My client Lanni called the other day sounding quite frustrated and angry. I encouraged her to take a few calming breaths. After a long pause she finally blurted out, “They wouldn’t let me interview! I sat in their reception area listening to that insipid instrumental background music for over 45 minutes, and the assistant finally came out and said that her boss wasn’t going to interview me and gave me no explanation.”
“That must have been very infuriating” I said.
“I’m so hurt and angry that they wasted my time! I really wanted that job, and was thoroughly prepared for my meeting with the research director and hiring manager!” Lanni said sobbing.
Lanni is a senior-level medical researcher and she had been steadily applying for positions at a large teaching hospital where she believed the work would be interesting and a good place to apply her specialized skills. She felt like she had finally gotten through to an employer who recognized the value of her experience.
Clearly more details were needed, so I asked Lanni to tell me her whole story, and this is the overview of our conversation.
I started by asking Lanni when she received confirmation of her scheduled interview and she told me she got a phone call from the resume she had sent a week earlier. She was excited that would be meeting with the research director and the HR manager. Lanni proceeded to tell me she noted the time and date of her appointment, the address, and the name of her interviewer, on a handy piece of paper. She said she then transferred the information into her phone’s calendar tool, which she claimed to use frequently and referred to regularly. Writing things on paper first was her modus operandi; Lanni said it “less intrusive” to a conversation than entering information directly into her phone.
I asked her if she still had the note where she wrote down the initial information, and after a few moments said yes, she had retained it because it also had her shopping list on it. When I asked Lanni if she had received a confirmation email about her appointment, she said no, and said she didn’t give it a second thought because she was happy to have received the call to schedule an interview.
My curiosity was piqued when Lanni said she didn’t get an email confirmation. Typically, even after an interview is arranged by telephone, employers would send an email with the same information.
Next, I asked Lanni to retrieve the piece of paper where she wrote down her appointment details, and to pull out her phone, and compare the information she saw in her cell phone. The cause of her being refused an interview became apparent very quickly.
In transposing the information from her handwritten note to her cell phone, Lanni entered 1, not 11, unintentionally omitting a digit. Lanni’s appointment had been scheduled for 11 am, not 1pm as she had put in her phone.
And to satisfy my curiosity about Lanni not receiving an email confirmation of her appointment, I asked her to check her spam filters, and sure enough, she found the email from HR manager with the details of her appointment, again confirming it had been scheduled for 11 in the morning and not 1 in the afternoon.
Lanni was still upset, but now at herself for screwing up. Though frustrated, she understood why the employer refused to interview her. It’s hard to convince an employer of how responsible and “detail oriented” you are, when you don’t get your important appointments lined up accurately. When Lanni didn’t show up on time, the employer believed she had blown him off, showing no respect for his time. When Lanni finally showed up two hours late, the employer didn’t feel like he owed her any explanation. Lanni wound up waiting 45 minutes because the employer was interviewing someone else.
Could this situation have been avoided? Quite possibly!
- By exercising more caution and care transferring information to her phone and calendar, and confirming the accuracy of her entry.
- Checking her spam filters more frequently.
- Ensuring her email program doesn’t filter out emails from prospective employers.
- Calling the employer the day before the appointment to confirm the time and place.
I suggested to Lanni she send a note to the research director and hiring manager admitting her mistake and apologizing for any inconvenience it caused, and to request another chance to interview. Lanni got lucky. The research director was in a good mood when he received Lanni’s apologetic note, contacted the hiring manager, and the interview was rescheduled. Lanni went to the interview, apparently impressing the research director and hiring manager, because they invited her back for a second round of interviews. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that Lanni gets hired!
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