Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Story 182: The Professional Interviewee

         “There, there,” the Interviewer verbally patted the latest applicant on his shaking shoulder.  “You didn’t do that terribly.”
            The applicant looked up sharply.  “Does that mean I got the job?”
            “No.  Off you go.”  The applicant slunk out to begin his search anew.
          The Interviewer sighed as she moved on to the next résumé: how was she supposed to get any work done when she kept having to meet with people for randomly open positions?  She had the nagging feeling that her increasingly backed-up work eventually would cause her own position to randomly open as well.
            She quickly rescanned the résumé she had read some time earlier.  Everything on the surface seemed to be in order: no significant gaps, good experience, currently employed in the same field.  Maybe this would be The One, she thought, then called her assistant to send Maybe The One in.
            The Interviewer stood as the Applicant threw open the door.
           “Hi,” the Applicant said, walking around the room a bit, “nice company you’ve got here; I really like the décor.”  She closed the door behind her and plopped herself into the seat across from the Interviewer’s desk, slouching a bit to get more comfortable.
           The Interviewer was loath to end a session just as it started, so she soldiered on by sitting back down and attempting to regain control by introducing herself.
            “Yes, we spoke on the phone, my name is – ”
            “I remember who you are; you seemed nice,” the Applicant said as she rummaged through her messenger bag, adding: “Feel free to sit, make yourself comfortable.”  The way in which she said that compelled the Interviewer to do as suggested and she sat back down in her chair.
          Straightening items on her desk to assert some semblance of authority, the Interviewer tried again: “So, what led you to apply to our company?”
            “I need money and you guys have a lot of it.”
            “Yes, well, besides that – ”
            “Aha!  Here we go.”  The Applicant whipped out a packet of papers and sat straighter in the chair.  “Right, let’s get started,” she said, glancing at the packet and then back at the Interviewer.
            “Excuse me?”
            Ignoring that, the Applicant continued: “You’ve read my résumé, you called me in because you are seriously considering having me work for you guys, my first question is this: what’s in it for me?”
            “I, uh, what?”
          “Aside from the salary, which obviously needs to be negotiated upward, why should I, with multitudes of life options, want to devote a good chunk of my waking hours and caring about something other than myself to your company?”
            “Well, we have good benefits – ”
            “Define ‘good.’”
            “Medical, dental, vision; plus three weeks’ vacation a year.”
            The Applicant was scribbling furiously on the packet.  “Go on: retirement plan?”
            “Yes, a 403b.”
            “Hm.”  She tapped her pen against her chin.  “I’m always a bit leery when it’s not an `01k.”
            “It’s practically the same thing.”
            “‘Practically’ is not ‘equal to.’  No matter: moving on to day-to-day operations.  What is the lay of the land around the office?”
            “Um, let’s see, you’d be working in a cubicle, so you’d have some privacy, but we have daily meetings within our department.”
            Scribble-scribble.  “Uh-huh.  And who makes up this department?”
            “Oh, there’re about 10 people – ”
            “No-no-no, I mean what types of people make up the department?  Who’s the slacker, who’s the alpha – clearly not you – ” the Interviewer ground her teeth, “who’s the workaholic, who’s the alcoholic, who’s the drama queen, who’s the underminer, are these all actually the same person, I need names!”
            “I can introduce you to everyone later – ”
            “That’s fine.”  The Applicant flipped ahead a few pages.  “Here’s a good one: I always clock in five minutes late – it’s not intentional, it just is – and I always clock out five minutes late, will that be a problem?”
            The Interviewer thought about the three employees who clocked in 15 minutes late every day and sat around at their end of their shifts; her continuous docking of their pay had no effect whatsoever.  “Well, no, if you’re working the eight hours, five minutes won’t make much difference.”
            “Good – it’s not as if we’re needed on time to start surgery here, am-I-right?”
            “I suppose.”
            The Applicant flipped to the end of her packet.  “Ah, this one: what would you say are your three greatest strengths and three greatest weaknesses?”
            “I really should be the one asking you that,” the Interviewer replied.
            “Let’s agree to disagree.”  The Applicant sped read the last page.  “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
            “I’m supposed to be asking you that!”
            “I asked you first.”
            Fair enough.  “All right, I see myself right here as I am now.”
            The Applicant began writing again: “Not – much – ambition – ”
          “Where do you see yourself in five years?”  The Interviewer snapped, then thought, “Please don’t say ‘At your desk with your title.’”
            The Applicant did not look up from writing.  “In the job I have right now.”
            “Oh… what?”
           The Applicant finished, put her materials away, and stood.  “Yes, this has all been lovely; thank you very much for your time; you’ve been a great interviewer.”  She held out her hand and the Interviewer automatically stood and shook it.
            “Wait a minute, you’re not actually interested in the position?”
            “No, I’m not.  Was that unclear?”
            “Extremely!  Why did you apply and come in for an interview then?”
            “I like to keep my skills sharp.  Oh, before I forget,” she reached into her suit jacket pocket, pulled out a pin, and handed it to the Interviewer.  “You’re my 500th.”
            A response seemed to be expected.  “Thank you?”
            “Not at all,” the Faux Applicant said on her way out, “I love meeting new people!”  The door closed gently behind her.
            The Interviewer stared at the 500th pin and mused on how one certainly does learn something new every day.

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