"This may be a little awkward," the woman said as she led me into the conference room. "We're sorry he can't be here in person!"
The room was a bit dark and larger than I would have thought. Inside, a man waited for me on teleconference, and a seat was prepared for me, with the camera facing me. The seat was angled such that I had to lean back and rest one arm on the table, with the other dangling free.
A little bit awkward turned out to be an understatement, but I understood the constraints of a large, multinational corporation with new technology they must justify using. In the end, though, I feel like I would've done better had I set up my iPad and Skyped.
The next day, they called to tell me they were "unable to offer me a position at this time."
It may shock you to learn that, as an HR guy, I hate that kind of HR language. Some of that stuff I love. Inclusive language is awesome. But couching things like that? No. You aren't unable to offer me a position. You're unwilling. Or, to be a bit nicer, you feel other candidates are better suited to this position.
The day after that call, I was scheduled to attend a seminar about the use of technology in the industry I'm currently working with. The talk was largely full of terms and tools I expect you all are familiar with; tablets, cloud computing, DropBox and the like. But the time flew. I was excited to get back to work and start to think about using some of these tools, to campaign to implement some to improve our workflow and to make all of our jobs easier. I chatted with my boss on the way back about all the ways we could improve things for everyone in the company.
I'd never have gotten to do this, had I gotten the job I interviewed for. I'd have ended up in a cozy, comfortable position with a large company, and it would have been very easy to just work my way up there for the rest of my life. Everything I did, technology wise, would have had to been approved by IT.
I'll admit I was a little bitter over this. I still am, which I think is understandable. I was spurned. Rejected. But in the end, I think it was a blessing. A message, even, if you believe in that sort of thing. A sign I could do…something different. Something that would get me really, honestly excited. Work that didn't feel like work.
I'm still figuring out exactly what that looks like. It's still not quite where I am now, but it's not terribly far off. I love technology, I love what it can do for us. And I love helping people work better; looking at systems and organizations and figuring out how we can use everyone to the best of their abilities, so maybe we can get our work done in 35 hours instead of 40, and all get to go home an hour early every day. Or, do a half day on Friday.
So, in the end, maybe it was good we had an awkward teleconference interview.