Interview #17 – I should have known better

I did know better. I foreshadowed it in the previous post when I said this could be the most expensive rejection of my career. Well, this was the most expensive rejection of my career.

I was called back for a second interview. I was psyched. The firm was awesome, it had money, the first partner and the firm administrator were very interested in me and apparently this second interview was only supposed to be a ‘character’ interview to make sure I worked well with other people on the team. It wasn’t.

Interview 2 involved being interviewed in succession one on one by two more partners. The first was the named partner. In the Law firm of X&Y, he was Y. The first partner I had talked to fell into the list of names on the door that you typically don’t write down on your cover letter. (i.e. the Law Firm of X,Y,Z,Q,P,T &F) The last partner was not even listed in the litany of names on the door.

So.. down to the actual interview.

So I got an email mere hours after the first interview with the specifics of the second interview. I booked a plane ticket, hotel, and rental car. I was stoked. The first partner had all but told me the job was mine, he just wanted to make sure I played well with the other kids in the sandbox.

I showed up and the firm administrator was effusive and happy to see me. We chatted for awhile before the named partner walked into the conference room. The administrator left us alone and we started talking. I wish I could say that something weird happened in this interview. Nothing did. It was a nice interview, I got along great with the guy (seemingly). We talked on a wide array of subjects ranging from from hobbies to jury selection in various jurisdictions. I will say that the partner had a strangely distracting tic, in that every time he would start talking about something from the past, his eyes starting darting left-right-left-right; almost as if he was reading the synopsis of his past events back to me from a giant scrolling marquee located right behind my head.

There was one potentially bad sign. He read thru the places I had worked at and cherry picked the large firm names to briefly touch on. Though he didn’t really care what I had done for them (contract work) — more that I had just worked for them in some capacity, which seemed odd. I should point out, he hailed from 2 ivy league universities so there may have been a name-game issue here. At the end of the interview, he stood up and said “I won’t hold it against you that you went to Ohio State.” (this seems to be a tag line for “you didn’t get the job”) I’m not sure if this had anything to do with sports, because at no point in the interview were sports of any kind mentioned… so… yeah.

The named partner left the conference room and turned left, while the next partner walked in from the right side of the hallway. This was a partner without his name included in the firm name. He was the appellate attorney for the firm, and damn was he socially awkward. Considering I was socially awkward for a large part of my life, I felt like I was talking to one of my people. We got along fine. He was much more interested in the brass tacks of what I could legitimately do from day 1 if hired. He went thru each employer and asked what I did for them, what portable skills I had. He asked me 3 separate times if the work in my writing sample was my own (I kept telling him, yes… all of it… why do you keep asking). He basically told me he was massively overworked and was looking for someone who knew how to do even part of the appellate process so it wasn’t all falling on him. I was more than happy to explain that I really enjoyed it and that I had done quite a few and would be willing to work with him on any and all cases.

The interview with the last partner was done and he shuffled the papers and said the 3 partners I talked to would get together and discuss me and get back with me soon. Each interview with a partner lasted about an hour or a bit more. The firm administrator then entered as the partner left. She was silent. Which was odd. She seemed very uncomfortable, and brought me out to the bank of elevators without saying anything. Ominous. I said thank you etc. etc. and that I hoped I would be seeing her again soon. “Yes, thank you for coming.”

Crap. Something was wrong. But this could only mean one thing. The named partner had walked out of the conference room, looked at the administrator and said “No.” The third partner had not had a chance to talk to anyone. The first partner wouldn’t have invited me back as enthusiastically as he did if he was against hiring me. The firm administrator really liked me.

But the “my name is the main one on the door” ‘DENNY CRANE’… had overruled everyone moments after leaving the conference room. And had left the third partner to go waste an hour of his time grilling me, when he had already decided not to proceed.

I have no idea what the misstep, if any, there was in the interview. But this has gone down as the most expensive rejection in my career. Even though I knew I shouldn’t… I let my excitement get the better of me and I have no one but myself to blame for flying out to talk to someone, twice, on my hopes and dreams alone. An expensive lesson not soon to be forgotten by either me or my credit card I suppose.



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