Part 320: End of the Line #1: The First Interview

RST

RECORD STORE TALES Part 320:
End of the Line #1: The First Interview

Every journey starts with a first step.

By 2005 it was obvious that my career at the Record Store did not have a future. Franchises were struggling, and I found myself on the outside of the clique of people who ran the show. I had sunk into a deep depression, which was exacerbated daily by the store. I was working as hard as I ever had, returning home exhausted each night, but the writing was on the wall.  It had been for years. I put together a resume and began applying for jobs.

Assembling that first resume was interesting. I hadn’t had to look for a job in over a decade.  Retail experience was one thing, but I was beaten down so much that I struggled to play up my skills. I couldn’t see my strengths. As I worked on it and sought advice from people I trusted within the organization, I realized my experience was anything but limited to a cash register. I had been responsible for training dozens of employees, and even some franchise owners too.  I had been responsible for bank deposits, and sometimes I was carrying thousands of dollars in cash on my person. I had also spent a couple years running our website. I had travelled all over southern Ontario helping to deal with staffing issues. There was so much responsibility, and I had received so little credit for it, that I was selling myself short. Once I got some help and got that resume into shape, I started applying for jobs.  One franchise owner wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation that I still treasure.  It gave my spirit a huge boost.

Not having done a job interview in a decade, I was applying to anything, just to get my interview chops back. I had applied to sales and management-type jobs, but was shot down each time for “only having retail experience”. Even though I had managed a staff many times, it didn’t seem to matter. I worried that spending 10 years in one job wasn’t necessarily a good thing, like I thought it was.

I got a call back from a local chicken restaurant. They were hiring for an assistant manager position, so I gave it a shot. The interview with the manager was set for a Sunday; an odd day for sure but at least I had it off. I put on a pair of dress pants for the first time in a long time; I remember they were uncomfortably tight. I squeezed in and headed off to the interview.  As far as a first interview in years goes, I did pretty well. As this blog attests to, if there’s one thing I like talking about, it’s music. If there’s two, it’s music and myself.  I’m good at conversing, in other words.  (I get this from my Grandfather who had “the gift of gab”.) However I had no food service experience and I really wasn’t all that interested. I was more curious what was out there.

Of course I did not get the job, but that interview experience taught me two things. One, doing an interview is like riding a bike. Once you learn how, you never forget; you might be rusty but it’s easy to climb back on. The second thing I learned was to always make sure I have a pair of dress pants that fit!

PANTS

My second interview went much better.  I had applied for a position at Manulife and I nailed it.  Even though I had given what I still think was the best interview of my life, I did not get the job, and my mood sank further.  These journal entries have all the details:

Date: 2005/12/15 11:37 am

Man, that interview went so well. I was told that I was the best candidate they interviewed, but that there was also an internal candidate who was a favourite.

45 minutes after the interview concluded, I got an email saying the other candidate got the job.

Date: 2005/12/15 19:22 pm

Yeah, I guess I can admit I’m just really bummed right now. I definitely gave the best interview of my life today. And she said so many great things about me:

“You have such great personality, I would hate to see that stifled in you.”

“You are by far the best candidate I have talked to.”

We bonded over Pink Floyd, Helix, the St. Jacobs Market, Walkerton…it was a damn fun interview.

Ahh well. One thing for sure, I had a taste while I toured their building of what a REAL job is. They even had a Tim Horton’s on site! There’s a professionalism that my current job couldn’t even dream of having. It was fantastic. I have a very clear vision of what I want now, and I WILL get it.

Regardless of my bravado, this rejection hit me extremely hard.

To be continued.

18 comments

  1. Right n man, yeah that first interview is always the toughest. It should always be a job you don’t really want. It cuts down on the nervousness and helps you just get into the swing of sitting down in front of a person who only knows you by a piece of paper.

    One of the interview before I got my current job was something I would have loved doing and it would have been the perfect job for me, but I didn’t get it. I had been lucky enough to score a job as a Chef for a small theater that was opening an adjoining cabaret bar and needed to serve food as part of the liquor license. They were looking or a new chef, someone with no leadership experience. It was a small operation, in addition to the bartenders and the theater staff I was the chef of the Theater bar. I was also the dishwasher the porter and the purchaser (yes I did my own grocery shopping). It was a tricky job and eventually I just kind of got tired of playing politics. I found a posting for a job as a Warehouse staff member for a sheet music company not far from the retail gig I worked at for almost 10 years. It would have been bloody perfect, the guy who did the interview and I bonded talking about music we had in common, the retail experience I had and my interest in music in general. I had the shipping/inventory experience the job required. I didn’t get the job. I was heartbroken. I went back to the kitchen. After nearly a year and a half at my current position I’m starting to get itchy feet. Theres just nowhere left to go there. I don’t hate it, I’ve just done everything I can do there. Theres a way out I just haven’t gotten there yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well dude I thank you for sharing and wish you all the best. I’m glad that others identify with this chapter. Of course it gets worse before it gets better but that’s another day.

      Like

  2. Interviews can be brutal. For my current job, I had a panel of three interviewing me, and they played good cop bad cop, because I had the education, but my work experience was lacking; I had worked in a hospital kitchen for years before trying to take on this job. That was hard, but I said that I was ready to move on and that there was no future in my current position. At that point, I had been to half a dozen interviews. I was already employed, which made things a lot easier. But, I have also been without work looking for work – that does a spin on your emotional state, for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never done a panel interview but would like to try the challenge, so long as I wasn’t too emotionally attached to the job!

      My emotional state definitely impacts the next chapter. Stay tuned.

      Like

      1. Yeah, I’ve actually had a few panel interviews – 4 – and they are quite common if you try to get employed at a college.

        Yup, emotions really can play a part if you really want the job. Desperation is the world’s worst cologne. lol

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Next chapter is not desperation. This is the one I’ve been waiting for and dreading since first starting this blog. Next chapter has been written for years. Next chapter is called The Last Straw and we will go there tomorrow.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. It is such a catch-22: You spent 10 years in the position (which shows loyalty, reliability, valuable characteristics) but then it seems they want you to have several jobs to demonstrate versatility and more than ‘retail’ experience. But then if you had several jobs they might say, ‘why do you keep changing jobs? Are you not loyal? are you unreliable?!’

    I like that library card message

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I was right with you the whole way, through this. Just knowing you gave a good interview, whether you got the job or not, is a boost for the next one. It’s really hard to sell yourself when you have such a short time, and they have only seen your CV.

    I’ve never had a job that long – we moved province to province for a decade, and I’ve had lots of jobs, here and there, in lots of fields. Tons of interviews. One of the challenges I found out west was having Quebec on my CV. Not always a popular place, with westerners… But stephen1001 was right – longevity shows loyalty, but also lacks breadth of experience (to some). All you can hope you for is that the person interviewing you is actually listening to you, not ticking check boxes and distracted the whole time.

    Just before I stayed home with the kids, I interviewed for a great job here. Perfect fit for me. I had everything they needed – but the job went to a lady who had been to several schools for somewhat related things. They told me the interview was great, they liked everything. Ah well. That was a panel interview, the boss, her boss, and her boss. No pressure. Haha.

    Also, how the hell do you bond over Walkerton?

    Like

    1. Thanks! He began life as a tight pants Joe, but I like the walking away interpretation better. He will be back for a last appearance.

      Walkerton — Small town where my mom was from originally. The interviewer was there, about my mom’s age, they probably went to school together.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Cool, it’s an alright town. But yeah, Walkerton, Clinton and Exeter – fun times for our team, not guaranteed wins but near as could be. ;)

          We used to use the by-pass at Walkerton on the way to Port Elgin when we went up through Formosa.

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