Saturday, April 04, 2009

Yes, but No

(Thanks to Flickr user _FXR for the photo.)

I thought I was going to be able to share the glorious news that I had been hired. I was sure it was going to happen, and then it didn't.

Here's the story. I got a phone interview with a local company. It's a nonprofit. You've never heard of them.

The phone interview was wonderful. I was telling great anecdotes that made me look witty and talented. The director told me his moving personal story of why and how she got involved, how his family felt about the work. We spoke for nearly two hours. I felt great afterward.

The first in-person interview was excellent. It was the director, a board member, a staff member. It was a great interview.

They invited me to a second interview, and this one felt much more intimate. We were sitting around a conference room table, chatting like old friends. We talked about scheduling vacation days and workspaces and upcoming events. I showed them pictures of my son. I asked a couple of hard questions about the organization's finances and got a hard answer instead of cold stares.

At the end of the interview, I was feeling pretty confident. I had a hunch and I wanted to see if I was right.

"At this point, are you interviewing any other candidates?"

I thought I saw a bit of a smirk. "You're our top candidate."

I gave them my references and filled out a generic form authorizing a background check.

I got an email early next week. "The background check looks great. I spoke to one of your references. Just need to speak to the other one and get the board to okay the hire. We're almost done!"

We're almost done. I remember that phrase. He was telling me that he was just checking off the final boxes on the form, dotting the i's, crossing the t's. The process, the waiting, this whole purgatory of job seeking, all of it was nearing it's end. We were almost done.

The next day, another email. "Okay, I spoke to your second reference. Now the final step is getting the board's approval." The board would meet in executive session that Friday, where one of the questions would be my hiring.

Naturally enough, I was feeling optimistic. Who says things like "the final step" and "we're almost done" to someone you're not going to hire? Mrs. B and I made plans to go out to dinner on Friday night. I started compiling a mental list of all the things I wanted to buy once I was working again - albums, electronic devices, household stuff. I was imagining what I'd need at my desk on that first week, the programs I'd have to set up, what pictures to bring with me for the office.

And then Friday came and went. I stared at my phone all day, kept checking to make sure the ringer was turned up. I expected, based on the constant stream of communication, that I'd get an immediate phone call as soon as the official decision was made. I never got that call.

Dinner that night was somber and awkward. I kept my phone with me the whole night, half-expecting it to ring and kick the celebration into full gear. Instead, it stared at me blankly, like an unconvinced witness.

I was tense and cranky all weekend, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. My wife kept reassuring me that the call could still come Monday. Maybe she had been working late and wanted to save the call until next week. Maybe.

I didn't get the phone call on Monday morning. Finally, late that afternoon, I decided to call. I left a voice mail. I tried to keep my voice even, but I'm not sure I succeeded.

Tuesday I got a cryptic email - "we've still got a couple of issues to work out, so sorry, call if you wanted more information." Of course I wanted more information, so I called.

The director sounded nervous. He gave me a song-and-dance about how nervous he was about making the right decision. He was second-guessing whether he had made the right decision. "80% of this organization's budget comes from this position, after all," he told me. (I knew this. I had worked in fundraising before, knew the pressure on the job better than he did.)

And then he dropped the bomb. She was going to schedule interviews with a couple of "late-surfacing" candidates.

"Oh," I said.

"I know, I know," he said too quickly. "I want this to be done, but ... you know? We just need to make sure we made the right call."

He made more apologies which I didn't really hear. I was being turned away. After all the reassuring messages, after all the great impressions and positive vibes. After meeting three board members, two staff members, and two of the office volunteers, I was going to be turned away.

It's now four weeks later. I still haven't heard back. I haven't called back because I don't want to be told that they hired someone else. As long as I don't hear from them, the possibility still exists that I'll get the job.

And honestly, I'm not sure I want this job. I don't know if it was genuinely jitters on his part or if the board wasn't completely sold on hiring me. I don't know the real story. What I know is that I felt misled. I feel like I was led on. I told someone that it felt like we got engaged, and then the organization decided to screw a few more people just to make sure it had made the right choice.

If they have that much trouble believing I'm the right person for the job, I'm not sure I want it anymore. I'd rather work for someone who knows that I'm the right guy, not someone who thinks I might be, but maybe I'm not, and it might work but I don't know, and who really knows anyway, and oh, gosh, this is all so hard and maybe we just ought to think about it for a while more. I know I'm a hell of a catch, and if he couldn't figure it out, someone else will. Someone else will.


Carol said...

This sounds excruciating! I'm so sorry! It's not a non-profit in the health ed field by any chance, is it?


nancy said...

Oh that SUCKS. So sorry.

That happened to me once too. I was the golden girl and everything was a go, then suddenly I was no one - couldn't even get a call returned. I still wish I could have figured out what made me go from WOW to no way.

Anyway, something better will come along. (Easy for me to say, huh?)

Sky Bluesky said...

Thanks, guys.

Carol, I probably wouldn't admit it if it was, but it was not a health ed organization.

I really believe that something better will come along. It's been a few weeks now, so I'm mostly over the sensation of being thrown on the ground and trod upon. Two interviews tomorrow!