Monday, March 5, 2012

Who does that?

Recently I was reminded of a story of a job interview I went to in December of 2004.  It's a brief tale:

The company:  Biogen Idec (pharmaceutical company)

The location: RTP, NC

The job:  Customer Service Representative (translation:  answer patient questions over the phone re: medications)

I heard about the job from two different sources.  I started talking to a total stranger in a early voting line in late October.  At some point in our conversation, she gave me her card, asked me to send her my resume,  and suggested I check out her company, Biogen Idec, for future employment.  Nice!  That was absolutely worth standing in line for two hours to vote early.  (Funny thought---I'm pretty sure I was voting early to avoid waiting in long lines on election day.  I don't think I was all that successful, but whatever.)  Fast forward a couple of months.  A weekly dinner group of friends acquired a new member.  She was telling us about her job interview that week at Biogen Idec.  This got my attention for sure.  I'd never heard of this company before, and now here's a second random mentioning of it!  New-dinner-group-member encouraged me to apply for the same customer service job she was applying for since they were hiring several people for the same position.  I applied and had an interview with a couple of weeks.

At the time, I lived at home with my parents.  My dad was ridiculously sweet and would often start my car for me in the morning to warm it up.  (December....brrrr....)  Our usual routine was to lock the keys in the car as it was left running.  I would use a second set of keys to unlock the car.

Interview morning:
This particular morning, of course, I did not leave myself enough time to get ready and fret over interview outfits.  Who am I kidding?  At this point in my life, I rarely left myself enough time to get anywhere on time, much less a job interview.  As I was barreling out of the front door to rush to my 8am interview, I quickly realized I had a serious problem.  Father Dearest had started my car about fifteen minutes earlier, before he left for work.  Ordinarily this would be no problem.  However, he happened to have the second (and only backup set) of keys with him.  His work was at least 15-20 minutes away.  Now I was panicking.  I had a fully functional, running vehicle in my driveway and no way to get in!  I called my Dad as soon as I realized the no-backup-key situation.  He said he would hurry as fast as he could to get back home.  I was so mad "How could he do this to me on a JOB INTERVIEW morning??!" and so humbled at the same time "How many people have kind, caring fathers to START THEIR CARS on cold mornings??"  I was sure this was going to cost me the potential job.  What potential employer, when lining up applicants, doesn't automatically disqualify the person LATE to the interview??  Who has the nerve to show up LATE to an interview anyway?  Who does that??

Dad showed up within 15-20 minutes, tossed me the keys, and I scurried on my way.  He felt so bad.  I felt so bad for feeling mad.  The whole way there, I tried calling any and all of the phone numbers I had for the interview people to let them know I'd be late.  I even called early-voting-line-lady to see if she could get in touch with the right people.  All I reached was voicemails.  I left the most ridiculous messages explaining why I was late.  For sure this was one of their regularly heard excuses, "Locked keys in car."  I almost talked myself out of going to the interview at all, to save myself the embarrassment.  The only thing that kept me focused was that I REALLY wanted this job.  A LOT.  I convinced myself that my chances of getting the job were way less if I didn't show up to the interview than they were if I showed up late.  How logical of me.

I finally arrived at Biogen, about 20 minutes late, jittery and way more nervous than I already anticipated being.  I joined the group of people being interviewed.  I could see the judgment in their eyes.  After all, I'd think the same thing in their shoes, "Who shows up late to an interview and actually hopes to get the job? Who does that??"  

After a couple of more follow up phone interrogations calls, they offered me the job.  I was in complete shock and disbelief.  Thankful, ecstatic, but shocked.  Within my first two weeks of employment, I spoke with the interviewers and HR people I met on interview day and thanked them for giving me a chance, despite my tardiness.

Have you ever flubbed up an interview?

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