Interview Crash and Burn

I recently went on the interview of a lifetime for a VP of Marketing position. While I was once offered an AVP role (and subsequently had the offer rescinded due to ill timed budget cuts), an actual VP role without training wheels has always eluded me. As such, I invested 2 weeks of my life prepping for the interview with the president after making it past 2 rounds of HR screenings. All of this should have served me well but I felt like the interviewer made up his mind the minute he saw me and dismissed me the rest of the all too brief brief interview.

I went so far as to create a very impressive 15 page PPT with my 30/60/90 day objectives and he casually tossed it aside without reading one single word. I did so much in depth research into their industry and all the legislative changes that will affect it because of the new administration and yet the interviewer said I had no background in their industry (duh, didn’t they know that when I sent my resume in 3 weeks ago?).

I reluctantly confess that in the far recesses of my mind I entertain conspiracy theories on why that may have happened (my race, my gender, my overall physical appearance, etc.) but I’m trying not to get worked up about it. We are now entering a new age of enlightenment so let’s just give him the benefit of the doubt and call him an equal opportunity meanie. Besides, the SVP of HR loved me when she met me in person otherwise I would not have made it to a 2nd round. He was one of those arrogant dotcom era types, you could tell because he was the president of the company yet sloppily attired in faded old jeans. I wasn’t sure whether I should shake his hand or spare him some change. Speaking of handshakes, he gave me quite the dead fish handshake which I found so completely disrespectful and unprofessional! Believe me, it’s not a fly by night operation and he was even featured in interviews in Inc and other respectable publications.

He intimated that I didn’t have enough experience to run a department of 3 people. I politely disagreed saying that getting cooperation from 20-50 global colleagues at different levels across multiple LOBs in a large matrixed organization like Deloitte was far more challenging than getting the cooperation you need from 3 direct reports that sit in the same building. He said “you have a point” but I think that just put him off even more.

In retrospect, I’m embarrassed at how must time the infinitely patient and well intentioned recruiter and I spent discussing strategies. We actually debated the use of “well poised” vs “well positioned” on Slide 3! I’m more embarrassed still at how little I had prepared for previous jobs but the economy didn’t dictate it in the recent past. All is not lost since I now have a wonderful PPT template which I can co-opt for future interviews. I also realize that I’m better off working for another established corporate monster like Deloitte where everyone is a professional cookie cutter drone rather than one of these fast growing 90s throwback outfits where everyone has too much personality and attitude for their own good.

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3 Responses

  1. You may have encountered the “Cute Ceiling”. That’s what I call the inexplicable mental minimizing done by people who control careers, of a petite woman who, if were she a man, would command a much higher salary and title and be given the Benefit of the Doubt rather than the Prove Yourself Over and Over treatment. There are certain people who when you meet them, you just KNOW they put you in a mental corner.

  2. I think you’ve reached a very reasonable realization: that you’re “better off working for another established corporate monster like Deloitte where everyone is a professional cookie cutter drone rather than one of these fast growing 90s throwback outfits where everyone has too much personality and attitude for their own good”. I also think that is just a really awesome line 🙂

    Also, while Lani has a point (perhaps already included among your mentally archived conspiracy theories?), I think retaining an open mind and a give-them-the-benefit-of-the-doubt attitude is certainly a useful inclusion in your arsenal as you approach interviews.

    Finally, sorry to be long-winded!

  3. Lani – Honestly, the thought did cross my mind.

    M3 – Yes, an open mind leads to less resentment over time.

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