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Lessons Learned: The Very, Very Odd Interview

Lessons Learned: The Very, Very Odd Interview

I asked what I should do when I met the telecom clients. They told me to just stand there.

Now, I was really, really confused. I had never been really sure where we were going to meet the telecom people in very, very residential, suburban San Mateo. Perhaps go to the business centers to sell communications accounts? Negotiating in community offices? I had asked several times for specifics, but Janice never quite answered me.

After a relatively unhurried lunch, we piled into the car to head to our final destination, where I had the deep, distinct feeling, that all was to be revealed.

We pulled into a sleepy neighborhood. Janice made quick arrangements to be picked up at 5pm. She went to the trunk of the car, and replaced her frumpy blazer and shoes with a polyester telecom jacket and hideous worn-out sneakers. She also pulled out a clipboard for me. It had the very street address we were at, a list of house numbers with some additional columns.

It hit me. I was to be going door-to-door. Selling telecom services. This was direct marketing. It was 12:30pm. We were not to be picked up by 5pm. I had four and half hours to go. There was no one I could call to pick me up. I was nearly an hour outside San Francisco.

Part of me was desperate enough for a job and felt I shouldn’t put down door-to-door. Part of me was stunned by the deception. I’m a pretty smart girl, but they really had me fooled. Part of me felt it might be fun to play along, and have a hell of a good job-hunt story.

In the end, I really had no choice but to play along. We walked from house to house and informed the residents of the fiber-optic-telecom thingy that had been installed, which made you internet, cable and phone, faster and cheaper in a million ways. Many already had it, even more were really not interested. The most common excuse was “I don’t make the financial decisions in this house.”

As the hours passed, it got colder and darker. The homes became more inviting and forbidding at the same time, as delicious cooking smells wafted out the doors. I was dressed professionally, in slacks, a neat blazer and what I thought were comfortable shoes, with tiny heels. I was cold, hungry and my feet were actually killing me. For unclear reasons, I continued to play the cheery candidate.

That day Janice only managed to sign up two homes out of sixty.

On the way back to San Francisco, I was told in a rather off-hand manner, that I was invited for the third and final interview, that would take place at the office that evening. It would have been the moment to bail, but I felt I could use the interview practice. The interview took about 5 minutes, with an eager-beaver blond person, who did most of the talking.

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