Sunday, October 30, 2005

Why Job Interviews are Like Satan

Job interviews are like Satan because I think as a society we have unwittingly absorbed the national swagger of arrogance that the United States is projecting around the world: as in, I can have exactly what I want; I am not willing to think even one millimeter outside the box; I can play with individuals like a cat bandying a mouse around; I am not accountable. I can ask you questions (or interrogate and humiliate you with dogs and fake menstrual blood) and you must answer them, whether they are relevant or not.

If you would like to plunge your self-worth into the depths of a bottomless pit of boiling hot dead pig lava, then start looking for a new job. Try it! Seriously, it will be the most rewarding experience of your life.

You want to feel like you are groveling and pirouetting like Balzac’s dancing dog to the tune of the employment fiddler? Get that resume in gear, start slutting yourself ALL OVER THE PAGE, and be prepared to have 60 resumes: one for each mood of the Cerberus who interviews you.

Make sure you put A LOT of effort into it, because for each droplet of blood you extract from your soul to put on that resume, it will be met with even greater indifference and lack of attention.

It would not be possible for me to tell you how many times someone interviewing me has said, “You were in Peace Corps? What country?”

Hmmmm, I don’t know what country. Maybe the country where I was for FIVE YEARS of this résumé’s chronology?

How long is my resume? Two (2) pages. It is written in bite-sized little sound chomps so as not to tax the brains of anyone out there in haughty employment neverland.

“You were in Peace Corps…oh I see, in…Uzbekistan? Where IS that? Is that near…"[here’s where they stop because they don’t want to sound stupid].
“[Here’s where I answer] No. [Stupid]. It borders Afghanistan.”
“OH!" [Relief: I have heard of THAT!!!]

Here are some very special questions that people still (you will be relieved to know!) ask during interviews:

[Slow intro, making it seem like they are going to ask something original]:

“Where do you SEE yourself in five years?”

[Wrapping a rubber band around my upper arm, tying it with my teeth and injecting a vial of premium smack into my veins. Preferably on a small uninhabited island in the Gulf of Thailand].

BECAUSE the thing interviews reveal about human nature is as time-honored as a pledge having to swallow a live goldfish: I had to answer that dumbfuck question, so now you have to.

It makes things right with the spinning of the earth—it’s called “natural retribution.”

So as the goldfish flips onto my lower abdominus, my esophagus tickling from the rigid fins slithering down its path, I obligingly come up with some BULLSHIT like, “I see myself in a more managerial role…..bllllrrrrr, blllrrrr, blllrr.”

Here’s another one:

“What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself?”

That’s easy: [HOT HOT HOT!]

Here’s what I actually said, in what I thought was a positive storm of braininess:

“Smart, conscientious and reliable.”

What was I supposed to say? Neurotic, quasi-permanently depressed, paranoid, anti-social, bitter, vindictive, weird, abhorrent, angry, petulant? Huh?

I trot out ENVIABLE arrays of glossy, fabulous, socioeconomically, culturally sensitive publications that I have either written or edited, however I still don’t feel the love, the awe. What I tend to feel is: the yawn. The: make it sizzle. The: wow us factor.

And, since I was born and raised with this PECULIAR unfounded sense of royal entitlement, I feel resentful when I have to prove myself. I am not good at selling myself. I am not for sale. I am not good at self-promotion, wowing people or slavishly advertising my genius. As my mother said, “You were gently reared.” There you have it: I was gently reared and now I'm getting harshly reared.

Whatever it is, I am resentful of my gentility because it has left me CLAWLESS in this ruthless world. I can’t defend myself against the junkyard dogs and vicious alley cats. I’m waiting for my cream saturated bowl of milk and a diamond encrusted collar. A white glossy mansion to harbor me from this stinking plebian life spent in a tidy litter box.

But I don’t have the instinctual scrappy guts to see my way out of this mundane world.

True story, my senior high school thesis was called: The Temporal Versus the Mundane: The Tormented 20th Century Artist in the Novels of Hermann Hesse. You think I'm kidding. I didn't know I was writing my AUTOBIOGRAPHY back then.

So what if one of my interviewers saw this post. The Disney ending would be: She has such pluck! We have to hire this girl!

But the reality is, this post actually reveals things about me that are real. And, as we all know, that is not the point of the interview. The point of the interview is to stage a finely choreographed sham meant to make everyone, on both sides of the table, feel like they are engaging in a meaningful discourse that accurately reflects an individual's personality and reveals, in sunny improbablity, where that individual will be spending the majority of her days. It's an unavoidable pantomime, and in the end you get a receipt for your soul. Called a paycheck.

[Disclaimer: I wrote this whilst going thru the dreaded process, but vowed not to post it until I got a job. Superstitious as ever. I can happily and honestly say, I didn't experience any of this BS with the people that actually did hire me.]

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