A job interview at Goldman Sachs

I’m sure lots of people have had strange experiences while searching for and interviewing for jobs. People who do the recruiting and interviewing of job candidates often have funny stories to tell. Sometimes I wonder though, if other people looking for a job have had anything similar to mine.

Once I went on an interview for a job as a college recruiter, with Goldman Sachs. This particular office was in lower Manhattan. The director of college recruiting was a guy named Mike. At the start of the interview he mused, “There’s mostly women working in college recruiting.” Hmm, maybe this gives me an edge, I thought. He didn’t ask me any questions though. He just rambled on for a couple of minutes about Goldman Sachs.

Suddenly, he looked past me (his office was surrounded by windows). He stood up, grabbed a stack of what look to be like tickets to a game or concert wrapped with elastic bands, and raced out the door. I turned around, but he had already fled down one of the hallways, disappearing from sight. So I sat there for a few minutes, wondering what I should do. Wait until he comes back? Leave now? It started to dawn on me that I wasn’t going to get this job even if I stayed, so I was about to go when a girl named Kim walked in.

“Mike had to go, but I’ll finish the interview,” she said brightly. Then she proceeded to talk a little about the job. She didn’t ask me any questions, or ask if I had any questions about th position. She did talk at length about the bars in the area and how everyone in the department liked to go out for drinks after work. After a few minutes she stood up and held out her hand. “It was nice to meet you,” she said.

For some reason I said thank you, nice to meet you too, instead of saying what I really felt, which was, why did you even bother to call me in…. I’ve thought that maybe they didn’t like the way I looked. If that’s the case, and I’m sure some interviewers consider that above all else (although they would never admit it), why not ask for a picture? A photograph with the resume on the back. It would save us all a lot of time and money. By looks, I mean beyond the blue suit/white shirt/red tie/polished shoes/clean shaven appearance. Who knows.

Maybe this isn’t as ridiculous as some others’ experiences. It feels like it was a waste of time and energy. On the other hand it’s given me something to write about, so maybe it wasn’t a total loss. Stay tuned for upcoming stories about job search…

Employers like Katia Beauchamp of Birchbox make me laugh

I just read an interview with Katia Beauchamp, the founder of Birchbox, an online business. She was discussing the hiring process at her company, and how if candidates describe a past job as not fun, she does not consider hiring the person. She claims it’s a person’s job to make your life fun.

Well I would agree it’s up to each individual to find their own version of happiness in their personal life, but to think that any job can be made “fun” is silly and only shows that the person saying it has lived a sheltered and privileged life.

Lots of people are in lousy jobs, mainly because of lousy managers. Some people just can’t wave a magic wand and put themselves into the job of their dreams. There are other factors at play, some of which are out of their control.

To not hire someone because they were in a bad situation is short-sighted and narrow minded. What is important for hiring managers to consider is, what can the candidate do to solve problems in the job that I’m hiring for? What has gone on at another job in someone’s past is irrelevant. As is their past and current salary.

The “no one is ever allowed to say anything negative” nonsense that some recruiters believe in is silly. Some people wouldn’t be interviewing for new jobs if something bad hadn’t happened at the last one. I guess hiring managers would rather be lied to.

If the person is a good candidate for a job, I’d rather know more about what you’re looking for in a job with a potential company and why you weren’t satisfied with your previous job, instead of saying everything was all peaches and cream.

What’s wrong with hiring an unemployed person?

I’d like to hear from recruiters and hiring managers about why they won’t even consider an application or resume from an unemployed person. It seems as though they don’t care about bringing in the person who can best do the job and contribute to their organization. Instead they get hung up on silly things, like the length of unemployment. People can be unemployed for any number of reasons; it isn’t automatically a given that they are lazy, not up-to-date on skills, or some sort of “low performer.”

The most important question in any job interview is “What is your plan for doing this job effectively?” (Or for a profit, if it’s in private industry).Anyone can talk about their past accomplishments. But what does that have to do with how they will perform in their next job? Past performance doesn’t necessarily predict future performance. Which is why length of unemployment should not be a consideration in the hiring process. Besides, does anyone stay in one job forever? Even your best candidates can leave a job - not only someone who is under-employed and looking for a better opportunity. Everyone is always looking for something better!

I’m not sure how hiring managers sleep at night, placing ads that state “only employed” need apply. So enlighten me, recruiters. What am I missing here?

Crazy Job Search/Interviewing Stories, Part VI: Montclair State

I interviewed for a few jobs at Montclair State. One director I met with had this look of shock on her face when I said I didn’t reveal my salary history, that to me salary is something to be negotiated after a job offer. Another committee I met with spoke among themselves for a while before even acknowledging I was there. A stress test perhaps? Or are they just morons who have no idea how to conduct a professional job interview? I guess I’ll never know for sure, unless one of them reads this and responds. Wouldn’t you try to engage the candidate and try to make them feel comfortable? I would. I would want to give a positive impression. Montclair State certainly did not.

Actually for another job at Montclair State the person who interviewed me, a guy named Chuck, actually called me back afterwards, and said, “I just wanted you to know that you interviewed well, even though we picked another person.” I said, OK, who did you hire, just out of curiosity? There was no sound on the phone, for a second, then Chuck said, “We hired an African American woman who worked in the President’s office.” Oh. Well, nice to know I had a fair shot at the job!

Crazy Job Search/Interviewing Stories, Part V: Rutgers University

I know a lot of people out there who read this are just going to poo-poo my stories as sour grapes. But hey it’s just my opinion; it’s just that people seem to behave differently when they are hiring for an open job.

I interviewed at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ, for three different positions. One was in the graduate career center. That one wasn’t too unusual. But another time I interviewed with the undergraduate career center; I met a woman named Lynne who was an assistant director. She could not have looked any more disinterested during our brief interview. It’s like someone had dumped the task of interviewing on her and she resented it. So she asked me a couple of questions, I answered, trying to demonstrate some enthusiasm, trying to make some kind of connection with her. Then she asked me if I had any questions; I asked one, she made a quick reply, and then said, thanks for coming in. We left the conference room and walked back to her office. She opened the door, and I don’t remember what I said exactly, something along the lines of thanks for meeting me, I’m really interested in the job, etc., smiling as I said it. What did she do? She frowns and slams the door in front of me! Look people, if you’re not interested in a candidate, fine, but there’s no need to be rude. At least act like a civilized human being.

Another time I interviewed for an assistant director of the student center job at Rutgers Newark. I went into the conference room and there was about ten college administrators sitting on both sides of a long table. They asked me to sit at the front. I did and promptly sank into a chair that was lower than the others. I guess they like looking down at people. Anyway only one person, the dean that I would have been reporting to, asked me any interview questions. The rest of them just sat there and stared at me. Eventually the security director help up a flyer and asked me what I would do if I some supposedly radical group consisting of black people came to campus for some type of student program. Then he picked up a flyer and growled that they were going to be there next week, and slammed the flyer down on the table. The black folks sitting at the table said nothing; didn’t even look at him. I’m not sure what my answer was, but I’m pretty sure it was generic. I was interested in the job (for some unknown reason) so I didn’t show any bias one way or another. Anyway the interview ended and I left. Never heard from them again, thankfully. I mean, who knows..was it all some sort of act to see how I would respond to people just staring at me? How I would respond to an angry security director? Maybe. Or maybe they’re just a bunch of wackos who have no idea how to conduct a professional job interview. I don’t know. I don’t really care either…I’m just glad my own diploma isn’t from Rutgers Newark!

My Crazy Job search Stories, Part III: William Paterson University

I was pretty targeted in my job search, and knew how to write an eye-catching resume, so I did land a decent number of interviews. Some of the bizarre stuff that happens during the interviews though…I couldn’t have made some of it up if I had tried. Previously I wrote about the dude at Goldman Sachs who abruptly ran out the door during the interview, and the woman with the greasy palm who shook my hand at Seton Hall University Law School.

I also had an interview once at William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ. The first person I met with said, “If you get this job, you will not have very big shoes to fill.” Hmm. That’s good, I thought. I did know the guy who held the job I had been applying for. I met him at a couple of conferences in years past and wasn’t very impressed.

Anyway the first group interview went pretty well. One person said something odd, saying the student leaders were “seasoned.” To me, a student leader is just someone who has attained a position of power. “Seasoned” just isn’t the word I would use to describe a college student who still has a lot to learn.

Then I met with two other people, a guy who talked about a business he had on the side from his college job, and the intramurals director who didn’t look at me or ask me any questions. Weird. I tried to engage her but she just had this strange look on her face.

Later I met with a few upper level administrators and faculty members. Talk about goofballs. Two of the guys kept looking at each other while they talked in circles at me, never really asking me any direct questions. It seemed like they were totally unprepared and had never interviewed anyone in their life. Maybe they hadn’t, who knows. A faculty member who slurred his speech, like he had been drinking, asked me a couple of odd questions. I politely answered, and asked my own questions, like it was a wonderful interview and I was glad to be there. The chair of the search committee, a guy named Mark, was affable enough. Unfortunately he was only around at the start and end of the day.

I didn’t get that job, and I heard that the person who did was only there for about a year. I guess they didn’t pick the right person, unless it’s okay to spend all that time searching for a worker who is going to be in a position for just a year. Seems like a big investment of everyone’s time for something so short term. Why not just have two or three people interview the person over two or three hours? Who knows. American colleges are models of ineffective bureaucracies.

My crazy job search stories, part II

My last job search article discussed an incident that happened on an interview with a company in the private sector, Goldman Sachs. But I had some odd experiences while interviewing for jobs at colleges. (Oh, and “universities.” Excuse me for that major oversight).

Once I went to an interview at Seton Hall University Law School, and met with a committee of four people. So when I walked into the room each person introduced himself or herself and held out their hand. I smiled as I gave each person a firm handshake.

Unfortunately I grimaced when I clasped the last woman’s hand. Her hand was greasy. She must have just smeared it with some sort of hand lotion, before I entered the room. Now my hand was covered with whatever this oily slime was. Afterward I wondered if this was her, or the committee’s way of trying to trip up a candidate. A stress test of some sort? A clever way to see how someone would react to adversity? Perhaps it was a signal that if I got the job I would have to “grease palms” in order to get ahead in the organization?

Or maybe the woman was just a moron. Even with all their degrees some people who work in higher education are pretty strange.

They asked me a couple of questions, the asked me if I had any questions. I asked one and had a few more prepared but one guy with an unkempt beard (must have been a sleazy lawyer before landing his cushy job at the law school) abruptly thanked me for coming and stood up.

Needless to say I didn’t shake anyone’s hand as I left. I didn’t bother to send a thank you note either.  I decided I didn’t want the job. I guess some lawyers really are slimy, literally.

Donald Trump is right to not shake anyone’s hand. Smart man…