Many people I know have told me about job interviews that go really bad, are uncomfortable or end up being something totally different to what they expected, last weekend I was talking with a friend who hates her job but who accepted it justly because she thought she was going to be doing something else. All this led me to remember certain experiences in job interviews that today make me laugh but in that moment they filled me with frustration.
I had been looking for a job for almost six months, I was a student and like many young people without experience in a new city pursuing the “Chilango” dream, I thought (erroneously) that wherever I went to ask for a job they would almost be waiting for me, I would listen to a “we want to hire you ” on my first attempt and then I was going to fulfill my dream, to study and have a job in Mexico City, the city where dreams come true (do I sound too enthusiastic?).
The point is that like everyone in moments of despair, I had already distributed my resume to all my contacts asking them to redistribute it, I had knocked all the doors of my acquaintances, I had resorted to the terrible offers of my university’s job exchange, I updated posted a nice picture of myself on my linkedIn profile in case it was a mistake of mine the lack of offers, and finally I had completed a profile in each of the virtual platforms Jobomas, indeed, Computrabajo, OCC Mundial, Bumeran and so I could continue mentioning the infinite sites in Mexico that have my profile and that had the mission of presenting me offers that are close to my profile.
There were good options that obviously paid shity salaries, other options that were hours away from my home, even offers that seemed really offensive (I thought I deserved the job of my dreams, same that you will know in the future), until suddenly among the thousands and thousands of emails I received from these pages I found an option that calmed my strong anxiety of feeling that I was a failure .
“Director of audiovisual project” I remember the title said, sounds important right?. “They will not call me”, I remember me thinking. I was still studying my career and it was obvious that in addition to requiring a lot of knowledge they were going to ask too much time and I needed a part time job. But I decided to send my resume along with a sheet of why I thought I was the one for the position (this last requirement was not requested but I have always considered that something has to differentiate you from the rest and if they don´t know you, you might as well introduce yourself properly) although I did not even know what I was going to have to do there.
The days passed and they contacted me telling me how excited they would be to interview me, preventing the person who was going to interview me to waste his/her time, I clarified over the phone with a guy who called me, that I was a student and did not know very well what the position consisted of, “don´t worry we are just looking for students, and here we will explain what it´s all about”, many of the jobs had denied me an opportunity because of being a student, so this option sounded like a winner.
I reviewed many guides on how to dress appropriately for an interview, navy blue denotes leadership, black power, in short, countless options that can drive you, in those situations, completely crazy. I dressed very “cute” for the interview, it was in a huge modern building in one of the main avenues of Mexico City, I had my documents printed and had arrived 30 minutes earlier. And to my surprise the police stopped me at the entrance and told me that if I was late to the interview and that he couldn´t let me in, I explained that I arrived 30 minutes early because I was nervous, but he kept insisting, he told me that if I gave him a hundred pesos (5 usd) he would let me go up and write my name at the top of the list… I told him that it would not be necessary. I couldn´t believe that he was asking me for money for an absolutely unjustified cause, and I preferred that the lady at the reception explain to me if I could or couldn´t go to the interview.
I went up the stairs to the 5th floor and the girl at the reception greeted me with a smile and seemed surprised at my punctuality so I realized that the previous thing was the police trying to get me money. I was waiting for about an hour, until finally they passed me and they introduced me to the person who was going to interview me.
What comes next may sound like a movie, but it was really what happened to me.
I entered an office accompanied by a young man about 30 years old, he had a modern and fresh outfit and looked like someone relaxed, in the office sat what appeared to be a doctor, I did not understand what was happening but it definately made me very nervous. The young man, whose name I don´t remember, explained to me that the work consisted of doing audiovisual projects for the government archive and that a lot of that work would be confidential so they had to make sure to hire an honest person, he told me that the doctor would place some electrodes in my chest to measure my pulse and this way he could read my reactions, a kind of lie detector but in terms of nerves.
I clearly felt my heart started to beat at full speed, so by that time it was obvious that I wasn’t going to pass the test. The young man started asking me some basic questions, what was I studying, where I was from, questions about my family, etc … until finally he approached to the working area, they asked me things like if I had ever lied to my boss, if I had given any false excuse to be late somewhere, many questions that for obvious reasons I had to answer with the truth because it was obvious that they would know it anyway (let’s be honest we don´t always tell the whole truth when we go to an interview).
I could see the doctor’s face getting upset while on an endless paper roll , the needle started drawing frantic lines as seen on a strong earthquake report. The young man left the office, and at that moment the doctor, like the fox of the film Pinocchio, approached me with the intention of making me a proposal, he told me “you are very nervous and the results are affected by that, if you want I could disconnect some of the electrodes so that everything comes out normal and you get the job, “at that moment I thought what a strange thing and I told the doctor that it did not matter, that it was obvious that I was very nervous and that he left things as they were. Suddenly the young man appeared, I was of course already sweating, he began to mention the great remuneration the position offered and I was already starting to get excited (I think this also generated some nice sketches on the paper roll). Suddenly he asked me if I would ever tell out loud if I witnessed on some corrupt behavior, and as you are probably thinking, I also thought that it was quite obvious and that probably what I have witnessed was also part of the interview. I explain what happen to me when I arrived, the policeman asking me for money and also (scared like hell, because the doctor was in front of me) told what the doctor had previously offered me, who began to deny everything by saying that it had been the other way around. After a few minutes full of discomfort, the young man asked me a few questions about the truth and, in order to avoid boring you with this, after a long conversation about honesty, the two began to clap.
It was a research project where they wanted to show honesty in job interviews, frauds, etc … cameras appeared and it turns out that everything was being recorded. I was told that only 3 people in 150 interviewed had, in effect, reported the doctor and that I was part of them and the only one in the hole group that remembered the act of the policeman. He then asked me if they can use my interview as part of their material, I signed a document and they gave me some tickets to the movies, weeks later one of my sisters told me that she had seen that video in a congress in her university, as if I cared.
What a fraud and disrespect to my time and my need to find a job, I went to that place with nerves in my throat, I agreed to be connected to a machine for hours, I accepted a false questioning, I even missed my classes and everything for becoming part of a research project. I ended up annoyed, uncomfortable, unemployed and with a free entrance to the movies. I remember coming to my house to mourn the despair of had being excited and believe that I had succeeded.
So for today after thinking about the nerves of going to an interview, my invitation to those looking for a job is to relax, you will find a proper job for you, probably it is not inmediately the one of your dreams, or probably it is (sometimes you get really lucky and happen to find the job of your dreams and live happily ever after), but be smart, get prepared for the job you want, look for an enterprise that do what you like or something that you wanna learn how to do, and if you’re scamming people and you’re reading this, you have to stop (some laughters are listened), there are people who really need a job opportunity, don´t waste their time and effort.
Today this experience makes me laugh too much, I hope you laugh too.
Ahí nos vemos!