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Entry date: 2-10-2022 - So Why Do You Want to Work Here? - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I had a job interview. I’m reluctant to say how it went because, well, jinx, but it made me think about the concept of interviewing for a job. I was reminded of the first real disappointment I had when it came to a job.


A few days ago, I shared about my concussion. Part of the expectation my dad had when I moved back from my mom’s was that I would get another job. I was fairly ambivalent about it, to be honest, but did enjoy having some spending money in my pocket. The $3 an hour I made at Taco Bell was helpful to my budget.


Obviously, the bike accident set me back a bit on my job search, but once I was back on my feet and able to think somewhat clearly (many might argue that this has never bounced back), my search began. During the previous school year, a building began construction along Grovers (Road? Ave? Not sure) at approximately 49th Avenue. What was once a vacant lot that I roamed around a bit as an 8th grader and freshman was turning into a Boys and Girls Club and they were hiring people like me to supervise younger kids and check out things like basketballs and ping pong gear.


I wanted that job.


Now, I haven’t thought about this for a long time, to be honest, but as I was pondering job interviews, it occurred to me this was my first real disappointment. Perhaps it was the confidence I had built after being one for one on job interviews thanks to my sterling career at Taco Bell, but I felt like I had a good chance for the B&G Club job.


I went to the interview and met with a young lady who was probably mid-20s but seemed so old and mature and, well, hot. I must admit I wanted the job more after talking to her, but for whatever other reasons, I wanted this job badly. For one, it meant working decent hours. There would be no closing shifts at a fast-food joint. It also paid $5.50 per hour which was great in those days, and I could walk to work in three minutes.


I waited for a few days on pins and needles and decided to follow up at the advice of my dad. I walked into the B&G club nervous but fully expecting to get good news. Alas, I did not get the job. I was invited to reapply when I was a bit older and had more experience by a smile that melted my insides. I remember going home and telling my dad and stepmom and feeling like they were as bummed as I was about the job.


That feeling stuck with me for a while, and I was even a little bitter. I thought about it a few times, though, back then that getting that job may have kept me living with my dad longer than I did. Perhaps I would have never moved in with my mom and never went to Camelback High School? My life would have been very different, and it is hard to imagine what would have changed except to say, “everything.”


The next few jobs I applied for, though, I got, and I was learning to be enthusiastic and give decent answers and not thinking about the fact that the type of jobs I was applying for in those days were basically just looking for anyone with a smile and a pulse. I have both of those, so I got a few jobs in my early days. The first significant interview I had was when I went to work for Casa in 1997. Because my first boss there was my mom’s friend, Judy, I had to be interviewed by some of the more senior members of the prevention team. I was nervous, for sure, but it ended up going well.


A few years into my Casa career, I was asked to be part of a hiring process and got my first real experience being the guy on the other side of the table. I have to say, I loved it. My boss, Lydia (the styro-phobe) was great at showing me the ropes and gave me some sage advice that I have used throughout my career. She taught me that you should never hire someone you have a red flag for even if they would be amazing at the job. You just can’t take the chance.


We interviewed a few people who would have been great at one or even a few aspects of the job but had that red flag. It’s a hard rule to follow but it works. I’ve ignored it a few times and gotten burned each time so I stick to it religiously at this point in my life, although I’m not sure when I will be on that side of the table again.


When I worked in the women’s prison for Televerde, I think I interviewed somewhere around 800 inmates for telemarketing work. That was a crash course in learning how to talk to people who excelled at being manipulative. My job there was to do interviews, help hire new telemarketers, and then train them. There were times when I was over-ridden on my objection to a candidate by a call center director and it came back to bite them. Not to brag, but I got to be good at the interview process in those days and could size up someone quickly.


After going through a few layoffs after leaving Televerde (three to be exact), I had to get good at being on the other side of the table again. I’m pretty sure that I am not good at projecting enthusiasm when the situation has been something along the lines of “I’m just here because I need to pay bills and could care less about your company or this job” but when I am excited about a role, I can be a little bit charming.


Let’s hope I seemed both charming and qualified yesterday.


See you tomorrow.



Doesn't have anything to do with job interviews or does it? Painting by Rhondi. Could have been Byron's but his ex said, "No." Now it's mine.


https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0Mft6fF9Xgm98C1MTeBrQz?si=6914fd3139594927

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