A Memorable Job Interview

After we moved out of the Northwest Territories I was able to collect unemployment insurance for a year. My benefits were based on the rate of pay I had been receiving in the north (high due to the cost of living there) and all things considered it was more profitable for me to sit at home and collect them than to take a job for less pay. It was required that a person show evidence of actively seeking employment while getting this compensation, so I applied for a lot of jobs that I either didn’t have a hope in hell of actually getting, or that I knew wouldn’t come close to offering the pay that I wanted.

The strangest thing I applied for was a position as hall monitor at a local high school. I didn’t even know there was such a thing and couldn’t imagine what that person would be expected to do. It was high school for goodness sake. Surely high school kids didn’t need hall supervision? I imagined janitorial work of some kind might be involved. I went to the interview completely unprepared and clueless with no real expectations except for being able to add a description of the process to my weekly quota of job searches.

I was ushered into a small room and placed in a chair facing a semi-circle of five people wielding clip boards and pens. A panel of interviewers! They took turns introducing themselves by name only, and asking me questions. All of them solemnly and busily made notes and check marks and underscores and God only knows what else as I answered them. A lot of the questions were incredibly vague. I understand open-ended, but one fellow in particular kept describing various scenarios and asking me what I would do when faced with such a situation. I told him I’d have to know the rules and what I was expected to do, and then no doubt that’s exactly what I’d do. He looked disappointed that I wasn’t dreaming up my own personal hall dictator rules.

It was such a bizarre little group, so much hoopla, pomp and circumstance, and all for the purpose of finding somebody good at catching kids smoking or dealing drugs on the premises. My mind started to seriously wander, wondering why they didn’t just get an undercover cop to check things out if they suspected those kinds of problems. But part of the job would also entail helping out in the office as required, photocopying and collating and doing whatever other mundane things needed doing but were beneath the importance of the people already employed there. So why did the hiring of this person require the agreement of an entire board of people?

At some point I was aware of myself talking to all of them, and then there was silence. My voice stopped. So did my brain. We all stared at each other for a moment. Then since nobody else seemed to want to say anything I told them I was sorry, I seemed to have completely lost my train of thought. More uncomfortable gawking at each other. What was the question again? The process rather quickly petered out after that, although I still had a lot of unanswered questions of my own.

No, I did not get the position. One of them called me less than two hours later to let me know the job had been offered to someone else. Surprisingly enough it wasn’t a conference call. I hope I didn’t sound too incredibly relieved, but it wasn’t possible to drum up even the slightest amount of disappointment.

Never been interviewed by a panel of people like that, before or since. Never walked away from an interview since that one more confused than when I arrived.

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