That Wasn’t So Bad

I just got back from a job interview.  The week before I started my job at the chemical plant, this guy started e-mailing me in response to my resume on monster.com.  Initially, I ignored him, because he was supposedly recruiting for a plating machine operator in Sanford, CT, and wanted to know if I knew anyone.  I have a little wafer (semiconductor) plating experience, but I have no desire to relocate behind enemy lines, and I wasn’t inclined to do his job for him and help him find someone else.  I figured he was like one of those guys who e-mail every person on monster within XX miles, offering annual starting salaries of $50-100K for selling life insurance.

The persistent sonofabitch kept e-mailing, despite my failure to reply.  I finally noticed on the third e-mail that in one section it said Sanford, NC, while the other said Sanford, CT.  The first two e-mails said the same thing, but were formatted differently, causing me to miss it initially.  I decided to write him back, asking which Sanford he was talking about.

He confirmed that it was the North Carolina one.  Well, that is over an hour’s drive away from my home, but I’ve commuted greater distances in the past.  I didn’t figure it’d go anywhere, but I wrote back and told him that I might be interested.  He asked for a resume, although he could have printed it from monster.  I sent him the same, generic one that I have posted there.  This guy didn’t seem to be all that bright.  He couldn’t get the location right before sending out e-mails.  He couldn’t (or didn’t want) to download my public resume from monster. I decided to play along so he’d shut up, especially since it was a direct hire position.

After I sent the resume directly to him, I realized that at no point did I mention my plating experience in said resume.  It was such a small part of what I did there, and that job only lasted a year, so the job itself only got a cursory mention in my Experience section.  I wasn’t expecting much, so I didn’t bother re-writing it and sending an updated copy to him.

He called me moments after he got my resume.  He and his boss were on the line.  It seems as though the company he was recruiting for had both an operator and maintenance tech position open in the same department.  His boss (a sharp guy, unlike his flunkie) seemed confident that I would be a good fit for one or the other, after hearing that I did indeed have some limited plating experience, along with significant hazardous chemical handling experience.

To make a long story short, last Tuesday I had a phone interview.  During the interview, it was mutually decided that I should try for the operator position, since my skillset had too many holes to reasonably qualify for the tech position.  They told me to expect to hear back in five to seven days.  However, on Thursday they contacted the recruiter and requested an evaluation session and face to face interview for today.  I begged out of my shift for today, due to a personal matter that I needed to attend to, and went on the interview.

I prepped more for this interview than any previous interview that I have ever had.  The recruiter sent all this prep material with the interview schedule, so over the weekend, I racked my brain trying to think of answers to potential Tell me about a time when … questions.

I was told that the pre-interview evaluation would consist of a math test, a reading test, and a mechanical aptitude test.  They got two out of three right.  The reading and math tests were, in my estimation, at about a sixth grade level.  If I missed a single question on either one, it was because I mis-read something.  Both were timed, but there was ample time to finish, and I tried my best to take my time.

There was no mechanical aptitude test.  Instead, there was a fifteen question plating-specific fill-in-the-blank test.  I knew nine answers cold, was somewhat sure of one more, and the remaining five got guesses or were left blank.  They didn’t grade the tests while I was on site, but they did say that the plating test was more to see what I knew rather than a pass/fail determination.  They know my background, and interviewed me with the full knowledge that I don’t know everything about the process.

After the testing, I was given an abbreviated tour of the facility.  The equipment is massive compared to what I’ve worked on in the past, but I felt no intimidation by anything that I saw.  It is state of the art, highly automated, clean, and well maintained.

After the tour, I was treated to lunch at Golden Corral by the two guys who did the phone interview, and a senior engineer.  The engineer did most of the questioning, since the other two had vetted me pretty well on the phone last Tuesday.  He didn’t seem displeased by any of the answers that I gave.  There were none of the dreaded questions for which I had prepared so diligently.

Towards the end, he asked what I did in my free time.  I mentioned gardening, reading and a few other things.  Then I took a chance.  I mentioned target shooting.

Yes, I know that this was a risk.  Such an admission could be the kiss of death.  Then again, it is North Carolina, not New York or California, so I rolled the dice.

It turns out that the engineer is a rifle shooter who owns a M1A, and one of the other guys owns a 44 magnum and an AR-pattern rifle, among other guns.  The 44 guy wasn’t at the table when I made my admission, but was informed by the engineer that I am a shooter as soon as he returned.  His response:

Where is the paperwork for him (me) to sign?

He was joking, of course, but I could tell that it was a plus in his mind for me.  I was informed/reminded that no guns are allowed on company property (posted prominently in multiple locations, including one that spells out the entire applicable statute), but otherwise, the subject of guns was a very comfortable one.  The third guy is a native to the area, and although he is not an avid shooter, he did not appear in any way anti-gun or negatively influenced by my admitted interest in firearms.

After lunch, we returned to the plant, where I was dismissed with the promise of notification within ten days as to whether they wanted to continue or not.

All in all, it was a comfortable experience.  If I blew it in any way, I don’t have a clue how.  There were no aw, shit moments, even in hindsight.

I called the recruiting company from the parking lot before I left, as per their request.  They asked for a play-by-play, asked me how I felt after seeing the place and talking to them, and if I would be likely to accept an offer to work there if such an offer was tendered.  I told them that I felt comfortable with everything that I saw, and with what I would be expected to do.  I also told him that, if offered the upper range of the published starting wage, I would gladly accept.  I was informed that they have four positions open, and only three candidates so far that made it through the phone screen.

I’d say that my chances are very good.  The high end of the starting salary is $5 per hour less than I’m making now at the temp job that may or may not become permanent, and the commute is roughly double.  But, it is a permanent position with full benefits and plenty of opportunity to move up, without considering a possible transition to maintenance later.  Plus, shitloads of overtime is available if I can stand it.

Did I mention that the company is the #1 faucet manufacturer in North America?  I think it would be a better choice than my uncertain future at the chemical plant, despite the added commute time/cost and the reduction in pay.  What do you think?

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8 Responses to That Wasn’t So Bad

  1. Garand Gal says:

    I’d compare it to the job you’ve been existing on rather than the no guarantees one that you have right now. Figure out the cost of the commute, including wear and tear on the car AND your schedule. Then factor in not having to deal with customers, the ability to use and improve your skill sets, benefits, and not being jerked around and it sounds like it’s the better choice by far even with the added expense and commute. If they make you an offer you could go to the temp job and tell them you have people interested in you but you’d prefer to stay there and see if they make an offer, but that’s kind of balanced against if the new company wants to wait for your reply. If the temp company declines no harm no foul, if they do then you’ll need to decide if you want the new job or if you like the temp job. One thing you may want to do look at the companies portfolios and products they produce, have there been declines in recent sales, are their stocks down further than most, will their products be in demand during the economic problems we’re facing, who is their parent companies and what kinds of economic problems are their countries of origin facing?

    As for the new job’s brand, I have one of those in my shower and I must say I’m decidedly unimpressed. Then again most new plumbing fixtures are plasticky junk in my opinion.

    • alaskan454 says:

      One huge deciding factor for me will be the ability to quit BigBoxRetailer completely. I hate the extra hours, and am not enjoying my time on the sales floor (although I will likely acclimate in time) but I feel obligated to work enough to stay in their system, just in case. Plus, that ten percent discount is nice, even if it doesn’t apply to most food products.

      Since I don’t have a life, my schedule is of minimal concern. So what if I spend an extra five hours per week on the road? I’d just be surfing the net or doing something else equally unproductive at home anyway. I’ll probably just invest in some audio books to pass the time.

      At current gas prices, I’ll go from about thirty bucks per week to a little over fifty. I got almost 300K miles out of the last Corolla, and it spent most of its life in the hands of a kid that thought he was Mario Andretti. Since I plan to drive like I have at least a little sense, and will be religiously changing fluids and other wear items well before the recommended intervals, I hope to get 500K out of it before it gets more expensive to maintain than it’s worth. It did come with a lifetime power train warranty (free dealer option, $100 deductible) and I plan to collect on it. If I live that long.

      The current job is going to be a nightmare, even if it does go permanent. They are trying to upgrade a manual, one-horse operation into a state of the art, automated facility. Outside contractors are doing most of the upgrades, but the regular maintenance staff will have to keep the antiques running until the upgrades are done. I am learning pipe-fitting, metal fabrication and welding, skills that are valuable in the job market, but I was asked during the interview today if I had done any metal fabricating work or welding. This leads me to believe that I may very well have the opportunity to learn these things there, too.

      Plasticisers (the chemical company’s top product) are used heavily in PVC pipe, which has commercial applications as well as residential, but is at least somewhat subject to the same market pressures as plumbing products. If both facilities were similar in technology level, I might be more inclined to stay with the chemical company, but I miss working in a relatively clean environment on reasonably new and at least somewhat well-maintained equipment.

      Plumbing fixture sales fluctuate with new home sales, but if people can’t afford to buy a new home, they may very well upgrade their existing one. So, a drop in wholesale sales will likely be offset to a large degree by retail sales. At least, that is what they told me today, and it makes sense.

      The Sanford plant does mostly high end and specialty finish items, and time critical orders. The “plasticky junk” (the same shit the builders put in my house) comes out of China, regardless of what name is on it. If you can replace it for less than fifty bucks at Lowe’s, it’s Chinese crap. If it is up in the hundreds of dollars, it was probably made in Sanford.

      Assuming I’m offered a position, I plan to take the offer letter to my current job. “Make me permanent this week, and I’ll stay. Otherwise, I’ll be calling in my two week notice to the temp company.” If they do it, I will stay, nightmare or no. If not, I’ll be taking my chances with the faucet king. Unless someone convinces me otherwise between now and then.

      • Garand Gal says:

        Sounds like you already know what you want to do 🙂 I’m curious, who is going to be maintaining the upgrades? Will they be training the current maintenance or contracting out?
        I forgot to tell you that Lowe’s has their canning supplies on sale, 50% off. If you go to lowes.com you can look around your local stores (not all of the ones here have the same things discounted), make the order, pay for it and pick it up later. That’s what I did and I was told by both stores that people had been in all day looking for the canning supplies, one lady even argued with them over the cart containing my order that they had at the pick up counter. I’ve also heard that some are printing out the online pages and price matching at Target and Wally’s.

      • alaskan454 says:

        Yes, I’ve pretty much decided what I want to do, but I’m keeping an open mind in case someone points out something that I haven’t thought of.

        Maintenance will be handled in-house, so we’ll be learning the upgrades as they are done.

        Thanks for the Lowe’s info. The closest store that had any left was twenty miles out of my way, and they only had two – not worth the drive. I did clean out two nearby Wallys on a price match, but only got a total of six dozen. I only took the printout for the wide mouth quarts, since that is all I’ve ever used, but both Wallys had a shitload of regular mouth left. It’d almost be a crime not to go back tomorrow and clean them out of those, too – especially at $4.69 a dozen. I have the printout ready, and unless I have a compelling reason not to do so after work tomorrow, I’m going to load up. That will mean buying some regular mouth Tattlers, but that’s OK, too.

  2. Craig says:

    Here’s hoping for the desirable outcome.

    • alaskan454 says:

      Thank you. An offer has to be placed on the table before any decision needs to be made, of course. I’m leaving it in God’s hands. Whatever should happen, will happen. I’m just praying for the wisdom to make the right decision.

  3. John C says:

    Sanford NC is a nice place I have lived there for 2 years there are alot of Gun people in the area. Good luck hope they make the decision easy on you.

    • alaskan454 says:

      Thanks for the info and well wishes, and for taking the time to comment. I’m sitting, not-so-patiently waiting. I’ll update as events unfold.

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