A couple of years ago I was out job hunting. The time to find a new gig before my finances were all dried up was running out. I was unemployed, just came out of a big mental rut, and was hungry to start something new.
The job market was competitive. Getting a foot in the door was a challenge. I would scream of joy each time I got an invite to the second round. One step closer towards the goal.
The particular job I’m thinking of right now was a perfect fit for me at the time. Or would’ve been, because I never got it.
I’m a big fan of location. This office was easy to reach. A short ten minute walk to the station, and then a mere 20 minutes tram ride until I’d reach the destination. The office itself was modern and spacious. There were multiple levels and areas in a loft-like setting. It felt like a pleasant work environment. The desks were set up with plenty of space apart from each other. If you were lucky with your desk, you’d be able to view a green garden all day long. In the same street as the office, there were dozens of restaurants to have lunch at. And there was an adorable office dog!
How the first interview went
I got an invite to a first physical interview. I immediately got on very well with the person who welcomed me at the office. I could see some of my future colleagues and future workspace. The interview flowed. It felt like I was having a conversation with some sort of a mentor who I was looking forward to working together with. If it were just up to him, I am positive I would’ve been given the job.
Upon rounding off the first interview, I was told there would be a second interview. With his client so to say, because any work that the office would draw in would be done for this particular client, so it was important that he was okay with having me on board as well.
But then came the second interview…
The day of the second interview was there. I arrived at the exact time my presence was requested. The person I spoke to last time was there and once again welcomed me. He led me to his client. We exchanged looks and said hello.
We were led into the office. Me and the client sat down, as my future manager got us all some beverages. I was trying to connect over some small talk, but the client wasn’t having any of it. I felt extremely uncomfortable. The energy in the room was forced.
The beverages arrived and everyone was ready to start the interview. We now sat here with the three of us. The person from interview #1 then opened the conversation. He asked: ‘All right, who would like to start?’ in a friendly manner.
I responded with an ‘I don’t mind, I can start?’. Upon which the client replied (in German) ‘Das ist mir Wurst…’, in a tone which had me questioning whether or not he was even going to give me a chance. This can be translated into ‘I couldn’t care less’, or ‘IDGAF’. My gut told me hell no too.
The energy in the room sank further. The tone he used and the looks I got from his direction were telling screaming at me ‘Since I have the final word in who gets hired, it’s not going to be you, because I don’t like you.’
I barely remember how the conversation went after that. I felt very tense and I knew that whatever I would say, it was not going to make a difference in his final decision.
Some days later, I received a call from my potential future manager. He told me that his client decided for someone else, and that I therefore didn’t make the cut. From his tone of voice, I could sense he felt some guilt towards me. I never blamed him.
What I learned
I wasted my time and energy on this talk. The moment I was told ‘Das ist mir Wurst’, I should’ve gotten up, straight away, and turned towards the manager telling him ‘I’m really sorry, but this isn’t going to work.’ And then just left the building. Back then, I didn’t dare. It went through my mind, but I was trying to save the interview nonetheless.
This had never happened before. Yes, if you get up and leave, you will miss out on a job opportunity.
But would you want to work for someone who doesn’t respect you in the slightest? You will not be heard and treated fairly. The least you can do is respect yourself. Get up, f#$k the interview and save yourself from a toxic environment. There will always be a next interview waiting for you.