Getting the Job in a Competitive Marketplace

Well, it’s that time of year again, when the economy implodes into an infinitely-dense speck of matter, and folks are out looking for jobs in the hopes that one day, in the not-too-distant future, that tiny particle will vomit forth brand new economies in glorious rebirth, or at least just sneeze out a handful of pennies. Bearing in mind that an essential part of getting the job (besides showering) is to undergo the interview process, here are some helpful hints I’ve gathered during my own life experiences.

Determining if the Job is Right for You

Nobody wants to sign up for a job they will ultimately despise; yet, all of us do. Always. Until we die or retire. But there are some subtle cues to look for that will tell you a job may be a bad fit, from the very first moment. Listen carefully to the questions the interviewer is posing. Examples of such questions:

  • “Do you have an irrational fear of being spit at?”
  • “Do you know how to operate a Geiger counter?”
  • “Are you, to your knowledge, allergic to the bite of the Arabian puff-adder?”

All of the above are cues, however subtle, that the job may not be right for you. If you find yourself in this position, it is common courtesy to inform the interviewer that you may not be the right fit for the job, thank them for the opportunity, and don’t be afraid to turn and just run, run hard and surefootedly, pistoning your legs like jackhammers, running, tilted forward at that crazy 45-degree angle like He-Man runs to denote speed, just, just create distance as soon as possible. Don’t look backwards.

Asking The Right Questions

During most interviews, you will encounter a phase where the interviewer asks you if you have any questions for them, usually near the end where you’re beginning to nod off. It is considered bad practice to have nothing to say during this phase of the interview – the interviewer is not only seeking to grant you knowledge on your potential new position, but to simultaneously evaluate your viability for the role. Here are some great questions to ask to really make an impression:

  • How often will I be expected to wear pants?
  • Is there an opportunity to work remotely? If so, how do you monitor my productivity? Because I’m in a MMORPG guild.
  • How often would you say the office has caught fire, and how easily have you been able, historically, to determine the culprit?
  • Does the company prefer “quiet quitting”, or “extremely loud quitting”?

You may also, circumstances permitting, simply stare into space for a few moments, and then ask, apropos of nothing: “Why?” Then, pause dramatically, and repeat it again- as often as “feels right”.

Compensation Negotiation

Generally, during the final stages of interview for qualified candidates, the topic of compensation will be broached. Please refrain from this – it is bad form to ask your interviewer how much they are paid.

When it comes to a discussion of your own potential compensation, bear in mind that the position could have defined parameters for pay scale, or could be open-ended in such a way that you may be asked to state your salary requirements without many available clues. This is your opportunity to ensure that you are paid commensurate to your personal feelings of value, or to just try to turn those thumbscrews if the company seems really desperate. Here is a sample dialogue:

Interviewer: “So, (your name) – what are your salary requirements for this position?

You: “How much you got?”

Interviewer: “Excuse me?”

You: “You heard me.”

Interviewer (tugging at collar): Ha. Ha. But really though.

You: (just stare) (Note: if you have a switchblade, use it to clean your fingernails at this point.)

Ending the Interview

When it feels as though the interview is nearing its end, remember that you’ve already made all of the impression you’re going to make, and by this point have asked all of the pertinent questions. To make a smooth and memorable exit, determine whether the interviewer is making end-of-conversation small talk, and just push your chair back and walk out of the room, ideally when they are mid-sentence. Remember, it’s important that you stand out from other applicants, many of whom have followed protocol and are therefore indistinguishable from one another.

Be on the lookout for anything you can tip, flip, or rip on the way out. These items could be tables, commercial printer units, tapestries, lamps, coat racks, etc. Be creative! It’s easy, because it rhymes: remember, that’s:

  • Tip
  • Flip, and/or
  • Rip

You’ve got this!!

Today’s the Day the Teddy Bears Have Their Annual Company-Wide Meeting

BOISE, Id. –

In sharp contrast to last week’s Teddy Bear Picnic, whose theme was one of furtive amusement, today’s annual TeddyBearCorp employee meeting was fraught with tension. The meeting, held in a conference room at the Palisades Hotel, drew on for over six hours as TBC CEO Snuffle-Wuffles delivered the yearly financial reports, making extensive use of PowerPoint slides and at one point nearly blinding a smaller plush toy as he frantically gesticulated with a laser pointer. The news was sobering for some.

“We’ve experienced a marked downturn in the rate of teddybear production due in part to new regulations regarding Chinese toy importation, and the bottleneck is still affecting our usual distribution channels,” said Snuffle-Wuffles. “But there’s a problem on the demand side as well. Youths are turning more and more to video games and other, more high-tech entertainments- and there’s just not as much call for stuffed bears anymore. How are we supposed to compete with Nintendo, for example? The closest thing to high-tech we have is Vice President Ruxpin over there, and that’s only because he requires batteries.”

Asked for comment, TeddyBearCorp Vice President Theodore Ruxpin merely moved his mouth up and down in vague synchronicity with a prerecorded speech.

After the news, stock in TeddyBearCorp (HUG) plummeted ten points to a record low of $3/share. “We have to change with the times, or we’re sunk,” said Paddington Bear, the company’s head of marketing. “We can’t conduct our advertising campaigns as we would our picnics – beneath the trees, where nobody sees. That just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in this day and age.” When asked how he would gauge the company’s future prospects in light of the recent stock bail-outs, Paddington replied, “Let’s put it this way: this rain gear I’m wearing has gone from cute accessory to ominous metaphor. And there are more storms ahead.”

CEO Snuffle-Wuffles appears to be equally grim on the company’s future prospects. “At the picnic, there was a certain tone of melancholy underneath all the frolicking – it was as if we all knew that things as we knew them were coming to an end. And after today’s meeting, I think it’s safe to say that we’re ALL tired little teddy bears.” Snuffle-Wuffles paused for a moment, seemingly overcome by emotion. When pressed further for comment, he exhibited the same recalcetrant spirit for which he has been known throughout his long career. “Of course I’m not crying, you moron. My eyes are made of buttons.”

Mostly Space

One of the more interesting concepts I learned in Chemistry class- these things we find dense and solid are mostly empty, molecules held together by ionic, metallic, and covalent bonds, Van der Waals forces, invisible magical forces, atomic gravity, the diaphanous fabrics that bind things.

Space governs us and it’s mostly all there is; our substance is in fact emptiness.

The blacks in comic panels or films are as important as the whites. Negative space.  Direct the eye to the content by surrounding it with loss.  That’s life, it’s what it does, it shows us things through our grief, directs the eye without the viewer’s awareness.

I think often about what it means that what we see is not at all what is actually there; not-there. Atoms aren’t something with which we can interact, aren’t something we can use– not without a large budget, trained personnel, and the threat of radiation poisoning.

But this table, well, it holds up the keyboard on which I’m typing – that’s useful.  The helpful little atoms know not what they do, they simply hover, they talk to each other and configure, reconfigure; they’re social animals.  But they’re naive. They don’t know that somewhere, far away, a distance as great to them as the sun is to us, they look like a table when they’re together.

We each play our little part – to someone far off, we humans probably look like something they find useful, though up close, we’re all stumbling around just trying to bond with each other, and sometimes getting it right.

And sometimes, there’s an explosion.

Missed Connection: “Kestrel”

This past Tuesday, or a few weeks ago Friday. Glimpsed you on Congress Street, slowly rotating a kestrel. I was going to suggest you might be more successful with a more sedentary, flightless bird, but my mouth was full of marzipan and I didn’t want you to think I was a mumbler. You were beautiful, then.

You slid a record on the turntable- the soundtrack to Disney’s “The Lion King”- and I was surprised to find that when reversed, the song “Hakuna Matata” was clearly stating: “Art Tatum, a new car”. It made sense, as the last vehicle the jazz pianist was seen driving was a rusting Bentley with missing hubcaps.

I’d been riding cold medicine for days, so I’m not sure it happened. You might be a figment of my imagination. But, extrapolating Descartes, I think you think, therefore I think you are. Though a brick does not think, I think it exists as well, as I was struck by one in a mugging last February, and the pain was very real. Justifying existence makes my head spin. Will you be the one to take a hold of it for me, so I don’t get dizzy?

Delirious responses only.