A Most Awkward Job Interview

Thank you for coming in. First, I must say you did awfully well on the written. If you’ll bear with me through this brief oral —

Happy to.

That’s a very interesting . . . shirt. The pattern is —

A little old-fashioned, I guess.

Retro. Isn’t that what they say?

They might. Depending on who they are. (A smile — unreciprocated.) I didn’t mean that in any —

Those . . . that particular . . . with the swirls —


Right. Paisleys.

Is it too . . . I don’t know . . . obtrusive?

It’s bold.

Is bold . . . uh . . . to be avoided?

I’m used to seeing them on ties. Often. But an entire shirt —

I’m entirely prepared to comply with the dress code. I wasn’t aware there was —

I don’t believe I said there was. There isn’t one. There is no code.

I didn’t mean that accusatively.

No accusation taken. Perhaps we should start again.


Great. Great, then. Once the camel’s nose is in the tent, the hump soon follows.

From my limited experience, I’d have to say yes.

That the hump follows.

That the hump follows. Yes.

Just so we’re clear, I trust you’re aware that our ideal candidate is comfortable with limited budgets and tight turnarounds, a fast-paced HTML environment, ease with Harness —

Yes, I am.

. . . no hostility to LinkedIn, Twitter, Miasma, Instagram, Loophole, Facebook, Pulchritude, Ointment, Google —

Never been convicted. (A smile — begetting a thin facsimile in response.)

. . . SEO-friendly, has seven years Leaping, criminal record check, own transportation, finger oil, DTZ certification, the ability to render codified stipulations in a timely and courteous manner —

I would like to think so . . .

. . . enthusiasm for JIRA, and moderate to substantial experience with Agile, Coffee & Boist, Adobe Acrobatics, Kurtweill, Eclipse, EPIC, pOpUlArAsTiScHiSm, Microsoft Office Word, Excel, nasal conduit, Optimum Shredder H&S —

I’m sorry. Enthusiasm for Optimum Shredder H&S — or just experience?

Is this an issue?

No. Not at all. Just worried I might have misheard. Enthusiasm is our brand.

Is that a quote from something?

No. I just . . . I thought . . . or didn’t . . . with brand, with how we position ourselves . . .

You would be reporting to the knowledge management manager.

(After several moments of shared stares and blinks.) Yes?

Is that comical to you?

No. Should it be? Was I smiling?

Is that a question you would like me to answer?

However you wish —

I’m not here to advise. Shall we carry on?


We’d expect a general comfort with flexible parameters, CRM, CPR, nasal conduit, proficiency in Russian —

I’m sorry. Excuse me, I’m thrown a bit . . . by this reference to nasal conduit.

How so?

Honestly, I don’t know what it entails.

But you do have proficiency in Russian?

I don’t.

Then I’m not sure what we’re doing here.

Do you make a distinction between proficiency and competency?

Perhaps. Do you have competency in Russian?

I don’t. In the language. No, I don’t.

But you do have competency in something Russian, just not the language?

I don’t.

Knowledge of Russian — the Russian language — is considered something of a plus.

I don’t possess that knowledge.

But you were open to flexible parameters.

I was. I am. I remain so. Yes.

Unexpectedly faced with a cancan line of dancing Medusas, would you look away or risk taking in the rare spectacle, knowing full well the repercussions of making eye contact?

Am I alone?

Very good question. No one has asked that. But there’s pertinence.

It just seems to me —

Exactly. No, you are in a crowd of roughly fifty.

Am I distinct in any way? In dress, in physique —

Not especially.

Am I at the front of the group or —

(Chuckles.) It’s just a question. All the parameters haven’t been —

I’m not trying to be argumentative. But these would seem to be important considerations in how one might respond.

I won’t disagree.

I believe I would take in the spectacle.

You would?

Does that surprise you?

You’re the first candidate who said they would, out of dozens — so, yes, a little.

Are you for or against the rise of cardboard cut-outs?

I have to admit to some ignorance here. I wasn’t aware they were rising.

Rising, as in appearing more regularly in the landscape.

Honestly. I had not noticed . . . I’m sorry. It’s not something — even remotely —

And you’re right. They have not been rising, nor appearing more regularly. In fact, their appearance in public is in absolute decline. That was something of a . . . trick question.

I’ve no objection to —

It brings out honesty.

I have no doubt. Honestly. Trick away.

The trick questions sometimes . . . don’t seem quite fair.

I’ve dealt with far worse than trick questions. I don’t envy you the necessity of wielding them for the intended result. I think the result is important, so the process is justifiable.

Ends justifying means.

I’m sorry, but you seem to . . . you seem . . .

Please finish your comment.

I don’t mean that all ends justify all means —

You mentioned how I seem to be?

(Hesitates.) Excuse me . . . if I felt there was a tone. Suggestive, perhaps, of some ambivalence –– or even a hint of contempt for the notion of ends justifying means?

And you are here to dissect my tone?

I believe I am here to respond to your questions and statements, some of which could be perhaps ambiguous — in this case — possibly based on tone.

Are you related to someone currently employed here?

I am not.

Use the following word in a sentence: stupid-effing-asp-hole.

Uh. Do you mean words?

No, word. As one word.

Uh. All right. It was a dark and stormy stupid-effing-asp-hole.

There. Was that so hard?

Not hard. Though it felt a bit generic. But if it qualifies as a sentence —

If you can’t hit bottom, bang hell out of the sides.

I’m not sure what you’d like me to do with that.

It’s not apparent?

It isn’t to me.

Please use the following word in a poem: pseudo-Dadaist. Please be brief.

Uh . . . I’m a pseudo-Dadaist, short and stout. Here is my nostril, here is my doubt.

I don’t understand.

Thank you. And it rhymes.

You’re doubtful, then.

I’m sorry?

Here is my doubt . . .

No. No, in fact, I am offering my doubt, I am offering up my doubt . . . for disposal, I am ridding myself of doubt, and leaving it well outside the office.

You’re asserting, then, that you are coming to us doubt-free.

Well . . . it was a rhyme —

If I might be blunt —

You can be whatever you wish.

You honestly believe that?

I’m sorry?

We are not in the business of delusion. (A rather longish silence.) One last question . . .

Please. Absolutely.

Can you drive standard?

Yes, actually! Actually, I can! Quite well, in fact. Better than auto —

I’m afraid that won’t work. Thank you. I’m sorry. Thank you.

You’re sorry.

Absolutely. Thank you. And best of luck.


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