Tag Archives: interview

The reasons for rejections

I’m writing this at the start of my 6th week of unemployment. I had a few setbacks last week, which I want to document here.

The previous week had ended well with me passing a second round interview for a company whose UK base is just about 25 minutes’ walk from my flat. The third stage was an online personality test and as such, I was given assurance that there were no right or wrong answers.

I didn’t get a chance to take this straight away, as I had an interview booked in at a “Mary-like” airline which is only a few hundred yards further, so I wanted to do all the necessary preparation in order to give myself the best opportunity to pass the interview.

I had a bit of a ‘mare on the Monday night. Having cleared out of the bathroom in order to clean it, I brought most stuff back in. But only when I was getting out of the bath did I realise that a towel wasn’t one of them. Hurrying to get one, I slipped on a tile and fell backwards. I know I banged my elbow and I thought that was it.

On Tuesday, the day of the airline interview, the temperature suddenly soared. But I still had to wear a suit and a shirt & tie for the interview. So I was sweltering in the heat and my back had started to ache too, presumably as a result of the slip the day before. As with pretty much every interview I’ve had, we started late, but not on my account. I was met by someone from HR and escorted through the building to the HR dept and then asked to wait. I waited for about 15 minutes while being subjected to the same advert on the screen nearby over and over.

This interview turned out not to go so well, as I was rejected from it the day after. The reason given was quite bizarre. In their minds, they have a setup which requires lots of people to do very little work. For example, in my last job I would spend half a day per month doing the bank reconciliations (for about 10 different accounts), whereas they employed someone to do the bank reconciliations as their full time job. We ended up talking at cross purposes, and the senior guy there was obsessed with making an artificial distinction between financial accounting and management accounting (for those of you who aren’t accountants, the difference is that financial accounting is reporting done externally for regulatory purposes and management accounting is done for internal purposes, but for 99% of the time you do exactly the same thing for both). But this guy treated them as though they were as different as football and ballet. The fact that I wouldn’t be drawn to a preference for one over the other was interpreted as meaning I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I was rejected on that basis.

Straight after this interview, I had to go the library to do this online personality test. The format gave you three statements for each question, and you had to say which statement you agreed with the most and with you disagreed with the most. Examples included:

  • I like to get things done on time
  • I enjoy negotiating with people
  • I am tidy
  • I make decisions quickly
  • I do not show my emotions easily

I’ve done plenty of personality tests before and they all come out fairly similar: I’m a details man, able to spot mistakes at a very close level, but also able to see the whole picture. In terms of Myers-Briggs, I am an INTJ personality type (Introvert-iNtuitive-Thinking-Judging), which puts me in the good company of Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking, though also in the exceedingly bad company of Ayn Rand!

The important thing here is the introversion. The job required building working relationships with people and I demonstrated a past ability to do this in my previous jobs during the course of my 2 interviews. But according to the company, introverts can’t do this and I was rejected on the basis of the personality test.

But in all this, the back ache didn’t go away and I could not stop sweating. Even at night, after pouring cold water over my face, I was just radiating heat and I quickly concluded that it was more than just accident + weather making me feel unwell, I had a virus of some sort. It felt rather like flu, only I had no symptoms of a cold. So on the phone I sounded absolutely fine, you couldn’t tell anything from my voice. But if you looked at me, you’d have seen a constant sheen of sweat dripping from my face and I couldn’t walk far or fast. If I wanted to see something behind me, I couldn’t turn my neck, I’d have to shuffle my feet around to look. That knocked me out for most of the week. However, I still had another interview to attend on Thursday. What was I to do?

Well, I did what any self-respecting man would do. I got up off my sick-sofa (I’m not good at spending all day in bed) and dosed myself up on painkillers. I made it onto a train into London and was able to scout out the office where my interview would be. This was a slightly tricky task as there were 4 roads in the same area with the exact same name, all centring on a single point. It was on the 3rd of the 4 that I found it! Having done so well ahead of time, I found a seat at Victoria station and gave myself more painkillers and fever suppressants, watching the clock tick round. I’m still waiting to hear back from that interview, but considering how many drugs I’d taken; it could be a novel rejection!

I’ve been rejected from other jobs for being over-qualified, which is quite bizarre. There is still a culture in finance that people have to be ambitious and so while there was nothing in the job they felt I couldn’t do, I was told I was “unlikely to progress as quick as I might want” without actually asking me about my views on “career progression.” Everything seems geared against someone with a christian mindset like mine, where ambition, career progression and other associated connotations of materialism are shunned in favour of finding contentment and fulfilment in God.

So what other reasons/excuses are there for rejecting someone? Have you had any bad or otherwise memorable ones you’d like to share?

The 3rd week of unemployment

So I come to the end of a 3rd week of unemployment and still the horizon is as far away as it ever was.

The week didn’t get off to a good start. As stated earlier, the 2nd week had ended with the possibility of an interview. However, the recruitment consultant I was dealing with was very poor at his job and so had not confirmed a time. So I started the week with great uncertainty and nothing ever emerged of it.

Given that Monday was a bank holiday, this only left 4 days to do any good amount of job hunting. As great as bank holidays are for the millions who work, they pass by with something slightly less than indifference for those of us out of work.

Tuesday was a fairly good day, just not in terms of jobhunting. My sister and her family had decided had decided a while back that they were going to go on holiday. Now, I live very close to one of the busiest airports in the country and my flat has a car parking space. Being a non-driver, I’m perfectly happy for friends and family to use this space if they are flying out from this particular airport. It saves them car parking fees, and it’s a lot more secure as well. Anyway, my sister wanted to take me up on this offer and so she arrived with my brother-in-law and my eldest nephew.

We had half a day together and got to take the little boy off the park so he could play on the swings. My nephew was also quite keen on this. However, just as we were leaving the park, I received a phonecall from one of the recruitment agents I’d been dealing with to inform me that I’d been rejected from one of the interviews had the previous week.

The reason was the usual one. My experience was good enough to get myself an interview, but because my remit in my last job was dealing primarily with other finance staff and with the executive board, it wasn’t part of my job to be a commercial director and be involved in pricing or detailed discussions with sales staff. That was the role of the commercial directors to whom I sent reports and commentary, as well as answering ad hoc queries from them. So all this is interpreted as meaning that I am incapable of dealing with non-finance staff and therefore unsuited to any job that might have the slightest whiff of non-finance in it.

Wednesday and Thursday were still pretty full-on in terms of jobhunting. I had, on the bank holiday, updated my CV on Monster. The way recruitment consultants work, they only look at recently updated profiles. So by making a few small changes I instantly put myself back on the radar for consultants who I hadn’t previously spoken to. At a rough estimate, I think my phone would go about twice an hour and these would often be followed up with an email, or in a few cases preceded by one.

In order to be able to claim job seekers’ allowance (JSA) I need to keep a record of everything that I am doing in order to look for work. So for every phonecall I have, I need to keep a log of who I spoke to, what firm they are from, what we discussed, what I will do next and when I will do it. So by the time I’ve had the phonecall, read the email, replied to the email and documented the whole interaction, the phone will usually have gone again.

It really is a full time job in and of itself. I had hoped that if I wasn’t going to be in employment I would at least be able to accelerate my reading and blogging to stop me going from insane, but I don’t get much of a break for this. The one benefit is that I have been able to sleep more. Normally, I tend to go to bed sometime between 10:30pm and 11:30pm, only to get up sometime between 4:30am and 6:00am (depending on how busy I was at work). Now, though, I am able to have a lie-in until about 8am, and I’m not usually going to bed until well after 11pm. Though I do find, in order to not screw up my circadian rhythm, that I am at my best when I am awake during the sunlit hours and am either winding down or asleep during the night. Also, I don’t want to get into such an “off work” rhythm that by the time I do eventually get a job that it’ll be hard to readjust to early morning starts.

Friday was quite a reasonable day. I had an interview lined up that was actually in the town I live, which was nice. It was only a 25 minute walk up the road from my flat. Since I was sure it was an 11am interview, I was having quite a leisurely morning, having already done the research on the role and the company. At about 8:30am I double checked my email to make sure of the time. When I then saw it was 10am rather than 11am, I suddenly had to get my skates on, as I hadn’t even ironed my shirt yet.

As it turns out, I ended up leaving ridiculously early and still arrived a long time before my interview was due. So I took a little walk around the industrial state, which was round the corner from where my office was for my first graduate job. When I made it back on time for the interview, I thought there were a few guys loitering outside the front of the building, having a smoke. But as I got closer, a minivan pulled up and I realised that this was a welcoming committee for the occupants of the minivan.

It quickly dawned on me that these were very important people visiting (the board from the overseas parent company), and that everything but the red carpet was being readied for their arrival. However, they were taking their time in getting out of the van, and I still had to get through the front door too! So I had a bit of dilemma on my hands: do I wait for them to go in, which could be several minutes, or do I scoot around in front of them and head straight to the reception desk, at the risk of having my back turned on my potential future employers.

I opted for the latter. Having clearly introduced myself to the receptionist, I was then asked very slowly to repeat myself because apparently giving my name first and who I was here to see second was the wrong way round.

As is usual with my interviews, I turned up about 4-6 minutes early, to give my interviewers adequate time to come and meet me, so we could start on time. However, when one chap came down the stairs, he was dressed very casually in jeans a light top. No sign of a suit or a tie anywhere. Then, when I caught from his brief discussion with the receptionist that he was one of the people I was having the interview with, he then proceeded to meet the other person in reception who was sat behind me, and they went off to a room together.

This prompted me to double-check my email in case the interview was at 11 and not at 10, in which case I might be off to a very bad start, though early is always better than late. This other meeting didn’t last long, and I think we started ours about 10 minutes late, which is about standard for the interviews I’ve been having.

I still couldn’t work out, though, why he was in casual clothes. It turns out that Friday is a dress down day every week, so apart from the exec board who arrived at the same time as me and the receptionists, I was the only person wearing a suit! Anyway, the interview went fairly well, though I know that’s not a guarantee of anything.

So as I write this on the weekend, I am still no closer to being employed. I’m also not further away, which is a good thing.