Standing On A Chair

Telling it like I see it…

The Job Interview Part Two

I waited quietly while Toby read my resume and finished her sandwich. 

“There,” she announced.  “All done.  I’m going to run and wash my hands and then we can talk.  As you can see, we’ve got the place to ourselves right now.  Everybody’s out to lunch.”  She laughed.  “Me?  I’m just the lowly bookkeeper/office manager.  I don’t get lunches!” 

I took that opportunity to look around and soak in the scene.  One wall of the large, open-area office space was lined with five-drawer file cabinets, the other wall with 4 desks, each adorned with an IBM Correctable Selectric and a 10-key calculator, from which yards of used calculator tape cascaded to the floor.  Toby’s area was toward the front, with a glass wall separating her from a spacious executive office, which I assumed to belong to the president/owner.  Big, shiny-leafed indoor plants in decorative terra cotta were scattered about, making the place pretty and cozy at the same time.

Toby came back, patting her beautiful curls with her hands.  She wore a starched white long-sleeved shirt and jeans.  On her feet were Birkenstocks.  I always hated Birkenstocks, but on her the whole outfit looked really cute.  She started the “official” interview with, “So are you divorced?  Is that why you’re looking for a job?”

“Uh, well, sort of…”

“Great!  So am I!  How long?”

“About six months now,” I said, still smiling but wondering what this had to do with the job I was applying for.

“Gawd.  It’s been three years for me.  Any kids?”

Still not sure about the relevance of this line of questioning, I said, “Yes.  I have a baby girl.”

“Wonderful!” she enthused.  “I have a daughter too!  Julie’s eight.  Spoiled rotten.  I told her just yesterday that her bedroom probably makes Chastity Bono’s look like the ghetto.”  She clapped her hands gleefully.  “So, we’re both single mothers!  This is just terrific!”

I couldn’t help but like Toby.  Although it seemed odd there was no mention yet of my work history.

“I see you don’t have really any experience working in an office atmosphere.”

Ah.  Finally.

“You’re right, but I did just spend six months taking in typing assignments for a billing company.  I have a Smith-Corona electric.  I needed to make money while staying home with my baby.  Anyway, Toby, I’m sure my speed has increased as a result. 

“A billing company?  This is excellent!  You’ll be typing invoices as part of your regular duties.”

She was talking as if she’d already hired me.  I must say this was a giant boost to my confidence level.

“Let’s sit you down and give you a typing test.  Can you operate a 10-key by touch?  You’ll be posting the sales ledger and you’ll need to balance each day.” 

Uh oh.  Snag. 

“No, Toby, I’m afraid not.  But I’m sure I can learn.”

When you have to say that in an interview, it’s usually the kiss of death.

She waved her hand and said, “Of course you can!”

In case I haven’t mentioned this before, I hate typing tests.  I remembered them in high school, where we were taught on typewriters with manual carriages, for God’s sake.  I was fast as hell and pretty accurate in practices, but when it came to testing, I folded.  Who can pass a typing test with violently shaking hands?

“By the bye, Jill, Gabe’s going to love you.  He should be here soon to give you an interview.”


“The boss.  He’s in-between relationships and cranky as hell.  Been foul-tempered for weeks.  It’s the pits.  We all hope he gets lucky before he murders somebody.  How do you stay so thin?” 

Before I could even start to think of a response, a girl with a black, butch haircut in faded, denim bell-bottoms and an oversized Mickey Mouse T-shirt barged through the door and sat down at the back desk.  She folded her arms angrily and kicked off her flip flops.

“That pock-marked bastard has just made me load the last box,” she spat.  “I swear to God.”

Toby looked at me nervously. 

“Jill, meet Lynn.  Lynn, meet Jill.  And by the way, Lynn, I’m conducting a goddamn interview here.  Clean it up, will you?  Jill, she’s pissed at Gabe.  He’s always making her load supplies on the delivery truck.  So you were a stewardess?  How exciting!”

I glanced over at Lynn, who had abruptly become silent.  Her face was buried in a giant ledger book and her fingers flew across the calculator keys.

“Fucking sales ledger,” she mumbled as she worked.

With that, Toby scrambled to regain control over our interview by plopping me down in front of a typewriter.  After a couple minutes of practice I took a deep breath and Toby started the timer. My heart banged in my chest and although my fingers were on the right keys, they were as rigid as pencils.

Stay Tuned for Part Three…


March 8, 2011 - Posted by | Jobs | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Boy, I hate reading good lit in installments….you’ve got me hanging! 🙂

    Comment by Becky Day Wilson | March 8, 2011 | Reply

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