Finding a job is like finding a soulmate and interviewing is like dating. Sometimes- rarely- fun and thrilling, but mostly, it’s a blood sucking process that will make your eyes bleed and spew anger at all of humanity.
There are only two end results: triumph or death, and the worst part is that the end result is not entirely in your hands. It also depends on luck, likability and the weather that day. I know this because I quit my last job over 2 months ago.
At first, I felt sure of myself (“well, OF COURSE they’ll hire me, who wouldn’t??”). I work in one of the hottest jobs in tech, Product Management, and I have experience. I ran my own initiatives and have launched my own products. :enter a bunch of other half-true self-righteous proclamations:
In many ways, I’m lucky. I got interviews, which is more than some folks can say. Even so, it’s been a gruesome experience, grotesquely similar to my many years of bad dating. After filing 232 applications, completing 19 phone and 3 on-site interviews, I had no exciting job prospects in sight. I almost decided to give up. If interviewing was like dating, I was bound to be single for a lifetime with only a side “boyfriend” I’m ashamed to introduce to my parents.
But let’s start from the beginning…
EPISODE 1: I’M LEAVING AND I’M TAKING THE DOG.
After I quit, I was so sure of my own awesomeness I rushed to translate it onto paper. I created an online portfolio, featuring some of the projects I am most proud of. I rolled up the sleeves and laid out my application strategy:
- I’ll tailor 3-5 applications a week for special jobs
- I’ll work through my network to get inside referrals
- I’ll send LinkedIn easy apps like a mad woman, a minimum of 30 apps per week.
Sooner or later, one of these things had to work.
And they did – I got interviews, which was my first goal.
EPISODE 2: SWIPING LEFT
As I started talking to recruiters and hiring managers, something felt uncomfortably familiar about these conversations. Talking to a recruiter is not unlike talking to a guy before the first date, to the point that it’s easy to confuse my LinkedIn and Tinder inboxes:
Recruiter: “What is your weakness?”
Me: “I’m a dog person. I cry when I see puppers.”
Recruiter: “Can you summarize your recent experience?”
Me: “I just came out of an abusive situation. Prior to that, I cohabited with my best friend, Ernie. Lovely guy! Except he was senior to me. No, like… really senior. Like 40 years older. Poor thing, he looked it too.”
While interviewing, I also started noticing similarities among potential employers and the guys I’ve dated. Here are some of the “types” I met along the way:
Mr. One night stand
Mostly matchmakers (aka recruiters). They don’t know anything about anything and they have no interest in learning, but in the moment, they’ll act like you lay golden eggs. After that, they either:
- hype up a nightmare date way below your league
- try to sell your eggs for pennies, or
- don’t call back, ever
Mr. ONS: “Well, Magda, you’re a perfect fit for this job. Do you, by any chance, have any other interviews? Let’s make sure to schedule something right away. ”
Me: blushing…“I’m usually not that easy but um…if you insist….dinner date tomorrow?”
Me: “I can still cook dinner…”
Mr. ONS: :crickets:
Mr. No show
I don’t even know which category this guy ends up in because we scheduled a date, but he never showed up.
Mr. Not my type
Mr. NMT: Your entrepreneurial spirit is a perfect fit our new startup – BullEx. It’s like Uber but for bullets.
Me: “WHAT THE HELL! You look 40 years younger and 20 kilos lighter in your profile picture!! What’s with the mustache?!’
Mr. Deadly flaw
Everything looks fine on paper…. but then we meet and something about him makes me cringe. If you get me drunk I could probably marry him, but it’s only a matter of time until I land in rehab and we get divorced.
Mr. DF: “We offer amazing benefits to all of our employees… free gym, travel, health and huge yearly bonuses. Also, we’re being acquired by Phillip Morris […]”
Me: “Nice house! Wait…..What is this… You read Breitbart????!”
Mr. Could be worse
I don’t really like him, but being with him is better than being alone.
Mr. CBW: “We are a Fortune 500 retail bank. It’s a 9 AM-11PM job. Nicely sized cubicles at the office. You have to wear a tie.”
Me thinking: “UGH. Mom will be disappointed. What if I tell her that she cannot meet him because he lives abroad???!”
And then, there’s this ‘you’re so perfect I can’t breathe’ type.
EPISODE 3: THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
We get on the call, and I’m either nervously blabbing away like a 5-year-old girl, or I can’t find my words. After we hang up, I’m in despair. I was so close, and I.fucking.blew.it.
Last drops of hope are extinguished after you don’t answer my messages for two weeks.
I enter hate mode. My friends are either not allowed to talk about him, or, are exclusively allowed to talk shit about him.
I delete all memory of our talks. It’s over. I get coffee with Ernie – well, I get coffee, and he gets tea.
Me: “They are all assholes. What should I do, Ernie?”
Ernie: “Well, we just started a new project trying to eliminate one of the 552 paper forms. We haven’t decided which one, and we could use someone with your skills to help us.”
Me: “Mhm-kay… can I bring my dog?”
A month passes.
Two Mr. Deadly Flaws later, and 3 dates on the schedule with Mr. Could Be Worse.
Mr. Perfect drops a note… “Hey Magda, I’m sorry for dropping off, I had some issues. Can we schedule an on-site interview?”.
EPISODE 4: SECOND CHANCES
I write back within 2 minutes:
“I FORGIVE YOU.”
We plan to meet in the next few days. My strategy: I’m gonna confess love. This may be the last time we see each other, and I just want him to know how I feel. I don’t even care about feeling stupid.
I practice some power poses in the bathroom before I see him. I drink mushroom coffee. I’m on top of my game. Within 10 minutes of the conversation I confidently proclaim:
Me: I’M FREAKING AWESOME AND I WOULD LIKE TO MARRY YOU.
Mr. Perfect: I like your enthusiasm and your experience. Let’s schedule some time for you to meet the rest of the team.
Me thinking: OMG. I’M MEETING THE PARENTS!
I walk out of his office with butterflies in my stomach. I’m pretty sure everyone on the subway home thought I was crazy – I couldn’t take the giant banana smile off my face, and I definitely did a couple of awkward moonwalk dances to Daft Punk. I even helped lost tourists find their way to the train!
EPISODE 5: MEET THE PARENTS
Another week passes.
One day before my date with his parents, I panic.
I feel like I don’t know anything (meanwhile, I just spent a solid week on my bike thinking about nothing but this date). I overthink everything. I try to plan out every detail. The next day, I can’t sleep past 5 AM. I’m out of the house by 6:30 AM.
Like a stalker, I’m outside of his house an hour and a half before our date, pretending “to be having some coffee” at a coffee house conveniently located right next door. Luckily, no one sees me.
And then, the moment I meet his parents, everything changes. I throw out everything I practiced for this date. I’m just myself, and everything feels natural and just right. Conversation flows, and I feel like I already know these people. Somehow, all of my knowledge and experience comes back to life. I’m not flashy or over-confident – I just know what I’m talking about and I’m comfortable with what I am saying.
A few days later, Mr. Perfect calls and offers me a job.
Naturally, I say “I do”.
FOREVER EVER AFTER
Just as like the cliche your friends tell you after a bad date, “the right man comes at the right time”. It is true.
I just started a Product Manager position at Empatico.org. It’s my dream job and I am beyond thrilled. In fact, I am not even sure I deserve this opportunity, but I’ll try with every fiber of my body to prove that I do.
My Mr. Perfect was worth the wait. If you’re still out there interviewing and waiting for yours, have faith, stay entertained and keep on swiping right. It may take a while, but eventually, the cards will just line up for you.