The Worst Interview of My Life…
It’s funny that I have decided to write about this experience now… I have been thinking about that day for over 2 years. I am now sharing it because as much as this experience made me feel insecure, it also allowed me to see that when searching for a job, it is important to look for a company that fits you and your values . Here we go…
Two and half years ago, I interviewed for a marketing coordinator positon at Marcus & Millichap, a real estate agency in Downtown Los Angeles. On paper, the job looked like the perfect match, so when I was contacted for the initial interview, I was overjoyed.
When the day finally came, I wore my black pants, a blouse, and a light black jacket – even though it was like 90 degrees outside. At the time, I also had blonde extensions… Yep, a professional black girl with two toned, blonde and black hair! It wasn’t anything vulgar or excessif, but well it was blonde… Let’s get back to that in bit.
When I arrived the receptionist (a black lady) greeted me, and offered that I wait in the lobby. I held on to my portfolio, and sat down nervously. A few minutes later, the operations manager, a young Asian woman, came to get me and told me that her boss would be joining us shortly.
She took me in this big conference room with glass windows and an amazing view of the city. I didn’t want to spend too much time admiring the view, but it was gorgeous. After a few minutes, her boss joined us and I immediately felt uncomfortable. He gave me a look that made me want to dig a hole and bury myself in it, but instead I smiled and introduced myself.
I started to talk about myself, my previous experiences and showed him my portfolio. I quickly realized that this “gentleman” couldn’t care less about what I was saying. I felt that he couldn’t wait for this interview to be over, and go handle some more important business.
As I was showing him my portfolio, I felt his disinterest. I remember telling him about one of my previous experiences, and showing him a brochure from my portfolio, he grabbed it, looked at me and said, “Did you do that?”. I looked at him, and at that point, I became insecure about my work… I couldn’t figure out if I should have proudly said, “Yes, I did!” or if I should have been embarrassed that I showed him that piece. After a few more minutes, it became obvious that the meeting was pointless, so I stopped talking and asked him if he wanted me to continue or if he had any questions. He wasn’t interested so the meeting ended there.
As I walked out of the office, I felt so insecure and I wondered if my hair was the problem or if it was something else. I mean, my clothes were appropriate and my portfolio was on point, so what else could it be? Yes, it was a real estate office so maybe untied blonde hair wasn’t the most appropriate choice. I wondered, why couldn’t he show me more interests and interview me based on my skills? I am a flexible person, so if hired I would have removed my extensions. I couldn’t really spend too much time thinking about it because I had a second interview.
One hour later, I arrived to my second job interview with an astrology company in Carson. I was greeted by a very friendly manager. As we walked to her office, I noticed that one of the employees had purple hair. It instantly made me feel more comfortable. The interview went well, and I felt much more at ease. The manager even interviewed me barefoot on a sofa! Needless to say that the change of environment and attitude were very welcomed.
I didn’t get either jobs, but I still think about the real estate interview because despite of my work experiences and skills, a stranger who didn’t know me was able to destabilize me and make me feel insecure in a matter of minutes…
Despite it all, that day I learned a very valuable lesson… To be happy professionally, I need to choose a company where I can grow and flourish. If I am committing to go in 5 days per week, 8 hours per day, let it be a place I enjoy, and will make me smile.
As fate would have it, a few months later, I started to work for my current company where I enjoy a very inclusive culture, and people don’t mind colored hair. I am grateful that I didn’t get the jobs because these companies did not fit my interests and career goals.
Now, I will leave you with the following question, “Is it inappropriate for a professional black woman to wear blonde hair (or any other hair color deemed appropriate on other races) in the workplace?”
On my next post, I will talk about my current company (which I love), and getting back to work in the marketing field.
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