Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Honest Abe's Job Interview

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

By no stretch of the imagination am I any kind of “career guru.” But over the years, I’ve noticed how fake people must regularly be in order to get a job.

To do so, a person must do their best to become, at least through the application and interviewing process, the politically correct and "flexible" person the company wants them to be as to appear a "decent person" and a "good fit."

Job-seekers also get involved in things that in other circumstances would be labeled unethical.

In tribute to this quackery, I’ve created, “Honest Abe’s Job Interview.” The purpose is to humorously shine a light on some of the absurdities within the job-seeking and interviewing process, and the work world, in general, while using an average Abe who is incredibly honest and clear about his life, intentions, and feelings.

Honest Abe’s Job Interview

Interviewer: Hi, Abe! Nice to meet you!

Honest Abe: Hi, there. I know it would be common courtesy for me to reply with the same, but I can’t really do that because I don’t know you yet. It’s not not nice to meet you, but if you turn out to be a jerk, then I really shouldn’t be prematurely saying that it’s nice to meet you. It’s nothing personal, I hope you know, but I will reserve my judgment until the end.

Interviewer: So, Abe, you’re fresh out of college with a bachelor’s degree…

Honest Abe: Yes. I just graduated two months ago. A “C+” student in biology.

Interviewer: For the unemployment rate being so high, two months is pretty quick to get an interview these days. What do you attribute this to?

Honest Abe: For one thing, you mustn’t have seen my social media pages, whereas prior companies I’d applied to probably did. Scrubbing the sites of anything less-than-professional would be dishonest, and that’s not who I am. I drank and partied in college—who didn’t?—and I drink and party now.

Also, while I would like to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you see potential based on my résumé and cover letter, since neither are particularly catchy, I do wonder if this company is cutting corners like nearly all other companies—if you’re searching out cheap, young blood and providing minimal training, rather than paying full-price for someone with experience who actually knows what he or she is doing and would save you far more money in the long-term.

Interviewer: Okay, Abe. Tell me what interests you about this company.

Honest Abe: I have a degree that has, theoretically, prepared me for the type of work this company does. Working here therefore seems like a reasonable way to pay off the $50k in college debt I’ve accrued.

Otherwise, nothing in particular. You’d provided one of the results that showed up in Career Builder. Had I not seen it, I probably wouldn’t know of or care about this company at all. After applying, you were the first company to reply to my application.

It’s also still unclear to me what this company stands for. Sure, I’d seen your website and read your Mission Statement, and Core Values, and the like, but I think we all know that the larger a company becomes, the further the company culture tends to diverge from decency and ethics. Their stated Mission and Values end up becoming a pretty mask to hide a cancerous face.

Interviewer: What interests you about the position you’ve applied for?

Honest Abe: It’s partially about the degree, again. My parents are both biologists, and in my family there’s a great deal of pressure to fulfill expectation. Quite frankly, I’m not particularly thrilled with biology, but I don’t want to feel like I’ve wasted four years of my life, and I’m afraid of disappointing my parents.

And similar to the last answer I gave, I have to survive; I need a house and a car, I want to start a family, and so on. I need money to do that, and flipping burgers isn’t going to cut it.

Interviewer: Abe, Pete Johnson put a good word in for you. What’s your relationship to Pete?

Honest Abe: Oh, Pete, sure. We grew up together. Aside from two weeks ago, I hadn’t actually talked to him for about 10 years. After sending in my résumé and connecting with this company on Linkedin, I saw that Pete works here. I have no reason to talk to Pete otherwise and might not even say hi to him if I saw him at the grocery store. But since everyone else makes the unethical ethical, I decided it was okay to connect with him, start a courtesy conversation as though I care about what he’s been up to, and then ask him if he could put a good word in for me. Said differently, I used Pete as a tool for my personal gain. If I get the job, I’ll certainly thank him; but if I don’t see him around, I probably won’t talk to him again.

Interviewer: You stated that you’ve seen our Mission Statement. Customer service is our number one priority. How do you relate to customers?

Honest Abe: Oh, I hate people. But what am I going to do, you know? I have to get a job somewhere, and this has become a service-oriented country. Customer service is the big thing these days. You can’t go anywhere that they aren’t touting customer service this, customer service that. The average workers become slaves to a management team that ceases to value quality and either has no experience beyond pushing paper or does have the experience but has forsaken that awareness in an effort to brown-nose higher management and the customers.

Anyway, let me put it this way: I’m not going to be a jerk just to be a jerk, but neither am I going to act like a subservient ninny when the customer is wrong and thinks he’s should be treated like God’s gift to the world because he’s a customer.

Interviewer: Abe, what do you think you could contribute to this company?

Honest Abe: Character-wise: honesty. I know that’s pretty much unheard of, if not unwanted, these days due to the obscene level of political correctitude, corner-cutting, and general soul-selling, but honesty is my greatest trait.

Work-wise: quality. It’s in my nature to do quality work, so I will do quality work, even if I’m pushed for quantity, instead.

Interviewer: It’s in our best interest to keep workers for as long as possible. If you get this job, how long do you see yourself staying here?

Honest Abe: Until I want to leave. If management is poor, if the work is boring, or if people are lousy, I’m not going to stick around. Just as you may start me on a 3- or 6-month probationary period, so I will be placing you on one. I’m not here to play the guilt game that says if you hold on to me then I must hold on to you for at least 5 or 10 years.

Otherwise, let’s be real. Few people hold a job for more than a few years anymore. Employers want to hire cheap, young blood while pushing the older, more knowledgeable, but higher-paid workers out early. Then there’s all the corner-cutting and staff-thinning which causes employers to drive the remaining workers, who fear loss, to work excessive overtime to make up for managerial incompetence. This company may not behave that way, I don’t yet know. But based on modern business practices, the stars may have to align in almost magical ways for me to stay long-term.

Interviewer: Are you willing to work overtime, Abe?

Honest Abe: I reserve the right to not work overtime. Ever. I may work minimal on rare occasions, but effectively, no. And I won’t feel guilty about it. Especially if you don’t pay for it.

What does overtime really get for people, anyway, individually or collectively? The more a person works, the greater the decrease in their productivity and well-being. So, increasing hours is useless unless a company is looking to invest in having exhausted workers, uninspired products and services, lower profit margins, and employees with higher medical insurance expenses.

Look at countries where little if any overtime is permitted, where work weeks are even below 40 hours, and guess what? All the work still gets done! Not only that, but the unemployment rate even goes down because those who would work overtime, whether voluntarily or by force, aren’t sucking up a second full-time workload from the people who actually need it.

Seen for what it is, I’m sure you can understand why I’ve chosen this position.

Interviewer: As for salary, we could probably start you at around $40k per year, which is good by industry standards.

Honest Abe: No, I’ve done my research, and that’s actually below the industry average for newbies. You say “good by industry standards” hoping I’m too ignorant to know the truth or too weak-willed to point out your dishonesty. Also, the lower you start, the more uncomfortable you think it’s going to make me in asking for higher, and thus less likely to ask, even if I deserve it, as the gap between your proposed amount and my requested amount widens. The average salary for people like me is around $44k per year. Why don’t you tell me your cap, and then we’ll pick a good number from there? You’re not going to pay me at cap, anyway.

Interviewer: I’ll tell you what. I’ll have to discuss your salary with my boss, and then get back to you.

That’s it, then, for today’s interview, Abe. I’ll walk you to the door.

Honest Abe: Alright. Thanks a lot for having me in.

Interviewer: Yes, not a problem. Thank you for being honest. Your insight is appreciated. I’ll be in touch with you soon.

Honest Abe: Glad to hear. It was nice to meet you!

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