An interview with Corporate America

Earlier this summer I was offered to interview for a position at a corporation that rhymes with Writhe Varney. It was quite interesting when I got a call from their human resources department, who claimed that the head of the department was extremely interested in me after reviewing the resume and wanted me to help develop their office in Ridgewood since they are relocating key personnel from New York City to cut costs.

The HR head who called me claimed that I was an ideal candidate because Piscataway was close to Jersey City, which by extension was near Ridgewood according to her. Around that time, I thought she was an idiot who did no research since Piscataway was nowhere near Jersey City let alone Ridgewood. One would think these people in corporate HR would actually do some research given that my work and personal contact information were written all over the resume. A simple search on google or mapquest would have sufficed. I sometimes wonder what kind of people the Fortune 500 companies in America staff in their HR departments (not to slam my former roommate or anything).

After that odd initial discussion of commuting, I was told they would schedule an interview by the end of the week. About 3 days passed by with no response, so I emailed then called the HR to follow-up on that initial call and she told me the manager didn’t respond. A week later, I learned the manager had cancelled the interview and it was decided to reschedule for the end of the month. Time was spent preparing such as getting a new suit, refreshing the reference sheet, and updating the resume.

The end of the month came and I took the train all the way to New York City from where I lived. After working my way uptown with extremely bad directions given by HR, I finally made it to the Writhe Varney building, which was near the UBS building. When I got there I learned the manager was again unavailable so someone from HR came over to get me from the lobby. She was kind enough to get me settled and give me a glass of water after walking some blocks on a hot day. We later went to meet the manager, and she came out surprised saying she had “fire drills” and “forgot” all about the interview.

I mean their HR claims that the manager was enthusiastic, yet she doesn’t seem very friendly or even cared when I showed up in person for the interview. She also came off as a rude individual for just not apologising for a mistake she made and making me go all the way out to New York just for an abbreviated interview that HR had supposedly arranged and confirmed with her.

Instead of apologising for her poor organisation, she decided to cut my interview time to about no more than 10 minutes. We did our interview with her asking about my work collaborating with other departments, willingness to work long hours, background in MS Office, and developing print ads. I did my detailed and focused responses but her body language and demeanor gave me the impression that she only cared about the “fire drills”. It also didn’t help that she wasn’t approachable during the first minutes of the interview. Usually in a job interview, the interviewer not only looks for the relevant skills but also to see if the candidate is someone they want to work with.

About 8 minutes into the interview someone barges into her office, panicking over that same “fire drill”. Instead of continuing with the interview, she just cuts me off, claims that I have a “Professional and Qualified Background and Experience”, which is just corporate bullshit for “Thanks for coming, but we have another candidate in mind”, which is just another way of saying “we don’t want you”. She then takes the glass of water given to me by HR and planned to trash it without my consent until I told her that I was still drinking it. She thanked me for coming and then I left the building by myself without any after discussions with their HR whatsoever. So basically, I spent about 30 or so US dollars and priceless time just for some upper manager at a Fortune 500 corporation to waste my time. Beautiful.

About a month later, I called the HR person I was in contact with during much of the interview process for a follow-up. I got a call from the HR main department saying her line has been moved and they couldn’t transfer me for no apparent reason. A week after that, I got a call from the head of HR, the same woman who thought Jersey City was close to Piscataway, to learn that they are still interviewing and that the manager felt I didn’t make the cut. She also mentioned that the nice HR person I was in contact with for that entire period, had left the company for “Bigger and better things”.

I told her that I wasn’t terribly surprised by the result since that manager only gave me less than 10 minutes in the interviewing process and actually forgot she had scheduled it in the first place. She then went on with the same corporate bullshit about how they value me and they were going to keep me in their corporate database for 90 days, which is just some bullshit to make rejected candidates feel better. I thanked her for the follow-up and hung up before she could have the last word. The HR head was willing to speak plainly about the fate of her former colleague but willing to give me the same corporate HR bullshit when giving me an answer.

And that is a side of corporate America they will never teach in textbooks, courses, films, television shows, and in official advertisements. These people didn’t know what they were talking about, they were not in touch with reality, and they were quite arrogant and rude. Such is reality and having strong networks to build on is the only way to advance in the corporate food chain.

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