Experiences with employment job interviews gone wrong and other situations:
Be sure to look at my career page for the results of my successful job interviews. I’ve been to a lot of job interviews, and the following interview stories are the ones that stand out the most to me. But one thing is for sure, and that is it is not easy to determine the foundation of discrimination. Some appear obvious (per se) and others perhaps being burned was a factor but then maybe not. However, as a burn survivor one always has to prove themselves because there is always doubt, and people are not very good at concealing their doubt.
2007 – Clearwater – I was contacted by a recruiter for an overnight IT position at Home Shopping Network. I cleared all the initial hurdles and the next step was to set the time for the in-person interview with HSN’s human resources department. The recruiter called me several times before the call to make sure I was near the phone, and after several hours of delays from HSN the call never came. The next day the recruiter investigated and said they HSN wouldn’t give any details but that they were no longer interested. I checked my stats for this web site and during the time I was expecting the phone call from HSN they had visited this web site. Just makes one wonder what they were thinking.
2006 – Clearwater – Interviewed for an IT position servicing corporate and home-user clients for an outsourcing company. Everything went fine until the two interviewers kept questioning my ability to interact with clients. They were concerned about my “people skills.” It was odd that they seemed to not understand the details and duties of prior positions I’d held during my career, which were all “people skill” based work. I explained my experience with customer service and how I learned from working at Subway that quality work and good people skills are what customers want. The customers at Subway didn’t care that my hands were scarred and deformed; they wanted well-made sandwiches, and that is what I delivered. I explained that during lunch time groups of people would come in and wait and let others ahead inline so that I would be the one to prepare their orders. That is still to this day some of the most validating experiences I have ever had in my life. The IT outsourcing firm guys didn’t get it. They never called me back.
1998 – Chicago – I was called for an interview at Harpo Industries for a network/computer support position. The interview went very well, and I was upfront about attending law school. They called me back with the comment that Oprah said I appeared qualified but that she had reservations about my ability to meet the demands of Harpo while attending law school. The job was a 24/7-work-environment with late nights staying until after the rating came out, and traveling to Michigan when required. I think I would have performed exceedingly well at the job as it was close to school and my home. Anyway, as it turned out I took a job in the suburbs that had its fair share of long days. I’d like to note that I believe Harpo’s concerns where sincere and had nothing to do with me being burned; however, they didn’t feel I could do both a full-time job and attend law school at night, which is the exact environment in which I thrive and excel. [This interview highlights one of those circumstances that first appears to be burn related but actually is based on something totally unrelated to burns.] — I’d like to commend Oprah on the stance she has stated about personally endorsing Obama and the non-personal operations of her business activities.
1998 — Lakeland — Marriott Timeshare
Another job candidate and I performed a working-interview for a week with the company. The company stated they would select at the end of the week which one of us they would hire on full time. Friday afternoon they let me know they had selected the other guy. I was surprised because the guy really hadn’t done any work all week. I received a call the following Wednesday asking if I would take the job as the other guy was a poor decision because he didn’t now what he was doing and couldn’t do the work. Perhaps I had held my cool too much the previous Friday, but I had explained in defense for the job without trying to sound like a poor loser that their chosen candidate hadn’t done any work all week.
Before the awarding of my college degree —
1991 – Tampa – Answered a help wanted ad placed in the newspaper. I was invited to interview with RPS (since acquired by FedEx). Upon arrival I discovered it was a group style interview. We all did the usual paperwork, and then were given a tour of the package sorting facility, and then brought back to the interview/conference room. There were about eight of us interviewing, and each was called up to the table at the front of the room to speak with the interviewers. When I was called I walked up and before I got the table the man seated at the center spoke to me. He said “why are you here; it is obvious you’ve never done a hard days work in your life, rich boy.” I never made it all the way to the table. I made a civil comment and left. I was little shocked at the comment, but it wasn’t the first time I’d experienced such reactions. The one thing that always baffles me is why so many people think I’m rich, unless they think I received huge sums of money from some burn settlement, which is of course no true. I received no money, and we never sued or tried to recover in any other method for my burn injuries.
1991 – Tampa – Interviewed with Steak and Ale for kitchen help/dishwasher. Sat down with the manager and was asked about my experience. I told him I was the manager at Subway down the street. He said come back after you get some real restaurant experience. I coyly asked for some suggestions, and he said, “Try McDonald’s.” Since then I’ve always fondly referred to “Steak and Ale” as “Shit and Piss.”
1989 – Gainesville – Tried to join the U.S. Army Reserve. I did the initial interview, and then sat for the ASVAB test (I scored very well). Afterwards I heard back from the the recruiter with news that they were having trouble getting all my medical records from Shands. I spoke with the recruiter one more time, and then nothing ever materialized. I could have pursued it but I wasn’t 100 percent sure about joining from the start, and of course the recruiters may have sensed my reluctance as well. Later I worked at the Washington Navy Yard naval base while at USO, which afforded the opportunity to serve in a civilian capacity.
1986 – Gainesville – Applied in-person at a Subway across town seeking a night-manager. I road my bicycle across town to interview. The owner liked my previous experience as a Subway night-manager in Vero Beach, but then said a car was required because otherwise I’d not be able to get to work. I said I road my bike to the interview and I use my bicycle to get around town quite effectively. He said a bike is not reliable, and that he was sorry he couldn’t offer me the job.
1986 thru 1988 – Gainesville – The Sovereign Restaurant, dish washer position. I was told they’d get back to me, which they didn’t. They did have excellent grouper oscar though. There were a dozen or so restaurants I applied for advertised positions, and not one of them every offered a job position. I never applied to a waiter or front room position (though I had experience working such positions).