The novelty of the table lasted only a few moments, and I was soon distracted by the notes scribbled all across the dry erase board. With nothing else to do, I tried to memorize what was on the board, as if I
ould be quizzed on it, or something.
Finally the HR rep who had originally contacted me stepped into the room with a warm smile. (At this point we will refer to the HR rep as Judy).
Even though I knew I was about to be put under the same tormenting observations as a fish in the aquarium, I felt my jitters instantly recede. We shook hands, Judy and I, and then she took a seat across from me. I glanced down at the long, empty table, took a deep breath, and waited to begin.
Judy explained the 401K and health benefits that the company offered, as well as verifying some of the original information we had discussed over the phone (most of which were not my best answers). This time I was ready. With lines that I had gone over twelve times on the ride in, I expanded on my work history and my understanding of the job with absolute confidence. I could tell when I gave a good answer, because Judy would look down at her notes with a little, knowing smile.
After some time, fifteen minutes or so, she stood and left. I would now meet with three team members who had the job I was applying for. At this point I was relaxed – my back, which had been flush against the gray chair
when Judy first entered, was now slouching somewhat as I leaned over the table. The team members, each warm and friendly, proceeded to ask me questions, fervently scribbling my response. With every answer I wildly flailed my arms, barely noticing I was doing it. I’ve always been a very visual speaker.
When they were finished with their questions, they asked if I had any of my own. For any interview, I try to have at least three questions beforehand. One question that I use at almost every interview I’ve been to is “what are the best and worst parts of the job?” In the past, most interviewers have been caught off guard, but pleased, by the question, and this group was no different. They tried to hide their surprise, before explaining that the initial training was the hardest thing to get over. But after that, it’s like riding a bike.
I had a few more questions. That part of the interview lasted roughly half an hour. They thanked me in the end, and I made sure to get up and shake each hand once more, running over their names in my head.
By the time that the ‘big bosses’ came in, I was completely at ease. Until they started firing questions, that is.
“How would you define teamwork?”
“How are you at learning new things?”
I did the best I could, spewing the first thing that popped into my head. I would normally stop to think about everything I say beforehand, but the way they were staring at me, like marble statues, made my brain turn to mush and my mouth into that of a child’s. Stream of consciousness, whatever popped into my head came out of my mouth.
The next twenty minutes were a whirlwind, and I can hardly remember much of what happened. Before I knew it they were asking if I had any questions, and I was dumbly saying, “No, I think all my questions have been answered.”
Judy returned, told me they would let me know if I got the job by the end of the next week. Then she led me to the door, and I was done. Just like that.
Dazed, I clambered into my car, started the engine and headed straight for the thruway. I spent the next few hours going over every word in my head, trying to find a weak spot, a failure. I arrived home, napping until my Father arrived.
The next day I sent a thank-you letter, but even as I hit ‘send’ I knew there would be no return call.