Part II – Read Part I here
When it comes to strange job interviews, my experiences are similar to Lemony Snicket’s film “A series of Unfortunate Events” and like the Baudelaires, in each interview I could meet some Count Olaf (I really love this movie). So if there is a series of books about the misfortunes of some children, it was obvious that there had to be at least a second part of mine.
Among applications that announce the following “Are you between 20-25 years old? Do you consider yourself a creative person and handle the (any name) software? Are you a graduate or a student of a university? We have a job for you, you only need to have 10 years of experience in the working world and have full time availability. ” I do not know anyone who fulfills all the above characteristics, although there is certainly someone who started working from age 12 and not making lemonade or cakes, but in a company of the famous “world of work” (So as you can imagine I did not get many of those jobs).
Another very famous request is in which they tell you between the lines that you will be almost a labor slave and they offer you an “attractive salary” that does not cover even half of what you spend in a month between rent, food and transportation.
We’ve all been victim of job ads (I like to think I’m not the only one), but eventually we found something suitable for us. So what comes next is another novel of a major labor failure.
Returning to my tireless search for a job in 2015, an offer appeared in one of my multiple sites, it was from the TIME – WARNER corporate (TIME magazine, People, Sports Illustrated, and many more) obviously my heart (already recovered from the previous fraud) was full of emotion, they had seen my profile on one of these platforms and they sent me an email, they were looking for someone to take charge of managing the content of publications by the headquarters in Mexico. I immediately responded to the email and was scheduled for friday of that week.
The interview had several specifications, go with a suit, free all your day, show up 45 minutes before, bring all the documents and I, as I mentioned earlier, had already prepared a speech about why I felt different from the rest. The day of the interview arrived, I arrived there 7:15 in the morning and I was waiting until 8:00, by the time it was time there were about 150 young people looking to be interviewed as well. I thought it was really crazy, there were people who I physically considered that they were more appropriate for the position than me, they looked older, experienced and above all full time availability.
They started interviewing us one by one, they were in alphabetical order and unfortunately my first name is Zaldumbide so yes, I was almost the last one. My turn came and a woman about 32 years old dressed like those executive women of the movies arrived at the office, luckily I was dressed formally so I did not feel so intimidated, she started asking about me, we started talking and I felt really quite comfortable, we talked about why I had moved to Mexico City, what I hoped to get with that job, even mentioned my speech about the things that I think made me special for the position, in fact now that I remember, I insisted a lot to know the position but they did not give you a clear answer, she explained that she wanted to know the candidates without mentioning any title to be able to know their true aptitudes and avoid orienting the attitude according to the name of the vacancy which seemed very interesting to me.
The interview ended and I arrived at my house almost at 6:00 in the afternoon exhausted. The next morning they called me and told me that I had been selected for the next stage of the recruitment.
As you can imagine I came to my house to investigate a little more about the company, on the internet there was not a lot of complete information but it was something true. I was very excited, I had to show up on Monday and they told me that since they were going to do some tests and we were about 50 candidates they could not assure me how long it would take.
Monday arrived, we were separated in groups of 10 and they started to make us reasoning, logic, math, spelling, writing tests, tests for children and adults some quite complicated and others very obvious, we were all day answering questionnaires the next day it was all more practical, you had to pretend to be a salesman, be a buyer, be a boss leading a meeting, and so each position in conjunction with your same team of 10.
By thursday, as in Big Brother, they had been “eliminating” candidates and by friday we were only 10. I felt pretty sure of myself, they had let people with a lot of experience go and I did not really understand why I was there but I knew that some of them liked me, so it was quite exciting. For Friday they chose us 3 and they told me that I had to show up on Monday at 8:30 in a very formal dress and that my days would start as part of the team.
Very excited I went back to Queretaro, told my family the emotion of finally finding a job, spoke with my boyfriend on Skype about the importance of this opportunity and went to buy some formal clothes. I returned on sunday to prepare for what would be an opportunity that would surely change my life.
Monday 8:30 in the morning, I was sitting in the entrance ready to receive instructions of what to do, to know what my salary would be and especially to know the name of the position I would have and my duties to perform. The person who would be my boss arrived, a bald young man with a worryingly positive attitude and a smile of those so big that they even bother. He invited all three of us to enter the meeting room and introduced us to the whole team, there was a last dynamic that we had to do with overcoming our fears, obviously they did not know any of my people, so there were no cars, no spiders , nor sharks, nor the depth of the sea just a balloon that you had to inflate until it burst in your face, believe me I was not afraid of that and from that day I consider it terrifying, it is dreadful to think that you have to inflate a balloon until it is thunder and think that it will surely burn your skin.
The activity ended and we went to an office only one partner and I, apparently it was the last test or something similar. The young bald man began to talk about what they were really doing there and that’s where the horror story begins.
Yes it was a company associated with TIME, but only because TIME has an editorial line of encyclopedias, the job was to sell encyclopedias by phone (you can imagine my disappointment). The young bald man took a phone and gave it to me, he gave me a notebook that had a kind of script and he told me that I was going to find all the answers there, he told me that I had to call him on the phone and sell him an encyclopedia. I was invaded with shame, and not many things embarrass me.
I dialed the number they gave me, and the young man left the office, I started reading what I said the script “Hello Mr. (any name) speaks (any name) of TIME magazine, are you interested in culture?” clearly it was an interaction with another human being so there was a possible answer for anything that the counterpart argued, if someone said “I do not care” you had to say “you do not care about culture”, if someone told you “I do not have time “you said” there is always time for knowledge “and so on continuously until surely the person after kindly trying to finish the call would hang you and end up blocking that number.
Distressing no? from the work of my dreams to the work of my nightmares and I still do not get to the worst part. “Smile” anyone shouted at you there when they saw you, as if to remind you what the young man said to us that Monday “the smile is transmitted through of the phone, whenever they talk they have a smile on their face “, for me it was almost impossible to smile, it was a job that gave me grief, self-pity, global pain, I was ashamed to think I worked there and literally had moments that I was going to cry / laugh to the bathroom without control. So if they saw you making a call without a smile on your face (all the offices had separation crystals between them), they would touch the glass with force or make movements reminding you to smile.
They gave you a database of your future victims and you had to be making calls all day, no kidding almost every day I dialed “0000000” and pretended a call because then there were people watching you, I remember that a gentleman very kindly took my call and then to talk for a while (outside the horrible script speech) he said, “You sound like a person who does not need that kind of job”, I do not know how he knew I was terribly unhappy, he probably did not feel my smile through the fiber optics, but it made me feel sad, what was I doing there? The day of the payment came and I remembered that among my feelings of wanting to forget my hours there I had not asked how much they were going to pay me, I went up to my boss and he told me this “jobs are not only for a salary, we have them for aspire to greatness, for learning to overcome challenges ” I replied to him that aspirations and challenges wont pay my expenses and that this seemed very bad to me since I was from 8 in the morning to 2:30 in the afternoon, I heard the word “commissions” come out of his mouth I felt like falling off a cliff. There was no base salary, everything was according to the sales commissions of the damn encyclopedias. They were very nice and everything but honestly who today spends almost two hundred thousand pesos (ten thousand dollars) for 11 volumes of an encyclopedia when there is the ease of looking for things in internet.
I was there for a month, suffering in silence, believing that I had to be grateful to have found something, worried because I was not going to sell anything at 00000, I tried to make real calls but they really embarrassed me too much, or I got attacks of people mad about me calling them (completely understandable), or sudden laughter in the middle of a call and the worst, I felt sorry that someone could recognize me. And do not get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with selling things over the phone, but it’s not a job for me, and above all I felt cheated, stupid. Finally one day I decided to make a real call and when I was about to convince a poor lady to pay with credit the encyclopedia I cut the call, left the office, left the building and never returned, nor did I ever hear anything from them.
These experiences changed the way I see the world of work, to identify the real opportunities and prepare for them, I’ve been trying to eliminate my profile from those platforms for years but they do not let you go so easily, everyday I see possible work scams reach my mail and I feel very sorry for the people who get excited and prepare and are willing to take them.
I do not know if the invitation here is for job seekers or for those who advertise vacancies, please do not scare people, show respect, it doesn´t matter if they are graduates, students who need to gain experience or people without experience or studies, they all deserve to be remunerated for the job, and if you are looking for a job, go to trusted platforms, visit companies personally, seek recommendations from friends, in my experience, be very careful with getting excited about what you think will turn you into an employee, there are many lies on the net and many people wanting to take advantage of one.
Ahí nos vemos!