Meet the One Who Put It On My Permanent Record

Meet the One Who Put It On My Permanent Record

by Kerry Scott on 14 August 2009


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

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Kristin (KMJ) August 14, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Now THAT is funny stuff – what a complete whackadoo!!!

But I have to know – did you at least have fun with it when her resume came across your desk????? The small, petty part of KMJ would have to seriously consider it…..

I’m loving your blog – and its nice to kind of “reconnect” with you!

Keep it up – you rock!

Sabrina August 14, 2009 at 1:20 pm

WOW. At first I missed the part where YOU were the candidate. That fact makes the whole thing even funnier. I have luckily not had TOO many bad experiences, but I did have one interview where the manager prefaced every. single. question. with “So, let me ask you a question…” No kidding? A question you say?
.-= Sabrina´s last blog ..G.I. Joe: A Review =-.

Kerry Sandberg Scott August 14, 2009 at 2:21 pm

KMJ—I thought about it, but naaaa. I’m not much of a grudge holder (except for the part where 10 years later I’m totally talking smack about her on my blog…but otherwise, not really).

“So, let me ask you a question…” is cracking me up.

anonymous August 14, 2009 at 2:27 pm


There’s holding a grudge, and giving people a taste of their own medicine. The problem with the interview process is that it is so one-sided — a candidate really has no way of telling an interviewer how much they really suck. Don’t you get any sort of glee from telling someone to shove it?

Charles August 14, 2009 at 2:42 pm

The only thing that could have been worse is if she interviewed you on a speaker phone while typing away so that the only thing you hear is the clicking of the keyboard.

Kerry Sandberg Scott August 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Anonymous—here’s the thing though: she was an idiot. I mean, only an idiot would act like that while interviewing someone on behalf of a client. So, really, what could I do that would have made her stop being an idiot? What if I’d called her in for an interview years later and said, “Hey, remember me? The one you went all whack on?” Would she have smacked her forehead and said, “Omigawd, you’re right, I AM an idiot. I totally repent. Thank you for enlightening me!” Of course not. She would have gone all whack again. Because she’s an idiot.

And the thing was, her resume crossed my desk for recruiter jobs. She never moved up (because, obviously, her performance was pretty poor). All modesty aside, I moved up pretty steadily from 1999 until I “retired” last year. So, really, did her nastiness hurt me? Nope. I found another job after that interview. I’ve had a story to tell for years, and now I’ve gotten a blog post out of it. So it’s not like I am permanently harmed here.

No one is served by giving her a taste of her own medicine. To do that, I’d have to have held on to my anger for a long time…which is not healthy. When you’re job hunting, there are going to be a certain percentage of people out there who treat you like crap. It sucks, but the worst thing you can do is hold onto it, because that stuff will wear you down, and your angry attitude will come out to other employers (and friends and family). You’re the one who’s harmed in that deal. You gotta let it go, for your own good.

Tim G August 14, 2009 at 9:57 pm

The first time we moved, my kids were 14 and 10. My daughter was in 8th grade and my son was in fourth. After they were settled into school, my wife was concerned that their transcripts might not have been successfully transferred from New York to Kentucky.
I told her I can’t be 100% certain, but I doubted that your grades from elementary school carry with you through life.
It just seemed natural to her that you have a permanent record, and it is your responsibility to maintain its integrity.
Your story is more like Elaine in Seinfeld, when her medical file was cautiously held by the physicians, and she seemed to be labeled as “difficult”. Your record most certainly reflects that you have either a hearing problem or an attitude problem.
.-= Tim G´s last blog ..In a Hurry? Breathe! =-.

Robert LaGow August 17, 2009 at 9:03 am

I like to preface each of my answers to “Let me ask you a question” questioners with “Let me tell you something . . . ” just to see if they get it.
.-= Robert LaGow´s last blog ..Global Ec. Stimulus Prize…Chance to Win $1,000! =-.

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