Interview Nightmare: The Cardinal Screwover

My Career Purgatory: Cardinal Screw Over

This is a story about how I was completely screwed by, quite possibly, the dumbest woman I have ever met. The background information pertinent to fully understanding the complete scope of this situation’s severity is this: I am a Master degreed Human Resource professional. At the time of this incident, I was in an extremely dark place, struggling with unemployment. I was desperate.

Phone interview, with the dumbest woman ever

After applying online for an HR Generalist role, I received a phone call from the recruiter of said job to conduct a phone interview. I immediately recognized that I knew how to do her job better than she did. In my polished and precise execution, I felt like I was leading the conversation and found myself rolling my eyes while I exercised patience with this woman. At the end of the 40 minute conversation (which could and should have been only 20) compensation was the last topic. When she announced the rate, I choked on my coffee, then with a smirk informed her that my last position paid double that amount. She said nothing. Sat silent.
This forced me to snap back to my reality that even peanuts still better than nothing. So I rationalized it and agreed to proceed with the interview process because I recognized the value of the company, and was confident in my ability to dramatically excel in this position. A few days later, I had the pleasure of meeting this woman in person.

Agency interview, with the dumbest woman ever

We had agreed to meet at a local Panera at 9:00 am. Naturally, I took my laptop there with me, arriving at 8:00 am, to apply for other jobs while waiting. At 9:10, with still no sight of this woman, I call her only to hear in her lazy tone of voice that she was running late. No reason given on her half, but why would I expect that from her if I had to be the one to reach out by initiating the call. With that smack in the face reminder that she needed some professional hand holding, I instructed her on precisely where I could be found upon her arrival (First table on the right).

I sat for an additional 15-20 minutes, watching people come and go, keeping an eye out for a business woman looking around for her interviewee she was late for, me. Suddenly, a woman dressed in jeans and a T-shirt at the table across starts saying into her phone, “Hi, this message is for Elise. This is Christina with Cardinal Staffing. I’m at Panera and…” Her voice trailed off in my mind as I tried to shake of thoughts of dumbfounded amazement.

As I approached her I said, “Christina?” Offered my hand to shake, “I’m Elise, it’s nice to meet you. In preparation for our meeting, I have turned my phone on silent, but obviously heard your message as I am set up just over here.” Motioning for her to join me, I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen as she just shyly giggled and proceeded to unload her bag of things. As I packed up all of my things, I could see how this was going to go.

3 hours later (3 hours later!) I was finally out of there. Recruiters should never fail to inform their candidate that the interview will have that long of a duration due to pre-assessment skill testing. I never should have expected anything less than what I got. A few days later, I was informed of my selection and where to go on my first day. The night before at 9:00 pm that information was all changed due to my new supervisors schedule shift.

First day screw over, by the dumbest woman ever

I reluctantly show up for my first day. The supervisor I am supposed to meet is not here. Shocking. Thankfully, my counterpart is and intercepts me in reception. As we head into the conference room and continue to talk about the work we have ahead of ourselves, I realize I have uncovered another problem with this situation. The mother of all problems. The conversation went something like this:

Her: “So, are you ready for what we will be facing the next month?”
Me: “Is the next month projected to be more challenging than the subsequent?”

She hesitantly replies in her confused state: “I don’t believe we have different contracts (?); we will be here for the next 30-45 days to get the HR Generalist prepared, to give her a good start, so she’s not overwhelmed.”

Me: “Oh, right.”

But in my racing mind I’m thinking, “Oh, (Insert explicative)” I have been swindled! And that’s the nicest way I can put it. I have just realized that I have been set up here to do work, for a joke compensation, for the girl whose job I thought I had.

The next hour or so is a blur. I can say for sure that I spend it trying to maintain my composure and professionalism by keeping my mouth shut, ears open and ass in my chair. It is so incredibly difficult to not state, to my supervisor and counterpart, that I feel cheated into the position and that is clearly not for me, as I walk out. I’ve never in my wildest dreams thought of walking out on a job but on this day, I come very close, multiple times as the bombs kept dropping.

Yes, it gets worse. After my counterpart leaves (I cannot believe that this is acceptable for her either) my supervisor and I have a candid conversation. This is how that goes:

Him: “So where were you before this?”
Me: “I have a copy of my resume, if you would like to take a look at it?”
He nods, I pass the paper over and he begins to analyze it. For the next 15 minutes (I swear, that’s not an exaggeration) he continues to look at my resume, look at me, look at my resume, look at me, my resume, me, resume, me.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he asks me why I didn’t apply for the role. You know, the one that I thought I had landed only to find out I was there as her…let’s say puppet. I tell him that I DID and he immediately proceeds to check his records. After a few moments, he says, “Oh, yes, you did. On June 5th.” He continued, sounding like someone just kicked his puppy, “How did I miss that?” I think the sound of both of our hearts breaking at that moment was audible.

I learned that the position was originally offered to a girl who failed, by flying colors, the pre-employment drug screen. Like 5 of 10 substances failed. So they went with their second choice of those interviewed, overlooked my resume a second time.

The Present, leaving the dumbest woman ever in the dust

Today is my fourth day here and it was a wild one. I was blindsided after lunch with an introduction to my replacement, Mrs. Permanent. I kept my composure but it still felt like an out of body experience none the less. Kind of like in the movies when a scene goes drastically violent as the heroin losses her mind and attacks her enemy, only to come to moments later, showing the audience that it was all just an in-the-moment daydream of what she would like to do. Yeah, that was me.

Realistically, the encounter was less than 5 minutes. Regardless, I went to the ladies room immediately after for a private moment to gather myself. My mind was void of every thought expect, “I can’t. I just…can’t.” This was definitely the most oddly challenging work position I had ever been in. Never the less, it’s where I was, so I took a deep breath and returned to my desk. A few minutes later, my phone rang.

Job Offer! I felt freed. A wave of relief. When the call concluded, I returned to the ladies room once again, yet unlike the feelings I experienced there just moments prior, this was a feeling that I think people sadly seldom feel. After 9 months of desperately job searching, constantly worried about evictions and repossessions, all of which cause one to become a recluse, I felt my head rise above the water. Yes, ladies and gentleman, I felt the whole body vibration as I performed the happy dance. I even shed a tear or two.

So later today, I will send an email to the dumbest woman ever, my disorganized supervisor, and Mrs. Replacement informing them that I have locked up my laptop and ID badge with the employee files, left the keys in the top drawer of my desk and will not be returning. Thank you for the “opportunity.”