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Smile, Listen Politely, And Be Ready For Surprises
From The Desk Of Drumlin S Boulder

I knew how the interview was going to end when Knute Kwietwright Esquire (it said so on his resume) sat down and before I could start, asked me whether or not I was really qualified to be his boss.

Nevertheless I remained pleasant, focused and confident. Listen, after what I had seen that morning, I felt qualified to buy a couch, some notepads, charge by the 50 minute hour, and dispense my brand of wisdom to the world. The winner among the assorted strange candidates I'd seen was a well dressed, thirty two year old guy, who, when I asked him what he liked to do in his spare time, jumped up, did a double pirouette that would make a ballet dancer envious, then gracefully collapsed onto the floor in the lotus position and chanted ohhhhmmmmm for about a minute.

No question it was impressive, and I have nothing against yoga if that is what that was, but I'm afraid to call him back. New hires can substantially affect corporate culture, and I can imagine the effect someone like this can have. I saw yoghurt and bean sprouts and tofu and soy meat and green tea, and Magda, who cooks for us and brings in our food and runs our cafeteria, not making my favourite rump roast, mashed potatoes and gravy anymore.

Selfish I know, and I'd eliminated a bunch of people based on spelling errors in their resumes. Would you hire someone who hadn't very carefully spelled words like peers after having been voted best salesman of the year by them, his beers that is, for the past three years? Well I assumed it was his colleagues. In either case he wasn't going to be selling for us and the only opening I had for him was the door.

But you have to be really careful when looking for people and not eliminate them in a way that would offend them and have them running to lawyers and labour tribunals, so whenever we ask for resumes, we have a policy of saying up front that only those chosen for interviews will be contacted. When I do see someone, I always politely listen and smile, sometimes deferring to higher authority, sometimes hiring on the spot.

So I kept on going, determined to give Knute the allotted time, and told him my qualifications consisted of some 20 years experience and majority ownership of the company.

"I was working in sales for my mom but she sold her business and moved to Florida" he began when I asked him about his last position. "She wouldn't sell to me because of something she called an earn-out clause. Do you know what that is?" Before I could assure him I did, he gave me proof why his mother was one smart lady when he went on to say "but that was fine by me because I've always wanted to be an dynamics engineer, and since your Portable Holes have a great market reputation, I thought your firm would be the place I could learn how to be one".

Now it wasn't so much what he said that did him in, because at least he's done some homework, which I thought was good thing, and better than "what is it that you people do at this place anyways?". No what happened was that he opened his briefcase to hand me what I guess must have been support for his high flying goal when out spilled several dog eared copies of Penthouse magazine. He then leafed through three issues, stopped here and there rotating some pages ninety degrees, then finally turned a page toward me to show me the picture of an airplane he really liked. I politely looked and listened and smiled and asked some innocuous questions before escorting Knute out to our Sophia, our Manager of First Impressions, (well actually in this case a last one), for disposal.

I've got to think I'm not the only one who's gone through these kinds of interviews. Is it too much to ask for a well qualified, well groomed, successful go getting sales person looking for a well paid position at a market leading company? Well anyway, someone who could work here and make some sales and not pad expense accounts like The Big Guy did? Did I mention he's gone? It's another story and involves a power tie that led to a powerboat moored at the marina of a low rise lake side condo complex.

I thought back to my first own real summer job in high school, and what my dad had said to me.

"Honesty, integrity and be prepared" he'd told me, "and learn all you can about the company while you're there", so I'd called the company  sales  line pretending to be interested in their products. My father had given me a list of questions and told me to think in terms of how my skills could benefit the company. So I'd gone in prepared with the phone call results and some more sleuthing , dressed in my first real suit, white shirt, tie, shoes shined and neatly groomed, and had fallen flat on my metaphorical face, which stressed my young male hormones to their limits and caused me to stutter and splutter and gush out what my strained brain could muster up in from of a perfect 10 and 12 and a half in heels.

I had never before seen such a perfect woman. I have always said thank you to my father who said the first impressions I created counted most, and be ready for any unexpected  with a smile, eye contact, and a firm handshake, which I managed to get through leaving my real face unscathed

I didn't get the job but I learned about interviews, and being alert and animated and asking the right kinds of questions, and making sure I knew how exactly I could contribute to the firm and benefit from working there.

Now of course not everyone was lucky enough to have had my dad as a father, but I have to think anyone who actually wants a good position in marketing is willing and able to market themselves and convince me to hire them.

Focusing back on the task at hand, I quickly familiarized myself with the next candidate. Kerry Oakstone. "A good strong name" I said to myself I looked through a two paged, well organized resume, concise, and clearly written; progressively more experience, some interesting additional skills. I put the smile on my face, got ready to listen politely, and called Sophia to escort Mr Oakstone in.

I hope my smile held steady as I extended my hand because Kerry was wearing a dress. Thankfully though, she wasn't a he


 
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