The Phone Interview

The Phone Interview

The employment ad in the newspaper caught my eye immediately. And, after a particularly nerve-wracking week trying to teach middle school science kids, I thought, “What the heck, I’m going to give this a try.”

The ad concerned an opening for a pharmaceutical sales position in the Altoona Mirror, and having a biological science and chemistry background, I thought it might be a good fit.

My view of life
Throughout my teaching career, the employment grass always looked greener to me elsewhere, even though I’m red-green color blind. So, this is another example where I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to look into another career.

All this took place well before applications were available online, so I filled out the necessary paperwork, cover letter, and resume and I sent it out in the mail within two days.

Quick response
Only a few days went by and I received an evening phone call from an interviewer with the company inquiring if I would be available for a more lengthy phone session to be scheduled during the upcoming Saturday. The caller said that if the initial interview goes well, I would be called back for a face-to-face interview in their office at a time mutually convenient for both parties.

After a quick glance at the monthly items on the calendar, I gladly agreed to that Saturday afternoon. I assumed it would be a good time for me.

Babysitting record
My wife and two daughters were planning to go shopping that day, and I was to babysit my son, who was about two and a half to three years old at the time. My past babysitting experiences, while my wife did her Christmas shopping, never occurred to me as I agreed to that phone interview. Let’s just say that my track record during these babysitting assignments was not good.

I had everything covered
My instructions to my son were not new as I answered the phone that Saturday afternoon. He knew fully well not to interrupt Mom or Dad when they were on the phone unless it was an emergency.

So, when the phone rang, I naturally thought it was safe to talk. He was playing with Lego Building Blocks on the floor and that activity usually kept him busy for a good while.

About four or five minutes into the interview (which wasn’t going particularly well, I might add), my son jumped up and made a few steps toward me. I quickly gave him the sign with my pointer finger in the air, which meant “One minute, please.”

The sign failed
He didn’t stop or pause like I thought he would. Instead, a distressed look came over his face as he continued toward me. He was running now full speed ahead.

Please excuse me for one second,” I politely requested to the interviewer.

As I dropped the phone to thigh level, I was about to ask my son what was bothering him and remind him that Daddy was on the phone. And, no, I didn’t think to cover the receiver with my hand.

But, I never got the question so much as started when he retorted loudly with his mouth next to the phone, “Daddy, I have to poop!”

I can’t begin to recall how the rest of that interview transpired. All I know is that I never did get the invitation for the next face-to-face meeting.

The important conclusion to this story is that my son did make it to the bathroom safely, without issue. And I learned to never accept an invitation to do a phone interview ever again – at least while my kids were still living at home and I was in charge.

Author's note: My attempts at writing old stories will come to an end with this calendar year. It has been a pleasure reminiscing those good old days with my readers.

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA