My interviewer was an imposing man with a wide face and an angry…also face. He sat atop a horse, refusing to budge or speak when I addressed him. I have introduced myself five times, but he remained silent and angry.
This was a test, I gathered. He was trying to shake my confidence and see how persistent I was willing to be. A lot. I was willing to be persistent a lot.
“Sir, as I said, my name is Daniel. I am here for the job interview for the Advice-Giving Specialist position. Can I–”
“Daniel?” came a voice from behind, “Here for the interview?”
The voice belonged to a young woman who was clutching a stack of papers: my CV, my cover letter, and the colorful picture of a dragon riding a skateboard I’d sent in as proof of my creative potential.
“Yes! That’s the ticket. Me. That’s me, I meant. I am here for the job interview, as I was just telling Mr…?” I nodded toward the angry-faced man on a horse.
“That’s Dave Simpkins, the company’s founder. You’re looking at his portrait,” The woman tilted her head sideways, sizing me up.
“Right. It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Simpkins. Nice horse!” I enthused.
“As I was saying: That’s a portrait,” the paper-clutching lady repeated. A few moments of silence passed. I looked at the lady. She looked back at me. I looked over at Dave Simpkins, then at his horse, then, again, at his angry face.
“Right,” I said.
“You do know what a portrait is, don’t you?” This was a second test. I’d have to be eloquent and quick-thinking to get out of this one.
“Erhm…sure?” I said, spreading my legs wide and pushing my chest out to appear bigger. I’d read about that trick in a book once.
The woman shook her head, then silently beckoned me to follow her. She led me into another room. The job interview room. At last. The interviewer by the desk was tall and slim. He reminded me a lot of Waldo, except he was bald and didn’t have any striped clothing or a cane. He was also a she. We shook hands, and the not-Waldo woman introduced herself as Sandra.
“Morning, Daniel, please have a seat,” she said, gesturing at the chair by her desk.
Clever ploy: She was trying to see how susceptible I was to external influence. Not so fast, lady. I pushed the chair aside and sat down on the floor. As a result, most of my head ended up under the desk, except for my eyes. I arranged them into a frown, watching her reaction closely.
“Don’t you want to take the ch–”
“No!” I bellowed. Sandra instinctively jolted backward but regained her composure soon after.
“That’s fine. So, Daniel. I’m going to ask you a bit about yourself, if that’s OK?”
“Sure. Will Dave Simpkins be joining us?” I asked.
“Dave has been dead for 40 years,” Sandra looked at me with an expression that implied I was speaking nonsense.
“Wrong. I just saw Dave in the lobby, actually. On a horse!” I said, smugly. Looks like I caught her trying to throw me off.
“That’s a portrait,” Sandra said. Long silence again. I looked at Sandra. Sandra looked back at me, or rather at my eyes hovering above the desk. I didn’t quite follow this repeated “portrait” reasoning and why it should prevent Dave from attending, but I wasn’t going to argue with a potential employer. You have to be less confrontational at job interviews. I read about that in a book once. Once more, I spread my legs wide and pushed out my chest to appear bigger. This made me sink further to the floor, so that my forehead was now the only thing above the desk.
“Let’s proceed, shall we?” I said.
“Can I please get you to take a seat on the chair, Daniel? It’s a bit difficult to talk when I can’t see you.”
“Nonsense, Sandra. Sound waves travel from my mouth to your ears. Eyes have nothing to do with it,” I parried. Check and mate, Sandra. Another one of your sneaky tests had failed. This job interview was going to be a cakewalk. Then I’d go get me some cake.
“Fine. Tell me why you want this job.”
“It pays money,” I said, making sure that the visible part of my forehead clearly conveyed how pointless I felt the question was.
“That’s true. But why here? Why Dave’s Advice & Consultation Bureau?”
“Because you’re hiring,” I said. Yet another long silence followed. I was starting to think that people in this company weren’t that good at conversation. Sandra sighed. She rubbed her forehead. Then, at last, she spoke:
“Daniel. This is a job interview. Do you know how a job interview works?”
“You ask me questions. I answer. I think we’ve been doing that quite well so far,” I arranged my mouth into a smile, but then, remembering that my mouth wasn’t visible, I arranged my forehead into a smile instead.
“Right, but you have to convince me that you’re the right candidate for this job. Like, what are your strengths?”
Finally we were speaking my language. Strength was something I had plenty of and then some. In lieu of a verbal answer, I quickly jumped to my feet, grabbed Sandra’s desk with both of my hands and yanked it upward, yelling, “This is my strength, Sandra!” Unfortunately, I only managed to lift the desk a few centimeters off the ground. I tumbled backward under its weight and ended up on the floor, with the desk on top of me.
Sandra rushed over and helped free me from under the desk. I thanked her, then asked:
“Shall we continue?”
“Get out!” Sandra said.
“Get out,” she repeated, pushing me toward the door. I paused at the threshold and turned to face Sandra.
“So, did I get the job, or?”
“Out,” Sandra said again.
“Will you guys call me, then?” I inquired.
Sandra said nothing. Instead, she slammed the door of her office shut. For a while, I stood by the door, staring blankly at it. Then I turned around and walked over to Dave Simpkins. He was still there, along with his horse.
“Dave,” I said, “If I were you, I’d keep a very close eye on Sandra. She’s emotionally unstable, and, frankly, as the newly hired employee of the company, I find her a bit rude and not conducive to a healthy work environment. Think about that, Dave.”
I turned around and walked out of the building. I had plenty of things to prepare for Monday when I’d be starting my new job. But for now—cake was calling my name.