Thursday, August 21, 2008

Deep Breath

Because I need to take one. I have yoga class in an hour, but I don't think it can wait that long.

I have sent in three new job applications since Monday. Good, right? The one I submitted online had someone called me yesterday between 5 and 5:30. And left a message since my husband never answers the phone unless he recognizes the name and wants to talk to them (so, rarely). I called her back this morning.

I talked to her while I was putting away the breakfast cereal, rinsing the dishes, and folding laundry, because I find that I am less nervous if I am doing too things at once. Or maybe I'm just too nervous to sit still. It probably doesn't qualify as a job interview, more of a screening. I'm not a good interviewee (have I said that before?), and I'm probably even worse over the phone. It's very possible that she decided she didn't want me after a couple of sentences, but continued just to be polite. It's also possible that one of my rambling run-on sentences contained something that turned her off. Maybe when I said "stay-at-home mom" (a phrase I hate, but seems to be the most commonly used way to describe being primary day-time caretaker of your children; better than "housewife," I guess. Ugh.) or maybe when I admitted I like the "flexibility of part-time." Let me just try to recall the way the interview--oops, screening--went.
____ . ____

Thank you for calling me back. I just wanted to find out a little more about what you're doing right now.

(rambling answer about doing some volunteering and mostly being the, you know, primary caretaker of my young children. forgot to mention grad school, for some reason. )

Okay. Are you interested in full-time or part-time?

Either. If the position is full-time (it was advertised that way), I want full-time.

Yes, but are you interested in part-time?

Er. Yes, I mean, whatever the position is. I would be willing to do part-time. Most of the positions I am applying for are full-time, so that is what I am thinking. I guess I like the flexibility of part-time, but I'm ready to work full-time. (I think I actually said,) I'm ready to get back in there.

Okay (seeming to chuckle), and what hours would you be interested in? Day, evening, weekend?

Er, any, really. My husband works from home, so we can arrange the schedule (blah, blah, blah).

Yes, but what's your preference?

I guess daytime hours would be better, but I'm flexible.

Okay, let's talk more about the last three jobs you've had.

(I did. Internship last year, blah, blah, blah, what I did there, paid through part of it, blah, blah, blah.)

And why did you leave that one? It says here (referring to my application, no doubt), "internship and semester ended"?

Yes, the internship ended. There weren't any paid positions available, so when the semester ended, I left. (I might have, but didn't, rambled a bit more here, because actually, this internship had some stress involved in it. The supervisor was a passive-aggressive weirdo who didn't know how to run a business, stopped paying me in March, but I stayed on to finish my hours even though I resented it. Sleepless nights. Long ranting, occasional crying sessions in my internship class. Wasn't going to talk about that.)

Okay, and the one before that?

(Rambling about how it was super part-time while I was at home with my kids, starting right after I had my first daughter. Consulting, teacher training, grant writing, blah blah, blah.)

And before that one?

Hmm. Before that (I did the grant thing for five years), I was the librarian at the same private school. (Explained, perhaps unnecessarily, that I had looked for public school jobs, but didn't find one, so took the librarian job.)

Ah, you didn't include the librarian job. (Did she sound triumphant? Like she'd caught me?)

(More rambling about how I tend to forget about that one because it kind of came in between things--between the real teaching job in NC and moving back here and having a baby.)

So, why did you leave the librarian position?

Umm, the school year ended in June or end of May. My baby was due in July and I decided not to go back to work or look for a job right away. (I was pretty sure this had come up already.)

Okay, so I see you already have a Master's degree.

In education.

And you're working on a degree . . .

In [my field].

(Repeats name of my field as if she's never heard of it before.) Right. And how did you hear about this position? What makes you interested in it?

(More rambling about how I check their website regularly for job postings, how I have considered them as an internship site. How, if I were to get a job there, I might try to do a separate, unpaid internship there as well. [The job I was applying for is a volunteer coordinator, not applicable to my internship requirements.])

I see.

Oh, and (yes, I interrupted her) I also was interested in this position because of the volunteering part. I have always volunteered. I am volunteering right now. (OMG, I sound like an idiot.)

Okay. So, for this degree you're working on, will you need time off to attend classes during the day? This position is 8-5.

Well, I don't have any classes this semester, but in the spring I will have to be on campus one night a week. The class starts at five.

And what campus would this be?

(Campus name). It takes about an hour to get there from (job location). I could work later another day to make up for it . . .

Okay, well, this position is 8-5 and that's not flexible. We have to have the same hours for all the volunteer coordinators.

(Finally, I'm silent.)

Well, thank you for talking to me. Thank you for calling me back. Oh, and we do do internships, so you know, keep us in mind.

(Snapping back to attention)
Oh, do you know who the contact person is for internships?

Um, well, maybe. Oh, just call this number and ask the receptionist.

Okay! Well, if you talk it over and decide there is some way to work this out, call me back.

Okay. (Now she really sounds dismissive and patronizing. She really does. In that one word.) Thanks again for calling me back.
___ . ___

After (mostly accurately) transcribing that, I can tell I made several errors. I rambled. I didn't answer questions firmly, directly and confidently. I need to work on these things. Don't ask me how, but I need to work on these things.

Doesn't it seem, weird, however, that she asked me very early on if I wanted full-time or part-time and what kind of shifts I would work and then very abruptly identified my one hour a week potential deviance from the set-in-stone 8-5 hours as a deal breaker?

Some of my immediate angry sarcastic thoughts:
  • Well, why would you want someone who's earning a Master's degree in a field whose graduates you employ as a necessary component of your agency?
  • And why would you want to maybe discuss the one-hour-early one-day-a-week five-months-from-now issue with a team or a superior before crossing me off the list? I mean, she called me one day after I submitted my on-line application and the job's been posted for three weeks. They're obviously still looking. Maybe this is why.
  • Why wouldn't you say up front that this is 8-5 M-F non-negotiable?

Should I have lied? Not mentioned my need for an internship in the spring or my class requirement in the spring? Gotten the job and then asked for the time when I needed it. Most people in my program are employed. They leave work early once or twice a week to get to class.

Maybe she was just grateful to have an excuse to end this excruciating call. Maybe I should have been, too. Maybe I shouldn't want to work somewhere that is so inflexible anyway.

I should not let this affect me. I have no control over it. But I am the kind of person whose self-esteem is diminished when someone honks at me in a parking lot. Must work on that, too.

If I don't leave now, I will be late for yoga.

1 comment:

JG said...

Ugh. Sounds painful. It reminds me of a job interview I did over the phone, not knowing that was what was happening, standing in the kitchen practically naked, wet from a shower, cooking pasta. Only as he wraps up with "thanks for taking the time to do this interview" do I stop staring hungrily at my freshly made, steaming lunch and think 'Whoa.' I'm sorry you felt bad about it. On the other hand -- it's a bit of a red flag when HR departments can't keep the dismissive and patronizing sound out of their voices. Maybe a bullet dodged?