This is an unpublished short story I wrote for fun, with the prompt being, “Turn the tables.”
If you enjoy it, please share.
The Job Interview
by Mitch Lavender
He must be fifty years old.
That’s my first thought as I welcome Benjamin Walks into my office, twenty minutes late. I do that on purpose with job candidates – make them wait past the appointment time.
I shake his hand and smile, motioning him to a small chair in front of my large desk. He sits. It’s a horrible chair. Benjamin Walks is applying for a Senior IT position – about 130k a year. I’ll lowball him, saying the position only pays 90k to start.
He’s well over fifty years old – look at those wrinkles in his brow. Look at those gray hairs. I thought old guys used Grecian Formula hair coloring. Not Benjamin Walks, he’s all old and shit in his ordinary blue suit with his plain red tie and his gray hairs.
My job is to dissect his resume and lay his soul bare for easy corporate analysis. I will render him exposed and naked to secular, circumspect evaluation. He needs a job and I… I have the power to grant it. Or not. Before asking Mr. Walks a single question, I have made my decision. I’m that good at my job. I can draw a conclusion without having any pesky information. I smile at him like Julius Caesar, giving a thumb down. But I must go through the motions, so I ask the questions. I am nothing if not professional.
“What makes you think you are qualified for this position, Mr. Walks?”
He replies. I nod but don’t pay attention to what he says. It sounded like a competent response, but I’m thinking about going to Subway for lunch. A meatball sub would really hit the spot.
“Benjamin, what skills do you possess that set you apart from other applicants?”
He answers. It’s something about how much experience he has and projects he led – blah, blah, blah. It’s just another way of saying he is old and worn out.
The clock shows 11:45, so I need to wrap this up before Subway gets too busy. I point, aim, and level the last question I plan on asking Benjamin Walks.
“Ben – I can call you Ben, right? Good. Ben, tell me why I should hire you?”
This one is designed to put applicants back on their heels. It’s like giving a Rubik’s Cube to a monkey. I place my elbows on my desk and temple my fingers together as I wait for Benjamin Walks to respond. I can almost taste my meatball sub, now. Meatballs. Mmm.
“Why should you… hire me?” he carefully asks and clears his throat.
“Well, I’ve never been convicted of a felony. I’m over 18 and a U.S. Citizen. I’m authorized to work in this country. I have good personal hygiene. I show up on time for work and usually show up early. I keep my work space tidy. I will pass any drug-test you have. I don’t take long lunch breaks. I don’t steal office supplies, and I rarely, if ever, call in sick.”
It’s like he’s reading off the job application form. Sad, really. I start to interrupt him but Mr. Walks seemed to be settling into a groove, like Eminem, starting to rap.
“I’m a hard worker and I’m dedicated. I have a can-do attitude and I’m a Self-Starter. I have excellent written and verbal communication skills. I’m a go-getter. I will identify the problem and offer a solution.”
He locks eyes with me and adds, “I really enjoy a challenge. I’m a team player. I like working with people, and I work well independently. I also work well as part of a group. I can give orders and I can take orders – lead or follow. I can take constructive criticism.”
I started to say we were looking for an eager learner, but he continued.
“I’m a quick study. I follow through. I manage time efficiently. I’m proficient with the Internet, network protocols and security. I know Microsoft Office, Windows OS and forty-five millimeter handguns. I know how to make a high-yield explosive device out of everyday household items.”
He stood up from the stupidly uncomfortable chair and leaned over my desk, saying, “You see, I’ve got what it takes. I’ve got the world on a string. I can make a difference. I know who really shot JFK. I know where Hoffa is buried. I can recite the Declaration of Independence when I’m drunk. I can locate Lithuania on a map. I can two-step. I’m ambidextrous, and some people call me the space cowboy, some call me the gangster of love, some call me Maurice because I speak of the pompous of love.
If I wanted to, I could reach into your chest, pull out your heart and show it to you while it’s still beating. Then I could describe the location of the aorta, left and right ventricles and replace it with surgical precision, hermetically suturing the incision with lasers shooting from my eye-balls.
You see, I am The One that was prophesied to come during your darkest hour. I can pull the Sword from the Stone. I am the Jedi Master. I am Nero and I see the Matrix. I am the Walrus. Goo-goo-ga-joob.”
His red tie draped over my desk as he leaned in and the next words seemed to hiss with steam from his mouth.
“As for my weaknesses… I have one.”
He moved in even closer and his nose almost – but not quite – touched mine and said, “I have been known, at times, to fly into vengeful fits of homicidal rage when I get turned down for a job I am overqualified for by some self-important, gen-X fuckwad. But other than that, no. No real weaknesses.”
Mr. Benjamin Walks stood coolly, straightened his tie and leaned back against the wall of my increasingly small office and added, “That’s just a few of the reasons, right off the top of my head, why you should hire me.”
What else could I say?
“Wh… when can you start?”
© 2013, Mitch Lavender