Flutter By, Butterfly

Earlier this week, I had a job interview.

I didn’t write about it before, because I am leery of jinxing myself. I wrote all about Groupon and that fell through, and then dished about my interview with my ex’s company. I prefer to keep these things on the down low now, just on the off chance that it is possible to control the universe through my words. Kind of like a Butterfly Effect, but instead of an insect causing chaos it’s a blog…I guess you’d call it a Bloggingfly Effect? But a couple of days have passed, and whatever is going to happen will happen. I would like to at least mention it because the blog is a reflection of my life, and when I’m old and decrepit I’d like to be able to flip through the pages of this virtual journal and remember what was going on way back when.

They say a butterfly flapping its wings can lead to a hurricane. Similarly, a blogger flapping his gums can lead to a lost opportunity. (Courtesy of duhokwriters.com)

The interview took place downtown, and as soon as I walked into the building, I was blown away. It’s a rather nondescript looking two-story white office building on the outside, but inside, it’s all artsy and funky. Lots of glass and wood, framed paintings, and natural light. There are offices along the walls, a reception desk in the middle, and an upstairs loft with a few more offices, including the President and CEO (whom I interviewed with). It’s all very cool and urban and hip. Cubicles? They don’t need no stinkin’ cubicles! So right off the bat, it earned brownie points with me.

As for the interview itself, I think it went very well. The P/CEO told me she’d looked over my online portfolio and was impressed with my work. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: those three days spent in November putting together the site were the best use of my time since I’ve been unemployed. Any writer, published or not, should have a portfolio to display his or her clips – it really does open doors. We chatted about my duties at my last job, freelance writing, and this position. While there are one or two qualifications missing from my work history, I’m hoping that they are minor ones. I asked her what skills her ideal candidate possesses, and she said – in order – writing and creativity. Definitely my strengths, and to prove the point, I came up with a marketing idea for her on the fly – a way to promote our local wineries – that she liked a lot. I wanted to show her I was an idea man, and I think that was a good move on my part. As the interview was wrapping up, I thanked her, shook her hand, and told her that I want the job. I read someplace that surprisingly few candidates ever come right out and say that during an interview, and I wanted to emphasize how much I really do want it. (I do…it would be perfect). But, of course, I’m sure the other candidates in the running all have their strengths and talents, as well. I am confident that I gave it my all, and certainly didn’t give her any reason not to hire me, as I have in the past (more on that in a second). She asked me for references as we were parting, and I forwarded those to her promptly, once I got home. That’s always a good sign. Doesn’t mean I’m a shoo-in, but if she wasn’t interested in me as a serious candidate, she wouldn’t ask. So now I’ll just wait with bated breath and see if anything comes of this.

The truth is, I’m in a tight spot. Money (or lack of) has become a real issue. On top of that, my initial unemployment claim is about to run out – next week, I believe. I know there are extensions available but that’ll probably entail more paperwork and who knows what else. I want to be a freelance writer, more than anything else (and the P/CEO asked me why I don’t continue pursuing that since it’s such an ideal lifestyle), but lack of a steady gig and no benefits are making it tough to stay the course. I’m considering some desperate options like withdrawing funds from my 401K that are last resort measures, but what choice do I have? I’ve got bills to pay and not enough $ to pay them. You know things are bad when my daydreams and fantasies all involve currency. Seriously, I’ve been thinking about money a lot lately. Drooling over it when I see it. How novel the idea of a paycheck feels to me now! I could actually pay my bills, on time, and maybe even have a little bit left over. That’s such a foreign concept to me now. It sounds wonderful. Funny, the things we take for granted in life.

Don’t it always seem to go/That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. 

Truer words were never spoken.

Twice upon a time, I completely blew any chance of landing a job before I’d even walked out the door. The first time, MapQuest led me astray. The company was located in a town I was unfamiliar with, and the directions I’d gotten online showed the building on the complete opposite side of the freeway from where it really was. I drove all over town looking for the place, and had to call and tell them I was lost. I finally found the place and got there fifteen minutes late for my scheduled interview. They then made me sit in the lobby another fifteen minutes before seeing me. That was a big group interview, and no amount of profuse apologizing on my part could soothe their bad tempers. There’s no worse feeling than knowing something is a lost cause but being forced to soldier on through it anyway.

The second time, I’d actually done pretty well in the interview. She and I clicked, and things seemed to be moving in a positive direction. She had told me that the company was growing, and they’d soon be transferring a bunch of jobs to their new Connecticut location. As she was walking me to the door, past the employees in her department, she asked if I had any additional questions. “Yes,” I replied. “When are you moving the accounting operation back east?” Her face darkened immediately, and she said in a fierce whisper, “My staff hasn’t been told about that yet!!” as heads swiveled in our direction from cubicleland.


Which I think was very unfair. She never informed me that the information was confidential or that her employees hadn’t been notified yet. Why would she drop such a big secret on an unsuspecting stranger? I’m sorry if I unwittingly informed a bunch of people they were about to get canned! Sheesh. It was an honest mistake. I apologized like mad, but again, knew I’d dug a hole too deep to escape from. My last-minute, completely innocent question cost me another good job.

So, the fact that I walked out of Wednesday’s interview (which I had arrived a few minutes early for) without putting my foot in my mouth was definitely a positive step. I may not end up with the job, but if I don’t, it won’t be because of anything I said.

This time.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

24 thoughts on “Flutter By, Butterfly

  1. It is wise to research the company and bring a few relative ideas(on paper) to the interview. You may or may not use any but that would show you have researched the firm and know something about what goes on before you start. Demonstrates enthusiasm too. A corporation’s financial and other stuff is public record. When I advised beginning teachers I told them to always have an answer to two questions “Why do you think you will be an asset?” and “Why should I hire you and not these other applicants?” If they don’t ask the questions you present these answers upon you own initiation. Free lance writing is a most difficult way to make a living. I understand that 90% may bring in $1,000 to $10,000 a year so a 9 to 5 is also needed. I sold two articles for $125 each. So far I have made $450 marketing my cartoons. I have been grinding them out for 35 years.You are talented and I hope you get a break.


    1. Carl – that’s a great idea. I’m glad I was able to come up with something on the fly, but it would have been even better to walk in there with an idea or two. I’m going to use that next time! Not that I want there to be a next time, but if there is, anyway.


  2. “I guess you’d call it a Bloggingfly Effect? ”

    I LOVE that, Mark!

    Hey, this interview sounds like it went AWESOME! And I gotta say, judging by what you shared here, I bet you nail it!

    “I read someplace that surprisingly few candidates ever come right out and say that during an interview..”

    Good point, I never even thought of that.

    I’ll keep my fingers and toes crossed for ya, bud!

    Have a super weekend!


    1. I remember reading that little bit of advice and thinking, “How bold of somebody to do that.” But then again…why not? It’s a great way to sum up your interest right before you walk out the door, and is probably the last thing the interviewer will hear you say before they make up their mind.


  3. Mark–
    I am praying for you! I know you will be where you are meant to be…it’s the waiting that’s tough, right?

    best to you, and I look forward to hearing what happens! 🙂
    (look up Jeremiah 29:11…)


  4. Sounds like a great interview Mark! I really hope you get it, your definitely passionate! I hope the company recognizes that.


  5. I hope you get the job, Mark, in that swanky artsy office. And I hope that soon, you can sit back in your new office chair, look around and realize that your $$ daydreams are being replaced with other creative more gratifying thoughts 🙂 Bonne Chance!


  6. It is so important to give a good interview and it sounds like yours went very well!

    One trick I use is having a couple of “personal faults” lined up for when they (inevitably) ask about mine. I read once that people are all too quick to boast about their strengths, but when asked about their weaknesses they stumble around, or worse, claim to have none!

    I always say my biggest weakness is that I am a perfectionist, which can sometimes lead to doing nothing rather than doing the wrong thing while I figure out the best course of action, but also that I’m my own biggest critic and know (and have examples to prove) that I’m capable of a lot more than I give myself credit for.

    Admitting your flaws makes you look genuine and humble. (Denying them makes you look like an ass!) But if you use the right words in the right order, your faults actually sound more like assets!

    And there’s your random career advice for the day.

    Surely not ALL your daydreams and fantasies involve currency?


    1. I’ve read the same thing. You should always list at least one weakness that is really a strength in disguise. I’ve used the “I’m a perfectionist” line myself, but I like your “I’m my own biggest critic” one a lot (and in my case, it’s true).

      I might have an occasional daydream or fantasy that revolves around something other than money…


  7. Glad the interview went well – sounds like you’ve put to good use the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Waiting through unemployment is tough, and I’m adding my prayers that you settle soon into that right job.


    1. Thanks, Patti! I was out of work for 10 months last time I was unemployed. That seemed a lot tougher emotionally, but I was also married then and money wasn’t nearly the concern it is this time around.


  8. I think you’re a brilliant writer and they’d be lucky to have you. Just hope she realized what a jewel she had in front of her. Crossing my fingers & toes you get the job!


  9. Oh, I SO identify. I had an interview last summer where the same thing happened to me of the location being on the opposite side of the road from where Google Maps said it was. I was ten minutes late — and my interviewer was ten minutes later! (That particular quest was my all-round weirdest job search experience — and it would have been a perfect job — but it’s a long story.) My 401k is gone — has been since last fall — and how we’ve made it so far, I don’t know — especially as Medicare and Medicaid mysteriously dropped Roger in January and it took us three full months to resolve the issue! It’s just been grace of God and some generous friends, but how much longer we can juggle is a real question. I wish you all the best with your quest.


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