Sunday, May 13, 2012

Never Decline a Job Interview

One rule I've always lived by is, never decline a job interview.

Clearly if you're unemployed this makes sense. But there have been times when I was gainfully employed and not looking for other employment when I was approached to interview for somebody and I've always found a way to clear my schedule for it. It's good practice for those times when you interview for a job you do want -- polishing your interviewing skills, practicing your smile, your firm handshake, your answers to the tough questions. And hey, you never know. The job opening might be more intriguing than you think.

I'm fortunate that this policy has paid off for me this month.

A couple of weeks ago, I was offered a job in which I would basically be a one-man sports department for a weekly newspaper out in the Berkshires. I recently received an MFA, and this was a writing job. Perfect. I wasn't excited about moving -- again, but the prospect of covering a couple of minor league baseball teams, two Division III colleges and high school sports was appealing. Ten years ago I left the world of journalism, expecting never to return, but you never know when life will come full circle and here was one of those instances. I looked for a place to live out in the Berkshires. I also nearly drove off a cliff.

In the meantime, all the job-searching I've undergone the past few months began to pay off. Past experience has taught me that it usually takes weeks or even months from the time a company posts a job opening to the time they start interviewing candidates, and now companies I applied or sent resumes to began to call me to schedule job interviews. Part of me was like, "Great. NOW they call." But the other side of me said, "You know what? You have a couple of weeks to kill before you head out west. Go interview. Can't hurt."

So I did. And sometimes you're at your best when you feel you have nothing to lose. Three different companies invited me in to chat with them. And through phone calls and emails they continued to engage me in dialogue after the interview. I was beginning to think they were really interested in me.

The benefit for me was, while all this was going on, things were changing out in the Berkshires. After I accepted the newspaper job, the job transformed before my eyes. Some new responsibilities were being thrown at me, responsibilities that weren't part of the original job description, and responsibilities that I wasn't interested in performing. I wasn't thrilled about the conversations I was having out there. And, when I was all set to write a check and put down a deposit on a place in Adams, thing were unraveling.

These seemingly unnecessary interviews came to the rescue. I've been offered all three jobs. One is a 35-hour-a-week job. Another is a part-time job (depending on the week anywhere from 5-25 hours). A third is a glorified freelance writing gig -- dull writing, but writing nonetheless. Who knows what will happen from here. But, faced with two scary choices -- moving across the state for a job I no longer want or turning it down and going back to Unemployment Square One -- I feel like this allows me sidestep the fear and gives me an opportunity to land on my feet.

So I've resigned from the newspaper job before it begins. Hopefully there will be no hard feelings out there. But I'm glad I figured all this out before putting down a deposit. I'm glad I don't have to muster up the energy to move again. 

And I'm really glad I went on those interviews.

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