‘Someone more enthusiastic about the job’

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 interview, 2 interviewers 1 interviewee (barely visible)

  
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.

 

Chess with alien pieces, artified

Like an alien game of chess…

 
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.

 

Blue cartoon retro TV, artified

Watching TV is super-cool in Australia… not.

 
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.

 
The call

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:

 

Tardigrade drifting in Space

Wish me luck!

 
 
———————————————————————-

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.

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16 thoughts on “‘Someone more enthusiastic about the job’

  1. A Quiet Week

    Unbelievable. I’m at a loss for words. I feel for you. There is some nebulous thing I miss in my interactions. People don’t see the dedication and strength I could bring to a project because they are preoccupied with hazy socialization.

    I hope that you will find a good fit soon. Reading your blog, your dedication, eye for detail and excellent work ethic resound. Best wishes to you.

    Lori

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    1. Mados

      Thanks Lori!

      Have you experienced difficulties with job interviews too?

      The lady who interviewed me was very sympathetic. I quite liked her, but people are prone to misreading others that are different from themselves, and she seemed like a very different and socially oriented personality type. My replies may also have been strategically wrong, and I probably misread them and what they wanted… And maybe I should have done much more research.

      Thanks for your lovely compliments. I actually don’t have a great eye for details, though… my accuracy is all in the checking systems & editing effort I apply. You might have noticed my propensity to make typos when I comment on blogs. Not my own blog, but that is only because I can edit them… That’s because I am focused on communicating a point and overlook small mistakes. I see them all once I click ‘Post Comment’…

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    1. Mados

      Thanks Sam. In hindsight, I should of course have asked her to specify what she meant. I think the best conclusion to draw from this is that I may not come across the way I think I do, and should factor that in.

      The next interview is already over, and I think it went well. I said this at the end: ‘I’ve got the feedback that I may look a bit expressionless* when nervous. I just want to let you know that it doesn’t mean that I am not motivated – I am very motivated!’. The response was positive: they laughed and said that they do expect people to be nervous at interviews.

       
      *My husband and someone else has said that – except they didn’t say ‘when nervous’ but ‘at times’. My husband said it the same morning, when I discussed with him what to do to make sure to express motivation – or ‘enthusiasm’ in the interview.

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  2. catastraspie

    Fingers crossed! And don’t forget their response may have been a stock answer for why they went with someone else, and entirely nothing to do with you, so don’t tie yourself in knots trying to figure it out (ie interviewers lie!) 🙂

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    1. Mados

      Thanks!

      True, good point… it might be a sort of arbitrary, automatic reply and yes, interviewers lie of course. It is a poor standard answer, though. Better standard answers would be:

      ‘We offered the job to someone whose experience more closely matched what we are looking for’

      ‘Another applicant suited the job profile better’

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        1. Mados

          I think I could do that well. There are some aspects that would be challenging (find the way around, organisation, approach strangers etc) but I could deal with them with GPS, consistent procedures (sort of flow-chart for what to do), dress up nicely to make strangers more friendly to me, etc.

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  3. sensoryoverload2012

    What was your response about not being enthusiastic? Did you just say “Okay, goodbye.”? I find myself always wanting to explain myself, in detail and have been told I make too many excuses when I am not trying to excuse myself but simply explain. I think I would have explained at that point. Actually, I probably would have just said “Okay, goodbye.” and after hanging up I would have thought of all the things I should have said, constantly replaying the conversation in my mind. I think I will write a post how this happens to me.

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  4. Mados

    I probably would have just said “Okay, goodbye.” and after hanging up I would have thought of all the things I should have said, constantly replaying the conversation in my mind.

    Yes, that is what I did. I don’t think I could have changed the outcome by asking into it, but for my own peace of mind + future interview preparation it would have been better to get more specific information by asking questions.

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  5. musingsofanaspie

    I’ve never had a job interview and I think I would do poorly. I come across as either stiff or awkward in formal settings, which I doubt would be helpful in impressing an interviewer. I thought it was ironic that you didn’t get the “non-social” job which you had little enthusiasm for but felt very competent in doing. Yet you got (I think) the social job which you were keen on doing but didn’t seem as confident about interviewing for. Perhaps employers rate enthusiasm above competence or enthusiasm makes up for some awkwardness in body language, etc.? That’s a really interesting thing to think about.

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    1. Mados

      Yes it is. Especially since I was first rejected for the more social job, and then they changed their minds a few days later and called me back and offered me the job. That was after I had expressed my sincere disappointment in the phone conversation with my future supervisor and explained how I didn’t think their reasons for rejecting me would be a problem. That probably came across as very enthusiastic about getting the job!

      Although there could of course be “behind the scene” reasons I don’t know about… Like their chosen candidate jumping off in the last second… It did sound like I was no. 2 to get the job when she called initially.

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      1. musingsofanaspie

        I think expressing your continued enthusiasm and addressing their concerns was a great idea. Perhaps that influenced their decision to change their minds. I’m so glad it worked out for because you seem like a great fit for your job.

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        1. Mados

          I think so too:-) I mainly did it intuitively out of disappointment and surprise about not getting it, but it was also because I had decided to remember to not give up without fight or questions if rejected…

          Thanks. Not everything about the job is a good fit for me, but I am receiving consistently positive feedback from my employer and she seems to have a positive attitude to me. So it does seem like I do the job well. My response rates are slightly below average, but that is apparently not bad for my area, they are used to getting poor response rates from down here and mine are apparently an improvement:-) And they are happy about my high accuracy and compliance, “flow” in conducting interviews, interaction with respondents (they get feedback from the respondents via their quality control procedures) et.c.

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