This is the tale of a job hunt that I began in November, 2011. A few hours were spent updating and tweaking a resume. Even more time was spent searching for the ideal job openings and filling out the specialized online applications. A bit more time was spent reaching out to a network of colleagues and mentors. The roller coaster ride was just beginning! Would they like me? I eagerly anticipated a response after submitting an application. Surely one of these openings is the one for me. Some companies sent an automated message confirming that the application was received (for which I was grateful); others were thoughtful enough to send notification when the position was filled; but, the majority were never heard from again. Good grief … can’t someone hit a “reply” button and at least verify that your application was received?
Many leads, much communication, moments of joy, and some despair and distress … all bring us to focus on two main, and concurrent, interviewing experiences, from here on referred to as company A and B.
Company A gets to know me, again and again and again
My experience with company A began with their recruitment efforts in early December, after I submitted my letter of interest and resume online. Interview #1 was the initial recruiter screening, where it was revealed that this job would require 100% travel. Is it even possible to travel 100%?
Yeah, company A requires 100% travel … I wondered if this job should even be in the running. I love working from home. But I also liked testing my mettle in what turned out to be a grueling process. Interview #2 was a skills assessment. Interview #3 was a behavioral assessment. Are these people for real? Interviews #4 and 5 were confirming interviews. This company is crazy for interviews.
Interview #4 provided the first (and what would be the only) face-to-face exchange. Apparently showing up 15 minutes early was not enough time to decipher the poorly written directions: “Turn right at the security desk” — “What security desk?!” There I was, schlepping up and down the block, asking any human in sight for help … building 2041, 2045 — where is 2043?! Finally, I broke down and called the front desk to ask for walking directions, and showed up late, drenched in sweat. What a great way to start an interview – thinking, “Finally a chance to talk to real people, and first impressions are so important … there goes this one.” They welcomed me by saying, “Hey, it happens to the best of us.” This set the stage and the interview ensued.
Nice hanging out with them and talking about shared interests
Not just one, but all, of the interviewers for company A included shared stories, first about their experiences, and then they eagerly asked me to tell them about myself. They were interested in my instructional design model of choice and how it has been executed in real projects, as well as my extracurricular activities. (Oh, I’m quite familiar with ISPI. You write a blog for CLO?! What does CPT mean? What will your CPT do for us?) The climate of the interview, and the workplace, created a feeling that this was a strong possibility … even with all that travel!
Company B enters the scene
Company B came onto the scene one sunny Sunday afternoon with a voicemail message. They are interested. Strange that they called on a Sunday, no? Do they work on Sunday? I decided to reserve my hesitations and give them a chance. After all, the job description for company B seemed ideal; work for an innovative start-up company, influence learners worldwide, and maintain work-life balance. Colleagues, friends and family were enthused about the potential perks of this job – Free yummy food for life?! Allison Rossett, my former professor, always concerned about her next meal, suggested, “Maybe I’ll come to LA and visit.” That would be cool.
The first interview was at one of company B’s retail store locations, in the middle of the farmer’s market in LA. “Give yourself enough time to park and find the store,” said the recruiter. Showing up 30 minutes early, and waiting at the store was nerve-wracking, but to make it worse, the interviewer arrived 20 minutes later than the scheduled time. Fifty minutes of nervous anticipation, and, admittedly, agitation. (Is this how they run their business?) The interview proceeded. While cordial, it left something to be desired. It was rapid fire canned questions, obviously gleaned from monster.com, or Interview Questions for Dummies. Tell me about yourself. What inspires you? What are you most proud of? What do you struggle with? What was the biggest challenge you faced? No elaboration required, just answer the question and move on.
This time we connected
I left wondering if this really was a position that should receive consideration, and then was pleased to receive a follow-up interview in a conventional office setting. It proved to be more satisfying than the first experience. Weeks later, a final round of interviews was scheduled. It was daylight walking into the office, dark when walking out, three hours later. Questions this time focused on me, and my project experience, but there was little attention to my “out of work” activities (ISPI, etc.). After a battery of five interviews, the recruiter called to discuss salary requirements. It was evident that we saw the monetary value of this position differently. She would get back to me. She did just that, and I must say, this was in a timely manner. “Your requirements are a bit more than we’ve allotted for this position – have you considered the impact of changing industries?” Apparently not. The work is the same; why would the salary be different? Why not put the salary parameters out there in the first place? Another lesson learned. Valuable time was wasted on both sides. Oh, well. At least the LA, traffic-filled commute won’t be a worry any longer.
Finally, 3.5 months later, there is a happy ending. Company A extended an offer, exceeding my expectations, presenting new challenges and, honestly, new apprehensions. The travel will be different, but maybe not that bad. How is one to grow within their chosen field if they are not willing to put that first foot forward to begin to climb a new mountain? And, a new roller coaster ride begins – wish me luck!
Marci Paino, CPT, has been in the workplace learning and performance industry for several years, working in instructional design and learning consultant roles for companies including Intrepid Learning Solutions, S2 Learning, Karl Storz Endoscopy, and Bank of America, with clients that include Mercer Outsourcing, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Experian.
Marci earned her Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) designation from ISPI, an M.A. in educational technology from San Diego State University and B.S. in organizational communication, learning and design from Ithaca College. Paino writes a blog for Chief Learning Officer magazine, and has published in PerformanceXpress, Performance Improvement Journal and Distance-Educator.com.