In this instance, the "vampire" happens to be a company I interviewed with. I know everyone has that one interview story they believe is the worst experience above all others: sorry ladies and gentleman, that title has just been taken by yours truly.
I will not type the name of this company here, but I will tell you they are a major pharmaceutical company that manufactures popular OTC (over-the-counter) & prescription medication. I applied for this position because I have experience in the industry, and I felt my skills matched the required qualifications. As many job seekers know, we apply for so many jobs that we often forget about them until we receive an interview request. This was exactly the case for myself.
I received the email requesting an updated resume, including a questionnaire regarding the specific position. After another week, I received a phone call to set-up an interview. I was totally excited because I wanted to find employment with a great salary, and this position was perfect for me: so I thought. The minute I stepped into the office, I immediately knew this was going to be a disaster...
I get to the building and am greeted by a wonderful and cheerful receptionist-so far so good. After waiting for a approximately 30 minutes, I am introduced to the administrative assistant, another great first impression- I can see myself working here. Then I am introduced to the Director of the department. She is a very accomplished woman and knows her stuff. She immediately informs me that my prior experience, while in pharmaceuticals, was completely different than what the job description called for. Hmm, I felt a little uncomfortable with the way she said it, but being Ms. Professional, I explained to her that I understood this when I applied for the position, but as I learned at my previous employer, you get experience by learning. I also explained that my experience was actually similar to this position, in addition to being a smooth transition and progression to another level in the same field. What I really wanted to say was You should be telling your human resource recruiter this information, not me.
Next, I meet with a member of human resources to go over employer benefit information, yada, yada, yada. This was routine, much like any other interview. Then, I meet manager Mr. B* (*name has been changed). He sat across from me and looked over my resume, then asked, "So, why did you apply for this position because you do not have a scientific degree?" I literally sat there dumbfounded for 30 seconds. Ms. Professional is slightly deteriorating, so I simply said, "The position did not call for a scientific degree, only a bachelors, which I have, in addition to my pharmaceutical experience." He replied "ok" and continued to scrutinize my resume. Then he explained that he just didn't understand why I applied for the position because of blah, blah, blah ( I actually don't remember because I blanked him out at this point). To put icing on my lovely interview cake, he looked at my accomplishment of receiving a presidential award from my previous employer for my work-a very prestigious award-and basically demeaned it into an award "for archiving and filing." I was livid. Ms. Professional is dead. I calmly looked at him and said, "Sir, you need to ask your HR recruiter why I am here, obviously you do not think I am qualified, but my credentials prove otherwise, so I do not know what to tell you at this point." He replied, "oh no, no, I know you are qualified, it is just I have never seen anyone with this degree in this type of position." Was this his way of smoothing things over? If anything, it was another insult at best.
I was completely fed up with the interview process at this point, but I had to meet yet two other managers. I wish I could apologize to them because my interview had already been ruined, and they were absolutely the nicest people I had met that day. They were funny, witty, knew I could do the work, and loved my attitude and outgoing personality. If I could have only had the interview with them. My last meeting was back with the Director, and she asked me if I had any questions, and I explained to her I didn't have a question, only a comment. I professionally let her know that I am qualified for this position, I am smart, I am determined, and I do not fail. I left her with that and walked out of the building wanting to cry, but I held my head high because I knew they were not worthy of having an employee like myself. Not to mention, this was a complete waste of 4 hours out of my day, and $15.00 in transportation costs-ALOT of money to an unemployed job seeker!
I told you I was taking the title of worst interview ever, believe me now? The purpose of this piece is to discuss interview etiquette. Career sites such as monster.com, careerbuilder.com, and the like, plaster sections exclusively for the do's & dont's during an interview for the job seeker. Why is there not a section for companies or the interviewers? Because they hold our work life in the balance, they no have to abide by these very rules? I found that I was questioning myself for a week, why did they request an interview with me? My first thought was affirmative action-did they just need to interview a woman to meet some gender requirement? That thought lasted all of 1 second-I know I deserved to be interviewed for that position because I am qualified. So, where did this interview go wrong?
I believe that some, not all, but some interviewers have a Napoleon complex in relation to their own position within a company. This is the only time they actually have the power to change the course of someone's life, albeit professionally, and they cannot resist the urge to sit across from the job seeker who obviously wants the position, only to make them feel as if they have not done enough in their career to warrant a better position-especially with them.
What is a job seeker to do in this situation? Maybe these career sites can address this, or hire me to address it ;-) In the meantime, I suggest that all job seekers be overly confident in an interview. I know consultants all over the world are gasping, but it is true. Being overly confident does not mean being egotistical or lying about your skills or accomplishments. It does mean that you will not be intimidated, professionally insulted, or categorically demeaned during an interview. These words are harsh, but the incident does not have to be in order for the job seeker to cut in and profess their career accomplishments. If you, as a job seeker, feel the interviewer crosses a professional line, no matter how small, do not be afraid to respond or comment. Always be professional, but always stand your ground.
I could not let this one incident consume me. Being a job seeker means falling of the wagon, getting up, and pushing onward to the next interview. I just had one recently: same scenario, totally different outcome. I applied for a job in the same industry, slightly different than my own experience, but the interview went extremely well. I do not know if I got the position, but that is not what this is about. I left the interview knowing my professional confidence in an unfamiliar setting impressed my interviewers. How do I know? They told me;-)
So, the next time you have an interview with the vampire, make daylight break in the form of confidence.