The American Institute of Consumer Studies, in partnership with LHK Partners offered an opportunity as a potential field interviewer. I was searching for supplemental or full time employment because, not being incognizant of the passage of time, I could see summer and a subsequent lack of employment on my immediate horizon.
‘Voila!’ I thought to myself. I had worked as a field interviewer for three years, and have years of experience in sales, customer service, travel, and communicating with people from diverse cultures. The job sounded like a good fit for me, being a knock-on-strangers’ doors around the country and asking them to go through an hour or more of a consumer survey, so I applied. Let me state before I start that I was not paid by the American Institute of Consumer Studies for the first, and most difficult steps of the hiring process.
I was asked first to do a phone interview with one recruiter from AICS that took about twenty minutes. That time can vary depending on how many questions a candidate may have. The next step was a biggie: I received a packet in the mail with detailed instructions on conducting ten ‘practice’ interviews in a neighborhood close by, but one where I didn’t know anyone. That’s not hard to find in any city, but the rest of the instructions included drawing a fairly detailed picture of the blocks a candidate intended to cover, the houses filled in like the little green ones on a Monopoly board, the street names designated, and the addresses transcribed on a call record. On this call record, I had to record the times of the day I visited the houses, which by the way had to be randomly chosen, by criss-crossing the streets. Still with me?
The call record also had to show the result of that visit, and each subsequent visit. I had five days to complete this, and I completed all but one of the interviews in one afternoon. It was 99 degrees in Vegas that day. I am good with people, and they trust me on sight. What can I say? These interviews included, as so many do, the income of the household and the household members, besides what they like to watch on TV, or listen to on the radio, and when. I then was required to FedEx the package back to the American Institute of Consumer Studies with all the interviews, the call record, the hand-drawn map of the chosen neighborhood, and all other materials. This step eliminates many candidates, for obvious reasons.
After completing that step, I was asked to do another phone interview, which took about an hour. Another recruiter from AICS called to go over the practice interview experience, what I thought, what I did and why, and many other questions. I was told they were looking for another interviewer somewhere with whom I could tag-along for a day and see the real deal in action. After a couple of weeks, they found one for me in California.
I cleared my schedule for two days and waved goodbye to two days of pay. The American Institute of Consumer Studies did recompense me in the amount of $75 for my two days. That is much less than I earn otherwise, but thanks for the thought. I caught a quickie flight to Santa Ana, rented a car, and picked up the veteran field interviewer about forty miles away. Then we drove back up to where I had started and began working her chosen addresses. It went very well, and I conducted myself with a zipped lip, and open ears. She informed me that I passed visual muster, and was properly professional, which relieved my mind. I hated to think I’d gone to all this trouble and missed work for nothing. We worked about eight hours that day, not including a stop for lunch and a question-answer session. The explanation of the compensation for all of this work and travel was clear as mud, and worked out to about ten dollars an hour, with some bonuses thrown in. Afterward, I had to drive her home, and then turn around and drive back to where my hotel was located.
Two days after I got home, I had to do another phone interview with another recruiter from AICS. Not sure how many of these ladies they have, but it seems to rival a government agency in personnel who perform the same work. That interview took about thirty minutes. She told me their decision was impacted by the fact that I had missed my first flight to Santa Ana. I arrived in the time parameters given by the airline, but traffic at McCarren is horrendous in the morning, and so is security. I rescheduled the flight, and arrived an hour or so behind the original schedule, but my veteran interviewer and I still managed to put in an eight-hour day.
The upshot was, the American Institute of Consumer Studies didn’t give me the job. I wouldn’t even be writing about this experience except that I worked so hard and jumped through all the hoops of the applicant process. I think dropping me after this process really stinks, and wonder what their real agenda is. I sent an email to the senior partner of LHK Partners, asking him to intervene. I was an exceptional field interviewer for my previous employer, and was recognized more than once for superior performance. I felt that the American Institute of Consumer Studies was being arbitrary in their decision. Contacting the bigwig did me no good, of course. I think it just ticked off the recruiters.