The weirdest job interview I ever had was for an entry level marketing and advertising position.
Let me begin by saying, “This was surreal.”
I don’t have a lot of money. And, I don’t spend a lot of money on clothing. I’m pretty bare-boned when it comes to outfits, especially trendy and hip clothing.
And so, I went to an office building in Dallas dressed in casual business attire from the mid-90s. It was a high rise in the middle of the city. I really didn’t want to work at a downtown location, but this was the selling point: Three-figure pay, no experience, all training paid for, and benefits in a job that had to do with helping wildlife and the environment. They said they were looking for people with a heart to help others. It was too good to be true. You know what they say about things that seem too good to be true? Yeah.
Now, if I gave you a list of the many organizations this company represented you would think you’d be working for good and not evil to help them out. But, let me tell you about the world and what makes it go round – money. MONEY. Money, makes the world go round – just like the song by Liza Minnelli.
First thing, I walked down a corridor on the fourth floor, and there is loud dance music playing. The hallway is lined with good-looking young college age people, and older people like me, all dressed to the nines in present day clothing, unlike me. I keep walking down the hall and realize they are gathered outside a room. It’s a small square room, with a secretary at a desk in the middle and a boom box from another era, at the edge of her desk. The boom box is blasting dance music at the highest volume this old machine can take. (It went way past 11.)
I skirt past the myriad folks like me, all wanting a job, and sign in. I’m a little early, and so I find a seat in the room and sit down.
The music is pummeling my ears and I kind of laugh and jokingly state to another person, “Maybe we should all get up and dance…hehe…heh…hehe…heh…yeah.”
The person gave me a patronizing off-sided smile, and went back to looking at the ceiling.
After about 20 minutes past my interview time, and beginning to get sick of the loud music, I walked up to the secretary and asked when I could expect to be called in. She told me it wasn’t long, and then I asked her, “Do you think I could turn this down a little?”
She said, “Sure.”
Within a few minutes of me turning the music down a man finally came from the back room. I mean, he suddenly appeared and for the first time I knew people other than the secretary worked here. He turned the volume back up and then slithered back through the door he came out from.
Again, it was “surreal.”
I sat there for another 15 to 20 minutes and began to wonder if I was being punked. The music was loud, all these people were so calmly sitting dressed in their finery, and I was laughing to myself. This is so weird! Did I enter the Twilight Zone? Is this one of those new Candid Camera shows? Why is no one else looking bothered like me? Is this common?
I FINALLY got called in, right when I was thinking that maybe I should leave.
I leapt to my feet and then another guy got called in with me. That was depressing. I was ready to shine, and now I had competition.
Once we entered the back rooms through the magical door, there must have been five rooms with people who worked there inside, but they weren’t interviewing anybody. What were they doing?!?!?! Were they watching us, and laughing at the monitors, and taking bets as to who would break first? I had waited nearly an hour!!! What the fu…fuck?!
I sat down across from a true salesman. I have met a few in sales, and this guy was sure to show off his Rolex, at the end of a perfectly starched dress shirt sleeve with shiny cuff links. His hair was perfectly coiffed, he had nice cologne, and a dress tie. He was dressed to impress.
I was not dressed to impress. I dressed much more casually than the handsome young black gentleman who was being interviewed alongside me. He seemed like a nice guy, quiet and polite, and a nice smile; but, he was my competition.
And then, and then I was shown a folder of all the organizations I’d be helping with this job. BUT, and here came the “but,” just because these groups do good things, doesn’t mean we can’t make a lot of money off of them. His words.
Marketing. And, as the salesman assured, there is BIG MONEY to be made. Sure, these organization’s got some of the money, but it costs a lot to advertise and that’s where this company came in – advertising and marketing goodness.
The 40 minute torture of loud dance music with no dancing or drinks, was bad enough, but now I learned this was just a shady marketing firm? Living off the goodness of humankind? Am I just too naïve to know how the world works? I knew this happened, but he was kind of a smarmy guy and when he said it with such glee, “Why shouldn’t we be making most of the money from these causes? We’re doing all the work.”
Well, because you aren’t helping the cause, you are just helping yourselves.
I was asked the usual HR questions. I answered flatly. I really couldn’t care if I got the job or not. Again, my view of the world got a little more jaded.
And then the gentleman next to me spoke, moving forward in his seat, enthusiastically, “I just need this job. I am desperate. I want this job. I will do anything. I will raise your children. I will babysit your children. I will have your children. I will kill your enemies and let you drink the blood of their offspring. I will club the baby seals so you have more documentation for donations. Just give me this job. I just really need this job. I really need this job. I have been out of work for a year, and I am so desperate! I WILL DO ANYTHING!”
I sat there with my mouth slightly agape and then completely nonplussed, “Well, we have a winner. I think he should get this job, and… I don’t think I want it anymore.”
The interview guy glanced at me and said, “Well…thanks for your time,” and waved me to the door.
I left so that the other gentleman could complete the transaction selling his soul. In all fairness, he really did need the job.