It seems pretty typical for a job interview process to go like this:

Step 1: Employer receives CV. Employer drinks enough caffeine to decide that CV is not completely awful.
Step 2: First pass: HR tries to make sure candidate has a heartbeat and is not a zombie.
Step 3: Second stage: phone screen. Actual sysadmin calls to make sure candidate is not entirely full of shit.
Step 4: Candidate gets to go to actual face-to-face interview! Once, twice, or possibly many times, depending on how dedicated employer is to exhausting candidate’s interview wardrobe.
Step 5: PROFIT.

So you’ll note that very early on in this process, the use of a telephone is indicated. You’d think it wouldn’t really be much of a problem, because phones are, like, old, and stuff, and they just work, and stuff. And maybe that would be the case if I had a real phone. But I don’t. I am the one out of four Americans who has given up her landline and has only a mobile phone, because I’m only one person and how many phones do I need? (Especially because I kind of hate using the phone a little. I never was one of those people who sat around for hours and just chatted.) I haven’t had a real phone as a matter of course for few years. I had one in my old apartment at Printer’s Square, because I had to have one for the door intercom buzzer to let people in, and I had one in my apartment in Wicker Park because I thought pizza delivery people would push back (prank caller!) if I gave an 847 number — which was clearly just me being old and paranoid, nobody cares about area codes anymore. But in my place now, I just have the mobile. And even though sometimes service is spotty in my apartment, it doesn’t really matter much to me because I do all my social outing arranging via text, basically, and about the only time I use phones is if I have to call customer service for something. And I have Skype for that.

Except now, you see, it’s the end of my delicious, delicious summer vacation and I have to go back to being a grown-up now, which means hunting for a job. (I loved you, summer vacation. You were so awesome. Let’s do it again sometime!) And what does Step 2 of interviewing involve? THE PHONE!

Spotty voice service + mandatory use of phone = FAIL.

(Side note: I was going to put in a little graphic here to spice up the blog post a bit, but I didn’t find anything fun and legal to reproduce. I did, however, have a good time browsing the google image search results for ‘phone fail.’ You’re welcome.)

I had a phone screening scheduled with Company A last week. 10:30AM. I untethered the phone from its sync cable and made sure it wasn’t on silent, and just waited for it to ring. Wait, wait. Then the relaxing sounds of Screeching Weasel chimed, and I answered. We had just enough time to mutually establish our identities before the call dropped.


So the interviewer called back, and I apologized for my stupid phone, and we almost got a chance to talk, when … drop.


You know, when my phone was first stolen in May — which SUCKED — I called AT&T, and I said, “OK, my less than one year old phone was stolen, I’m not paying sticker price for a new iPhone, what are my options,” and they answered, “anything but an iPhone, because The Steve doesn’t want you to have another this soon, you clearly fraudulent aftermarket reseller.” So then I said, well, the 3g service in Chicago is shit anyways and so if you’re not going to let me buy cheap shiny shiny, maybe you should transfer me to the cancellation department. They promptly transferred me to the Department of We’ll Tell You Anything So Long As You Don’t Cancel. Oh, I have dropped calls and spotty service in my apartment? Well, have I considered getting a microcell for my home? “Why,” sez I, “why would I pay more, and use up my own precious Internets, to make up for your lack of being able to provide baseline service? Yes, I have considered it, and I damn near laughed myself into an aneurysm, so no, sorry dude, you’re not making that particular commission today.” So the Phone Company Designated Liar asks me, well, where do you live? I give him my address. And lo! Guess what! They are doing repairs on the cell tower nearest my home this very month! What are the odds! By the end of May, they expect everything to be just jim-dandy! Surely I can wait just a week or two and then I will see, they really care about me as a customer and about providing the best possible service to me.

Because I am too stupid for words, and also because I kinda didn’t want to pay up the contract early termination fee, and because I am a big giant sheep and I love my iGadget (shut up i am enjoying my stockholm syndrome it is very shiny here), I thought, well, okay, maybe this time they really will fix the phone network and it’ll be better next time, and $friend said I can have his old 3g iGadget when he goes to a Droid on account of ATT being the worst ever phone company. I mean, the phone company wouldn’t baldfaced lie, right? Not to me! I’m a loyal customer! That would be wrong!

So, back to last week’s phone screen with Company A. After the second call dropped, I wound up using Skype to call back to the main number of Company A and asking for one of the interviewers by name. They transferred me to him, then he answered and it turned out he was working on something and had bowed out of the phone interview and wasn’t even anywhere near the conference room, but he offered (very nicely) to try and chase down the other folks doing the interview. Then my phone rang, and it was the interviewer again, and so I told the guy on Skype that it was probably them calling me back, and he offered (again, very nicely) that if it dropped again, I could call him again and he’d chase them down for real. So we hung up, and I answered the cell, and I said, “hey, let me just call to you, ‘cos then I can use !ATT,” and it transpired that he didn’t know the conference room phone number (why, why, why does no one ever put the phone number on conference room phones? Nobody ever does it, yet it would be so useful.), so he actually set up a conference call bridge that we both dialed into, and finally, we got to start the phone interview, like 15 minutes of drama later.

(Ironically, Skype got in on the hijinks and actually dropped me once, like half an hour in. First time Skype has ever dropped one of my calls. I had to dial back in to the bridge. It is to lol, except for, zomg, I felt so bad. It’s a credit to the patience of the interviewer that he put up with this nonsense long enough to actually conduct the interview.)

So anyways, that was that phone screen, and it went well, thank you for asking, and I got to show off some of my interview wardrobe, which was nice because I like to wear grownup shoes from time to time (I get to be tall!). If I am very lucky, perhaps they will get back in touch — though I don’t expect them to use the phone to do so.

And so yesterday I had the zombie-weed-out phone screen with Company B, which went well since I am not a zombie, and for once, AT&T behaved, and the call didn’t even break up once. (Though later in the day, my gym called to get me to quit slacking off about working with my personal trainer, because they are sitting on rather a lot of money I gave them for sessions I’ve been too lazy to use this summer because, dudes, gym < sunshine… and anyways, that call broke up badly a couple of times, but didn’t drop. Improvement?) I thought, OK! Great! Maybe my phone mojo is back. I can do this!

I was pretty sad when, this morning, minutes snicked away after my 10:00 scheduled phone screen with Company B and no Screeching Weasel. I unlocked the screen and yes! It said I had 5 bars! But no ring. Booo. Sad niqui. Sad niqui sadly clicked over to email and …

Subject: what is a good number to call you at?

847 xxx xxxx …automated message says your not taking calls…

*facepalm* Just … just kill me. Oh, come on. What the. I don’t even. But. But. *sad face of resignation*

Why do you hate me, AT&T? Why? Do you have, like, some sort of heat-seeking 3g missile that swoops in on my phone calls in your cell towers, when they’re important, and smashes the electrical signals to bits? What did I ever do to you? (other than make a whole lot of remarks about how you’re the evil empire and i hate you and you’re wiretapping bastards and you’re the phone company you don’t have to care and so on? insults don’t count when they’re true!)

So, forlornly and sheepishly, I emailed and offered to call back if he’d send me a number. Which he did, and I did, and Skype did not drop the call this time, and we had a nice chat for about an hour, and I’m going to get to show off some more interview clothes (YAY SHOES), so it all turned out well in the end, but, c’monnnnnnnnnnn. You’re killing me here!

The really awesome part of today’s wacky hijinks is that, after the call, I tried making a few outbound calls. It would go from 5 bars, to 1 bar immediately after I hit “call,” and then it would sort of think for a little while, and then it would go to “Searching… .” As soon as I hit “end call,” it would pop right back to 5 bars. Okay, seriously, now you’re just fucking with me. I rebooted the phone (i REBOOTED a PHONE) and after that it would let me make calls. So apparently this was not actually AT&T’s doing, unless their heat-seeking phone missile targeted me really, really well some time overnight since it was just fine at 22:30 yesterday, but just the gadget flaking out. Yippee.

And so Company C has gotten in touch today, and expressed some interest in speaking to me using a telephone. I’m practically too embarrassed to actually admit to having a phone, at this point. I mean, I have an electronic thing that has “phone” in its name, but it doesn’t actually have that functionality. It seems like it would be much less embarrassing at this point to offer to use AIM, a pay phone on an L platform, or maybe carrier pigeons.

So, I guess I’ll be revising my CV tonight. Got to add my shiny new Skype phone number to it. If nothing else, it’s in 312…