Should I cancel this job interview?
February 17, 2015 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a job, desperately, as I'm going to be laid off and I just booked an interview, which would be cool except I'm not positive I can physically handle the work.

The job is in a warehouse picking bulk cartons. They said the cartons can regularly be 60 - 70 lbs. I am a 107 lb not particularly strong woman. At my current job the most I usually need to lift, and only rarely, is 50 pounds and I struggle with that. Should I go to this interview for practice or should I cancel it and focus on less spine crushing options?
posted by WeekendJen to Work & Money (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
The latter. Since you're so obviously not a good candidate this will not be useful practice. You will just be wasting yours and their time.
posted by Dragonness at 12:29 PM on February 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yes, but make sure you write a nicely-worded declination to the person hiring. You never know, something else might open up, and they might remember you.
posted by xingcat at 12:32 PM on February 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I say yes. Some of your questions might be:
-Can we check out the warehouse/work environment?
-[If you are in appropriate clothing and shoes] Can I try out some of the cartons I'll be lifting? [assume the positive]
-What kind of safe lifting/protect the back training do you do?

You won't get a new job by doing fewer interviews. So go and worst case scenario you don't get the job. Medium case scenario, you get to practice your interviewing. Best case scenario(s): (1) you can do the job and you get the job or (2) they tell you that you aren't a good fit for that position but here's another one you'd be perfect for! (Networking is supposed to be a reliable job-finding technique.)

One of the best interviews I've ever done was for a job I was meh about. I got the job and it was a good fit for a while - happens it was in a warehouse and I got in really good shape!

Good luck!
posted by Beti at 12:33 PM on February 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I totally think you should go. Maybe you will charm them, and find that while the position you're interested in is not a good fit, that they have something else that might work for you. Or they'll remember that they liked you and call you if/when something good opens up. You literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain, you're not wasting anybody's time, interviews are for two parties to meet up and discuss potentially working for a job - not anything but that. Don't cancel. Practice charming the hell out of them.
posted by pazazygeek at 12:36 PM on February 17, 2015


I thought we were looking at jobs where you used your supply chain skillz.

Yes, call them back and tell them, "I don't think this position will be a good fit for me. My skills and experience are more in logistics and supply chain management. If you have any positions that open, I'd love to hear about them."

Don't waste your time, or that of potential employers.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:50 PM on February 17, 2015


I am casting a wide net. This is my first call back from 35 jobs applied to thus far adn the pay scale is equal to what I am on now so if I were to get something, I would try to negotiate pay on the higher end of the scale, raising my income.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:52 PM on February 17, 2015


I am twice your size. I can lift that much, but it's not easy. Women simply don't put on upper body muscle in the same manner that men do. The jump from 50# to 70# is a pretty big one.

Also, I work a job that is, at times, incredibly physically demanding. Don't underestimate how difficult it is to work at the edge of your capacity all day. On days I do a ton of manual labor, I am worthless after work. If I do hard physical labor for a week straight, it takes the whole weekend to recover.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:08 PM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, I think you should cancel the interview if you don't think that you can do this job. You don't want to waste your time OR theirs.

In your previous question, you said that you were going to be laid off in November, and that you would be eligible for unemployment and for severance. It's still only February - and, while it's true that it can take quite some time to get a job lined up, you still have nine months to go before you are actually laid off. And, if you are eligible for unemployment and severance, you will still have some income after that. It's way, way, too soon to panic and "cast a wide net." You are in a good position to be picky, for now, and go after jobs that pay well, use your skills, and have good working conditions.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:19 PM on February 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


P.S.: I think you are doing an excellent job of being proactive and giving yourself plenty of time to find work. So many people in your position would be twiddling their thumbs until the last minute. But I want to emphasize the good position you are in relative to many job seekers. Seriously, you can afford to be choosy.

Have you tried sending your resume out to recruiters? Someone at an agency might have an inside lead to jobs that would suit your qualifications, and have the connections to find you things that might escape a keyword search of Craigslist or Indeed.com or wherever. Ask around, search LinkedIn, or go on Yelp to find recruiting agencies near you and apply.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:50 PM on February 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


i know you feel desperate, but the only worse thing than being unemployed is being unemployed with a back injury. very few businesses in the US have the margins and incentive to run a warehouse operation responsibly: there is every incentive and little consequence for churning through 'pickers.' it's not your size that is the problem, it's that you are unlikely to have the training, work flow, and 'production' expectations that will keep you healthy.

don't worry about wasting their time. don't try to get a job that is going to leave you injured.
posted by ennui.bz at 3:18 PM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm torn.

Pro:

You can never have too much practice interviewing.

You might learn a thing or two about the warehouse biz.

You may end up hearing about a different job that is more appropriate for your skills.*

Con:

Even if you know you aren't qualified for the job, it may sting when they tell you "no".

They might take one look at you and decide to abruptly terminate the interview. I'd hope not - but be ready if it happens. Again: you've already decided this job is not for you.

I wish you the best of luck.

* Is this unlikely? Perhaps. But in my life I've had several good jobs that were largely a matter of Right Place / Right Time. I think it's largely a matter of being in lots of places at lots of times.
posted by doctor tough love at 4:56 PM on February 17, 2015


You should go. Warehouses are always looking for workers. A lot of my friends work in warehouses picking orders. There is a completely un-feminist but appropriate for the job context attitude that women applying for the position may not have the same upper body strength as the men who apply. In the situation I saw, women who applied were given easier tasks in a separate area of the warehouse. Some of them did sorting by hand (depends on the scope of the warehouse operations and what brands they deal with). From your description it is hard to say what sort of warehouse you'll be working for. The bigger the city the more likely you will get a break as a woman. I don't know how well you can negotiate pay - warehouse work being one of the few things people with criminal records can still find decent work you do have stiff competition.

That said, warehouse work is tough and a lot of the applicants get hired with no experience but obvious physical strength. Others get hired temporarily through job agencies and manage to stay on due to good performance. Some guys don't want their sisters / moms / girlfriends / wives working there because a lot of them have this weird complex that the women in their life should be doing "better". Some of this depends on the city you are in (if there is a big immigrant population you'll be considered a normal applicant). Most of my friends who applied were worried about their lack of formal job history or their criminal record. You may be seen as a good candidate because you aren't worried about this - your resume may show you might stick around and become a team leader!

Keep in mind some consider the job dangerous and some workers have the attitude it is no place for a woman. I have had my friends relate stories about co-workers getting their spines crushed in accidents (and some have witnessed co-workers dying or being permanently disabled) so if you want to move on to the more intense stuff be aware of the dangers. I would say in some ways the job is comparable to construction workers and electricians - a very macho field and in some ways sexist, but a great job for a woman if she is comfortable in that environment (as a competent female worker who is either very tough and masculine or doing the sexy tomboy thing). There are definitely women tinier than you working with the reach trucks doing these jobs and my friends have nothing but respect for them.

The majority of people who do well in this field are incredibly smart but do not have completed highschool degrees, so showing you respect them as intelligent people is much more important than having brute strength. A lot of it is being comfortable with the demographic that works there and being respectful instead of condescending - don't be one of those awful people who acts like they are just passing through on their way to something better (it hurts peoples feelings) and you will make friends. There are a lot of ladies desperate for a job who get into this line of work and do well, and have good experiences, so don't reject it off hand.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 6:06 PM on February 17, 2015


I should throw out there at this point that I currently work in a warehouse, but I do mostly higher level analytical stuff and only 30% or so "pick things up and put them down" stuff. Also, the current product I work with is smaller and lighter (think a carton with 24 boxes of a dozen pens in it) and the job I got the interview for is 100% physical and deals with foodstuffs. I know warehouse, I just don't have MUSCLES!
posted by WeekendJen at 6:59 PM on February 17, 2015


Go. They may not hire you for this but might keep you in mind for another opening that comes up later. Someone on the interview might mention you to someone else who's looking for someone. You might get the job and be given lighter loads. Who knows! I once interviewed for a job that I was barely qualified for, didn't get an interview, but was called a month later for an interview with the same company for a different position.

You really can't know where things could lead and in this time of difficult job-hunting/job-finding, every opportunity should be utilized.

Good luck!
posted by knolan at 7:16 PM on February 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


The only reason I would go is because they may already have you in mind for something other than what they're offering on paper.

They may already be thinking "I wonder if she has the upper body strength for this specific thing, but maybe we can put her on this other thing."

Or you might arrive and they might go "why do you think you can lift 60lb weights all day" in which case you can be frank that you were asking yourself the same question and you weren't sure you should attend... because your experience so far has been in blah, blah and blah and you're so interested in their company because of its strengths in blah and blah blah that you just had to come in and see for yourself.

it really depends on how much you'd have to lose if this company decided you were a time-wasting idiot based on this. If they're one of a few games in town, maybe it's not worth it. If there are plenty more fish in the sea, maybe it is worth it.
posted by tel3path at 1:55 AM on February 18, 2015


I own a bowling ball warehouse. Our carton weights are regularly 70lbs. I would have a hard time hiring a 100-lb female or male. That being said, I'm always interested in talking to people with strong analytical skills. I'd say go for the interview. Just be up front about your physical limitations early on, but also try to get in an early word about your other skills.
posted by slogger at 8:00 AM on February 18, 2015


THe final decision I made was to cancel the interview. Based on my initial conversation with ther person, tehy specifically mentioned that they are giving an honest description of the job so that we don't waste anyone's time. This pushed me over to the "time wasting idiot" line of thought just slightly moreso than the "see what happens" line of thought. Also I did some digging on their website and found a video about the position which said that part of being hired is passing a "physicality test" which I do not think I could pass.

Thanks.
posted by WeekendJen at 6:59 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


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