Featured, Society & People

Lululemon: A Case of Disrespect for Job Applicants

“Rationality is the recognition of the fact that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it.” – Ayn Rand “Atlas Shrugged”

Lululemon put “who is John Galt” quotes on their bags in 2011. After a month of trying to secure a job at their Greenwich location, the only thing blatantly obvious is that no one at the Greenwich store is familiar with that book. Ayn Rand would’ve hired me.

In my recent effort to follow through on BC’s request to “set the world aflame,” I sought summer part time employment at Lululemon Athletica. Being a yoga instructor, founder of a successful publication, and college graduate, I thought I had all the skills I needed to “educate” Greenwich’s finest on the ins and outs of overpriced tights.

Who will right Lulu's sinking ship when creative qualified applicants are sent packing?
Who will right Lulu’s sinking ship when creative qualified applicants are sent packing?

Except for one problem. I didn’t.

Lululemon has a long and slow hiring process, a fact that is no secret. It’s even on the company’s Wikipedia page. I applied for the job in late May and didn’t hear about an interview until late June, somewhat surprising since the job was for a Seasonal (make sure you remember this word, we’ll come back to it) Part Time Educator position. But hey, until the see-through yoga pant scandal, Lulu’s stock was through the roof. If they want to wait until after summer to hire summer employees, who am I to judge?

The problem is that when it came to the actual hiring process, things didn’t really pick up. E-mails were replied to days later via iPhone. The whole iPhone thing isn’t an indicator of unprofessionalism in it of itself, but it is a bit insulting to process that these people saw an e-mail and then took over 24 hours to reply via the same device. I suspect Candy Crush is to blame.

The first interview was fine. Everyone at Lulu was courteous and the questions were fair and allowed me to highlight just how perfect I was for the job. There was even talk of duties beyond that of the said position, which was great. One of the advantages of a part time job is that I could pursue other ventures, but if said company wishes to supply additional opportunities, more power to them (and to me).

The second interview was a bit of a different story. I was asked to take a spin class with one of the employees. How this relates to the sale of clothing fit for sweaty endeavors escapes me, but I’m not the one doing the hiring. I wasn’t pleased at the assumption that those who taught yoga also enjoyed a completely different “way to sweat,” but these were not my choices to make.

After the class, I was fairly confident with where we stood. I wasn’t sure that I’d nailed the job to the specifics that Lulu was looking for, but I’d portrayed the “real” Ian Thomas Malone as I’d like myself to be seen. I didn’t think there necessarily needed to be character concessions because I thought I was right for the job.

But as it turned out, I thought wrong.

On the 4th of July, I received an form rejection e-mail from a person at Lulu who was not one of the two people I’d interviewed with that they had selected someone else for the job. Had this been a rejection done in a courteous manner and not on a national holiday, there wouldn’t have been a need for an article. You’d think that one of them could’ve taken 30 seconds out of their day to notify me via iPhone at the very least, but apparently not. Two interviews should warrant at least a personal rejection, especially from a company that uses yoga to promote its products.

The reason for my rejection came at a later point after I sent an e-mail containing my displeasure similar to what was said in the preceding paragraph. Yours truly was rejected on the grounds that I did not project aspirations for a long-term career at Lululemon. I could go on about the absurdities of that for a few more paragraphs, but instead let’s just go back to that word “seasonal” I asked you to remember.

Were they right? Impossible to say. Had my talents and hard work been appreciated to the point where the company wanted to elevate my position faster than any other company, then I certainly wouldn’t say no. We’ll never know the answer and it wasn’t exactly right to have “willingness to sit stagnantly in seasonal part time retail positions” as a necessary qualification for employment. In my first interview, it was even stated that this wasn’t an ideal position.

There is something to take away from this for those of you who stuck through this article. Was I disappointed about their decision? Of course, but not for long.

The Lululemon interview process played like an episode of The Celebrity Apprentice. While those who read The Rock know that I’m a big fan of that show, I have no desire to play. I wanted my skill set and ability to perform based on my experience and ability to convey myself articulately in an interview.

The biggest thing I learned from this is to not let companies disrespect you just because you’re in a tough position job wise. I’ve spoken to many people with some great opportunities looking toward the future. I’m glad that I wasn’t in a position where I had to take a big chug of Lululemon’s kool-aid. I’m still of the mindset that people who don’t respect you aren’t worth your time, even if they work at a yoga company. Namaste.


  1. The Colonel

    One of the curses of corporate – – indeed institutional — operations is that what used to be called “Personnel” and is now called “Human Resources” or just “HR” frequently do not attract first-class people. Rather, such slots are often filled by mediocrities, cautious, smug and self-important; the sort of people who think imbecile questions such as “What do you regard as your greatest weakness” give profound insights into a prospective employee’s character.

    A second problem is that persons charged with interviewing prospects for entry-level positions are themselves insecure mediocrities who are reluctant to engage newcomers plainly superior to themselves. The old rubric is “A’s hire A’s; B’s hire C’s; and C’s hire D’s.” It is only top-drawer people who are not threatened by other top-drawer people.

    I do not pretend to have an answer for these problems, which I think are inherent both institutionally (honestly, if you’re running something, wouldn’t you put your best people up front in the toughest situations and not shuffling papers?) and in human nature (mediocrities are threatened by excellence and comforted by more mediocrity). But I wish you ‘bon chasse et bon chance” in your continued quest. Remember that it took even Sir Galahad some trouble to find the Holy Grail.

  2. Hi Ian, I have a few thoughts after reading your article, and knowing the company and those who have worked for it.

    Have you ever considered that you just weren’t what they were looking for? Just because you’re a yoga instructor and ambitious doesn’t mean you were a right fit for the position. Or maybe you just weren’t something that team was looking for at the moment? Some companies do look for seasonal help with the intention of a follow-up contract.

    The article comes across as petty and bitter. Why does it matter that you were contacted on the 4th of July? What difference does it make that you were contacted on a national holiday, rather than the day before or after? It doesn’t make much sense to me that that’s a part of your grievance.

    What I’m taking away from this, is your ego was damaged a bit, and you didn’t get what you think you deserved. Now, did the interviewer say they would call you if you weren’t being hired? Did you ask if you were going to be called? If not, then what right do you have to be upset that something didn’t happen which you never asked for?

  3. Hi Chris,

    I have considered that I wasn’t a good fit and that would be a valid decision by the company. However as stated in the article, that was not the company’s reason for not hiring me.

    The rest of your complaints can be addressed in one fell swoop. After two interviews, I feel I deserved a personal rejection. Had I received said letter, there would be no article. You obviously feel different, but that’s just me. After all, my time was invested in the process as well.

    I never said anything a call. I did ask them what would happen next and they said they’d be in touch. I guess by your logic I got what I wanted, but a form rejection letter is not in my opinion a fair way to send someone packing. Your comments are obviously jaded by your experience with the company as you’ve asked several questions which have been addressed in the article.

    This article is not petty or bitter. It’s their “right” to carry out their hiring process as they see fit. It’s also my “right” to use my website to talk about the topics I want to talk about. Thank you for your comment.

  4. The Colonel

    Actually, I disagree with Chris. There are of course places which routinely treat one like crap: rude Motor Vehicle clerks (clearly otherwise unemployable), parolee-bouncers manning the rope at places I wouldn’t enter if they paid me rather than ‘tother way around, etc.

    Then there are decent commercial and professional organizations. The ones which tend to be successful treat people with respect, either that’s because their mothers raised them properly, or at the very least because their above-room-temperature IQs allow them to figure out that this chap or woman I don’t pick today may very well be the person I am trying to sell something to, or deal with, tomorrow.

    If there are say two jobs and ten applicants, eight are of necessity going to be rejected, But they can be treated with courtesy. There’s an old military proverb: “The toes you step on today may be attached to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.” There’s much truth in it.

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