posted Fri, 05 May 2006
I just had another phone interview, this time with a recruiter for a company called “Company X.” This was for a job I had applied for via the company website. I didn’t think anyone ever actually got called on those – I just applied to feel like I was doing something besides drifting toward homelessness and to keep my career counselor off my back.
So the recruiter called yesterday (I’d applied for the job last week) and we arranged to speak today.
This is the life I should be leading. A life of leisure, lunching with my friends. Only they all work or spend their days taking care of their kids. I need to make rich friends who don’t work and who have nannies.
The first thing “Jack” says is that he doesn’t think relocation is covered. I tell him tactfully – as tactfully as is possible from someone such as I – that my employers have paid for every move I have made since I got out of college and ask are there that many people qualified for the job in Milwaukee that they can refuse to pay for relo? I leave out the part about the 4.7% unemployment rate. That’s overkill.
He calls the company. They tell him relo is covered. We resume our conversation.
I somehow get sidetracked and mention boot camp. Turns out Jack was a Marine. Yay! We have something personal to talk about. Always good to bond with the interviewer. I was an Air Force brat, he was a Marine, I go to a boot camp run by a former Marine drill instructor. This is good for three minutes of small talk that leads to some personal connection and, I hope, causes him to develop some fondness for me.
We resume the interview. I’ve never had one like this. Jack asks me a question, reduces my answer to its essence and writes it down. As in, he’ll take a statement like, “I love the rainbow and how it covers the sky – the way the colors sparkle and glow” and reduce it to “blue.” But if he tried to transcribe everything I say, we’d still be on the phone.
He is then supposed to give the answers to the hiring manager at Company X and the manager will decide if he wants to talk to me. The manager will not talk to Jack to get Jack’s impressions of me or of anyone else Jack is screening.
“Is this how you would do it if you were in charge?” I ask him.
“No!” he answers. “You can’t tell what someone is like just by reading a few answers on paper. You have to talk to him.”
One of the questions is ridiculous. How do I feel about long hours and tight deadlines?
I love them! Everyone loves long hours! “I’m used to them,” I lie.
I’m not. I worked only 7:30 – 5:30 at IP. I’m not interested in a job where I might have to work sweatshop hours again. I had enough of working until 10:00 at night when I was at Ryder. But if they want to fly me up there for another interview, I’ll take it. I need the practice.
What was my salary at IP?
“Jack, you know I’m not supposed to give the number first,” I whine. But he gets it out of me. What am I supposed to do? The guy was a Marine. He doesn’t quit.
Then it’s my turn. “Tell me about this big ‘global transformation project’ at Company X,” I say.
“They’re installing SAP,” he tells me. “Do you know what SAP is?”
Do I know what SAP is?
“They’re in the middle of blueprinting and are staffing up. They have all these deadlines to meet.”
Good grief. I think I know what’s happening. They’re installing SAP. They have made “optimistic” deadlines. They can either push out the deadlines (as IP has done three times with my former division – the deadline has been extended 18 months so far and it will probably be extended again) or hire a bunch of new people to try to meet the original deadline. That’s what the “long hours” question was.
I have no interest in getting involved with that mess.
I definitely gave the right answer to the question about what was my deadline for finding a job: “When I find the right one.”
This one probably is not it.
The end of the line
1 year ago