||[May. 1st, 2012|06:55 pm]
the community for those who smoke and LIKE IT
Around this time every year I have to interview summer internship applicants for my entire office. For being willing to do this task, I am allowed to have my pick of two from the five or six that will be hired, so I’m happy to do it. Several years ago, I decided to conduct the interviews at a table on the outside patio of a local coffee shop. We are less likely to be interrupted, there is a nice constant supply of coffee I don’t have to brew, and I’m allowed to smoke. Being able to smoke is nice, but it isn’t for my enjoyment alone. After unwittingly hiring a rabid anti a few years ago who declared that if he had known he was going to be working for a couple of “Black-lunged freaks” (My assistant is also a smoker) he wouldn’t have taken the job, I decided to let applicants know where things stood in time for them to back out.|
Yesterday was interview day. My colleagues and I had culled out the eight leading applicants and my assistant had set up the interviews last week, and at a little before 8:00 a.m. I took up my post on the patio and hoped the first person would be late so I could finish waking up. (She wasn’t)
Keep in mind that at this point in the process the applicants being interviewed are those who have made it through pretty close vetting and review. They not only have impressive resumes and transcripts, but they have also handled themselves well on the telephone and had their references checked.
Out of 15 or 16 applicants, we had reduced the list first to ten, then to eight. I learned today that of those eight, seven were smokers, one was not. The day wore along well enough. A couple of people stick out in my mind for good reasons, most are simply parts of the blur and I’ll have to check my notes. One dud, however, made it through the vetting process. We must have been drunk or stoned, or both when we decided to include her in the group for interviewing. Not only was she late, she was dressed like an adult Kewpie doll, used poor grammar, said “like,” you know,” and “I mean” a lot, had not bothered to familiarize herself with the department’s mission, played with her hair, and had to have questions rephrased repeatedly in order to understand them.
I dismissed her as quickly as I could and still give her a fair chance. It wasn’t until I was walking home this afternoon that I realized that out of the eight candidates, the only one who stunk in the interview was also the only non-smoker in the batch.
I have often said that a person’s attitude goes a lot further with me than their qualifications when I am considering them for an open position. Don’t give me overly-cheerful or optimistic. I’d much rather hear, ‘Yeah, we’ll get it done, but it’ll be a bitch to do it.” Than “Gee! I’m just sure we can do it! I know we can!” It also helps if a candidate is a bit of a smartass as well. I once hired a young lady who was equally qualified to the other finalist but would need to be allowed to work slightly odd hours for no other reason than when I asked her if I could get her something to drink she replied, “Coffee would be great if you don’t have gin.” I digress, sorry.
The last interview of the day was with a young woman in her early to mid-twenties. She was running late, but had called to tell me her bus was held up in traffic. She had literally run the three blocks from her bus stop and was winded when she arrived at my table. After breathlessly introducing herself and taking the seat I offered, she apologized for being late and said, breathlessly, “I guess I shouldn’t have run.” I told her it was not a problem and asked if I could get some coffee for her. She declined and said, “Since we’re out here, and I assume those are yours (Pointing at my cigarettes) it’s okay if I smoke.” I assured her her it was, and reached for my own cigarettes. After lighting up, she handed me her paperwork and said, “Thanks, I wouldn’t want my lungs to get too used to clean air or anything.”
I’m pretty sure she’ll get the job.