Job interview going subtly, invisibly wrong
I just want to let you know that we offered the position so someone who seemed more enthusiastic about the job.
Phone call following up on job interview.
The rejection was the surprise outcome of a job interview for a part time data entry job I had last week. The interview went fine, they seemed to like me and I was confident I would get the role.
The job wasn’t advertised, I was made aware of it through a direct, private message from my facebook friend who is leaving the position. The description suited my situation and some things I have done in the past, so I thought I had a really good chance.
Job: checking TV schedules
The company’s core product is a TV program recorder which can be timed and remote controlled via smart phone apps. It is vital for the product’s perceived quality and the customers’ satisfaction that the programming schedules the company relies on are 100% correct.
The main task in the job is to double check TV program schedules and if something doesn’t look right, do a bit of detective work and find out if a programme time has changed and to what. Attention to details is obviously essential, and my background seemed to be a good fit*.
The job can be done from home by logging onto their database. That sounds good because I prefer to stay at home and get rid of transport time- and cost. The pay is fine, and the hours are suitable. So yes, I was motivated… but ‘enthusiastic’?
My friend told me that the job is boring, basically data entry, but that she thought it would suit me (no offence;-). She has held the position for several years.
Why job interviews are bad
I worry a lot about my body language in job interviews. For example, I’ve learned that it is important to sit right on the chair, but I tend to hang on its edges and move around if I don’t pay attention to that aspect, so I have to keep reminding myself to correct my position.
I worry even more about face expressions, facial responsiveness and eye contact because people – particularly HR people conducting a job interview – tend to read hidden cues into it. I often find face-expressions and direct eye contact intrusive and it makes me feel tense, but I mustn’t show that because it can be interpreted as unfriendliness, arrogance or just plain ‘weirdness’ (or something). That struggle is a major attention-drain.
Then, being so focused on non-verbal aspects, I loose control of verbal aspects. A job interview is all about being strategic and selective with information. I fall into verbal traps and say things I in hindsight shouldn’t have. My replies too often burst out without strategic filtering (or with last-second panic filtering) because there are just too many aspects to keep track of and correct at once.
However, the job wasn’t a social role and I wouldn’t even be in the workplace after the training period, so I didn’t worry so much about it this time. After all they were looking for someone willing to sit home and pay full attention to tedious programming details hour after hour on the weekends. A responsible and meticulous person; not a super-likeable party-monkey.
Do you have a TV
The lady who interviewed me was friendly and sympathetic. There was an older gentleman present as well.
The lady asked if I had a TV. She said, before I could answer, that she didn’t have a TV herself, and that it wasn’t important for the job. It seemed to be more like an ice-breaker question. I said that I do have a TV. She asked if I watch TV, and I said no.
They asked how much I know about what’s on TV, and I said ‘nothing’. I have never gotten around to watch TV at home in Australia, and what I have seen was horrendous. Lame TV shows and noisy, chaotic, fast paced ads which cut through programmes and split them up in fragments.
My policy is simple: if I watch a movie or programme on TV and a commercial comes crashing into it and interrupts it, then I turn off the TV. That’s what happened to my Australian TV watching early on. I turned it off and never looked back.
I didn’t tell them the above, off course. I said that I would happily watch TV if it was important for the job. I don’t think I could have lied about my TV habits, because they would have asked questions about TV programmes to check it.
What do you know about what we do
The lady asked what I knew about them, and I told what I had read briefly on their website. I usually do more research before an interview and even before I write an application, but this was a data entry role, god damn it.
I didn’t try to come across as enthusiastic. I tried to convey an impression of responsibility, suitability and mature awareness of the nature of the work.
The rest of the questions were mainly about things I had already covered in my resume and cover letter, and them explaining about the job. They were all big smiles when we finished the interview and I walked to the elevator.
I received the follow-up call in the evening after I came home and was shocked to be rejected because it had seemed so easy.
Although it wasn’t a ‘social’ job, the comment about enthusiasm seems to suggest that they judged me on my (lack of) emotional interaction with them in the interview. Or maybe I just didn’t prepare well enough. Or maybe they lied to me about the selection criteria – maybe regular TV watching habits was in fact important.
Tomorrow I have the interview for the Interviewer job, and I am keen to get it because the employer seems to be an attractive organisation and great employer, and I like what they do.
However, that one is a ‘social’ role, and they will judge me on my communication skills, presentability, friendliness and ability to establish rapport with them in addition to the other selection criteria. I hope I won’t be like this:
My attention to (boring) details is actually not that great, but it would appear so because I’ve had a documentation job in the past where 100% accuracy was paramount. I did get the hang of it with rigid checking procedures and filing systems and would do the same for this job.