I'm once again between jobs, and answering the phone to any and all callers. (Before anybody panics, I've got several headhunter agencies working, résumés posted everywhere. I really do expect this to be literally between jobs.)
Two nights ago, the cellie went off. I answered to a very personable young woman who told me that my résumé had sparked an unquenchable glow of interest on the part of her employers. I replied that I was extremely gratified to hear this delightful news, and encouraged her to fill me in on every detail, no matter how trivial. She invited me to an interview; her invitation accepted, she told me she would be sending me the details in an email later that evening. This was Monday evening. The interview was to be Thursday afternoon.
I duly received the email, as promised. Besides the time and place, it gave the name of the prospective employer (a large insurance company you've heard of -- think annoying white duck commercials) and the name of the interviewer and his job title. Mr. Interviewer was Regional Sales Coordinator in Hagerstown, Md. (This is not too terribly far from me, a reasonable commute -- but a long, long way from the well-beaten track of my usual professional haunts, which tend to be more in the Northern Virginia and Maryland suburbs.)
Several things immediately struck me as quite hinky about this email she sent. First, it came from a Yahoo! account, rather than from Annoying-White-Duck Company. First alarm bells go off.
Second, there was an admonition that the dress code was "Business Professional" -- a rather strange construction I'd never seen before. It was almost as if -- irony of ironies -- this was a rather amateurishly put together email.
Third, "Regional Sales Coordinator"? Conducting an interview with a UI designer? That's very odd.
Fourth, I'm to bring a copy of my résumé. Now this is getting insulting. We have email for this kind of thing nowadays, and this instruction heavily suggests that Mr. Regional Sales Coordinator hasn't actually yet seen my résumé.
But most puzzling of all was the whistling emptiness where one would expect to see an explanation of exactly what the job actually entailed. I've been in the user-interface-design racket for quite a few years, and have never seen a job announcement that wasn't extremely specific in its requirements as to expected duties, experience level, software skills expected of the applicant, and so on. Not a word of this appeared in the email.
Oh, I rationalized, I'm sure that was just an oversight. Annoying-Duck Insurance Company is probably setting up a team for some sales-enhancement web tool, but their HR department, being in Hagerstown and all, isn't used to dealing with us techie types, and aren't familiar with the protocols of the process. They haven't danced the dance, as it were. No prob.: I'll just email her back with a request for more information, on the not unreasonable pretext that I really need to familiarize myself with the organization so I can prepare for the interview in a professional manner.
This is now getting very suspicious. I let yesterday, Tuesday, go by, half expecting to see a reply to my email at any moment. This morning, at nine o'clock, I called the number she'd given in her email. It goes to a cell phone message. I left a message asking her to please give me a call. No reply for three hours.
About an hour ago, I received a reply to my email from Monday evening. She was sorry she didn't get back to me, she'd been out dreadfully sick, but I really needn't worry about preparing for the interview, it was entirely a meet-and-greet, just "informational," there would be second interviews to determine my fitness for the job, blah mealymouthed blah.
OK. I'm being fucked with. My reply:
I'm sorry to be blunt, but I want very much to know what the position entails -- even a title will suffice -- before I make the trek to Hagerstown in my business suit. That's not a minor time commitment for me.She replies shortly thereafter,
The fact the Mr. XXX is a Regional Sales Coordinator, and not, say, a creative director or art director or even an IT director, sets off alarm bells for me. He may be a wise and wonderful man, but a Regional Sales Coordinator is in no position to judge the worth of a user-interface designer. The instruction to bring a copy of my résumé likewise raises suspicions. Do we not have email for this kind of thing now? Hasn't Mr. XXX already got a copy of my résumé?
More information, please. If it's not forthcoming, I'm going to have to decline the interview.
This position would be a sales position and you would be a licensed insurance producer. Let me know if you will still be attending the interview.The best part? Her own job title?
Licensed Insurance Producer.
Needless to say, I won't be attending the interview, thanks very much.
I confess I'm flummoxed. Is Annoying-Duck Insurance Company actually running some kind of pyramid scheme out of their Hagerstown operation? Does Mr. Regional Sales Coordinator hire naive young women whose entire job it is to lure the unemployed into interviews with vague promises of a paying gig, and then entrap those rubes into enticing other rubes into his office? Is this how they grow their sales staff?
Seriously? It's a combination of Amway and used-car sales. Glengarry Glen Ross updated for Your Recession.
And I'm willing to bet any amount of money it's perfectly legal.