I watched the clock like Cinderella monitoring midnight. At a coffee shop near my upcoming interview, I awaited the exact time to run down the plaza steps. Showing up a little early, but not too early, is key to the start of a successful interview. For Cinderella, it was the difference between a coachman and a mouse.
Twenty minutes. I’d always heard a candidate should arrive early but not by more than twenty minutes. No more. Never more.
Precisely twenty-two minutes before my interview time, I arose from my mocha sofa to walk to the front entrance I’d been watching with my vanilla chai for the past half hour. I added at least two extra minutes to register with security and take an elevator to the third floor.
I presented my license to Roland, the security guard, whom printed my ID and pointed me toward the elevator bank marked 1 – 15, where a quarter of the building rush hour was coming and going for lunch.
As I turned toward the elevators to beam me up, a man probably named Scottie and holding a Panera bag pushed the arrow button. I glanced up and noticed this cove of elevators was also marked “A” through “F”. Right away, I heard multiple electronic bells as three of the doors opened in unison and a very fast paced musical-chair-like activity ensued all around me. Everyone was moving to their elevator of choice. It reminded me of when people run to their favorite horse on a carousel. I knew the elevators all went up and down, I just didn’t know which one to choose. Since my interview was on the third floor, I didn’t panic when I was involuntarily herded onto elevator “C”. My anxiety only increased when I noticed there was no number panel, to make a floor selection, on the inside of the elevator. I hoped I was either on “Candid Camera” or “Let’s Make A Deal”. The doors opened, we all got off and I was on the wrong floor. There was no Allen Funt – only the word ‘Zonk’ in my head. It was the 11th floor.
I knew I was still in Boston but I felt like I had arrived in Munchkin land. All the citizens of my elevator quickly disappeared, hidden behind secured glass doors. I stood there, as alone as Dorothy. I took in my surroundings, turned and noticed a clear bubble in front of me. A plastic translation panel was centered between the elevators. Entering a floor number translated the elevator letter. I’ll refer to that kiosk as Glenda. I was now on my yellow brick road.
I pushed the down arrow, waited for elevator “A” to open and properly arrived on the third floor. I was personally greeted by a phone on the wall. This time I knew the code. I dialed the extension for the internal recruiter, whom said she’d be right out. I posed outside my elevator carriage and awaited my escort. The ball was about to begin.
Or so I thought.
The recruiter arrived, peeked slightly outside the door and said, “We’re not quite ready for you yet.”
She added, “Can you go back to the lobby and come back in fifteen minutes?”
Now I really was in the land of Oz. I had to wait to see the wizard.
I went back downstairs to gather some courage, find heart, and use my brain.
And oh yeah, watch the clock.