Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Microstory 2183: Held My Fate in Their Hands

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I’ve been spending all day conducting phone interviews with the first wave of applicants. It wasn’t just me, though. Jasmine took part of the list, as did my colleague who has been helping me prepare for the in-person interviews that will come later. As I was about to make the first call today, I realized that I should have also taken some time to practice these, not only because they come before the face-to-face meetings, but because I don’t tend to be too great on the phone. I have trouble picking up on social cues, but at least when I’m in the same room with someone, I can do my best. It’s so much harder on the phone. They could be muting themselves, and giggling at how I stumble over my words, or gesturing their boredom with the blah, blah, blah hand gesture. These possibilities start swirling around in my brain, and I start to lose my train of thought, which only makes things worse. I sometimes hang up the phone having kind of blacked out, and being unsure whether anything I said made any sense whatsoever. That all being said, my colleague’s training helped with these too. I did okay, and I think the candidates were receiving me pretty well. I asked the right questions at the right time, and remembered that one major reason for phone interviews is to give candidates time to ask questions of me. Hiring managers might forget that it’s not just about us choosing them, but them choosing us too. This is meant to be a new business partnership, or in the case of internal candidates, a change in that relationship. Just because someone needs a job, doesn’t mean that they’re desperate for it, or that they ought to be desperate, or that they should be thankful that we’re even bothering to consider them, or that we have the right to exploit them for all we need.

It’s important to me that I never forget what it’s like for people in their situations. I don’t know everything that they’re all going through, and I shouldn’t be expected to, but I should try to empathize anyway. It wasn’t too long ago that I was in jail, and before that, I was on the run, and before that, I was unhoused. I didn’t get to where I am by being brilliant and hardworking. I relied on a lot of other people giving me a chance, and putting their trust in me, and not being judgmental. Long ago, in my home universe, I was in between jobs, but it hadn’t been too long yet. An interviewer asked me how long I had been on the search. I was afraid that she wouldn’t consider me if I told her the truth, because someone who had been searching for longer was in more need, all things being equal. What my mother told me later was that it was the opposite; that if you’ve been looking for too long, they’ll assume that something’s wrong with you. That’s bullshit, and I won’t tolerate it. So I’m not going to ask people how long they’ve been out of work, or why. It’s none of my goddamn business. I more than anyone know how hopeless it feels to be treated like everything bad that has ever happened to you is your own fault. People deserve better. They deserve the benefit of the doubt. Now, I’m mostly hiring highly experienced and specialized workers for my team, as we have no entry level positions available on the team, but I’m still going into it with this attitude, because I don’t want to become everything I’ve hated in people who held my fate in their hands. I want to take my personal experiences, and make them better for others. So if you applied, and you feel like you’re being mistreated, or if you have stories to tell about your issues with other employers, send me a message. I’m always looking to improve, even if I’m not the only one who should hear what you have to say.

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