My suspicion was correct – I did not get the textbook proofreading job I interviewed for. I know this because a hand-addressed letter came to my apartment, two days after the interview. Enclosed, a very gentle note:
“Dear Ms. E,
Thank you very much for sparing your time for the interview for the proofreader position. I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for your willingness to apply for this position.
We really regret to announce this, after a careful consideration and discussion with the people concerned, we have decided that the position will be offered to another candidate. We would like to thank you again for your application for the position and ask for your continued support. Please don’t hesitate to offer your valuable feedback for our text book production in the future, too.
Once again, thank you very much for taking up your time.”
Never have I been sent a rejection letter, let alone such a delicately worded one. I suppose I should have seen it coming – I live in Japan, for Pete’s sake, where a terror of offending others is so ingrained that the Japanese break up each syllable of their McDonald’s orders with “sumimasen.” 8 years in New York City have hardened me, however – in the city, my job searches almost always resulted silence, and the few interviews I did get usually generated silence, too, when I was left hanging to wonder whether or not I’d gotten the job. That, or a tepid “Sorry, we’ve decided to go with someone else,” when I finally summoned the nerve to call them up myself. If it weren’t for the custom of the follow up call, I believe most New York City recruiters would happily never speak to job candidates once they shuffled them out of their office. Thus, I regarded my rejection letter with awe and, above all, gratitude. An interviewer taking the initiative to give the brief relationship closure? Unheard of. Words so carefully and perfectly chosen that I almost didn’t mind being passed over? Delightful!
During the interview, I had realized very quickly that getting the job would require me to give up my new 3-day schedule, so the rejection was already primed to come not as a blow but as a relief. Even sweeter; the proofreading gig was a job offered by my current company, meaning that I would not only be reimbursed for my travel expenses to and from the interview, but – get this – I would be paid overtime for my time in the interview as well.
All in all, the Japanese can reject me any day.