How many interviews have I been to ? I’d say about thirty in Canada so far, ¾ of them in my first year in Ottawa. I was desperate for a job but the odds seemed to be against me. At 20 years old, my resume was pretty short. I had no previous work experience in Canada. I had no references but abroad. My English wasn’t that great and I wasn’t a Permanent Resident yet.
Everyday, I would go through the same routine : jobbank.ca, Ottawa Citizen’s employment section, sending resumes and cover letters almost non-stop till noon. Then I would wait for the phone to ring.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I could learn fast, but I didn’t have the guts to apply for jobs that required “previous experience” and just lie. I was too qualified for McJobs but yet not experienced enough for office jobs. I was stuck in between, as usual.
But it didn’t stop employers to call me for interviews. Of course, I met some decent people who would just tell me I didn’t fit the job, or would give my tips for future interviews. Some of them would even hire me. But I also had… interviews from hell.
The I’m not telling you interview
— Hi, Zhu ? Would you be available to work tomorrow night ?
— Sure. What’s the location ?
— It’s at 2356 Carling avenue. You’ll have to fill up for the stock taker, from 11 pm to 5 am.
— Alright… And what’s the hourly rate ?
— Oh, I’m sorry, I really can’t disclose that. Otherwise, no one would take the job.
The slave market interview
— Hello Mrs Zhu. I’m calling from the staffing agency. I have your resume in front of me, and I would have a few more questions.
— So, I’m currently looking for people to work in customer service for the federal government. First question is, are you available to work from 5 am to 11 pm ?
— Well, I guess so, but how does it work ? Are there shifts or… ?
— Just tell me whether you’re available or not.
— Sure, sure, I’m… available.
— Means of transport ?
— It depends actually. I share a car and rely on the bus the rest of the time. I mean, it all depends on where the office is.
— Can’t tell you that.
— I certainly have no problem getting around, but at 5 am, let’s say, I’d probably drive.
— And at night ? What would you do ? Let’s say, if you have to work overtime ?
— You mean… after 11 pm ? Depends on the bus schedule. I can drive too. But could you tell me more about the position ? It’d be easier to figure things out.
— Well, we don’t have a job “per se”. I was just testing you. Thank you.
The two years too late interview
— Hi, may I speak to… Zhu, please ?
— Yes, hi, I was wondering if you were still available.
— Yes, I have your resume right there and we need someone part-time starting of today. Tonight actually. Well, if you could make it by 5 pm, it’d be appreciated.
— I’m sorry, who am I talking too ?
— This is Quiznos Sub, located on Queen.
— Oh, I’m sorry, unfortunately I found a position about two years ago… I didn’t know you kept resume for that long.
— That’s too bad. You’re really not available ?
Duh. I stayed by the phone for two years, waiting for your call.
If you’re nice, next time I’ll tell you about the time I sold flowers in front of Ottawa’s LCBO. If you can keep it secret, I’d appreciated.