I know I’ve talked about a number of different topics on this blog, and in the coming posts, I plan to tell you a little about my plans for the blog, my work life, and my writing. However, I wanted to touch on something that happened recently.
As you’re probably aware, there are a number of job related websites out there that are available for job seekers to search for jobs. These sites can run the gamut from compiling job listings from all over the web a la Indeed to allowing you to post your resume in a semi-public forum to use for applying to jobs and to allow potential employers to see your information and contact you.
Examples of the latter would be Monster and CareerBuilder.
I’ve posted my resume on both websites in the hopes it will speed up application processes. However, this has an adverse affect as well. It leads to what I’ll call the Wild Goose Chase.
The Wild Goose Chase occurs when I get a call from someone who “has my resume on file” and would like to interview me for a position they have available. Typically they give me very little information besides a company name, an interviewer name, and a date/time for the interview. Sometimes they even tell me there’s an actual position available!
Here’s the thing about this type of situation: if they give me a company name, I usually end up wracking my brains trying to remember when I applied to their company in the first place.
But I digress.
Recently I had just such a situation come up and found out the company was an insurance company. I’ll stop here and say that I’m immediately suspicious when I hear the words “insurance,” “sales,” or “agent” over the phone. So the fact they called out of the blue, “had my resume on file,” and had positions immediately available wasn’t giving them much credibility in my eyes.
That said, I did take a moment to ask whether this was for a sales position or something else. The woman told me they had “management” positions available in the office and other office positions available. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt and came in for the interview, which I was told would be with a woman named Vicky.
I showed up a few minutes early and noticed other people entering the building. I figured it could simply be people returning from break. Then I got inside, and a woman seemed confused by my name, told me to sit and “someone” would be with me shortly. I sat next to a woman who seemed in the same position as me. Another man came in who appeared younger than me and was told the same thing.
I started feeling irritated.
Then a woman and a man exited the offices from the hallway with a couple of people in tow. They were shown to a conference room where I glimpsed a room full of other people similarly dressed. I realized then they wanted to do a group interview.
Let me be very clear about something: group interviews really only work if you’re a big company (i.e. Apple) or you’re a low-budget sales company who doesn’t have the money to pay for the labor to interview individual candidates.
Oh wait. The latter doesn’t work.
I got walked back to an office with a woman who didn’t introduce herself, so I’m going to name her Shamequia because I feel like it and because she was painfully white. Yes, that may sound racist, but it’s not. I’m just making a point that it would have certainly helped if she’d had the courtesy to introduce herself.
So Shamequia and I sat for maybe five minutes, but it was probably more like three. In that time, she told me I was there to go through a presentation with Vicky about the benefits of the company. I was not there to be interviewed for a position in the office because there wasn’t one open, in fact. And yes, it was all agent positions. That was it.
But, she said, have no fear, because this, my dear, is not high-pressure sales!
Really? Because it sure was starting to sound like it. And with your lack of professionalism, you’re really making me want to walk out that door.
She wanted to get up and take me straight to the conference room then and there, but I stopped her and asked her definition of high-pressure sales (which she’d already said was being in a position where you didn’t have to twist a person’s arm to buy insurance policies they didn’t need). She looked at me kind of funny.
Then I said my definition of high-pressure sales was quotas, commission-only pay, and setting your own sales goals. Her face got a bit pinched, and she evaded my question by saying all my questions were great and would be covered in the presentation and I should really “give Vicky a chance.”
Oh sure. I’m here already. Let’s go sit through something I clearly am not suited for.
So then we walked to the conference room where a number of women were seated. I was handed an application, sat down, and began filling out the application. A man came in a few minutes later, and before I knew it, Vicky and another gentleman came in. I was still working on my application as was the last man to enter the room.
Vicky began by introducing herself and then pointing out the two of us filling out applications. “You can fill those out later,” she said. When neither of us stopped, she repeated, “Fill those out later!” Really? Manners, lady.
She introduced her colleague as French (he sounded Southern) and dubbed him Jean with some ridiculous sounding accent of her own. Through her presentation she called him Jacque and Joel. Again, I have no idea what his name actually was. For all I know, he could have been Frank.
I get the impression the only name I needed to know was Vicky.
She began talking about the company, the usual blah blah history, blah blah money, blah blah. Then she started on the spiel about what insurance sales had done for her life. At this point she stopped and told us she didn’t want to tell us her story because she didn’t feel like it. Excuse me?
I’m afraid I didn’t hear you correctly.
Captain Picard disapproves.
I came all the way to your office on the other side of town to hear you tell me your foot hurts and you’d rather not tell your fabulous success story? Talk about professional.
Let’s just say I tuned out at that point. I started watching the guy across from me instead. His body language was incredibly put out, and I was positive he was irritated by the presentation as well. It was fun to have a silent partner in my frustration.
By the time all was said and done, Vicky told us her salary, which, let’s face it, makes little to no difference in our lives. Quite honestly, when the owner of an insurance sales company tells future potential agents her salary, it’s like a human dangling a bone three feet above the head of a dog that has a broken leg and can’t jump. We know we aren’t starting there. You’re just tempting us unnecessarily.
She handed the remainder of the presentation over to Jean/Jacque/Joel, who botched it merrily. He’s 26, has never had a full-time job before, and quite clearly knew nothing about effective presentation skills. He could easily have put me to sleep. He got caught up on one point and chewed it up and spat it out like it was golden. I thought he was slightly moronic to emphasize the point so dramatically, but what do I know.
His point? You should always pay attention and listen to your mentors in the business so you can learn from them. Really? He also said that while he was younger than some of us, he knew more about selling insurance with that company than any of us.
No kidding, Captain Obvious.
That said, he tried. And by the end when I wanted to strangle him, I didn’t. He did tell us to stay for a second round of interviews if we were still interested. (I can tell no one’s worked with him on his sales skills. He should have assumed interest and created expectation for the interviews, but whatever…) He said if we weren’t interested to pick up one of Vicky’s cards on the way out and give her a hug.
A hug?? You don’t go give strangers hugs, dude. Not even here in the South.
He left the room, and I and all but one person headed out the front door without a glance back.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how not to conduct a job interview.