Picture this. You’ve been out of work for a little over four months and you’ve been searching for a full time permanent job relentlessly with little to minimal success at landing an interview.
Then, you find a job at a store that appears to be an appropriate place to work for you. So, you apply and two days later you get a call back at about 7:30 pm to come in for an interview the next day. Okay, so justifiably, you are a little suspicious. You’re thinking Okay, so it’s a little weird that they would call me the night before they want me to come in for an interview, but what the hell, beggers can’t be choosers, right?
So, you spend the better part of the next day getting ready and mentally preparing yourself for the first interview opportunity you’ve had in four months! You fix your hair, make up and pick out a special outfit that you think will make you stand out from all the rest, yet you still look professional and fabulous.
After spending a couple hours perfecting your appearance and trying to work out your nerves, you have to run to catch the bus and make it with about a minute to spare. You know that the buses in your area only run about every 30-40 minutes and it’s about a 20 minute walk to the bus stop from your house. With two minutes to get there on time and a giant hill to conquer (and trying not to break out into a sweat so as not to ruin your make up or frizz up your hair), you finally reach the bus stop just as the bus gets there.
Two buses and an hour and a half later, you finally reach your destination…about an hour in advance. You decide to grab something to eat and listen to some relaxing music in order to get your mind off the nerves that are suddenly building up in your stomach. You go for something light and healthy so as not to upset your stomach.
2:45 pm. Suddenly, it’s time for your interview! You enter the store, feeling confident as ever but the manager and the only other sales person in sight are helping customers, so you politely and patiently wait for them to finish with the customers before introducing yourself. Then, the manager, who is still helping a customer by the way, glances over in your direction and asks, rather abruptly “Who are you?” You think to yourself, Wow, that was kind of rude and definitely no way to talk to a potential customer.
However, what you say and the attitude you portray are different and more upbeat than what you are actually thinking about this woman. You extend your hand over the countertop, slap on your best (and possibly toothiest and most enthusiastic grin) and say “Hi, my name is ____ . I am here for my interview at 2:45″.
The response (in front of the bewildered customer, who was in the middle of asking her a question before she rudely interrupted him): “Okay. What time is it now?”
You glance down at your phone and it is exactly 2:45pm, but at this point you have already been there for approximately ten minutes.
You are instructed to take a seat in one of the consultation seats at the front of the store. After waiting for another five minutes, you notice that the other sales associate, who appears to be a novice, is now free to handle the remaining the customer that the manager was speaking with when you walked in. All of a sudden, you hear a phone ringing in the back office. The sales associate attempts to go answer it because the manager is still busy assisting the customer and she absolutely refuses to let him take over. The sales associate runs to answer the phone but the manager, ever the control freak, instructs him to let it ring and just stand at the front of the store, basically to just look pretty. At least that’s what it looks like because she literally won’t allow him to do anything. You begin to notice that every time this poor sales associate tries to work on a task; whether it’s greeting new customers, filing paperwork behind the front desk, cleaning the displays around the store, no matter what the task, the manager always manages to jump in. After a minute or two, the sales associate apparently admits defeat by ceasing to attempt to get any work done and he just saunters over and introduces himself to you, without realizing that you not only noticed his obvious display of being emasculated, but that you were closely taking mental note of what was going on.
So you start making small talk and find out that this poor soul has only been working at this store for a little over a week. Although externally, he seems like a very happy-go-luck individual, there is something awry and it’s not hard to understand what it is. This manager is a total pain in the ass to work for. Even though the sales associate is still brand new, she made it very clear that she had absolutely no confidence in his skills. But what’s worse is that she wasn’t giving him room to grow and learn things as they came.
Just as it dawns on you that it would be absolute hell to work for someone like that, she calls to from across the store–again, WHILE helping a customer! After all that observation, not to mention the fact that you have now been sitting there for about half an hour waiting for her to finish with this particular customer when in fact the sales associate had at this point been free for a good fifteen minutes, she asks you if you are available to come in the next day.
You try to tell her that it probably won’t be possible, that you have another commitment tomorrow and that you are here and free right now, but she’s not listening. She is half talking to the customer, half talking to you. That’s strike three at this point. Ever the persistent manager, she shouts across the room, “Well when are you available tomorrow? Morning or afternoon?”
You try to tell her perhaps in the afternoon, maybe around 4pm but you are honestly not sure because you will have to take public transportation from your other commitment. However, instead of really listening to what you said, she just shouts across the room: “Okay! I’ll see you tomorrow at 4pm!” That was strike four. You glance at the sales associate for help on how to deal with this impossible woman. He looks back at you sympathetically. You tell him that you honestly don’t think that you will be able to return the next day for an interview because you have a previous engagement that you absolutely cannot get out of. He understands and hands you a card with the store number on it and says, “Just give us a call tomorrow if you can’t make it”. You say “Okay” and leave, unsure of what just happens and a little flabbergasted.
On your way back to the bus stop, your sister calls and asks how it went…so you tell her. She, too, is completely flabbergasted and even a little pissed off at the way you were treated. She asks if you are going to return and you tell her you’re not sure because as much as that experience left a really bad taste in your mouth, you do need a job. She advises you that it’s not worth sacrificing your pride and dignity and that it’s already obvious that you would be miserable working for someone as incompetent and controlling as that. Your parents, younger brother and boyfriend all agree. After giving it some thought–considering the pros and cons of working for this company (and there were a lot of pros!!)–you decide that your family is right and that perhaps this job is not right for you.
After all, when you walk into a job interview, it’s not just the prospective employee that is under constant scrutiny and facing a sea of judgment, but the prospective employers are also being interviewed in a way. That means, that if they don’t pass your personal standards for a suitable place to work, then you should not feel pressured into taking a job that would make you unhappy and feel stressed out.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve just described a scenario that actually happened to me last weekend. Like I said, when it comes to really needing a job, beggars can’t be choosers; but at the same time, there also comes a point where you have to decide what’s more important: your pride or your need for a job. Right now, I am living at home and my bills are paid for by my parents–don’t get me wrong, this is not something I am proud of. But, it means that I am given SOME leeway in terms of finding a job that is perfect for me and for which I am suited.
However, I am curious about one thing. If you were in my shoes, what would you have done? Would you have gone back to that place with the possibility that the incident might be repeated, knowing that you might have wasted more of your time? I really want to know if I made the right choice in not going back there the next day? I really want to know!