REAL EXPERIENCE: True interactions in a professional environment
This piece has been written from the real experience of an individual who applied for a role, and the unusual circumstances that followed.
It's easy to take things personally, but sometimes it really has very little to do with you at all.
After several years of loyalty to a small business, I wanted to venture forward to a larger business with more opportunity to grow. For this reason I would be happy to take on any role, even something more junior, if it meant I had the opportunity to move ahead.
The day came when I received a phone call from exactly one of these companies. They had a role that was junior to the work I was currently doing and only a 6 month contract, but I was truly eager and believed if I tried my hardest they might move me into another role when the time came. So I prepared like anything.
At the time I worked a four day week, so naturally the interview was arranged on the one day I didn't work. The babysitter was booked and groceries ordered online. When the time came, I stepped into the interview full of determination and met two young women who I learnt were not only interviewing me, but were job sharing the role I was interviewing for. One was pregnant and going on maternity leave, so it was really about finding the right fit to work alongside the other until she returned.
I did think it was unusual to be interviewed only by the individuals in the role I was interviewing for, and not a senior manager or whoever oversaw that team, but regardless, this company promoted itself as being at the forefront of equality, people and culture, so I assumed the best.
Both had my resume printed with multiple highlights and question marks positioned in my line of site. I prepared to go through a bit of my history, but instead soon found myself being questioned on the actual validity of my resume.
The atmosphere quickly deteriorated into something very uncomfortable.
Rather than discussing any actual experience, I was asked if key achievements were really completed by me. At one point I was asked to relay my entire career progression to-date as it did not 'make sense', and when I mentioned that I was honored to be up for an industry award, both pointed their fingers directly at me and said 'You? You are a finalist? You or your company?' Keep in mind these are individuals in a role junior to what I am currently doing.
I immediately felt I had been brought in just to be criticized and degraded. I looked at the clock on the wall and started calculating how much this was costing me in babysitter fees and wondered how I could remove myself from the situation without tarnishing any chances of future opportunities.
Oddly enough the interview took a swift turn towards the end, where I was told I would really suit the role and who I would be interviewing with next. I was no doubt confused. I was told they would contact me over the next few days, so the following morning I sent an email thanking them both for the interview and wished the pregnant interviewer all the best with her maternity leave. I received no response.
I couldn't begin to understand what had happened and tried hard not to take it personally. If there was a second interview, maybe it was just being delayed? But it had been three weeks, so if not, why wouldn't someone let me know or at least provide feedback? I even tried to contact the internal recruiter who initially called me about the role, but I received no call back, only a message saying he 'did not know' what was happening with the role.
Eventually I received a message from one of the original interviewers, saying quite amusedly that "The role you applied for over a month ago now, is filled".
The whole experience really left me at a complete loss. This was a market leading business that promoted itself at the forefront of everything equal and fair, and this was their internal business unit, dealing with the communication and management of all employees within the greater business. How could the individuals within this core team be so unprofessional?
After many discussions with fellow professionals, family and friends, I understand now the sad reality of the situation. Had I been given the opportunity to interview with someone more senior, or had there been a third party present, maybe the experience and result would have been different.
Either way, I needed to accept that what had happened, though unfortunate, really had very little to do with me. Call it poor management or immature staff, it would help me prepare for future occurrences. As a result, I am now more cautious of the smoke and mirrors surrounding many businesses, and look for how roles could suit me, rather than what they could potentially offer me. I am also more aware and highly focused on the way I treat others within the industry. Because at the end of the day, who knows when our paths will meet again.