(FADE IN ON: any office, any town, any time in the last twenty or next ten years)
(CANDIDATE sits on overstuffed couch in lobby. He/she studies the resume that he/she knows by heart in a buff leather folder. Every few minutes, he/she looks at the company’s awards hanging on the wall.
RECEPTIONIST avoids eye contact.
INTERVIEWER enters from the main office)
INTERVIEWER: Hey! I’m late. Some bullshit about all the work I’m doing.
CANDIDATE: Defensive pleasantries so you don’t feel bad.
INT: Greetings complete! Follow me.
(INT and CAN walk through the office)
INT: I’m going to ask you how hard it was to get here, find parking or get into the building, so that the two minutes between the lobby and the interview room won’t be filled with awkward silence.
CAN: Understood. I gave myself twice as much time as I needed to get here and still managed to get lost. But I ended up arriving fifteen minutes early, which is great because it makes me look studious.
INT: I acknowledge your efforts.
(INT and CAN enter a small, windowless room that no one would choose to work in. On the wall is either a framed Successories poster, a whiteboard, or a framed Successories poster and a whiteboard)
INT: All of our nice conference rooms are full of people doing actual work.
CAN: Hey, I’m just happy someone’s considering me.
INT: I’m going to talk about the position for a few minutes, partly because it makes me sound knowledgeable, partly because I don’t like the challenge of listening to you, and partly to draw out the suspense.
INT: So, I see you have an entry on your resume. Talk about it.
CAN: Sure. I’ve spent more hours than I care to count compressing four years of work experience into one bulleted paragraph of thirty words. I’ll now use about one hundred fifty words to unpack that paragraph again.
INT: Excellent. Tell me something I already know about my company.
CAN: In the fifteen minutes I spent browsing your website this morning, I memorized the talking points your marketing department has come up with to distinguish your company in an overcrowded field. Here are the ones I remember, plus a ham-fisted link to the accomplishments I rambled about earlier.
INT: Okay. Now, you’re applying for a job you have no experience in. Convince me that I’m not taking a gamble.
CAN: You’re taking a huge gamble! I barely understand what this job would entail. But I can leap out of this airplane, use my resume like a parachute, and try to land on the job description like a Ranger diving into Kandahar. You remember all those bullet points on my resume, right?
(INT, who read CAN’s resume for the first time half an hour ago, nods)
INT: I just spaced out for a moment. Here’s a total softball question while I gather myself.
CAN: I’m going to answer this question as if Anubis himself had addressed it to me while staring at my heart on a scale and scratching his chin.
INT: That was more effort than I expected. Here’s a time bomb that I pulled out of a link-bait blog post titled “Ten Hardest Interview Questions.”
CAN: Fortunately, I read that same post last night and spent an hour rehearsing my answer in the mirror.
INT: Interesting. Lie to me about a time that you overcame adversity in the office.
CAN: Watch as I wave this magic wand and turn a shitstorm of evading responsibility into a budding sign of leadership potential.
INT: Wow. That’s some good bullshit.
INT: Do you have any questions for me? I hear that’s a good way to see if the client’s really interested in the job.
CAN: I only have the one question, since I’d like nothing more than to stagger outside and vomit in panic.
INT: Considering the balance of power between us, I’m going to blather on with the practiced ease of a retired Maine fisherman.
INT: Shall we end this?
CAN: Yes, let’s.
(They get up, exit the conference room, and head toward the door)
INT: I’ve already made up my mind about you, but I’m going to set an arbitrary deadline for you to wait to hear from me.
CAN: All right. I’m going to go outside and either smoke, start smoking if I don’t smoke already, or possibly sneak a quick drink.
INT: While I’m thinking about it: how’d you trick your current boss into letting you come interview? And what’s she going to say when you come back to work in a suit?
CAN: I’ll tell her I was at a funeral … at a doctor’s office.
INT: Fair enough. Good talking to you!