Interview # 3: The Big-Bad Interview, Part 2, October 2010

January 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am on my way to the Green Dragon, a bar bought out by Rogue but with limited Rogue product available so that the place retains its original, exclusive atmosphere. Because they only contacted me via email, I was under the impression that I would be interviewing for a bar tending or serving position, my interview being at a bar and all.

Not the case.

The guy who interviewed me, a 6 foot 4 inch giant, was a lawyer who was Rogue’s general council. I looked him up on LinkedIn prior to my interview. When he pulled out my résumé, he informed me that what he thought would be a good fit was an administrative position with a creative edge. He asked me if I had any writing samples. I said yes, I had a blog, non-fiction, and fiction samples, he asked for the blog address. I gave it to him, oops.

Before I left, he requested that I submit a couple of writing samples and write-up a fake press release for Rogue wet hop ale. This is what I submitted:

A few days later I received an email notifying me that “good work on the sample” and “i’m passing you up the chain.” Two days later in my inbox was an interview request for 10 am at Rogue Alehouse.

The morning of the interview.

I got up early, dressed in a suit and made my way down to the Rogue Alehouse (40 min walk). Just by chance I discovered on my smart phone an email sent earlier that morning requesting that I show up at DIFFERENT site. Now, if I didn’t have a smart phone I would have no way of knowing of the switch (it’s not like I check my Gmail for interview location swaps at 8 am).

I would have shown up at the wrong place, been directed to the right place, and shown up late. Great impression.

I make to the right place and I’m 10 minutes early. It’s a studio office with fake walls. From where I’m sitting, there’s a fake window/wall separating me, the CEO, and his current target practice.

When the guy ahead of me finishes, the admin assistant walks behind the fake wall, tells the CEO that ********* ******** is here. She tells me to come back.

My screw-up # 1.

I didn’t shake the guy’s hand. In my defense, he was sitting down, hunched over his laptop and didn’t make any motion to stand up.

I sat down and he said, “And who are you?” Despite the admin telling him my name and me hearing it from the other side.

My screw-up # 2.

They read the blog entry that I wrote about one of their employees. I had considered deleting it, but thought that they might have already seen the damn entry, and I would look bad, regardless. I decided not to cut it, because darn it if I’m not a writer and idealistic about my right to say what I want. Besides, I didn’t write anything bad.

He says: “You’re the one that wrote that CRAZY stuff about ****.”

Me: “I thought that might get back to me.”

Him: “Witness a murder? Ha. She said you EXAGGERATED a lot.”

Actually, that’s exactly what she told me. I didn’t even have to pry it from her, she couldn’t stop talking the minute she lighted that cigarette.

He looks at my résumé. “College? That’s worthless. Red Lobster, eh? That must have been miserable. So you graduated in 2007? You must be like 25, that’s kind of young.”

Me: “I’m older than 25.”

My screw  up# 3.

I had read up on Rogue, honest, I did. I knew about the company before moving to Portland, I researched the company in Portland. But when he asked me what I knew or why I wanted to work there, I just CHOKED. Most likely because his demeanor, unlike the first interviewer, completely threw me off.

I mentioned my mildly dark sense of humor. He said, “Tell me a joke.”

As if dark humor is measured in jokes.

I said, “What’s the difference between a Porsche and a pile of dead babies?”

Him: “What?”

Me: “I don’t have a Porsche in my garage.”

Yep. I told a dead baby joke in an interview. At least he and the admin laughed.

I shook his hand on the way out, even though he eyed me like that was too fucking late, and I left, miserably awaiting a rejection letter that would be sent to me by none other than the murder-witnessing gal two days later. She must have loved that.

Their screw-ups:

1.  Common courtesy, jerk. Instead of calling me like regular people, they emailed me to show up at a different site. Imagine how much worse this interview could have gone if I had shown up late. Not to mention that he vigorously insulted all of my past work history.

2. The girl either lied to me or lied to her bosses to fend off any embarrassment. Not my problem. They asked for a writing sample, I gave them four.

3. The CEO had no idea what I was applying for. He did not read my press release nor communicate with the other interviewer.

Yikes. At least I learned that maybe I should have taken a Xanax or two beforehand.

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Unemployment #5: Don’t you wish you could submit, like, 25 cover letters?

January 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

The Cover Letter.

The books, the websites, the blogs, the newspapers…they all offer the same goddamn advice. Some employers encourage more creative cover letters by writing: “typical cover letters seem to find themselves tossed in the trash can.” This doesn’t help much because it’s not exactly like they want some delicate prose detailing how you came about the job and your flowery approach to writing the cover letter in question while you drank organic instant coffee that morning.

There are the ballsy people who just write one line like, “Hire me because I’m made of magic,” or the really courageous folks who walk into an office, write their name and phone number on a chair, give it to a manager and say, “If you hire me, you’ll never see me sitting on this chair.” And that shit works! Rarely. The rest of us have to comply with the banality of figuring out how to write a cover letter and knowing when to scrap the ones you’ve written.

Remember,  you’re only allowed to express yourself  AFTER you get hired and only until they incite an HR attack on your harassing ass.

Here are some samples of  my cover letters in order of desperation:

A cover letter too long and boring to warrant reading.

Standard boring cover letter usually reserved for quick Craigslist Ads

A bit more detailed, but not interesting enough.

Unconventional: Flirting with description and company familiarity. This one got me an interview, but from what I was told later, the admin just handed the boss a stack.

Service Industry standard competing with at least 150 other applicants going through Craigslist. Trying really hard to get noticed, boring or not, at least it’s different.

Sweet God, help me get a job.

Writing cover letters is exactly like writing a good term paper: if you want a high score you need to REWRITE REWRITE REWRITE. As you can see, I have certainly not attained perfection in the “voice” of my cover letter. Also, Craigslist and other online jobs can be some of the worst places to find a job match. For example, the last 4/5 jobs I had I got because I knew someone who worked there.

If you can’t seem to find the inspiration, have a couple of beers or some wine and free write, a concept that Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner understood well (though that was all fiction). Take a look at your writing the next day and I guarantee you’ll have a couple of creative concepts to work with. Under no circumstances should you send a cover letter/resume while drunk without having someone else proofread them first.

Go to the library and check out this book: What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard “Dick” Bolles. I promise you’ll find something useful, if not encouragement to keep trying.

I highly recommend, at least once, submitting an obscene number of cover letters for one job. Maybe the person reading your application has a sense of humor and BOOM, you’ve got yourself an interview.

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