I arrived at the company’s office building, parked my car and went into the lobby. I told the security guardettes that I was here to interview for a position at A______. They told me to sign the guest register while they created a visitor badge for me. They gave me my badge and pointed towards the elevator.
I felt nervous as a looked for an elevator button to push but was not able to find one. Then, I noticed a touch-screen computer in the wall, and it was telling me to “Enter Floor Number.” I entered “19” on the virtual keypad and then pressed “Enter.” The computer thought for a moment, and then its screen read “Take Car C” along with an arrow pointing to the left. At that same moment, the elevator door to the immediate left of the computer opened. I walked in and looked for a button to press on the inside. Then, I remembered the interaction I had just had with the wall computer. I had already told it where I was going. The door closed and the elevator shot upwards with me inside it. As I ascended I wondered if I was riding an elevator in an office or Space Mountain at DisneyLand.
The elevator landed on floor 19 and let me off. I walked towards the A______ office suite and noticed that everything behind its glass threshold was white. All the walls, floors and furniture shone bright white in color. It was as if the company itself was an Apple product.
I went inside, checked in at the reception desk and was greeted by a girl from the Human Resources department. She led me to the room where my interview would take place, which according to the nameplate on the wall just outside the room, is called an “Interview Room.” It was an area about the size of a cheap Manhattan apartment that contained a round coffee table, three chairs, a cabinet and a telephone. The entire room was encased behind a pane of glass.
HR girl sat me down at the table, gave me a glass of water and asked that I sit and wait until my interviewers arrive. I sat, waited and drank water as people walked by and stared at me through the glass. I felt like a captive human. Interview room – I would have called it a display case. And the nameplate would have read, “See the Potential Employee, native to Houston, in a mock-up of its natural environment!”
My interrogators arrived. I stood up and greeted them both, and we all sat back down to discuss the prospect of my employment. One of them was disguised in an average white guy costume. The other guy wore a royal blue dress shirt, had a scraggly full beard and cavernous holes in his earlobes where piercings had once been.
We discussed topics that are commonly discussed in job interviews – what does the company do, what qualifications do I have and which heavy metal bands have the best guitarists.
They frequently used the word “progressive” to describe the company. What they intended to convey was that the business operates according to principles similar to those of a high-tech company such as Google, Pixar or any given startup in Silicon Valley. They might have used descriptors such as “next-generation,” “unorthodox” or “twenty-first century” to describe the company but they seemed to be most fond of “progressive.” From what I observed of the company’s environment and personnel, I will agree with them that it is progressive. In fact, I am willing to bet on which company they prefer to use for auto insurance.
Before we knew it, the interview had devolved into three pals having a friendly conversation.
“So, how did you hear about this job?” said Earlobes.
“I went through a staffing agency.” I said.
“Oh yeah? Which one?”
“Oh, who was your recruiter?”
“Oh, I know him. That guy’s a jackass.”
At that moment, I knew that this was the place for me.