Amongst the ubiquitous job interview questions, “What are your pay expectations?” is my favorite. What I’d like to earn and what you are willing to pay are two entirely different things. “I want a diamond tiara, a million bucks and a fucking pony”. Just once, I want someone to answer “yes” to that question, instead of being escorted out of the office by security. You ask me an honest question, I’ll give you an honest answer. I wasn’t kidding about the tiara, and you best believe I don’t joke around about ponies. They are majestic creatures, and they knit a mean sweater.
Or maybe, the interviewer would stare at me with an unintelligible expression, lean in to the telecom as I steel myself for the brusque handling of the security guards. “Angela…do we have any more of those ponies? This girl needs a ride to her new office”. He would commend me for my refreshing honesty, and call Tiffany’s personally to look into that tiara.
Ah, dare to dream.
“Why should we hire you?”
“Because I’m a god-damned delight, that’s why…also I’ve got a lot of gambling debt”.
“Why do you want this job?”
“Because I love folding sweaters for eight hours/because I need to feel the weight of a tray in my hands/because I want to wear a head set and apron at a bubble bath and candle chain/because I think I look great in hairnets/because I can’t seem to sort out a career for myself/because I have bills to pay, and I don’t have the figure to be an exotic dancer”.
The last job interview I went to was degrading at best. We were interviewed the day before, and told to come back the following day. I was interviewed with another fellow, and we were asked the exact same questions from the day before–minus the one question that I’d never been asked but personally enjoyed.
“Who are people you admire?”
“Tina Fey and Audrey Hepburn, because they’re never above working hard, and both women are fabulous”.
But, as we all know, what I really want is to be professionally fabulous/being paid to write at home in yoga pants, listening to CBC 2 all day long.
It’s not an unreasonable request.
Two young men come in the room…and I mean young men, I could have babysat them when I was in high school. The main interviewer was wearing running shoes, unhemmed trousers, a wrinkled, untucked dress shirt and a fedora. His goatee was scraggly and disheveled. His associate was wearing a brown leisure suit, had a pimply,crater face and wore a pink alien ring on his wedding finger.
Needless to say, I didn’t mean for the threesome to happen, but when surrounded by such animal charisma, and classic good looks, a lady simply cannot be tamed.
In truth, I kept my trench coat tightly fastened, and kept my purse on my lap, clutching it like an elderly woman surrounded by gang members on the subway.
How’s that for intimidating?
The office is filled with boxes and piles of paperwork. Not a single picture hangs on the wall. The job posting described a ‘marketing position’, these sons-of-bitches were talking above getting out there and knocking on doors. The fedora wearing gentleman, who kept promising ample opportunities, that he has only been there seven weeks, and already he was conducting second interviews. “Eventually, you could be like me”, he smirks, which made me grip my purse tighter. He grabbed on of the many loose sheets of paper and drew a crude pyramid-like design of how the job worked, how the pay scheme worked. “Don’t think of it as $10 an hour, think of it as $80 a day”. Plus commission. Oh, the bounty to behold if you actually knock on someone’s door, bother them at home, and attempt to sell them something they already have.
Where do I sign up?
Once the interviews were conducted, both men left the room. The man other interviewee and I looked at each other, and burst out laughing?
“Is this for real?”, I ask.
“I was thinking the same thing, kept wondering where the cameras were”.
When the first interviewer returned, he rubbed his hands together as if at some Hawaiian pig roast. “So, what d’ya think?”
He looked at the man first, who shook his head before speaking. “I have never seen this level of unprofessionalism, those kids were condescending, and I’m embarrassed to even be sitting here”.
My jaw dropped, and the interviewer blanched. “Well the company is throwing us a party today, it’s a pretty big deal, so that’s why some of us are dressed casually. But I won’t waste any of your time, thanks for coming in”.
The man leaves, and I am amazed…wishing I had the guts to say it like it is in an interview. To say, “I want to be paid fairly, I want to be treated with respect, you want me because I’m the best, I want to work for you because I had my pick of the lot…but what it comes down to is you need me just as much as I need you”. But I say nothing, still gripping my purse. The interviewer starts shuffling the papers around him, not once looking at me. “So…you interested?”
But I politely ask a few more questions, take a business card, and try to leave calmly and casually, not bolt as if being freed from a kidnapper. Once outside, I see my fellow interviewer smoking a cigarette, and clearly waiting for me. He tries to get my number and explains how he knows people, and that I could get in on the ground floor of a few shading sounding business opportunities. I politely give him the email address of an unused account, and hustle to the car, where I promptly burst into tears. How promising the job sounded, an oasis in a vast desert of job postings. I drove home, back to sanctity of my office, to my unpaid position as writer in residence. They say, “Do what you love, and the money will follow”, but that just sounds like another scam. Another pyramid built by slaves, creating an empire they have no rights to.
All Images Courtesy of Google