Okay okay, some of you asked about the interviewing. It’s no secret I’m in real estate. Sadly, my beloved homebuilding company folded like a house of cards would if someone excavated and built it under Oprah’s ass. It’s okay though, because I got a really nice severance package. Cough. And then some. Cough cough. Anyway, interviewing is a tedious and yet oddly hilarious phenomenon. Allow me to take you on a journey of my brushes with the stupidest of the stupidest in Washington D.C.’s hiring arena. I’ll have to do this in several parts because some of my gems are from the past and we all know how I can tell a long winded story.
1) Time Won’t Give Me Time
If I’m kept waiting for longer than 15 minutes, this is a deal breaker. When I worked at Nine West, I went to interview in that stupid Calvin Klein division. The potential new boss kept me waiting 2 1/2 hours before she would deign to speak to me. Even her assistant was embarrassed. I could hear new boss in her office cooing the entire time, “The heel on this is so fresh…” Yeah, that meeting was groundbreaking. So glad you kept me waiting on a fucking SATURDAY while you solved the world’s problems. I should have RUN. But, I stupidly took the job anyway because I was a 23 year old idiot. I didn’t realize that I learned something important at the interview: These people would never respect my time. And they didn’t.
My new boss would fly in at 1 p.m., park her broomstick in the corner, call her boyfriend and send out Christmas and Valentines Day Cards until 4 p.m. and then expect everyone to stay late with her until 10 at night. The martyr parade was sickening in the morning. “Oh, poor Karla, she was here until after 10!” That, coupled with Calvin Klein’s “everything must be black” rule encouraged me to leave rather quickly. Do you know how infuriating it is to only be allowed to have black file folders and black pens to label them with? I couldn’t see which file I had marked “Burn down 205 W. 39th St.” I lasted just a few months.
More recently, I was kept waiting for an interview while I could hear the guy in his office calling around to remind people about the duck hunting excursion the next day. Oh, where do I start with that one? The fact that you kept me waiting for that shit or that you use guns to kill animals when my own dog has 11 bullets in her leg from someone like you and it’s costing me seven grand? I didn’t have to see his face to know I would not be working for him.
Lesson: They must respect your time from the very first moment.
2) Is This a Lateral Move?
How stupid does a company have to be to look for someone to fill a position with the EXACT skill set they need? Why don’t they consider that if they find that person, and the person takes what is in essence, a lateral move, they won’t be happy for very long, having already burned out elsewhere. They should be looking for the candidate for whom this will be a promotion. Every time I take a job, I do so with the idealistic mentality that I will be there for a long time, so I want it to be a “promotion” and a challenge from the last job I had.
Lesson: The job must have challenge. Don’t take a lateral move or you’ll be bored, and don’t allow the company to coerce you into a lateral move with that “get your foot in the door bullshit.”
Time Out For A Disclaimer: I have taken lateral moves in the past. When I’ve done this, it was always a band-aid to a situation gone awry. Incompetent people, sexual harassment litigation and a boss stealing money and slapping my name all over his papertrail have foiled my plans of longevity and forced me to jump ship, taking anything that came my way. It happened several times in my 20’s when I worked for a record-breaking THREE alcoholic cokeheads in a row. I bookended that run with born again Christians. My luck was Vegas-style back then.
Sub-Lesson: Sometimes life fucks you and you don’t have a choice.
3) Ocean’s Thirteen
I always ask “How many people are you interviewing for this job?” The question kills me. People give the stupidest answers. The duck hunter said, “Well, we’ve interviewed about 8 already and have another 3 to go after you.” Twelve people? You are interviewing 12 fucking people for this job? You couldn’t narrow it down any more than that? I bet even the UPS guy could narrow it down to 3 or 4 by resume alone, and the
Head Cheerleader Human Resources dipshit can knock another one off the list by a phone interview. If you are interviewing 12 people and we’re not talking a CEO level, then yes, you are a fucking moron.
I can’t work for morons. I can only work for people who are smarter than I am or who I want to have sex with. Preferably both. Mmm…ex bosses who I want to have sex with…hold on for a second while I plug this in…
Okay. I’m back.
Wait, I’m gone again. Mmmm…..
Okay, back, and sufficiently relaxed.
Lesson: Don’t work for morons. There’s more but clearly I’m post fantasy and orgasm so you’ll have to figure it out on your own. It’s good practice for you though. I mean, come on people. Two and a half years of this blog, the least you can do is help me out a little.
4) Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go Away
Ask why the person doing the job now is leaving. Ask it, and RESIST the urge to talk. If you stay silent, people like to fill that silence with something they love – the sound of their own voice. Let them. This is where you will learn that 10 people have quit in the last 4 years because they can’t stand playing solitaire for 8 months while periodically hounding someone to answer an inconsequential question (“Red or Pink Gum Balls in the Vending Machine, Sir?”) that somehow hinges any and all productivity for the next two years.
I also like to find out where the people who are leaving are actually going. One guy was opening up a Five Guys Chain. Another went to work for the Red Cross. Okay, so they would rather flip burgers and work with contaminated bodily fluids than work here? Not good.
Lesson: Why do people leave? Where do they go? If these answers don’t pass the sniff test, something stinks.
5) You Know I Never, I Never Seen Ya Look So Good
I went to a well known Developer / Builder for an interview. Typical office structure – offices on the perimeter of the floor and cubicles in the middle. Men in suits and ties filled the offices and perfectly groomed size zero supermodels filled the cubicles. Needle off the record. What??? I had to look twice. My eyes did not deceive me. Could your gender discrimination scream any louder? There is a pervading theme in real estate that women don’t belong in management positions. This is a hard thing to overcome, especially when I’m indoctrinated to working alongside the type of men who asked me if I would sit on their face during a conference call or threatened to rip my dress off in the hallway for not yielding to their path.
I worked for a builder who didn’t care what we wore to work. The CEO said, “We’re the suit and tie guys, we have to suck up to Wall Street. You guys are building houses. Go build. Wear what you want.” That is the right attitude. We were lucky they had the foresight to enact this rule because it was a lot safer for our construction guys to help the firemen when that house got struck by lightening and burned to the ground because they were in rubber soled shoes.
Lesson: Companies that spend too much time dictating what you can and can’t wear to work are too hung up on appearance and are probably hiding other inadequacies in their business. Tread lightly.
Working on the next part. I know you can’t wait.
Not to worry. George has the new fed dump dump dumping interest rates again. It’s only a matter of time before the deadbeats refinance their bankruptcies. BOYYEEE wont that be fun!!?
LOL! About time!! LOL!!
I dunno. I mean, you’re not a meateater so much as you are a meat eater, but Five Guys could be a very profitable venture.
As a Career Civil Servent, I do NOT miss Resumes! Interviews I can do anytime but the whole Process of submitting your Employment & Cirriculum Vitae so some asshat can do multiple interviews to determine if you can do the job & if you are a good “fit”. The only thing worse is to get hired,only to find out that the Owners’ son or daughter is both the straw boss and the worst employee at the same time.
Jeebus, Vel. I hope something good comes your way soon. Excellent advice, though. Why aren’t you writing some sort of magnum opus/biography/get-your-shit-together-people sort of book again?
I interviewed with a division of HHS a few months back. The fact that the boss didn’t have an administrative assistant and had to come in on weekends to do her filing and catch up on paperwork indicated a serious problem to me. I already deal with a bit of a work-life-balance issue as it is, but at least I have minions.
Can’t wait for the next part. Whip it out!
All joking aside, this is really helpful. College grads/job newbies should have to read this kind of stuff.
I couldn’t pass this up when I saw it. It screamed you!
As a guy in the process of looking for his first “real” job (the retail job I worked in undergrad doesn’t count despite the awesome stories) this couldn’t have come at a better time, can’t wait to read Pt. 2!
JohnnyDC – Yeah, what’s that I hear? Recession? Great….
I66 – Oh, I eat the meat all right. And I’m willing to discuss franchising the type of meat I DO eat.
Wild Bill – Interviewing should be more intuition and less perspiration. You never really know if someone is going to work out or not, so you have to make the best call and give them a shot. I’m a believer that if you get someone who is 70% right or more, and they are smart, you can train them for the rest. But whaddo I know?
Allez Oop – It mostly amuses me. I’m too old now to settle for some crap job, so I am just listening carefully. Probably too carefully.
Etta – Why can’t you comment with your real name? Hmm???
Mama in Lala – I’ve got more. I have an arsenal of information I’ve collected over the years of taking jobs against my better judgment.
Bri – Awesome!
The Stoic – Pay attention soon to be grad! It sucks out there. Maybe I should be encouraging you to stay in school longer…hmm. It’s not a bad idea to be in school while the economy is heading into a recession.
You should travel the country teaching less experienced individuals about the interview process, with a smattering of erotic tidbits, for copious amounts of cash. I’d be happy to carry your briefcase for free.
Keith, you know what’s in my briefcase right? In this country, they call it the Hitachi Magic Wand. Thankfully it plugs in, unlike those battery operated things which tend to turn on at the most inconvenient times. For example, when moving and your parents come to help…bzzzzzzzzz! “Honey, something is buzzing in one of these boxes….”
You need to write a “State of the Industry” entry. Everybody knows what’s going on. However, RE Agents, Mortgage brokers, and RE Marketers are all using the same old, tripe spin. In the past four months, I’ve heard the following. RE Agent; “I’m doing great… just working little harder, but market is on the upswing.” RE Broker; “now is the time to get into the market, we may never see 6.125 percent again.” RE Marketer; “Miami was propped up by investors, but it’s different here in the DC area.”
Lesson: if you can’t tell me the unvarnished truth (and give me some real figures and back it up), otherwise you’ve just lost all credibility (and I’m not coming near you). It’s lucky that me and my money get together in the first place (“fool and his money…”).
i have to “interview” constantly… it is selling myself.. and im good at it.. for whatever thats worth…and…i completely agree with V..
1) if somebody wastes your time… they are not worth it..they will always be wasting your time..and time is money ..i wont make ANY money waiting around for shit…
2)if they are cheap or rude (i do a LOT of lunches) to ANYONE including servers or valets…then fuck em..i know i wont be able to work with them…
and last but not least…
keep in mind that you are interviewing THEM as much as they are interviewing you…it takes TWO to TANGO.. i trust my gut..if it says umm….shes a bitch or hes an arrogant asshole.. then..i order something decadent… let them get the check..and i move on to the next “interview”…
are you a member of CREW? There could be some good networking contacts there
I think that this should be a book for young women looking for jobs. You have something here.
A BOOK! Now that is something Velvet could do…I can picture a tour right now…
(stop making my messages SPAM you witch!)
Sixes, I’m sorry!!! It taint me! It’s the stupid software. And it doesn’t help that I just found all your past comments and by accident sent them to spam. But you’re here now, see?
MA – At the very least, an article. But a lot of it is intuition. I tended to overlook things when I was younger and my intuition wasn’t as in tune as now. Ugh. That was a bad bad sentence up there.
Erika – I’ve heard that before, just haven’t gotten around to it. I know, I need to. I came up with something for the interim. I’m lazy. I don’t want to commute and a lot of R.E. jobs are out in the burbs. I don’t even like going to Logan Circle.
SB – Aah, the waiter/waitress rude thing. I have an ex who was rude to waiters and having been a waitress (for 12 years) I HATE that.
E – The market is very different in different places. D.C. is NOT the same market as NoVa and NoVa is NOT the same market as Inland Empire, Ca. It’s down to the neighborhoods now, and you can’t generalize anymore other than to say that places like Leesburg are seeing a huge rise in foreclosures because people only bought out there because of price and could barely afford it at that. Downtown and centrally located areas will always be fine. You won’t see a crash in downtown D.C. because we have the incomes and jobs here to support it. Unless the news comes out with some b.s. that city slickers all get cancer from bus fumes, then everyone becomes a bunch of lemmings, moving out to the ‘burbs. It’s all about the news. All about the media. If they say things are awful, then perception is reality and things are “awful.” But if the news turns a bit for the upside, then people’s outlooks improve, and that does wonders for the market.
The truth is, the realtors in D.C. are swamped, and that’s because there is a plethora of people who saved their money and waited for this moment – the one where they can get a good deal.
Wow. These interview horror stories make me so happy I’m in a job I love and have no intentions of leaving.
The whole interview process scares me so much that I quit looking after I got my first job offer while I was doing the job search my senior year of college. Said job being the job I’m still in, too.
I don’t envy you, Velvet. At all.
Two thoughts. That’s interesting. Thanks. I’m getting anecdotal evidence that there’s still room to slide, people waiting on sidelines; this includes DC. Granted, depends if you mean “condos in Chinatown” or “Federal Row-house in Georgetown.” You get the picture — more stuff sitting on market longer; building plans changing. One of my tenants, who’s in the “bidness”, told me, “there isn’t one neighborhood that hasn’t been touched by foreclosure.” Shocking. Second, my previous query was “how did yours go?” (I’m gonna guess it went well.)
Let me clarify. How your interviews go?
It’s true. Georgetown and Dupont have been holding their own in this game. I have two neighbors who sold in my bldg in the past year and both got offers in the first weekend. This means, they could have got more money. My neighborhood continues to stay strong, thankfully, meaning, we’re not far off from the peak prices here in our building. Maybe we’re 5% lower than what the highest price was paid at the peak of the market. Actually…not even.
People will ALWAYS have money to live in Georgetown. But you can pepper any of my stories with an “in the 80’s,” anecdote and we could be back at square 1.
The interviews were stupid. I have very little patience for stupidity. One demanded a credit check for which I cried foul. No offer doesn’t mean you get to see my credit report yet. Make me an offer, whorebag. The other was just a skills test. I hate those.
Dear Sixes & Sevens,
Quitcherbitchin! Maybe if you hadn’t moved to Hicksburg or Boondocksyltucky or wherever the hell you moved to, you wouldn’t be having this problem.
A few months ago, a buddy and I were looking at a project in Beacon Hill (Boston). The idea was to buy a building, renovate it, etc. (buy by bottle, sell by shot). So just for the heck of it, I googled “realtor” in Beacon Hill and called her. I asked, “what’s it like; are you guys going through the same downturn?” Her response? “People who are looking to buy in Beacon Hill already have the money; they’re not dependant on Jumbo loans.” Which is what you’re saying — people who buy and sell in Georgetown (and DuPont and Logan Circle), will always have money to buy and sell there. It’s effing remarkable.
Your interview stories are funny. You tell them how it is. I hate those skills tests. Nine years ago, I had an interview where someone asked me to take a “skills test.” I was a bastard enough to respond with, “I’ll take the test… if you pay me $200/hour to take it… how do I know that the ‘problems’ you have on this test aren’t issues your boss is currently trying to fix, and that you’ll be getting advice for free?” They made me an offer right there.
66 is JEALOUS! I live where my vote counts and I don’t have to sell my body to pay rent!! I give it away for freeeeeeeeeee!
Where was this advice when I was interviewing? It’s great fun and soo true!
Ha! I hadn’t seen this before, LOVE IT. I’m def going to take your advice next time I have an interview!
I think job interviews are fun. Of course, I did my last one over the phone in a pair of rank, three days beyond filthy, sweats and desperately needed a shower at the time. I’m screwed if I ever have to get a real job (that is, non-tech), aren’t I?