A Four Hour Interview Leads to a Twenty-seven Year Career by
(25 Stories)

Prompted By Interviews

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I have two interview stories. I realize the request was for a single story, but they are slightly connected. The first one came when I got laid off after fourteen years of employment at a pharmaceutical firm.  After a one year stint at a scientific instrument company, I got laid off again and went through more interviews but with more polish than the interviews I had done the year before.

How a 4 hour interview lead to a 27 year career

The first experience was being laid off from Cooper Vision’s quality assurance department.  Quality assurance is a department that all American companies hate funding and is a vulnerable  department to staff cuts when times are bad. Unknown to Wall Street, Cooper Vision was not doing well. However, Cooper Vision had put out many press releases telling Wall Street how successful they were.  I starting  interviewing and reading the want ads.  A frequently unasked question was “what is the real reason for your lay off? I understand Cooper Vision is doing well.”.  After four months, a kid on my youth soccer team told me about a friend who was looking for a chemist.  Fortunately, it went well and I was hired.

As a side note, Cooper’s 401k was just purchasing Cooper stock, around $20 per share.  I was so angry when I left Cooper, I sold all of my Cooper stock at $20 per share.  A year later, Cooper stock was selling at $2 per share.  It was one of the benefits of being among the first laid off from  Cooper Vision.

Next, I worked a year at a ten person scientific instrument export-import company. The stock market crashed in 1987, so two of the newest employees had to be let go.  However, they did get me an interview at Lockheed.

The Lockheed interview was a three part affair. An initial interview was an hour with the lab manager.  If he was happy, you got invited back.  The second interview was a four hour affair.  The third part was the company checking your references and college degrees. They also determined if you could probably get a security clearance if needed.  For that, they checked to see if you had an arrest record and looked at your credit record.

After being invited back for the four hour session, I was excited and found it an interesting experience.  First, you gave a half hour talk to the department on any chemistry subject you desired.  I had recently given a talk about epoxy adhesives, so that was my subject.  Unknown to me, they were using many epoxies, so that was a stroke of good luck.  Next there was an hour of interviews with some of the lab supervisors.  I liked them, and ended up working in both the labs they supervised.  Then, you went to lunch with some of the peers you would be working with so they could tell you the good, bad and ugly of the company. The last hour was with the lab manager to review more details about yourself and the job.

A couple of days later, one of my references told me that Lockheed had called, and he thought I would get the job.  Since I knew him well, I had worked with and for him for fourteen years, it raised my hopes.  A few days later, the Lockheed manager called and said he would be giving me a job offer contingent on Human Resources checking all the boxes that needed to be examined. He said it would take two weeks, but since I had a temporary consulting job, that worked out well. I ended up staying at Lockheed for twenty-seven years. It turned out to be a good choice, and I am enjoying their pension and 401k today.

Profile photo of Joe Lowry Joe Lowry
I was a child that moved so often, (8 elementary/middle schools) and finally went to to high school in Arroyo Grande California. I ended up at San Jose State University graduating in Chemistry, minor in Biology. Got married, and had two sons. Unfortunately, my wife passed 35 years later. I worked initially in the pharmaceutical industry. After being down-sized, I ended up in the aerospace field, working on satellites. I still live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tags: Lockheed, interview, 401k sale
Characterizations: funny


  1. Joe, so glad your Lockheed job stuck – must have been those epoxy adhesives!

    Thanx for a great read!

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    That was quite an interview process at Lockheed. Glad it worked out well after going through so many hoops.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    The Lockheed process was, indeed, a long one, but as is often the case with companies that do business with the government, they need to jump through hoops and make you do likewise. But as you say, it all worked out and clearly you enjoyed the position, staying 24 years and now getting a pension to boot! Sounds like the a win-win.

  4. Marian says:

    Good show, Joe, you have experienced the highs and lows of job offers and layoffs. Ouch, that’s bad about Cooper Vision buying their own stock … Alas, these days, it’s employee beware, but glad all worked out at Lockheed.

  5. Suzy says:

    Wow, that Lockheed interview process was quite something! Having to give a half hour talk on any chemistry subject you chose – I find it hard to imagine giving a half hour talk on any subject! At least I hope you were warned that you would be asked to do that. Glad you got the job, and you liked it well enough to stay for 27 years.

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