Amen, girlfriend.

Also, I never even took the AP calc test. So at least you had the guts to go for it.

Also, I wish we were co-workers every single day and could gossip about the Cheryls and Davids.

Renny said...

I got a 2 on the AP calc test as well.

When I was applying to law school my roommate and her friend walked in with the mail one day with two small, thin envelopes from two law schools I had applied to. Then they stood there expectantly and I thought, "Really? LOOK at these envelopes! Go away and let me cry in shame all by myself." They didn't go away. I had to pretend I didn't care as they watched me sink deeper into abject humiliation.

Josephine said...

I didn't even take calculus. Didn't need it to graduate, and so I didn't. I was actually just talking to my sister about all the vital information that's not included in a resume or an interview. I realize this is both good and bad, and totally weird!