A reader sends me a link to this article. Let’s take a look:
I’d had my eye on the biggest company in my field for a couple of years, just waiting for the right role to come up. They had a reputation for staff retention, beautiful offices and great workplace flexibility, and after proving myself and climbing the ladder at the company I joined after I finished uni, I was ready for a new challenge.
Some questions for my readers. Do you think this is a man or a woman writing this? Do you think he or she is in role where outcomes matter, or whether following the process is more important?
A friend had alerted me to the opportunity, which wasn’t being advertised publicly, so I thought I was in with a good chance. I stayed up past midnight one night polishing my resume and ensuring I tailored it to the values of my dream company.
I’ve tailored my CV to a particular role, but never to the values of a company. It sounds as though she just filled it with whatever drivel she found on the corporate website.
So I was thrilled when the HR manager – a guy named Brendan – called to offer me an interview. I told him I’d see him tomorrow, and left work early to go home and prepare. I practised answering curly questions with my housemate and made sure my best corporate outfit was pressed and clean.
I had to look up “curly question”. Apparently it’s Australian slang for a difficult question. In any case, this reads like something from a teenager’s diary.
I felt ready when I walked up the broad white stairs of the building, through the glass doors and up to reception. I told the receptionist my name and who I was there to see, and I waited.
I might have guessed the interview didn’t take place in a porta-cabin at the muddy end of a building site.
He was Brendan. From Bumble. We’d chatted for three solid weeks before I’d decided he was a snoozefest and unmatched with him.
The joy of dating apps like Bumble and Tinder, for those lucky enough to not need them, is that – as long as you haven’t exchanged phone numbers yet – you can unmatch with people on there at any time and they have no way of finding you again.
I use this function to my advantage all the time because I hate telling guys I’m not interested. So I will talk to them for weeks in the app and then either go on a date – at which point I have to offer up my number – or unmatch and disappear forever.
I’ve written before about how the mobile phone has allowed people to dispense with the normal politeness that governed ones behaviour when dating. If she lacks the courage to tell people she’s not interested and simply disappears, it’s hardly surprising she’s on Bumble looking for a boyfriend.
Brendan seemed like the perfect guy for me when I first swiped right on him. He was good looking, fit and had a good career in HR.
People will say that about me soon.
But as we chatted back and forth over the weeks, I realised he’d never really done anything off the expected life plan. He’d never messed up. He’d never travelled or been arrested or even bared his bum in public.
In short, he was too straighty-one-eighty for me.
I like my guys to have a past. Some perspective on life so they know what they’re doing is the right thing for them. I want them to have stories about being arrested in Amsterdam or streaking at the soccer in Rio.
And being convicted of possession with intent to supply and smacking their ex-girlfriend in the eye when she got a bit lippy. I’m reminded of this post.
Brendan had none of that, and he had to go.
I expect she did a backpacker’s trip to Europe with ten thousand other Australians and now considers herself worldly.
And all I could think about in this moment was that I shouldn’t have ghosted him.
Because it’s a cowardly thing to do, or because it might now affect what passes for your career?
I could identify the exact moment, as he reached out and shook me hand, that Brendan realised who I was. There was a flash of recognition in his eyes but it quickly disappeared as his professional face took over, and he ushered me into an office with two of his colleagues.
A penny for Brendan’s thoughts here.
I was rattled, but I tried to shake it off and focus on the interview. I still really wanted this job, and I couldn’t let a failed dating attempt get in my way.
The trio fired question after question at me, and I think I answered pretty well. I even started to think for a moment that perhaps Brendan didn’t realise who I was.
Then, after I had asked a few questions about the role, and we were winding up the interview, Brendan said, “What about challenging conversations? How are you at having those?”
This is the kind of thing HR people ask at interviews for a job requiring complete and utter obedience.
I could see amusement in his eyes as he asked and I could tell he was toying with me. But the others didn’t know that so I knew I had to be careful how I answered.
“I’m comfortable dealing with people at all levels and I’m not afraid to have difficult conversations,” I lied. “I believe if I conduct myself professionally and communicate openly, that will foster respectful and clear conversations with others, so everyone can get on with executing their roles to the best of their ability.”
She lied then, and she’s lying now. There is no way on earth she said that.
The other interviewers seemed pleased with my answer and Brendan smirked as he said, “Thanks Sophie, we’ll be in touch.”
I was so relieved to get out of that office, and was surprised when one of the other interviewers called me later that day to offer me the job.
I don’t know how I’ll handle things with Brendan now that we’ll be working in the same office but I do know I’m about to become an expert on having challenging conversations.
I expect it will end in your very own MeToo moment. At least you should be able to get another article out of it.