Crunch-time closed in on a certain bistro. I got the call from customer service Thursday letting me know they planned to open in time for the weekend. Armed with my product guide and winning smile, I introduced myself to the visibly stressed restaurant owner. He asked if I had an appointment (I didn’t) but I informed him of the products he could expect from my company. His ears perked when I told him we carried Newcastle, his favorite. A few more minutes of his time taken, I clinched a few placements and told him I’d be back the following day with some promotional items to excite his guests.
Wanting to give the owner my full attention, I didn’t notice the bald-headed guy watching my spiel. Gathering my stuff to go, he walked over to introduce himself. David worked for a nationwide food distributor and he asked for my card. As he reached to give me his, he suggested we call each other to help build business. “Sounds like a great idea,” I told him, putting his card away and not thinking much else about it.
A week later, I ran into David at the same bistro. He sat at the back table with the owner and one other gentleman. “I meant to call you,” he told me. “Another new place opening up?” I asked. “Actually, not a new place,” he said, motioning to the third gentleman. He introduced me to his district manager who had one question for me, “Have you ever considered working for us?” Taken aback, but not willing to dismiss the notion entirely, we spoke about possibilities. I received an invitation to their open house the next day.
The day arrived and like a cattle call, twenty-eight of us were herded into a meeting room. We all came from different backgrounds (golf courses, restaurant owners, real estate, food service, jewelers), but all dressed to impress–I broke out the suit I reserve for weddings, funerals or formals (I really need a new suit). The VP of sales gave us an overview of the job and what to expect if we were selected. The weekly stipend for the ten-week training program was more than I made in a week selling beer. Each of us were separated into individual meetings with different managers to determine if we would make it to the next round. After twenty minutes, I was scheduled for the next step.
The next bit was a three-part interview process. All three managers needed to agree on the candidate to move forward to hiring consideration. From the original twenty-eight, seventeen made it to the three-part, to fill 7-8 positions. I felt comfortable about my odds. All three managers asked questions of the same vein, all business related: “what would you do” and “if you were in this situation, then.” I turned on the charm and answered as corporate America as I could. Truth be told, this would’ve been the most corporate job I’d ever held. I never would’ve considered this kind of a job a decade ago. I guess that’s how people grow up.
What I remember most out of the entire interview process was how long it took to get a response “yay” or “nay” on the job. The call finally came two weeks later. Out of seventeen, nine of us made it (ten actually, but he had to drop out last minute). On our first day of training, we received some interesting stats: out of 3,000 applications received, 200 apps were considered, 28 of us were invited and the nine of us were the top 1% of all the candidates. Pretty empowering infomation!
We’re now 2 1/2 weeks into the training process–7 guys, 2 women. It’s great to see how our different backgrounds and personalities are going to mesh with our new boss. I said before I wasn’t looking for a new job, I guess it was a career I needed.