I left the office building after my first interview with the computer company thinking about what a relatively painless process I had been through. Rather than being subjected to the usual interview questions – “What three words best describe you?” “If you were a condiment, which condiment would you be?” – I was subjected to a series of tests. Aptitude tests consisting of strings of numbers and rows of neatly rotating squiggles and boxes; word problems demanding that I use skills honed in 10th grade and then dulled by four years of letting my friends calculate the tip; and a personality test. Afterwards, I met with a woman who described a job I was highly interested in, and I left feeling fairly confident that I would soon have a job.
I waited a few days until receiving an e-mail informing me that my personality test results were invalid, and I would have to take it again. Before the test, someone had told me, “don’t try to give the answers you think we are looking for, answer honestly.” I tried very hard to answer honestly. The job involved teaching groups of clients, and I desperately wanted them to believe that I enjoyed speaking to groups of people and meeting new clients on a regular basis. I wanted them to think that I was outgoing and friendly, and that the time I sat through dinner surrounded by people without speaking more than three words was an isolated incident. But I resisted. Instead, I answered “Not sure.” Why they have this option , I don’t know, but I was very unsure throughout the entire test. So I failed the personality test. Unfortunately, they only allow seven unsure answers, and I had about 3 times that many. But even so, many of those questions I was generally unsure about. Maybe its not that I answered dishonestly (or that I lack any distinct personality, as my girlfriend lovingly suggested, an idea that I would rather not entertain). Maybe I am genuinely an inconsistent person. I liked the idea that I, fascinating person that I am, could not be defined by their silly personality test. I am too complex for this simple device of the human resources department. I took the test again, and they pegged me. Or I passed, or something. In any case, I was called in for a second round of interviews, where I learned that I had not escaped those terrible interview questions.
I was subjected to two rounds of questioning. The first round was relatively painless, except when I overestimated the amount of money I would be making within two years (how was I supposed to know that employees do not recieve 40% raises after the first year?). The second round, however, was much less pleasant.
I like to think that I am a not a transparent person. I am a mystery to those around me who wonder what deep thoughts and dark secrets are hidden within me. Until I speak. When I start talking, which is not very often, I pretty much give myself away. During an interview, speaking is mandatory. Mr Howell, or Polendale, or something, could see right through me. He hurled questions like “Who are your business heroes” and I countered with “Donald Trump, because he has lots of money.” At one point, the room began to spin. I do not know if it was because the interview seemed to be spiraling out of control, because I had only eaten French fries and a soda that afternoon, or because I have some poorly placed nerve in my butt that causes the room to spin when I sit on it for too long. I shifted in my seat, and eventually Mr. Howell stopped circling around my head, just in time for him to suggest, “Maybe the corporate world isn’t for you. Do you think that maybe you’d be unhappy working for us?” I didn’t get that job.