Part III: Diary of a Millennial Job Seeker
This is the story that just keeps on giving. Next our Job Seeker is asked to come for a full day with comfortable shoes because she will be chasing clients. Could that be right? Read on and see if you can catch a few clients yourself.
Part III. Comfortable Shoes
I arrived for my second round interview confused as well as on time without any issues or complications finding the address. This time the receptionist knows me which puts me at ease. The email I received with follow up information states that the third round will be a full day affair and that I should wear comfortable shoes to be prepared for client interaction.
Shouldn’t I be asked to wear nicer shoes to be respectable in a client facing environment? What a strange request? Why would I need comfortable shoes to meet a client?
My mind is racing as I see other prospective employees my age all trying to look professional while clutching their morning Starbucks cups. The reception area is packed and I hear the interviewers behind the door being pumped up for their upcoming day. Their enthusiasm at 9am was akin to raised voices watching the super bowl. The screaming and excitement was out of place against the quiet conference rooms and white walls.
The employees come rushing out, calling names, and putting us into groups of 2-4. My group was composed of myself, another prospective candidate and our interviewer; a young employee who just began two months ago.
During introductions I am instantly very aware of the urgency, time crunch and pressure of the day. Throughout the day we are given and asked to present 5 tasks made up of applied marketing concepts. It is explained that the day will be intense and we will be traveling to a site to represent a client. If we make it to 3pm, we will be asked back to the offices for a third and final round interview with the manger. The interviewer is a fast walker and makes very intense eye contact. The interviewer says things like:
- “If I do not feel your responses at any point today are not a good fit, I will terminate your interview”
- “Please stay off your phone for the duration. If I see you on it I will assume you are not interested in the position and your interview will be terminated”
- “Don’t forget, you’re in competition with one another, if you’re speaking I will assume you’re speaking to one another about the tasks and that will be grounds to terminate your interview”
- When I asked a question, the terse response: “That is the type of question that you can ask the manager if I decide to send you back for a 3rd round interview”
- “I am taking a picture of your task to send the manager to see if your responses exhibit potential and meet requirements for the 3rd round interview”
My adrenaline is racing throughout the entire day as I am instructed into a competitive anxiety kept in place by constant remarks reminding me that I am powerless and the final say is out of my hands.
I have no idea what the company does but realize as the preliminary corporate structure is explained that the position title I applied for was a title intriguing enough to attract applications but vague enough to umbrella a wide range of tasks. In essence: the company used “marketing coordinator” to entice me to come have a sip of their kool aid. Their is no marketing coordinator position. The company does not believe in external hiring which is why every person must start at the same very base and remedial level. This position is entirely commission based and has insurance of promotion within a month.
Red flag: I remained confused throughout the entire day. Although I asked many questions, the responses were vague and limited.
We travel through multiple types of NYC transportation and I deeply regret my choice of shoe as I struggle to keep up and feel blisters forming and blood trickling on my toes. I execute a quick shoe-change while the interviewer looks away for a brief moment. I have no one to blame but myself as the email clearly states the necessity of comfortable shoes.
Five hours later at the end of the 2nd round it is explained that now will be a 1 on 1. I’m exhausted. I’m asked to go second and the other prospective employee and interviewer disappear into the throngs of NYC masses. I wait. And wait. I wait so long that I begin to have fear I’m being ghosted by an interviewer. The interviewer comes back without the other prospective employee in tow, no explanation.
After a full day of being told the interview could terminate at any moment, I’m told I have made an outstanding impression and that the manager is looking very forward to meeting me for a third round interview. The tone of my interviewer completely changes as I’m told that before the third round interview there will be a quiz asking some of the key concepts about the company explained throughout the day. I race to meet the pen to the paper as the 8 steps to success are rattled off quickly followed by the steps for a guide to sales.
I am told that I must rush back to the office for the third round, send a text that I have arrived and prepare to meet the manager. The interviewer breaks character and releases a smile and a quick “I’m rooting for you! Good luck!” before again disappearing back into the crowds.
On the trek back to their offices I regress to university mode as I create acronyms and little tunes to commit my memory to the page of information I will be quizzed on. I rush, cram, memorize, reflect, text a couple friends and accept the confusion.
This interview is different and I’m ushered right through. The pug from the last interview is asleep on the couch next to me and the manager’s thick British accent hits me. As compared to the last two interviews this is completely different as the act is dropped and the sales voice is turned on in full force. I feel the power dynamic in the room change as I realize: they want me.
I am relentless and ask questions about corporate structure, branding, ownership, and compensation. The manager brings up several people by name to discuss financial goals and similarities between myself and the other employees. I recognize the sales tactic and notice how by doing this we both use phrases as if I’ve already been given and accepted the job. The manipulation through confusing information and language registers but my body ignores it. Working 6 days a week because it’s an accelerated leadership track? Makes sense. 8:30am to 6:30pm? The hard work pays off. No sick days or breaks? Well of course not, it’s important to learn everyday. No benefits? Well yeah, that’s temporary until I am prompted of the initial position into a higher ranked role. I’m excited they want me and … I drink the kool aid. “Sounds great!” I insist over and over again to the manager.
My phoned is blowing up with messages from my friends: “Don’t sign anything!!” and “Pyramid scheme!!!!”
After the manager gives me an hour I know I’m their priority. The manager explains that 2,000 applications were accepted, 200 people were called in for a second round interview and 30 were called back in for the final third round interview. The closing pitch: “Well, you’ve impressed myself and both of your previous interviewers. You did really well today and after a glowing and very strong recommendation based on your the work you produced on the tasks, I’d like to offer you the position on the spot. Additionally, we don’t do this for everyone but I hear you and want to address your concern about transportation costs on a mostly commission salary and I am willing to give you a stipend of $500 a month for transportation.”
I’m impressed that the manager was able to see the deep concern I felt about the commission based salary and was willing to supplement the income. My brain churns the percentage of positions of selected and I think I’m 1/30 out of an initial 2,000 people. Wow. I quickly think to myself that hard work pays off and 6 day weeks and 10 hour days will be worth it.
I am asked for my decision and I affirm I’m excited to start with an enthusiastic hand shake and agree to coming in the following Saturday to begin orientation and sign papers.