Monday, November 27, 2006

Everyone Knows Me (and Kansas).

So here's what happened on the day of many interviews.

I arrived at the first place a few minutes before ten. The receptionist took my coat and offered me a seat since Liz, the woman I would be meeting with, wasn't available yet. I sat down and checked out the office, specifically the 6 or 8 open desks in front of me. Desks with computers, phones, and all the trappings of normal office gear. So normal, in fact, that it took me a good 2 or 3 minutes before I realized that no one was using the desks. Nay, no one had ever used the desks. There were no pens, no papers, no purses, no personal indicators of any kind. How odd.
Right when I was wondering if the receptionist and I were the only people in the office, a man in his 40s came out to greet me.
"Hi," he said, "have we met before?"
"I don't think so," I said, shaking his outstretched hand.
"Huh, you look really familiar," he pressed.
There was no way I had every met this guy before. None. So I just smiled politely and said, "I've got a few dopplegangers running around."
"Must be it!" He said leading me to the conference room. The conference room which was also empty. What kind of fake office was this? It's one thing to have a small satellite office, but why have all trappings of a real office when it only emphasized the fact that it was a ghost town?

Liz arrived after a few minutes. She was a woman in her 40s wearing tights? tight black pants? I wasn't sure which, but due to her gold chains and high bangs, I had a feeling her fashion choice was due less to the current trend than to a wardrobe that had never been updated.
After asking me all of the standard questions, we started talking about the PR industry and people we knew. After we realized we had a client in common, she proceeded to talk about what an asshole he was. True, he is an asshole, but I thought it was strange that she wanted to tell me, a stanger at a job interview, about his assholeness. Then we talked about Kansas.
"You went to school in Kansas? Why?"
"I was born there. I grew up there."
"Oh wow--I'm from Jersey." She said. I would have never known.
"I've actually been to Kansas," she continued. "I had an account promoting tourism in the plains states."
I never know how to respond to comments like this. Like I'm supposed to be impressed that people braved the flat landscapes and lack of decent restaurants and somehow lived to tell about it.
"That's great," I managed.

After interview 1 was over, I had some time to kill before interview 2, so I grabbed a table at a Starbucks to fill out the application for interview 3. I was there about 10 minutes before I noticed a man staring at me. In his late 40s or early 50s with a little belly and and a comb-over, he looked a little weird. Not serial-killer-weird, but maybe lives-in-his-parents'-basement-weird. As he approached me, I packed up my stuff.
"Are you leaving?" He asked.
"Yup, the table's yours." I said, trying to move out of his way.
"You know, you look like someone I used to date."
"Oh?"
"I had to look closer to make sure it wasn't her. Her name was Cheryl. Well, I guess it still is..."
I smiled and made my escape to interview 2.

Interview 2:
Is "institutional grey" an actual color? What would the pantone number be? If it is a real color, why would a company decide to use it to paint its walls that color? At least there were more people at the office, but I had no idea how they could stand walking into such a depressing atmosphere every day.
My interviewer joined me in the conference room. After the routine questions he had for me, it turned out that he too knew a little something about Kansas.
"KU? I love the Jayhawks--are you a Jayhawks fan?"
We talked about Lawrence (the home of my college, the University of Kansas), and his affinity for college towns.
The other 2 people I met with raised their eyebrows at my hometown, but hadn't been there, and soon it was time for interview 3.

Interview 3:
Interview 3 was at a much larger company--so large that they actually had an HR department. Although the first two places mentioned they would have liked me to have more experience, the last place thought I was actually more qualified than the position I had applied for.

This is why I hate job interviews--I'm either underqualified, overqualified, walking into a fake office, walking into a jail cell, and have to make retarded small talk about Kansas with peoole I don't really want to work for.

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