The Unexpected Interview

“Tell me about yourself”

“So I started working as a sales rep at… “

Bruce tried his best to listen to the person across, but eventually their responses turned into a bunch of nonsense that sounded like this.

“I worked at blah and then did this at blah, but I would love to work for your company as blah”

Bruce has only been a recruiter for 2 years, but has already been through enough interviews to have heard it all. From the sob stories to the motivational, down on your luck stories,  so eventually along the way he acquired the ability to just tune those out.

Bruce then closes his out interview with his usual formalities.

“Give it about 1-2 weeks before following up. If you’d like to follow up please contact me then. Any questions?”

And then the interview concludes and comes the hard part. Does the candidate fit exactly what the manager is looking for? Just like trying to put a circle into square hole, the answer is no. No matter how hard you try, there’s no point in trying to fit something in that doesn’t belong.

After another failed interview, Bruce wraps it up and heads back to his desk where he’s greeted by one of his coworkers.

“So how did it go?” Jim asks with a sarcastic tone.

“What do you think” Bruce begrudgingly responds. Then puts his head into his hands in frustration.

His voice muffled by his hands. “I really don’t understand how anyone can talk like that, like no emotions or enthusiasm. It’s so frustrating!”

“Well you just gotta hold out as long as you can. I mean, how many more bad interviews could you possibly go through”

Bruce didn’t know whether he should respond sarcastically or truthfully. Either way, he just told Jim okay and then went about his day. Few more interviews came and went and Bruce heard more or less the same thing.

“My goal is to be manager in 2 years”

“I want something stable”

“This place is so much closer and I hate traffic!”

Finally the day comes to a close and Bruce clocks out as quickly as possible and runs to his car. Sitting in his car he begins to think about the cold bottle of beer waiting in his fridge, and the leftover homemade pasta from his dinner with his parents last night. That bubble of excitement is then popped by the sound of his phone. It was a text from his friend Lucy.

“Don’t forget! Dinner event at 6:30p”

Bruce’s eyes widen and then he took a deep breath and slammed his head against the steering wheel of his car. Thus began his drive into town during rush hour. 5 minutes into the highway and traffic immediately comes to a halt. Bruce eyebrows begin to furrow and turns the radio up to Mr.Brightside on repeat. This was going to be a long drive… 

After the 40th or so play through of Mr.Brightside. Bruce had finally arrived. The ballroom of the hotel was crowded with guests from various companies,  men dressed in aloha attire and khaki or slacks, women dressed in dresses of various colors from bright pink to navy blue. Bruce breaths a sigh of relief knowing that he didn’t come undressed. He quickly scans the room for his friends and instead spots the bar.

“A drink sounds good right about now and it looks like an open bar”

A small grin appears on Bruce’s face as he smoothly navigates through the large crowd in the middle of the room. Finally he approaches the bar and is quickly able to grab the bartender’s attention.

“What will you be having?” The bartender asks.

“A stella please” Bruce disappointed that he had to pay for a beer when he had one waiting for him at home. Either way, one sip of his beer and Bruce was easily satisfied. He then begins to search for his friends again, but out of nowhere is immediately tapped on the shoulder. He turns and notices a woman dressed in a dark blue dress, and her hair tied up in a bun.

“Lucy, where the heck were you?!”

“Sorry sorry, I was talking to some of the other members. Come join us!”

Lucy drags Bruce by the hand and is brought to group of 6 people already chatting away. All he could hear is topics about unemployment, new policies, pretty much the usual things he hears when attending these events.

“Hey everyone, so this is Bruce and he works at Sales4You Corp”

Bruce is immediately  greeted by a barrage of overly enthusiastic heys and how’s it goings. He then quickly addresses everyone with an awkward “Hey, I’m good. How about you guys?”

Only one responds back as everyone else continues their conversation.

“I’m doing fine. I mean just a little tired, but free food is always good!”

Bruce looks to his right and notices a younger, female, but dressed in a more formal attire than the rest.  She was wearing a black dress, white dress shirt, and a matching black blazer. She was full of excitement and greeted Bruce enthusiastically.  

Bruce tried to his best to respond with the same energy, but struggled since he used all his excitement up during the interviews, “I guess free food is always good! But nothing beats a free drink!”

His attempt at small talk and humor mediocre at best, but she immediately gave off a cute giggle.

“You have a good point there!” she responds back.

Bruce is immediately surprised by the amount of energy she has and before moving the conversation forward, finally decides to ask her name and where she works.

“Oh.. my name is Sam, and I’m a still a student, but my student club asked me to attend. Guess I couldn’t really pass up the opportunity.”

“I see, well how are you liking it so far?”

“It’s been going well. Everyone here is really nice and I’ve learned so much already. So what do you do for your… uhmm..?”

“Sales4You corp.. Sorry it’s not the best of names”

“Oh no! There’s just been so many names to remember since I got here. In all honesty, I’m still struggling to remember everyone’s names here. Don’t tell anyone…” She whispers as silently as possible.

Their conversation is soon interrupted by the loud feedback of the microphone.

“DINNER WILL BE SERVED IN THE NEXT 5 MINUTES. PLEASE REPORT TO THE DINING HALL”

“Finally!” Exclaims one of the members in the group.

Soon after large waves of people start migrating into the narrow two door entrance of the dining hall.

“You coming Bruce?” Lucy looks over her shoulder.

“No, I think I’m just going to grab another drink and wait it out.”

Sam Immediately chimes in, “I’ll wait too! I’m not a big fan of crowds.”

Bruce is surprised and both of them begin walking the opposite direction towards the bar. Sam then continues their conversation.

“So tell me.. Why did you decide to go into recruitment?”

This isn’t the first time Bruce was asked this question. In fact, it’s a normal question that Bruce hears when attending these events. He remembers the first time he was asked this question and his response was full of enthusiasm, excitement, and joy.

“I do it because I love to meet new people! I love to interview and learn about their goals and how they’d fit into the company!”

Over the years his answers morphed as his excitement slowly and ever so surely disappeared. Now his answers were more or less rehearsed with a nice touch of enthusiasm to sell it. He turned to Sam and said his normal answer.

“It’s nice to meet people and learn about them. Meeting different people is always exciting.”

This is where the person usually says “me too” or agrees with a “that’s cool”, but instead Bruce is greeted by 30 seconds of silence.

Sam then responds with a stern, “bull shit.”

Bruce surprised with Sam’s response, then asks, “Why? What’s wrong with my answer?”

Sam takes a deep breath and says, “First off! That answer was so boring and generic! Then that tone of yours… it’s so.. Fake. Like honestly it doesn’t take a lie detector to see how fake it was.”

“Ok I know you’re still a student, but tell me. Why are you here? Why go for HR?” Bruce responds back with a tone of sarcasm.

“Hmmm… I don’t know.. I mean I do know, but haven’t really thought about my reasons.”

Bruce’s mouth was wide open and he was dumbfounded by her response.

“Looks like I’m not the one who should be judging…”

All of sudden her eyes stare straight into Bruce. Eyes filled with excitement and anger at the same time. Out of nowhere she exclaims, “at least I’m excited! It looks like you’re just another zombie!”

Bruce is left speechless. Unsure of what to say next. None of his wit and canned dialogue would help him now because it was the first time anyone’s ever called him out on his actions and personality. After a few seconds of awkward silence, Sam slowly turns toward the dining hall.

“I’m really sorry.. But I should be going”

Bruce tries to stop her, but does everything he can to keep his arm from further extending towards her. He was ashamed. If she could see through his act, then he wondered, could everyone else?

The drive home was silent. Nothing but the sounds of cars speeding by Bruce, trying to overtake him. Bruce liked to drive within the speed limit with the radio off when he was deep in thought. How could that one conversation have bothered him so much? When he finally arrived home, Bruce’s demeanor barely changed as his long thought process continued all the way to his room.

Bruce sat silently in his room and the memory of the interaction with Sam continued to stick in his mind. Until one question remained in his head, am I happy? Bruce closed his eyes and said aloud..

No.

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