July 22, 2013

7 for 7: The Detroit Interview

DAY ONE: I'm participating in Conversion Diary's 7 Posts for 7 Days linkup (Ugh, what have I gotten myself into?). Since the city of Detroit is in the news for its bankruptcy, I'm going to spend the week sharing my Detroit experience. I lived there from mid-1997 to mid-1998.

Whenever Detroit happens to come up in conversation and I feel the desire to speak up (rare for an introvert), I'll usually say, "I served a year in Detroit." Then someone else usually says, "In the military?" And I answer, "No, in TV news!"

So how did I end up Detroit in the first place? Well, it all started with a job interview. During my ten years working in TV news, I jumped from city to city several times which is common in the industry. While living and working in Tampa, I sent a resume tape for an associate producer opening at a Detroit station, and they offered to fly me up for an interview.

An administrative assistant at the prospective employer said everything was booked, and all I needed to do was give my name at the airline check-in counter, and they would print my ticket. Of course, this was before the days of electronic ticketing. I don't remember the exact times, but I probably got to the Tampa airport around 5 a.m. all decked out in the suit that I only wore for weddings, funerals and job interviews.

The ticket agent found my name in the computer and said, "That will be $450 dollars. Would you like to charge that?" Uh oh. I guess the station booked the flight but forgot to pay for it. It was too early to call anyone, so I handed over my credit card and figured we'd work this out during the inerview.

When TV stations fly you in for an interview, it's especially challenging for an introvert because you have to spend an entire day (and sometimes longer) interacting with people you don't know. But I'd been through this routine before, so I sucked in my introvertness and did my best.

The news director (read: hiring manager and future boss) picked me up at the airport, and I think the first thing we did was go out to eat, which basically means eating and answering questions at the same time. After that, we went to the TV station where I was pseudo-interviewed by a few other people. Then there was the most excruciating part of the newsroom interview process where they say, "Sit down here and hang out with our producers for a while." Yeah, we introverts love that part.

Of course, you have to make a good impression on the existing employees because they're gathering intel on you at the same time that you're gathering input on them. But it's also awkward because the people you have to hang out with and converse with are busy trying to put their newscasts together and don't want to have to babysit an interviewee. So they were probably as excited to hang out with me as I was with them.

On a brighter note, at some point in the day, I had the opportunity to mention to the adminitrative assistant that I had to pay for the flight. She apologized profusely and either cut me a check on the spot or maybe mailed one to me the next day. I can't remember.

Whenever I've been in this all-day interview situation, as the hours tick by I start thinking irrationally: I've had enough of this. I don't care whether I get the job. I just want to get my rear end back on the plane (preferably next to a non-talkative passenger) and decompress.

Indeed, I was thrilled when the day ended and I was dumped off at the airport. Incidentally, the passenger next to me on the return flight was not chatty... until the soda incident occurred. She accidentally knocked her Coke off the tray table, and much of it splashed onto my pants. From that point on, she wouldn't stop apologizing and offering to pay for my dry cleaning. I respectfully declined her offer and told her not to worry about it. It's not like I wouldn't be taking my suit to the cleaners after a sweat-inducing interview.

I guess you're wondering if I got the job. Of course I did! How would I be able to stretch by Detroit experience into a week's worth of blog posts if I didn't get the job? After some back-and-forth negotiating on salary and relocation expenses, I accepted the job offer and was off to Detroit a few weeks later.

Preview: 7 for 7: The Detroit Boss will focus on my, uhh, interesting boss in the motor city. Remember the news director who hired me? Well, he didn't last very long. Tune in tomorrow for the next installment.

No comments :

Post a Comment