Open Letter to a Failed Job Applicant

Read­ing Time: 3 min­utes

Life is hard.  It’s hard­er if you’re stu­pid.”  — John Wayne

Dear Appli­cant,

I know it must have hurt you to find out that you were not select­ed for the posi­tion you inter­viewed for with my com­pa­ny.  I know that based part­ly on my own expe­ri­ences look­ing for work, but also by the way you attempt­ed to high-five me when the inter­view was over.  Rest assured, the fact that you almost punched me and that I had to get my glass­es adjust­ed (turns out they aren’t made to hit the wall that hard) had no direct bear­ing on you not being asked to join our team.  I feel a cer­tain sense of duty, how­ev­er, and would like to see you suc­ceed in the future.  To that end, please con­sid­er my top­i­cal sug­ges­tions for improv­ing your inter­view per­for­mance below.

Timeliness–I under­stand that unfore­seen com­pli­ca­tions can arise at any place, and often at the most inop­por­tune times, which is why I did­n’t can­cel the inter­view when you were 35 min­utes late to meet with me and the rest of the inter­view team.  Life can hap­pen to any­one, and I was feel­ing a lit­tle for­giv­ing that day.  Thank­ing me pro­fuse­ly for allow­ing you to inter­view was a good start, but explain­ing to me how drunk you were last night prob­a­bly was­n’t your best move, strate­gi­cal­ly speak­ing.

Clothing–I know that in sev­er­al print and oth­er media out­lets it is a well-hack­neyed meme to eschew the idea of wear­ing a suit to a job these days.  Some even say that you should­n’t wear a suit to the inter­view.  I tend to dis­agree, but I do under­stand that now that I’m in my late 30’s I am offi­cial­ly an old codger from your per­spec­tive.  Let me just say this, then.  Show­ing up to the inter­view in a wrin­kled gap shirt, a pair of what I have to imag­ine are extreme­ly uncom­fort­able jeans, and some odd­ly col­ored shoes that may have been made out of recy­cled rub­ber boots was a regret­table choice.  You can prob­a­bly skip the tie if you need to, but you may want to con­sid­er a pair of good slacks, a but­ton-up shirt, and a coat.  You may be a fresh-out-of-col­lege hip­ster, but some of us aren’t.

Confidence–I admire con­fi­dence in peo­ple, I think it’s a good trait.  Con­fi­dence dur­ing a job inter­view is also a good trait, and I’m glad to see you have it in spades.  You should con­sid­er tem­per­ing that con­fi­dence just a bit, how­ev­er, and per­haps rel­e­gat­ing your sto­ries of oth­er-world­ly deeds to things you have actu­al­ly done, and not just things you have heard about.  Also, the phrase “back in the day” should prob­a­bly not be used to describe some­thing I remem­ber imple­ment­ing less than 10 years ago.

Questions–I have to admire the way you showed absolute­ly no inter­est in my com­pa­ny… none, nada, zip.  It takes a remark­able amount of focus and ded­i­ca­tion to remain that entire­ly dis­in­ter­est­ed in a com­pa­ny you, osten­si­bly, are inter­est­ed in work­ing for.  I have a hard time hit­ting that lev­el of indif­fer­ence on top­ics as mun­dane as toi­let paper col­or, so that’s some­thing.  For future inter­views, how­ev­er, you may want to come armed with some basic ques­tions that show you are at least aware of the com­pa­ny name.  Start slow, then work up to more detailed ques­tions like:

(1) What kind of com­pa­ny is this?

(2) What do you make?  Or sell?  Or do?

(3) Will I be paid?

(4) Am I expect­ed to wear clothes?

I do applaud you for hav­ing ques­tions at the ready, and for ask­ing them in a seri­ous man­ner, but I do ques­tion the con­tent a bit.  For instance, the few min­utes we spent dis­cussing what it *real­ly* means to take a ran­dom drug test, whether they’re tru­ly ran­dom or not, and how much notice you’d be giv­en were insight­ful to say the least.  Your con­cern about back­ground checks was also good to see, though per­haps not in the way you might have hoped.  The sto­ry about your wrong­ful arrest was col­or­ful, if not help­ful to your cause, and was 10 min­utes of my life I’ll nev­er get back.

Salary Negotiations–Here is an area where you real­ly shot for the moon, and that is com­mend­able on some lev­el.  Your tenac­i­ty in main­tain­ing your worth to my com­pa­ny, despite all evi­dence to the con­trary is a mod­el of con­fi­dence and self-worth.  The fact that your last job was as a help-desk tech­ni­cian for the local chap­ter of the there-but-for-the-grace-of-God soci­ety, that you had respon­si­bil­i­ty for two com­put­ers, and that you spent the major­i­ty of your work week in what I’d char­i­ta­bly call the cus­to­di­al indus­try notwith­stand­ing, you stood your ground and demand­ed a six-fig­ure salary.  As a quick aside, I have to apol­o­gize again for blow­ing cof­fee out my nose at you dur­ing this dis­cus­sion.  I assure you it was sim­ply a lin­ger­ing ill­ness and noth­ing to do with our con­ver­sa­tion.

In clos­ing, while you were not offered this position–or any future posi­tion, ever–I hope that my sug­ges­tions above will be tak­en under advise­ment and help you as you explore oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties with–and I can’t stress this enough–other com­pa­nies.  Oh, and the posi­tion was filled by a guy in a suit.  He was­n’t as fun to inter­view as you were, but again, he had a suit.