Almost immediately after I learned of my impending layoff and started applying for jobs, I got an interview for what seemed like the best gig ever. It was at a renowned film society that I won’t name here in case the Google gods bring this post to their attention. Since they go by a three-letter acronym, though, we’ll just call them BFO (Big-time Film Organization). You’ve heard of them.
The job was literally watching movies full-time and writing up the plots and production histories for the BFO online film catalog. The pay was a bit lower than I needed, but come on – watching movies and writing about them. Pretty much the only way that could be better was if they hand-fed me chocolate, too. I was willing to make it work.
So a-interviewin’ I went.
PART ONE: OUR HERO ARRIVES
Phase 1 of the interview was with the Human Resources manager, and it went well. She was laid-back. We had some laughs. We discussed Starbucks and earthquakes, and she offered me a Diet Coke. You know, the usual interview stuff.
Then she picked up the phone and called “Serena” to come get me for Phase 2.
Now, not once had anyone mentioned the name Serena to me before. As far as I knew, I was supposed to be interviewing with “George,” the head of the Catalog Department with whom I’d spoken on the phone. Who could Serena be? I pondered as I waited in the HR office for her to arrive. Eh, probably just an intern or assistant sent to shepherd me from one location to the next, I decided. No big deal.
Five minutes later, a small, angry young woman stormed into the HR office and looked at me over the top of her hipster glasses. “Lisa?” she demanded, frowning as if I had personally offended her with my presence. I nodded and stood up, preparing for a handshake. Instead, the woman whirled around and stomped back out of the office, leaving me scrambling to follow. God, I hope this is Serena, I thought wildly as I ran, aware that I might also be scurrying off to get murdered in the janitor’s closet.
PART TWO: OUR HERO DEPARTS ON AN EPIC QUEST
Halfway down the hallway, I finally caught up with her. Then the questions started.
“What interests you about BFO?”
“What kind of writing have you done?”
“Do you have a film theory background?”
“What do you think about Fellini?”
Each one was fired at me like a torpedo that unleashed silent judgment upon impact instead of exploding. Serena didn’t even make any encouraging “Oh” or “Okay” sounds after I answered; she just blasted the next question. This was not small talk. She was interviewing me. As we walked. WTF? Who did this intern think she was, an Aaron Sorkin character?
Then we left the building.
BFO, as it turns out, is comprised of a cluster of structures on a big, steep hill. For the purposes of this story, we’re going to refer to that hill as The Mothereffing Mountain. The Human Resources building is at the bottom of the mountain. The Catalog Department, I kid you not, is in a little trailer at the very top. It looks like it got picked up by a tornado in Arkansas and plunked down in the middle of nowhere on this random California peak.
So not only was I being interviewed by a strangely hostile little intern, but now I was doing so while hiking up The Mothereffing Mountain… at a rapid pace… in 85-degree weather… while wearing a business suit and heels.
I’m pretty sure not even wannabe mountain-climbing guides have to do that. The scientific term to describe me when we finally reached the top is “nervous, panicking sweatball.”
And things did not get better from there.
PART THREE: OUR HERO DIES A FLAMING DEATH
Serena proceeded to usher me into the (non-air-conditioned) trailer, where I was met by four sets of staring eyes: three women and one man. Serena didn’t introduce any of them. No one introduced themselves. We all just stood there looking at each other for several seconds like we were posing for a portrait.
“Hi,” I finally said.
The man stood up. “All right, let’s go in the back office.” This was George, I deduced, although it could have been reclusive British street artist Banksy for all I knew.
“Well, uh, thanks for your help,” I said, turning to Serena, assuming she would be returning to her internly duties now that she had successfully retrieved me and bestowed upon me a refreshing cardio workout. Nope.
“I’m coming with you,” Serena responded with a withering glare.
I knew then I wasn’t getting the job.
I’ll spare you the rest of the painful details. Just picture me sitting in a tiny, hot room with George and Serena staring at me as sweat poured down my face, and you’ll get the idea. I must have looked like an escapee from the Sweat Disorder Research Clinic. And really, it was less “interview” than it was Serena lecturing me for 20 minutes about why I could never do the job.
The rejection form letter I received from BFO a month later informed me that it had been a “very difficult decision” to choose amongst such wonderful candidates.
If I ever interview there again for anything, I’m wearing hiking boots and boxing gloves. Maybe I’ll have a better chance.