Friday, January 06, 2006

"I’ll be the perfect subhuman and never let my contempt shine in my worshipping eyes"

Copied from my LJ-11/21/05
That's a line from Meryn Cadell's spoken word piece Job Application, which distills the whole interview experience into an eloquent eighty-five seconds.

Totally inappropriate questions I was asked today on a job interview:
How old are you?
Are you single? Married? Divorced?
Any kids?
Do you smoke?
Any health problems?
What do your parents do for a living?
Do you have any siblings? Older or younger?

I turned almostforty a couple of weeks ago and age is a sensitive subject these days. Since I changed careers, I'm a few years older than most folks in my field. People tell me I look younger than my age, and my resume only lists recent jobs and omits my graduation date, so I was hoping to avoid the question. No such luck. Being thirty-nine instead of thirty-two could make me look suspect to an interviewer. I have wondered suspiciously why one coworker was older than the rest of us. What failure in life had led him to find himself, well into middle age, in a cubicle talking to faceless car salesmen all day?

I learned some new skills today I hope never to use again. It's not easy to maintain composure when an interviewer is asking things you know he shouldn't ask. You want to seem unfazed, accomodating. Above all, to appear as though you have nothing to hide. And all the while you're thinking in that sardonic Daria voice, "Nice ethics, buster. I just know you're going to be a swell boss." I tried not to register the volley of verboten inquiry on my face. I did stammer a bit at the age question. Then he threw me another. And another. It was almost like he was testing me to see how far he could go before I cracked and protested. But I suffered his invasive, asinine grilling gladly, smiled and turned on the charm to whatever degree is possible for me.

My exhaustive three minutes of internet research confirms that every one of those questions is illegal. And boy does it piss me off, not just that he asked them, but that he knows he can get away with it.

The guy complimented my accent and said I had a great voice for phone... unlike his Asian coworker, whose pronunciation is difficult for him to understand. More little red flags. Why would you even bring that up? But I ignored it because, like Meryn, "I like a good work atmosphere where the boss says whatever he wants and the rest of us just listen."

I caved and took out my eyebrow ring for the last couple of interviews. For this one I took out my earrings too. They won't be going back in if I'm hired, at least not during office hours. Of course I have to get by the personality test first, which I'm sure will be like a bad acid flashback to my campus counselling center.

"No, I don’t expect vacation pay
and yes I’m available every day
and though I don’t like the evil way you’re looking at me,
I’ve got rent to pay.
And yes, I can start on Saturday.