Take a trip back in time with me, wouldja?
The year was 1999. Bill Clinton was president. Britney Spears was singing “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” People were stocking up on canned goods and cash for the millennium. Cell phones were huge, and they were still very unreliable.
So imagine my surprise when I was a candidate for an HR Manager job, and the interviewer called me for the phone interview…on a cell phone. In 1999. There was a lot of static, and her voice kept cutting in and out, and I kept having to say, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”
And at first she said, “Oh, it must be my gum. Hang on, let me spit it out.” I didn’t really get the connection between gum and the call breaking up, but since it seemed like spitting out your gum in order to conduct a job interview would be a good idea anyway, I just went along with it.
Of course, the static continued, and she kept cutting in and out, and I kept having to say, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” At one point she said something that sounded like, “I’m in my basement,” but apparently she didn’t move, because it continued. Remember, this was in 1999, when being in your basement actually mattered a lot in terms of cell phone service.
And she got increasingly annoyed…with me, not the phone. At one point she said something like, “Can’t you follow along? I mean, these are regular interview questions. You shouldn’t have to hear every word to get the gist of them.”
And I was like, “Holy Aggressive Freak Batman.”
But I kept trying, because I wanted the job. She kept making snide remarks, and just generally being a jerk. She’d say something like, “Tell me about your experience with high volume recruiting,” and I’d say, “Well, at XYZ company, I had about 60 requisitions open at a time,” and she’d snottily say, “I don’t see XYZ company on your resume,” and I’d say, “It’s the second one up from the bottom.” The whole thing went like that, with her being just aggressively clueless, and me trying to go along and keep my cool.
And the static and cutting-in-and-out continued, because, again, this was 1999, when cell phones sucked. Then we got disconnected.
And she called me right back (from a landline this time), and I picked up, and said something like, “Oh, we must have been disconnected.”
And she said, “Bullshit. We didn’t get disconnected. You just hung up on me, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU??? Because that is going on your permanent record with us.”
“Permanent record.” For real. She said that. I mean, who says that? I can actually live with “bullshit” in an interview, but I just can’t get over “permanent record.” It still cracks me up. Plus, why would I hang up on her and then pick the phone up again 30 seconds later when she called back? I mean, duh.
So at that point, I said, “Umm, I don’t think this job is a fit for me.” And she said, “FINE.” Then she hung up.
Later I found out she didn’t actually work for the company in question…she was a contract recruiter, with a firm that is sort of notorious for its collection of freaks. I found out because she applied for a job with me. In fact, her resume has crossed my desk three times in the ten years since this happened. Obviously, I never considered her…because this incident is on her permanent record.
Clue: Don’t treat people like crap. You never know where they’ll turn up.
Tales of the Cluefree appear pretty much every Friday. Past stories are here.
Photo by thelastminute