October 16, 2001
Second Date


A second interview is a lot like a second date.

You're starting to figure out what you like (and don't like) about the person sitting across the table from you. You're both still a little nervous around each other, which is sorta cute. And you've already used up all your best *conversation starters* on the first date, so you've got to work three times as hard at being interesting this time around.

Plus neither one of you wants to be the first to ask for a commitment.

I went into this morning's second interview pretty sure there wasn't going to be any 'commitment' with this company. I interviewed with them for the first time last Friday, and although the interview went well -- although the job seems like a good one: point by point, it's almost a perfect match to my *career vision* -- there was one enormous stumbling block that I just couldn't get around: namely, less money than I was making at The Totem Pole Company.


"I'm just not sure we can match that kind of dollar amount," said The Hiring Manager sadly, when I told her my salary requirements.

Everything else about the position seemed OK: karmic, even, if you happen to believe in that sort of stuff (which I do). I didn't find the job advertised in the newspaper or online or through an employment agency, for one thing: the job came finding me. A friend of a friend of a friend, who'd heard I was looking for work, wrote and asked me if I'd be interested in an admin position that had come up available. (The magic of "networking.") The job duties were in line with what I was looking for, the job title was suitably groovy, the office was clean and bright and smelled like coffee. (Good coffee, too: none of that Smart & Final Restaurante Blend crap.) Plus no one was weeping or frowning or threatening to knock someone else into next Thursday. I could tell, just by looking around, that this would probably be a pleasant, energizing, decent place to work.

But I just couldn't get past the salary thing. We're talking about the difference between flying to TicTac for Christmas and mailing a fruit basket to TicTac for Christmas.

So I went through with the second interview this morning ... mainly because I said I would go through with the second interview, and because doing the things I SAY I will do has become important to me in recent years, the way finishing what I start and thinking before I react and not salting my food until I taste it have become important to me in recent years. And just like the first interview on Friday, this one went without a hitch, and I made a good impression on the people doing the interviewing (read this: I didn't sneeze on anybody), and the room was filled with all sorts of warm corporate fuzziness. But the whole time, of course, I was sitting there thinking It's too bad I'm not going to be able to accept the position when they offer it to me.

So when they handed me the offer letter at the conclusion of the interview -- with a suggested starting salary that matches what I was making at The TPC, plus a little extra -- I was knocked for a loop. This was like being on that second date and having him offer you his class ring, right there on the spot.

"We really want you to come work for us," they said.

I left the building a few minutes later, clutching the offer letter in one hand and a BART schedule in the other hand. (That's the other, lesser 'stumbling block' to consider: a more problematic commute than I'm used to. It's going to involve two kinds of public transportation and a bunch of walking. I'm sure I could adapt, though.) In the spirit of never appearing too eager, of course, I told them that I'm still considering other offers -- which is sort of true: I'm considering an offer to subscribe to "O" Magazine for 35% off the newstand price, for instance -- but that I would discuss the offer with my husband, and that I would review the company literature they gave me, and that I would let them know by 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Who knows? Maybe there'll be a third date, after all.

throw a rock