The last time I talked about jobby-jobs, I had been unemployed for seven months and it was wholeheartedly not a repeat of the prior time that I had been without a job. There was no bank of severance payments, vacation or sick time that had accrued to coincide with the unemployment payments, which were all that was keeping me afloat...barely. There were no parties, no holding tables for incredible happy hours and definitely no mini-vacations. Thankfully the job call finally happened, and although it was not the apparel company that had been stringing me along for months, it was a job.
I had left the placement agency, made the thirteen block walk back to our apartment and received a call from them that same day saying that I had a my first possible match. I was told that the company was a tech company and that it was located out in Goleta...way out in Goleta, but at that point I did not care where the job was located. I hung up the phone and was beginning to look up the company on the internet so that I would at least know who they were for when they called me for the screening interview. No more than twenty minutes later, the tech company was calling me and asking me questions about the company itself.
Immediately, the HR person for the company was not only asking me questions about me and my work background, but detailed questions about his company. The HR guy was somewhat taken aback by the fact that I had not done any research, and I had to quickly explain that I had just gone to do the screening with the placement agency and that I had just got off the phone with them only to be called by the tech company less than a half an hour later. There was simply no time. This seemed to placate the man, and an interview was setup for a couple of days later.
I am not what would be known as a great interviewer, and with so much depending on my finding a job immediately, I was more nervous than usual. My anxiety, however, lessened when I walked into the slightly drab offices and was greeted by the HR man. Where I was dressed in the button up shirt, tie, slacks and nice shoes, he was dressed in a Big Dog--you know, "If you can't run with the Big Dogs, stay on the porch" sort of deal--t-shirt with a couple of holes in it, faded jeans and Reeboks. Clearly the better dressed, but very hopeful for the relaxed feel of the office, I went and had a great interview with the guy and a followup was scheduled for the following week. My girlfriend laughed when I relayed the events to her, and we were both very hopeful and went out to get burritos for dinner to celebrate.
At the followup interview, I was led through the building to the smaller office of the woman who would come to be my boss. She quickly gaged that I was less of a moron than anyone else that she had spoken to; at least that is how I hope she saw things. But joking aside, the interview went well and I could tell that I would get along with her and that she would not end up being like my last boss, which was pretty much all I needed to know about the job. I would be tracking shipments and placing orders and reporting the information back to everyone, since this small company depended so heavily starting the billing process as soon as possible.
After my interview with the woman who would be my boss, the CEO of the company came to her office to interview me. The interview with the woman had gone very well and I was somewhat at ease and thinking that I was ready for the next one. I had spent the past few days rehearsing possible interview questions and my responses with the much appreciated aid of my girlfriend. I thought that I had covered my bases, but from the moment the man walked into the tiny little office and sat down, to the moment afterwards that I was sitting stunned in my car, I was not prepared for his interview. The CEO was a wide-eyed and intense individual, and under the rapid-fire barrage of detailed questions, the interview changed from a relaxed chat to a damn near interrogation. The whole event was traumatic and mind spinning. I have blocked most of it out of my memory and into a dark, sealed region of my mind to haunt me some day in the distant future. All that I can remember was at one point saying, "No, no, no. I am not a recluse. I work very well with others. That is not what I meant," and also, "I always finish the tasks assigned to me. Really...I do."
There I was. Completely disoriented and not knowing where the hell I was, or what the hell was going on. I am sure that I had begun to sweat profusely and that my voice register had gone an octave higher; I was possibly red in the face. But, it was the final question in the interview that ultimately kicked my ass. I expected to be asked, "What would you say is your greatest weakness?" for which I was prepared to answer, but instead I was asked, "What would others say is your greatest weakness." Shit. I went blank. I was prepared to say that I had difficulty letting go of projects and that I in the past had operated on a if-you-want-something-done-right-do-it-yourself basis, but "what would others say?" I had not prepared for. Hell, I didn't know and I wanted nothing more than to dive out of the nearest window and run for the hills. Hmmmm...I don't take the trash out often enough...I care TOO much...I avoid time commitments...I can't run a mile...I can't dunk despite being 6' 2"...I'm bad in bed? Fuck, I don't know. What the hell would others say?
I believe I ended up stumbling through a version of the "reluctance to let things go" that I am sure I butchered, but I do remember the CEO smiling at me brightly as he shook my hand and led me out the door. I staggered to the car, got in and just sat there for about ten minutes trying to bring my elevated heart rate down, to stop sweating and to get the blood circulating back into my icy-cold fingers. I was in shock and felt that I had been taken down a dark alley and soundly beaten. What would others say is my greatest weakness? Let's see: The music store - dislike of psychopaths, the bar - dislike of getting my ass kicked by drunken a-holes, the music label - inability to accept not being paid, the payroll company - not shaving often enough, the cable advertising company - dislike of being sexually harassed and of intense boredom, advertising agency - lack of a psychiatry degree. After the interview I had just gone through, maybe others would say my greatest weakness was sitting in the car and nearly crying after a tough interview with a certain tech reseller CEO.
Oddly enough, I was call back in for a final interview with the CFO, who was a really nice guy. A definite cakewalk after what I had been put through at the previous interview. A couple of days later, I received a call that I had got the job.
...continued tomorrow morning.