Monday, July 14, 2008

Let's Ecology! 6: A job interview (part 1 of 3)

After I finished college, I stayed on in Japan teaching English. While I was teaching, job interviews became a regular part of my life as I struggled to find a Real Job. This was a problem, because -- not surprisingly -- I interview horribly. Talking to people I don't know and making a good impression is something far, far outside my natural skill set. Of course, I worked at getting better, and I suppose I made some progress, but I never got good at interviewing. I'm still bad at it, although I'm happy to say that it's been years since I've needed to go on an interview.

Anyway, what usually happened in Japan is that I would apply for a job, my resume would be acceptable, and I'd ace any paper tests, but then my interview would be just enough "off" that I didn't get the job. This happened any number of times. Once, for example, I applied for a job at a small ad agency.

Since my wife and I were both working and we weren't hurting for money, my practice was to apply only for jobs that sounded really interesting. And this one was a doozy: the agency produced annual NCAA football and basketball games in Tokyo. So apparently, if I got the job, a big part of my duties would be working with coaches and athletic directors from Division I schools in the USA to coordinate the games and so on. It sounded very cool.

I sent in my resume, and got a call back setting up an appointment for an interview on the next Saturday morning. I got there a little early, and went up the stairs. But I went to the wrong floor, because when I came out from the stairs, there was nothing but an outer office and the company president's office. I suppose it was because it was a Saturday, but there was nobody in the outer office. There was just the president in his office, with the door open.

He was on the phone. I could hear every word he was saying, because he was shouting the Japanese equivalent of "YOU STUPID SONUVABITCH! I OUGHTTA FIRE YOU! CAN'T YOU DO ANYTHING RIGHT, YOU IDIOT?!" And on and on he went -- he seemed to have quite a lot of stamina, because I realized I'd already heard him shouting while I was coming up the stairs.

He couldn't see me from where he was, so I stood there for a minute listening (probably with my mouth hanging open). And I thought, "The hell with this. I don't care how interesting the job is, there's no way I'm gonna work for a jerk like that." (I'd just quit anyway if he ever yelled at me like that, and maybe I'd break his jaw for him first besides.) I turned around and went back down the stairs.

But when I got out on the street, I thought, "Well, I might as well go ahead and do the interview. I came all the way down here anyway, and it'll be more practice for my interview skills, with no pressure since I don't want the job anyway." So I turned around and went back up the stairs.

Next week: Part 2 of my job interview

More "Let's Ecology!" posts are here. "Let's Ecology!" is the story of my stint with a Japanese environmental group (or sort of an environmental group -- it's "complicated"). Look for new posts every Monday. The names have been changed to protect me from lawsuits. Everything else really happened.

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