Bot for hire

27 Sep

A couple of weeks ago, after I found out I’m soon to be laid off, I asked Jesus to take the wheel on my behalf and find me a job. I waited all weekend… nothing. Monday came around and I dusted myself off, vowing to never count on him again. So far I’ve applied to 24 different positions and am working with three different recruiters – they don’t know about each other and I feel deliciously adulterous. One of them has known me for five years; he placed me at two of the three jobs I’ve had. Last week he scored me an interview for a job at a Boston non-profit, for which I felt well-qualified and confident. I was to meet first with a partner organization’s office manager, and if that went well, with the CEO soon after. I was excited; I liked the location, I admired the work the organization does, and I suspected the position would challenge me positively.

Knowing I’d be meeting with women only, I chose to wear a pantsuit. I leave the skirt and heels, with a hint of French perfume for male interviewers, so as to suggest, “see what you’d get to look at all day every day, prancing around the office?” Of course once I’m hired, I go right back to flats and pants, and they can’t do a thing about it.

I was on time, I looked capable and motivated and proactive, like a Jane of All Trades wearing about 17 invisible hats… I also smelled like reduced operating costs. The pretty girl interviewing me seemed cold and disengaged at first, but I charmed her with my big, interested eyes, and anecdotes of super-human multi-tasking abilities. We shared stories of volunteer experiences, and by the time she walked me out, her pretty blue eyes were lit up with love for me.

And then silence. For 48 hours the recruiter heard nothing, not a speck of feedback. On the third day, he emailed me:

She thought you were a really nice person and qualified candidate.  She is however going to move forward and bring back two other candidates.  She said she felt they would click better with the CEO.  Nothing against you… just felt these other two would be a better match. Ugh… I’m sorry!

It felt like high school all over again; the many face piercings and short hair scared away the boys who had no idea of my superior kissing and video-gaming skills. Except in this case, I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. I looked good, I spoke eloquently, and as I mentioned, I smelled like success. I wore pants. My resume was printed on luxurious, textured paper. I made her laugh and smile. I OFFERED HER A PEN because she’d forgotten to bring one into the interview. I remembered the receptionist’s name on my way out.

I’ll never know why I wasn’t chosen, but I’ve come up with a couple of plausible culpable factors for this colossal conundrum:

1. The CEO is a raging, miserable bitch;

2. I came across as a real person.

Truly, I believe this. I smiled quite a bit, and most of it was genuine because I was excited about the interview. But I see now what a huge mistake that was. The recruiter had told me to “just be myself,” when he should’ve really said, “go in there and show them what a well-oiled, recently tuned up, multi-tasking, multi-lingual robot you are!”

I was weak and naive: I showed emotion and a personality. I believe I even suggested I might have interests that I pursue outside of work hours. I feel ashamed, as once did after waking up naked on my dormitory bed, and noticing the vomit inside the unlined trash receptacle – especially as I was hit with the memory of also having thrown up in front of my crush’s bedroom door, having failed to wait till I reached the bathroom. But I learned my lesson: I haven’t touched tequila since. Wednesday morning will have me face-to-face with a male CEO of an internet start-up. My mouth will give him nothing but Gizmodo, while my pencil skirt shall recount other tales…

5 Responses to “Bot for hire”

  1. subject-verb agreement September 27, 2010 at 17:18 #

    i swear, we lead parallel lives. last week, i heard back from my [dream] job, which i’ve been dancing with since JULY. after countless emails, 2 phone interviews, 2 on-site interviews with a total of 12 team members, 2 office tours and and 1 super encouraging recruiter, i finally received a very sad email saying they decided to go with an “internal referral” instead of me.

    in other news, it turns out you can still live without the use of your heart…

    i’m sorry it didn’t work out for either of us this time. but we’re both too fucking amazing to be passed up for long.

    a hug and a kiss to you for your next interview. you’ll be fabulous. xo

  2. Cassie September 28, 2010 at 20:45 #

    Welp, another interview is another chance to practice, right? Eh. Just trying to look on the bright side for you. I know how frustrating it can be. I do stand by my comment, though. I went through MANY interviews several months ago wishing and hopin’ I’d find an internship. One was particularly awful, and I even pretty much knew it would be, but I decided to go through it anyway just to get a little extra practice.

    Eventually, after months of communication with them, I finally got the internship I had hoped for from the start. Hopefully you’ll get the one that’s right for you, too.

  3. amy September 29, 2010 at 11:47 #

    Same thing happened to me back in the spring. I could have sworn I was getting the job offer. Then I was apologetically told that it was down to me and one other candidate and WELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL the other candidate had just a SMIIIIIIIIIIIIIDGE more event planning experience. This doesn’t make the news any easier to take!!

  4. Brian October 4, 2010 at 08:19 #

    In this world of pseudo-humorously self-deprecating bloggers, you are a welcome bit of arrogance.

    And, I know how you feel. Once, I didn’t get a job at a large insurance company because I didn’t “pass” their personality test; and that’s not because I’m not a communicative, team-oriented person. (pardon the double-negative). I honestly think the test failed me because it knew I would not be happy in this bean-counter job, and I would probably have slacked off out of boredom, or quit.

    My view on the subject is this: if someone is going to leave you out in the cold because you’re *not* a robot, you probably don’t want to work for them anyway. Unless you want to be a robot, that is, and you’re good at being a robot. You’re probably better off working somewhere else, except if (and this would be really bad luck) the lady with whom you spoke was the only robot-expecting person in the organization. That would suck; you would have bowled the CEO over with your aforementioned abilities, but you never got the chance.

    If I were you, I wouldn’t try to be a robot, because you might get stuck like that. But then again, everyone (or, most people) need a paycheck. Maybe this line would do the trick at your next interview: “I’m not a robot, but I’ve got a robot mode in case you need it.”

  5. Brad November 24, 2010 at 21:47 #

    Interesting blog you have here.

    When you said: “The pretty girl interviewing me seemed cold and disengaged at first.” red flags went off in my brain and I knew exactly where this was going.

    I’ve been on a ton of interviews (7+ companies with ~5 interviews per company) and I find that, generally speaking, interviewers are self selecting and are much more likely to recommend candidates whom they feel a “friendship connection” for. If you lack this connection, you are at a disadvantage. If you are on the opposite end of the spectrum and have a friendship DISCONNECT, then there is almost no shot at impressing the interviewer. It’s sorta like going on a date. Most dates go badly, some go well, and the ones that go well you’ll know within minutes.

    My strategy for “bad date” interviews is I put the focus on what I know and my skills for that job. I hold myself back and allow the interviewer to do the question asking and drive the interview. When they ask a question, I’ll try to answer it as correctly as possible and demonstrate my knowledge and job skills. My hope is that if I come across as really smart they’ll give me the job.

    It’s unfortunate that you only interviewed with one person there. Maybe try some larger companies where you can interview with multiple people so you don’t have a single person deciding your fate.

    single point of failure = bad

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