Lessons from a job I didn't land

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

I drove 4 hours to a job interview.
They did not pay for the hotel or any expenses.
I went on my own because it seemed to be a good opportunity.
I was happy with my current job. Well, I was extremely happy to be more accurate. My husband accepted a job 4 hours away from where we lived so I thought I needed to apply for jobs in the area.
A new friend graciously hosted me for the night. The interview was scheduled for the day after I arrived. Other than the time, my interviewer did not send me any details.
At bedtime, I was afraid the gentleman was going to cancel the interview. He ended up sending me a message late that night with a schedule of events for the day.
I woke up early and drove to the place. Parking was mayhem. I couldn’t find a visitor’s spot. I did find an opening close to an officer giving parking tickets to infringers. I asked him where the visitor’s spots were. He told me I needed a permit. I told him I wasn’t given one and proceeded to call my interviewer.
He seemed to be bothered by something when he answered the phone. I calmly explained my situation. He said he didn’t have time to print a parking permit. He told me to tell the parking officer that he gave me permission. The officer didn’t seem to care but agreed not to give me a ticket. He said he couldn’t guarantee that the next person wouldn’t give me an expensive ticket.
I was missing my current job already.
I walked to the agreed location of the interview. All I couldn't think was: “Toto, we ain’t in Kansas anymore.”
I didn’t have a good feeling about the parking situation. I thought, “either this guy is a jerk or he needs a lot of help. Either way, be your whole self Cintia.”
The guy arrived at the agreed location late. He was pleasant. He told me the person in the position I was interested in usually takes care of those details. A wave of empathy filled my soul.
Two of his employees joined us for lunch. Everyone was a bit late but nice. We had a pleasant conversation. I was asked what I do. They listened attentively. I asked them a lot of questions as well. By the time the last person arrived, I had to repeat a few things. The last person dressed differently than everyone and she had a high opinion of herself and her accomplishments. She looked at me with a superiority air. She asked as few probing questions which I answered and then she asked, “You seem too confident. Do you even want this job?”
I made sure this question didn’t catch me off guard. My body still remembered the 400 unpaid miles I drove the day before. My mind was confused with the question yet, I was determined to keep my cool.
“Yes I want this job,” and I finished answering another set of questions.
The lady wasn’t satisfied with my demeanor or the way I was answering the questions the group had. The conversation was wrapping up when she said:
“My sister lives near Rice and there are six Indian restaurants in that area. We only have one Indian restaurant.”
Her co-workers were puzzled. Their faces showed confusion. They were mostly curious about where this one Indian restaurant was located. Once they were finished with that discussion, she continued:
“Tyler is a small town and Houston is big. Can you handle living in a small town?”
I replied confidently:
“My city is bigger than Houston. I’m from Rio de Janeiro. When I first came to the U.S. as well as most of my time here, I’ve lived in smaller towns. When we move to a community, we are not concerned about size. We are focused on making a good contribution to the good things that are already happening.”
She got quiet and that meeting was dismissed.
My next meeting was with the potential employer. It was nice to hear about what he does. The last part of the meeting was with some of the administrators. They were nice but very skeptical about my ability to learn their work.
I never had to say “I can learn the job” in so many different ways. I also had not heard the statement “you are very confident” so many times in a long time.
If you don't know me well, my confidence gets me in trouble sometimes. But I will save that essay for another day.
We were in the middle of that interview when we got interrupted because someone booked that room for another meeting.
We moved to the gentleman’s office. The distrust of the administrators followed us to this next room. They asked me if I had any more questions.
I asked those ladies what kept them coming back to work year after year. The question softened their hearts. I loved what I heard.
We got interrupted once again and this time, the gentleman had a long line of people waiting to meet with him outside.
I thanked him for his time and drove back to Houston.
This time, the trip took 6 hours because of traffic on 45.
The gentleman told me that I should hear back from them in 2 weeks. It took them 6 weeks to tell me “the position has been filled.”
Instead of wondering why I didn’t get that job, I decided to focus on what I learned:

• I interview well, even when the interviewer is less than ideal;
• I ask insightful questions. I enjoying listening to unsaid things;
• I can be fully myself, in spite of being treated poorly by someone with a superiority complex;
• I learned that with each no there’s gotta be a greater yes.

I am thankful this experience is behind me. I am also thankful that I didn’t get a parking ticket that day.
Sheetal said...

Love your positive confidence, Cintia- AND definitely your confidence! Miss you so much, my friend!