I started this blog in July, but I have been looking for a job since February. I was done with my job the day I quit (meaning that I did not give notice, nor was I required to, as I was employed at will), and two days later I started applying for jobs.
I have been interviewing consistently since then, but nothing has worked out (hence the blog). Most of the time, it has been mutual, as in I knew it wasn’t the right thing, and they did too. A few times, I withdrew my candidacy because I got a bad feeling about the organization. Having just left a scary and borderline abusive situation, I basically refuse to enter into one again (at least knowingly). A few times, I have been rejected, but usually in the nicest way possible. I still have the email from one organization that told me that I “clearly have a bright future in the field,” and they “look forward to seeing what I am going to do.” I know, right?
But let’s investigate the horrible heartbreak that is a great interview that goes nowhere. There is nothing so disappointing. Usually, you can tell if something isn’t going to work out–you don’t have the experience, you make a mistake in the interview, your resume is thin, the interviewer is awkward in some way.
But this interview was different. I applied through the HR department for a job doing programming at a hip downtown presenter. I was not hopeful, since my background is in administration, but I though I’d try. I received a response within a week, by phone, and the Supervisor requested an interview. She was really friendly, and I agreed to come in after the weekend.
We met, and she was SO NICE to me. It was kind of shocking, but in a good way. She told me that she loved my resume. She loved Chicago theater. Did I know so-and-so? Sure, he is a set designer. Cool. Why did you leave your last job? Sad story but here it goes…
(Usually, this is a great test–if people think I did the wrong thing, or I am not tough enough to deal with “chaos” then I don’t want to work for them.)
She listened really sympathetically, and then said “Once, I had to leave a job for the same reason. It’s a horrible experience, but you did the right thing.”
This woman is my soul mate.
She went on to tell me that she was actually thinking about me not only for the programming job, but also for an administrative job that had just opened up in the organization. They were having a lot of staff turnover, and needed someone who could start right away. She introduced me to the person whose job I was up for. She gave me a tour of the facility. The whole thing took less than an hour (a good sign, in my book). The only sticky part was the salary discussion, but since everyone pays less than my last job, I wasn’t going to get upset. I told her explicitly that I understood the level of pay and I was okay with it.
She said that I was her first interview, so I might not hear right away, but that she would definitely be in touch. I left the interview thinking “this is the one,” and I timed my commute home (35 minutes, door to door, sigh).
Two weeks later, I had heard nothing. I had sent handwritten thank you notes to both the Supervisor and the woman whose job was coming open. I expressed my intense desire to work there and how nice it had been to meet them.
Another two weeks, still nothing. I was on the Upper East Side, on my way to another job interview. I checked my phone, and I had an email from the Supervisor:
Dear Ann Marie,
I wanted to let you know that we have put this search on hold for the foreseeable. We are looking at a small reconfiguration of the workflow here. I really enjoyed meeting you and wish you all the best in your search.
Please do keep me posted.
My heart breaks every time I read this. Why jump into an interview process, which is extremely time-consuming and difficult, if you aren’t sure you want to hire? (Why? Because you haven’t planned adequately, because you have pressure to cut staffing costs, because you are being pressured to be more efficient, and staff turnover is the perfect opportunity to re-apportion work on existing staff.)
This job was the one that got away. I am so sad about it, all these months later.