Even though the hall was decorated with expensive and exquisite taste, it was a cold shelter. I guess warmth comes with the atmosphere, not with the place; it’s like living in a mansion, but not a home.
All job applicants were quiet and counting seconds while looking at either the detailed ceiling or their polished shoes. A job interview shouldn’t be like attending a funeral but an opportunity to meet people. I guess it’s like shopping at the local market, going to school, attending church, or walking your dog. Everyone was anxious but one, who was strangely happy and excited about it.
Waiting is always boring… but it may be a great opportunity to improve; you can spend your time by making a mind map of your actions or future. I suppose everything can be taken as an opportunity; it all depends on the person.
“Mr. Peter Phillips? Please, Mr. Phillips, you are next. You may go in now. They are waiting for you, sir”, the receptionist explained.
Peter, a recently-law-graduated student and future lawyer, made his way to the interviewing room. Peter was trying to remember all job-related topics and all the advice his family and friends have given him. Although job interviews may be painful or embarrassing, he felt relaxed and willing to begin as soon as possible. “Here we go!”, Peter thought. “Be positive!”, he insisted.
“You may come in”, a voice indicated after Peter knocked on the door.
“Good morning! I hope all of you are doing well this morning”, he greeted his interlocutors with a friendly smile.
Everybody knows that large firms or international companies have a committee to evaluate all job candidates if they want to become a new company’s employee. Thus, it is possible to find the enterprise CEO, field specialists, a psychologist, a sociologist, a personnel manager, among others.
All committee members responded, “Good morning!”
“Mr. Peter Phillips, right?”, one of the interviewers asked.
“Yes, ma’am. You are correct”, he replied.
“Please, take a seat”, another interviewer said.
The committee had been interviewing applicants all morning, and they were so exhausted that they forgot to introduce themselves.
“Mr. Phillips, can you tell us a bit about yourself, please?”, he added.
“Certainly, sir. Well, I was born in Sumter, South Carolina. I finished elementary school and high school there, of course. Then, I was admitted to the University of South Carolina, major in Business Corporate Law, minor in Criminal Law. And… I just finished my Master’s Degree at the University of Virginia, in Bankruptcy Law. Then I moved here, to The Big Apple! Sorry, New York City”, he corrected himself since his audience seems to be a bit serious; and serious, sometimes, means picky.
“I understand. Mr. Phillips, now, could you be so kind to tell us about the reasons that brought you here this… sunny morning?”, another interviewer stated. He seemed to be more cheerful.
“Please, tell us why or how you’ll fit in here?”, somebody else insisted.
“Of course! Even though my expertise is not vast… I can assure you I have prepared myself deeply in this field. Besides the fact that, and it’s not a cliché, I am a fast learner; always challenging myself until I can manage whatever task I am asked to do.”, Peter affirmed with pride, not only due to his “knowledgeable” words but also due to his way of saying it, with self-confidence. His family and friends advised him to be direct and precise. Not much talking. The boat may sink if it takes longer. Right to the point!
“And, Mr. Phillips…”
“Please, call me Peter”, Peter interrupted.
The tough interviewer took his time, patiently and softly took his glasses frame with his thumb and index finger, moved his head down a little to give the exact effect he wanted, eyes up, stared at Peter for a couple of seconds, and proceeded with his speech…
“I see… Well, as I was saying, MISTER PHILLIPS, do you have any hobby you can tell us about? Or any extracurricular activities”, the CEO asked.
“This is the picky one!”, Peter realized and talked to himself. And that made him start to feel uncomfortable… nervous, to be fair, exposing the real Peter. All previous interview preparation or advice vanished from his mind. Time was running and an answer was expected.
“Well, sir… I have had many different hobbies and interests in my life”, Peter began his discourse, randomly.
“Mhmm…”, the CEO used that as a way for Peter to continue, not really agreeing.
Peter noticed it and became even more anxious, a state that he needed to camouflage promptly; otherwise, he would use his famous “you know” a lot, and that was the first thing his friends told him not to say.
“When I was 9 years old, I told my parents I wanted to start a hobby: reading short stories for children, you know, like the greatest short story ever: The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. My parents were delighted with my proposal since I was going to improve my reading skills and school grades. I was certainly inspired! I was devouring each book which ended up in my hands… and that led me to be reading during late hours at night. My parents were worried about my new habit affecting my sight, my vision. Then, they forced me to go to bed not later than 9 p.m. The problem was that one night I sneaked out of my bedroom and went to our barn to read comfortably. It was a full moon, so, I had enough light to see my way to the barn. There, I lit one of the kerosene lanterns that we kept there. Well… when I took it closer to read better, it was hot and I burned my fingers; and accidentally, it fell down and started a fire.”
“Did it?”, someone else asked in surprise and sincere interest.
“Yes, ma’am. The thing was that half of our barn burned that night and the fire spread toward our neighbor’s cornfield and burned almost half of it. Of course, after finding out all details of what had happened, my father explained everything to our neighbor, and he agreed not to report it to the local police department.”
“Interesting hobby!”, the CEO exclaimed. “Any other, Mr. Phillips?”, he invited, maliciously, to continue talking about this matter.
Two of the committee members looked at each other with weird grins on their faces.
“As you may understand, I stopped reading”, Peter explained.
Now, a couple of smiles appeared among Peter’s examiners.
“So, when I was 12, you know, middle school time, I thought I had found it: collecting things is an excellent hobby. However, I didn’t want to collect stamps or common things as others do. I had an excellent idea! I wanted to collect fish! My father realized it was not a dangerous activity”, Peter explained.
Now, everyone smiled. Peter continued to explain his second hobby.
“My mom bought me a fish tank and I began my fish collection with 2 golden fish and a four-tailed blackfish. Every month I managed to get a new one. In the end, I had 21 fish. I was so excited about it. I love fish! The trouble was…”
“Mhmm…”, all the committee members expressed in agreement and interest this time. Peter kept telling them about his fish collection hobby.
“Mrs. Smith, another neighbor, had a cat, a Persian one. Mrs. Smith’s cat came to my room to try to catch my fish once in a while. One day I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I took it and threw it away from my second-floor-bedroom window and it landed on Mrs. Smith’s face, who was looking for it since she had seen it in our garden. The animal was so terrified by the violent flight that it stuck his claws deep into her face, you know, so, it would not fall again, you know, self-defense. Fortunately, Mrs. Smith didn’t press any charges either.”
Everybody was timidly laughing.
“Any other story, I beg your pardon, hobby, Mr. Phillips?”, some of the committee members asked as one.
“Well… when I was a high school tenth grader, I asked my father to give me his old guitar, as my birthday gift, it was grandpa’s. Dad agreed since we share the same taste for music: country music. Besides, he thought I was not going to be noisy or to cause any harm. I was natural; surprisingly, quite good at playing the guitar, if I may say. So, by the time I was a senior and the prom was to come soon, one of my best friends asked me for a favor: to serenade a girl he was chasing after. She was pretty, indeed. He and I, and a couple of friends, went to her house on a Saturday night. She lived near The White Horse, the main bar in my town.”
Everybody was silent and paying close attention.
“The thing was…”
Now all committee members knew something “big” was about to come.
“…that I didn’t know it was our high school football team quarterback’s girlfriend, he was a huge fellow! Anyway… as we were serenading the girl at her house, one of the football team players saw us; and ran right away to The White Horse to tell her boyfriend, Joe. He was there with some other team players; they were minors, they were not drinking alcohol, you know, they were not allowed to do so; nonetheless, since they were our community football heroes, they were allowed to stay in to play pool. They came to us as soon as they got the news. A fight started, you know. As a matter of fact, in the beginning, I refused to fight; I was there to play my guitar, not to fight. However, my friend was being beaten. The rest of us didn’t have much of an option, did we? We were there to help him anyway. So, we fought back. The girl’s parents called the police, we were arrested, well, you know, we all were minors, they took us to the police station, so they were able to call up and talk to our parents, a warning. When my father came to pick me up, he gave me the look, you know, and I just told him: ‘Our guitar is safe, nothing happened to it’. He was pissed.”
This time, every committee member, including their CEO, was laughing, frankly, without “pretending” to be THE INTERVIEWING COMMITTEE!
“Any further question?”, Peter dared to ask.
That question caused even more laughing. Laughs stopped after a minute or so and all committee members looked at each other without saying anything but revealing their decision in agreement. Then, they nodded and look at their CEO, who gladly told Peter:
“Congratulations, son! You have the job! We can see that you have had lots of experience with the law”, the CEO welcomed Peter, as a new firm employee, as an attorney.
“Peter, welcome to our family!”, they all said.
“I guess we will hear some other stories, I beg your pardon, hobbies of yours!”, the CEO added in a friendly mood.
After leaving the building, Peter immediately called his parents and expressed in excitement: “Mom, dad, my job interview went well… I got the job!”