The Job Interview – Parts 2 and 3
Continued from Part 1.
A balding man in a rumpled gray suit shows me into a large conference room. He has bags under his glassy, empty eyes, which are framed by a mono-brow. He seems ambivalent, bored, robotic.
He leans in close – too close for my one-foot personal boundary rule and not far enough way for me to avoid a whiff of halitosis – and says “I’m the HR Manager, Dick Dickensheets.”
Think bad horrible ugly catastrophic thoughts, like exploding nuclear bombs and dead kittens, I think to myself. Do not laugh. Do NOT laugh.
“We’ll get started just as soon as Sage Green, our Marketing Director, arrives. In the meantime, would you like something to drink?”
Shit. Dead kittens, dead kittens, dead kittens. No, not helping. Men who wear capri pants, men who wear capri pants, men who wear capri pants. Okay, I can breathe now.
I think about asking for vodka on the rocks, but ask opt for water instead. I want him to get out of the room quickly so I can release a roar of pent-up laughter.
He exits the room, leaving a lingering trail of bad breath, and after a 30-second fit of giggles, I sit at the conference room table, tapping my fingers against the glass top and anxiously wondering whether my face is visibly blue based on my Spanx-induced oxygen deprivation.
Two minutes later, Dick arrives with Sage. Alarm bells go off – “runrunrunaway” they shrilly chime in unison. At first glance, I realize that Sage could be a man or woman or in the middle of a sex-reassignment surgery; a foreboding sense of dread about this interview starts to wash over my body.
It is wearing a tight-fitting pantsuit and a skinny tie – both in tropical fruit colors – with a crisp white shirt to pull it all together. Its hair is short, but not too short, fashionably slicked back, as shiny as a freshly waxed beamer and framing a semi-feminine face. Waxed eyebrows? Maybe – could go either way (they do provide a stark contrast to Mr. Dickensheets unpruned mono-brow). There is no visible 5’oclock shadow, although a curious bit of fuzz adorning its upper lip looks like a burgeoning caterpillar. Oxfords with laces and a slight heel. No make-up, wait is that eyelin…
“Hi Beatrice,” it says, interrupting my thoughts. It shakes my hand and says “Great to meet you,” sounding like Lauren Bacall or Kathleen Turner after smoking a carton of cigarettes.
“Good morning, Misterissus Green,” I slur, hoping he is too distracted by my muffin top to notice my poor enunciation. “You can call me Bea.”
“Well Bea, let’s get started, shall we?” Sage says in its raspy voice.
The jump from the third-floor bathroom window has left my knees bruised and my panty-hose in shreds, but otherwise my body seems to be in working order. I glance up at the mangled, dangling window screen and then look over at the crushed shrubbery I had landed in, realizing – as I survey the large, packed parking lot – that I don’t remember where I parked my car.
As I sit there thinking about the location of the car, I ruminate on the benign, typical interview that had just taken place with Dick and Sage:
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Correct answer said aloud: I graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English. I have more than 15 years of marketing communications, copywriting and copyediting experience. I moved to the city 7 years ago for a job, and love it here. My hobbies include volunteering, reading, writing, organic farming and animal rescue.
What I wanted to say: I don’t want to be here right now – specifically, in this conference room interviewing for this job and living in this small state, where the unemployment rate is 11.5% and the capital is about to go bankrupt. I want to move to San Francisco and write novels and raise chickens. I’m also slightly insane and was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital following a mental breakdown last year. I am on a lot of medications – in fact I’m on Xanax right now. And I’m terrible at romantic relationships. And sometimes I drink and gossip too much. And I’m agnostic.
Where do see yourself in five years?
Correct answer said aloud: I see myself working for a national or international corporation, such as RCS, Inc., overseeing marketing and corporate communications, including managing staff and working with key, senior-level stake-holders in a high-energy, multi-tasking environment where teamwork is vital to the success of the organization.
What I wanted to say: Not working in a veal-pen cubicle farm like this. Instead, I want to be floating on a raft in the middle of pool, drinking a tropical umbrella drink and dreaming about the next great-American novel I want to write, following the wild success of my first book. While not doing that, I will be teaching writing and reading at inner-city schools, overseeing my goat farm and running a poutine food truck and/or bookstore.
What is your greatest strength?
Correct answer said aloud: I write and perform well in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment with little supervision, yet where teamwork is valued.
What I wanted to say: I’m good at fixing paper jams in the printer and rebooting the copier when it starts acting up.
What is your biggest weakness?
Correct answer said aloud: I’ve been told I that my keen attention to detail sometimes supersedes my view of the bigger picture, so I’ve been spending time laying out the complete project every day to see my overall progress. I’m happy to say that I’ve seen marked improvement due to this daily routine.
What I wanted to say: Chocolate and salty snacks.
Are you good at working in a team?
Correct answer said aloud Yes. I feel that working as a team only serves to elevate each individual’s talents, thus making the whole – meaning the team – even stronger. As a previous manager, I enjoy overseeing teams and mentoring, should that ever be a job position I could move into in the future.
What I wanted to say: Seriously? Do you think I’m dumber than a box of hair and I’m going to say no? Say I’m a weird loner and I have a shotgun in my trunk?
And so on and so forth. Finally, Sage – who still had not displayed any clues that would reveal its true gender to me – says, “So last but not least, do you have any questions for us?”
My mind went blank as I stifled a yawn. In the midst of all the typical interview questions, I had been shown slide-show (42 slides!) of all the various permutations of rubber chair stoppers and been told the entire history of the company, dating back to 1913. They had left no stone unturned, no question unanswered.
So, I asked, “What is bio-combustible corn-starch and how do you turn it into a chair stopper?”
“Hahaha,” laughed Sage in its deep voice. “You are too funny. We like you a lot. Would you be interested in taking a writing test? If you do well on that, well, it looks like you’re our top candidate for this position. Why don’t you take a break for a second, use the restroom or get some water, and we’ll meet back here, in say, five?”
“Sure,” I say in a chipper tone. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Two minutes later, as I sit on the ground three stories below the bathroom window, I expect to hear sirens, alarms, something, alerting Dick and Sage that I’ve escaped and will not be coming back to the conference room to take the writing test. I hear nothing but silence. I get up, dust off the twigs and leaves from my Spanx-ensconced ass and limp off to the parking lot in search of my car.