First, I want to congratulate everyone who went to the Ewing and corporate auditions a few Saturdays ago. That's awesome! You're all fantastic in my book. Second, I got a new job! Snaps for Lauren. Anyway, during some down time at the auditions, I chatted with one Madison Duncan about my job hunting experience and a particularly strange interview I had. She insisted I share my interview story with the blogosphere. So Miss Duncan, here it is at your request. Let me provide a brief backstory to start us off. Right out of grad school I got a job working at a very small marketing firm. I felt pretty darn spiffy landing a cool gig that seemed like a sure thing. But after only 11 months, and of course right before the holidays (you know how these things work), my then boss sat down with naive, little ol’ me and politely gave me a boot out the door. I was laid off, and there wasn't anything I could do about it. See, a layoff isn't a reflection of a poor job performance or anything like that, it's essentially just a nice way of saying, "Bye Felicia, you way too expensive for us peasants, girl. Our company can't afford your bourgeois ass no more."
And so, my job hunt began.
I didn't know true agony until I experienced the never-ending, anxiety-inducing wait for someone to respond to one of the 12 jillion (that's a rough approximation though) resumes and applications I had sent out for different job postings. During this wait, my friends and relatives kept asking me, "How's the hunt going? What are you doing in the meantime to stay afloat?" I would respond, "It's going," and "Currently, trying not to become a hobo, thanks."
But, after the wait and people started putting my telephone on blast, there arrived an even more daunting task: the no-good-terrifying-why-must-it-exist job interview process. Dun-dun-duuuun! Yep, I had reached that critical point where one forces their jobless behind out of bed, puts on "professional" clothes, ideally anything other than the Doritos-stained pajamas currently on one’s behind, and goes on a speed-date with a potential employer.
Job interviews are the worst. I hate them. If they had a face, I would punch them in it. I dislike answering stupid questions, forcing myself to pretend to like small-talking to humans I'm unacquainted with, and did I mention I'm normally terrible at them? However, I had noticed a slight improvement in my interviewing abilities since I started taking improv classes. Improv techniques like active listening and embracing the unexpected seemed to come in handy.
So, on one Wednesday afternoon, I showed up for an interview with an open mind, ready to "yes-and" the shit out of it. This wasn't a typical interview, though. The company decided to interview candidates two at a time. "OK, no biggie. I can handle that," I thought to myself.
Little did I know that the woman I would be interviewed alongside, however, was by virtue of simply existing, far more interesting than I will ever be...ever. Turns out, she happened to be a Sudanese refugee, who happened to seek political asylum in America, then happened to live in Geneva (a.k.a United Nations headquarters in Switzerland) for several years, and who happened to speak five languages, which coincidentally happened to be this interviewer's wet dream. Oh, and if that wasn't convincing enough of her awesomeness, she also spent the majority of her time taking care of her 26 siblings!
OK, I can barely function one-on-one with just an interviewer and now I've got the freakin’ love child of Malala Yousafzai and Mother Teresa in the chair next to me. When it was my turn to give a brief introductory pitch about myself, all I could muster up was, "I'm from here...I have brother...I know things..." Ermahgerd man, just give Sudanese Malala the job already, she's perfect. Even I love her; heck, I want to be her (minus the 26 siblings, though, that’s a bit much).
The interviewer turned to Malala and asked, "What would you say are the strengths you'd be bringing to the workplace?" As she began listing off numerous wonderful qualities about herself, I began crafting a perfect response in my head. I could maybe make a comeback here. I still had a shot. My turn now, showtime baby...
"Lauren, if you could fill this room with any object you wanted, anything at all, what would you fill it with?"
Seriously interviewer dude, this is the question you're going to ask me to determine whether or not I would be right for this job? What object I would fill this room with? Can we go back to the strengths questions? Cause, I got a real doozy for that one. No, OK then...
What answer do I go with? Do I say I'd fill the room with money? No, too cliché. Love and positivity? Too schmaltzy. Hmmm, let's see...chocolate, Chiweenie dogs, shirtless Hugh Jackmans? Is this a hypothetical room or is it this actual room? Does the room have windows; are the doors open, can we invite people in? So many questions! Brain overloading! Screw it, time to just improvise...
"Uh, Pizza. Yeah, I'd fill it with pizza."
Oh god, did that just come out of my mouth? Next he's going to ask who inspires me, and I'm going to bust out with Papa John and Little Caesar. What do I want to be written on my tombstone? I’d probably end up saying, “It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno!”
"Um, because pizza is delicious and everyone loves free food, so a room full of free pizza is probably a solid plan. Also, pizza parties make everyone happy." Crap, what about the gluten and lactose intolerant people, didn’t think of them.
"How many pizzas do you think you could fit in this room?"
"Depends. Are we talking boxed or unboxed? Thick crust or thin crust? small...medium...large?"
"Let’s just go with boxed, medium size."
At this point, Malala was peeing her pants laughing at my idiotic answers while I attempted to determine the cubic volume of the room, sizing up its height and width using my thumb and index finger.
"Well, if stacked properly, you’re looking, at least, a hundred pizzas."
The interviewer jotted down a small note on his pad and that concluded our discussion.
Pretty sure Malala landed that job. I didn’t. As bizarre as the interview was though, I did get a few things out of it. I learned that the simple “yes and” tenant of improv is quite useful if applied correctly during an interview situation. This especially comes into play when posed with obscure questions that interviewers put you on the spot with to see how you think under pressure.
In addition, I also learned that if a company doesn’t think having a pizza room is a good idea, then they’re clearly all a bunch of soulless robots who don’t like fun. Because I think it would be pretty darn rad to say to someone visiting the office, “Follow me, please, this way to the pizza room!”
Lauren Levine is currently a Level 3 student at DCH. When she is not trying to come up with witty things for this blog, she is a freelance writer and editor, an amateur photographer, a Zumba-enthusiast, a dog lover, and an 80s movie nerd. In addition, she enjoys all things Muppet-related, the smell after a rainstorm, and people with soft hands.