Friday, April 17, 2009

The Post-Interview Lunch

Suit image from MS ClipArtI decided it was time to look for a new job. So, I sent my resume to a friend who forwarded it on to the right people at her company. They liked what they saw and asked for an interview. The interview went very well and I was informed that they would be extending an offer.

After the interview, the interviewer asked if I'd like to join him and other members of the team for lunch. The team members and the interviewer were dressed in business casual attire while I was in a black suit. The potential new company and my current employer are both located in the same city and I knew it was possible that I would see some of my co-workers out at lunch. But since the interview went so well, I figured it was a risk I was willing to take.

The interviewer asked where I wanted to go for lunch. Not being picky, I told him that it didn't matter to me. He offered Italian and Tex-Mex and I said that I would like Italian. So, he chose Macaroni Grill. It was fairly early for lunch (11:30), so I hoped that the chances of running into co-workers were slim.

I was wrong. As we're being seated, I glance over to the corner of the restaurant. I see one of the restaurant's largest tables full of co-workers. And they were all looking at me. To my lunch companions I start cursing under my breath that those people over there work with me.

I immediately turned red and started to smile out of embarrassment. Many of my co-workers at the other table were laughing and enjoying my embarrassment. Lunch was uncomfortable for me. I would glance over and occasionally see someone looking at me and laughing. I enjoyed meeting my potential new co-workers but every other thought was, "you've been caught!"

I had taken the whole day off, so I didn't have to suffer through going to the office and getting ridiculed. And it was a Friday, so I had the weekend to stress over what could happen Monday morning. But, then I started to realize that it wasn't as bad as I first thought. My current company would gain nothing by punishing me for going on an interview and the new company had offered me a job so I had somewhere to go if they did.

So Monday morning, I get to work and chat with a co-worker that already knew I had an interview. I asked if he heard about my lunch and he said, "everyone knows!" Great. So, I said I wasn't going to go upstairs to get coffee and got called names insinuating that I didn't have guts. Another co-worker came down to my work area a few minutes later and I talked to her to test the water: "Is ${manager} upset?" "Not at all. You should really go talk to her." So I did.

My manager was actually very cool about the whole thing. She said that she had a pretty constant flow of people coming to her door on Friday telling her about my lunch interview. She said she knew that I was unhappy and was not surprised to see that I was looking. The whole transition so far as been very friendly and I'm glad things have worked out like they did.

But, this is probably one interview I'll never forget. :)