I interviewed with a Vice President of Human Resources for a role as a Human Resources manager. The VP wouldn’t have been my direct boss, but he wanted to meet me before my potential boss extended an offer. He was very kind & thoughtful to see me. We spent about an hour together and he expressed great pride in his team and passion for his work.
The VP promised that, if hired, I would be exposed to C-level executives and would be empowered to take risks. He committed to giving me the freedom & space to make mistakes and learn from those around me. He gave examples of how he fostered diversity within his organization and told me that I would have his full support on all issues, great and small. I was told that I would be given all the tools and training needed to successfully accomplish my goals.
Wow, I thought, this job sounds awesome.
Then he said, “If you ever screw up and don’t tell me about it, though, I’ll rip your head off and shit down your throat.”
Ever feel like you misheard something or someone — but didn’t?
I blinked and smiled. The VP blinked and smiled. There was a moment of silence, and the VP asked, “What would it take for you to accept this job?”
At that point, I had several options: I could have reacted with disdain, grabbed my briefcase, and walked away from the job. I could have gone into a blind rage and told him to shove the job up his ass. I could have done something as simple as roll my eyes. Instead, I took a deep breath and chose to respond to him in the way that I normally respond to someone who said something ridiculous: I ignored him.
I told the Vice President, “I’m money-motivated and I have other opportunities at this point in my career. Make me a great offer — a really great offer — and I’ll accept it.”
Just like that, the interview was over. We ended the discussion with smiles and a firm handshake, and I walked out of the office carrying my briefcase and a pamphlet on the company’s core values. (I swear to god.)
In retrospect, I understand that my reaction to his comment was the interview itself. I didn’t need to demonstrate my knowledge, skills or abilities as a Human Resources generalist. I just needed to pass this faux-psychological-exam and demonstrate that I had some balls.
My friends, there is no question about it: I have balls.
Two days later, when the verbal offer was extended, I shrugged my shoulders and accepted the job. The money was great and I felt that it was better to do business with the chumpsky you know than the chumpsky you don’t know. If being bullied by a passive-aggressive older man in Human Resources is as bad as it gets, I knew I could handle the job with pflying colors.
Suckers, what’s your worst story???