Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The worst job interview I ever had

I'm embarking on another round of job interviews in search of my next job (see previous posts about why I won't be at Fox 11 after January 31, 2012).

I thought I'd share the worst job interview experience I've ever had.

Flashback to 1996:  I had just returned to California from working in Salt Lake City.  The station there had been sold and I was looking for a new career challenge.

I got a lead that an alternative rock station in Sacramento was looking for a new Program Director.  The station had a strong signal and was owned by a local guy.  It seemed like a job I could succeed at so I decided to go for it.

I spent three days putting together a presentation.  I was sure I was going to be competitive for the job so it was worth the investment in my time and effort.

I drove 50 miles from Stockton to downtown Sacramento.  The radio station occupied the penthouse suite of the Renaissance Tower, an ominous looking black skyscraper.  I was excited.  This could be amazing.

I arrived in the lobby and waited almost 25 minutes before the owner came out.

I had a little background on the guy.  Apparently he had a law degree, liked to fix broken equipment in the station himself, drove a purple Corvette, and had been described to me as a bit quirky.  I work in the media business and had encountered plenty of quirky so I didn't think a whole lot about it.

The man I was there to see was a tall skinny man in a cheap suit.  He also had an odd voice.

I got a tour of the station before we ended up in his office.  It was impressive.  There was a remarkable view of not only downtown but a lot of the Sacramento metro area.

The interview started... and the weird started.  He'd ask me a question, I'd answer it, and then he'd proceed to pick apart my answer.  It was quickly obvious he hated everything about my presentation.  I told him how I thought his station stood in comparison to his competition.  He told me that I was dead wrong.  He listened to the audio presentation I brought and told me it was too long.  I suggested ways he could increase revenue and ratings.  He told me that I didn't understand the Sacramento market.

I was in his office for three hours.  He interupted the interview multiple times to take phone calls.  The most memorable was the conversation he had with someone who apparently was a sexual partner he had lined up for later that night.  He asked her on the phone if she had a friend so they could make it a threesome and then requested that she describe in detail how big her friend's breasts were and who would do what.  I felt uncomfortable.  After he hung up from that call he said, "Sorry about that, I have a meeting tonight that I had to set up."

I'm not a prude by any means but it seemed gross that I made the time to prepare, drive an hour to get there, spend an afternoon with this guy, and ended up fighting back the urge to throw up in my mouth picturing him and some hideous woman (or women I suppose) in a hot tub exchanging diseases.

After three hours of being mowed down by this guy I got onto the elevator to make the long trip down to the parking garage and I thought to myself: "I don't care how much money this man would offer, I would never ever work there."

I never heard from him or that station.  I ended up working for a competing station in Sacramento instead.

Its amused me in the years since because he ended up selling the station to Entercom for $25 million dollars.  Then he proceeded to sue that company in an attempt to get his station back and having the sale nullified after he had seller's remorse.  It went on for years in court.  He lost every lawsuit.  He no longer owns that property and now has stations in Palm Springs and Las Vegas.

The lesson I learned:  If I'm in an interview and the person interviewing stops to take a phone call to ask how big the caller's boobs are, it may not be the job for me.