Back before I got started in my current position, I had applied for a job with an exciting local marketing firm. It seemed like a really cool place to work. I could easily imagine myself as a part of their creative team. My days would be spent collaborating with my brilliant colleagues, sipping coffee, having great ideas, and putting together snappy writing for high-paying clients.
I had dropped a few applications at marketing/PR firms around the city, but I really liked this place. I loved their crisp, colourful website. I loved the good things I had heard about their reputation and work. I also loved how they seemed to treat their employees.
Creatives are a special bunch. We tend to wither in grey cubicles. This place didn’t have any. It had open rooms for discussion and one hell of a break room. (Apparently their employees also have video game tournaments sometimes? Not really my thing, but it’s evidence that they seemed to encourage fun at work.)
Their firm definitely appealed to me…the opportunity to write for a living while also actually enjoying my time at work? YES, PLEASE! I applied to this company and I included a portfolio of my work.
My stuff is pretty varied. Sure, I can write an ad for a truck, but I might also write an essay about something that matters deeply to me. Or a poem about an interesting experience. Some of my work is philosophical. Some of it is a bit more frivolous. Some of it, quite honestly, is centered on fitness-related topics. I like to write, and whether it’s about a political injustice, or the proper way to supplement with creatine monohydrate, I’ll try my damndest to produce something meaningful.
Right. So they got my rather varied portfolio, a little time went by, and I actually got called for an interview! Huzzah!
The big day came, and I was nervous. I dressed nicely and did my best to maintain composure. I made a valiant attempt not to appear shaky or to sweat through my clothes. I arrived on time, checked in at the front desk and was asked to wait. No problem…except it was at this point that I noticed a bit of a red flag. I had to stand and wait, because there was no chair.
Huh. Why would you have this ultra-modern firm, with this spacious reception area and with all of these beautiful décor items, and no freaking chair? In a reception area?
I couldn’t help thinking that this was a huge oversight. What if not everyone is able-bodied? What if people visiting this office are sometimes tired? Pregnant? What if they just want to be able to sit comfortably? Nope. Too bad. Shit out of luck. Once you’re in this waiting area, you’d better be prepared to stand around, awkward as heck, waiting to finally be ushered in to your big meeting.
Whatever. I paced around a bit, and shifted my weight from foot to foot (all the while continuing to sweat, obviously) until I was finally called in.
I was shown to a brightly lit boardroom, which was about 90% occupied by a giant, white, plastic-y office table. There, I sat (ahhh, finally!) across from a manager and the creative director.
It was a really decent interview. They liked my stuff. I said a lot of the right things. My nerves had wrapped themselves around my excitable personality and I was doing that whole “silver tongue” thing I sometimes do. (It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, everything comes out of my mouth sounding just a little smarter than I anticipate it will. It’s a weird, unpredictable superpower! ) So yeah, everything just kinda came together. This interview was easily one of my better professional interactions.
Afterward, I left the “no-chair” marketing firm practically bouncing. I was so convinced that I had crushed it! Now I just had to wait.
Nearly two full weeks went by before I got called back for another interview. It was enough for my excitement to have cooled a bit, but at least I was still in the running!
So, I went back for interview number two. Once more I waited in their insufficient reception area. I resisted the urge to mention the chair situation.
THIS time when I finally got to the plastic-table boardroom, they were even more open and honest with me. The interview proceeded in a relaxed and jovial fashion. I successfully made them laugh. They told me more details about the actual position. They really seemed to like me.
Turns out they wanted someone to write online copy. Ok! I can do that! They wanted it to be very tourism-oriented. No problem! Hand me a sou’wester! They were looking for celebration-of-Newfoundland-type stuff. Sure! I’ll write about puffins, white caps, and craggy cliff faces to beat the band!
Unfortunately, it is at this point that I made a mistake.
THEY were telling me about how they wanted this tourism-style blog thing, and I got excited and wanted to be impressive, so I was all like, “blogs? I love blogs! I have a blog! YOU SHOULD READ MY BLOG!.” (Ugh. Why? WHY???)
As a real, live, working human being, when I take to my online blog, I am not usually looking to create interest in the many products, services and experiences available in this fine province. I’d rather rant, journal, play with words and use this space to just…think about stuff.
I’m also not much of a photographer. These facts taken together mean that my blog does not look much like a tourism ad!
I don’t know if there was a communication issue, but apparently that was somehow what they expected.
Within a day and a half of having access to my blog site, I received an extremely curt email. Two lines to tell me they were “going in a different direction.” (No video game tournament for me.)
Bummer. After 2 AMAZING interviews. After I had become genuinely excited about this prospect.
This sucks so much, because there is not a doubt in mind that I could have written all that kitschy stuff. If I had my time back, I would have clarified exactly what they wanted an example of and offered to produce it. (Especially since I know that they had liked at least some of the things in my portfolio.)
Lesson: Not every style of writing will work in all situations. (My deeply personal blog was not a boon here, but a turnoff.) Also, I still need to work on being ASSERTIVE. I could have helped myself out a couple of years ago by communicating better. I also should have taken control of the situation by getting the details and going ahead and producing a sample. (And I should have been VERY CLEAR that my blog was filled with personal reflections, thereby modifying their expectations.)
Upside to console myself with: I at least saved myself from working with a bunch of heels who can’t be arsed to get a couple of chairs and a decent coffee table for their waiting area.
I don’t care how sleek your design is, there’s just no excuse for that!