Oh, Wait — So You ARE the Boss of Me?

Funny - Darcy ConfusedSo then…my boss says those four words that signal I have officially arrived in The Corporate World — even though I am only 23 years old: “You can hire staff.” I’m so excited! I’ve spent my whole life hustling for jobs and taking on more and more responsibility and work – and now I get to hire someone to help ME!

Now granted, “staff” implies multiple employees and my boss means just the one. And that employee will help me AND the whole department. And that employee will actually be a college student summer internBUT STILL! My very own staff!

I myself have just graduated college last year and already I get to hire someone! I’m ecstatic! I’m so overwhelmed with my workload, often working evenings, so I can’t wait to… (shudder of anticipatory delight) … to DELEGATE.

So HR sends me some resumes of outstanding college sophomores and juniors looking for great internships to beef up their resumes. I’m fairly certain the kids (yes, I can call them “kids” now – I AM 23, for Pete’s sake) will consider this summer internship a plum assignment since we are a Fortune 500 company located on Park Avenue in New York City – AND our internships are paid!

I begin the interviews with confidence that the kids will be tripping over themselves to snag this job.

College Junior Tom’s interview is going very well – good grades, great referrals — then he tells me, “I can write stuff and work on projects, but I don’t want to copy things – or run errands – or be, you know, a ‘gopher.’”

Huh? I furrow my brow at Tom.

I quickly explain to him, “But you DO know that in Latin, intern means ‘gopher,’ right? That’s why we hire interns – to do all the work we don’t want to do. If it was fun, interesting, challenging work, we’d do it ourselves.”

Huh? Now Tom furrows his brow at me.

So then, I interview College Sophomore Clara. And I love her! She’s outgoing, perky, and seems very competent. Clara seems like the kind of can-do gal who can do!

I like her so much, I throw her a softball question: “What’s your greatest strength?”

I figure her answer will be something like “I learn fast, work hard, and I can write, research, plan events — whatever needs to be done!”

But instead she says, “I think my greatest strength is managing people.

Huh? I furrow my brow at Clara.

She’s applying to be an intern, for God’s sake. That’s the lowest head on the totem pole. In fact, it’s not even ON the totem pole. It’s a small head – like a shrunken head – NEXT to the totem pole, LOOKING at the totem pole thinking, “Oh, I hope one day I get to be ON that totem pole.”

But her greatest strength is managing people?

I say, “Um..OK. But how would you feel about taking a summer job where you manage NO ONE – but you are managed by EVERYONE?

Clara says very confidently, “Oh, that’s OK. When I joined the French Club at the beginning of the school year, I was just a member — but by the end of the school year, I was the President of the French Club!”

I pause and say soothingly as though talking to a mental patient with a tinfoil hat, “Um…OK, but you do realize that at the end of the summer internship, you probably won’t be the President of our company, right?”

Clara shrugs imperiously, as though to say, “Well, maybe not by the end of summer.”

I figure that the last thing I need is an intern who wants to boss me around – for God’s sake, I want to do the bossing!

So I interview a few more people — and I find Susan who turns out to be ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS – qualified, smart, hard-working, and with a great sense of humor. It’s a good thing too – I’m more likely to crack jokes than crack the whip anyway!

— Darcy Perdu

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(Have you ever received some surprising answers from candidates during your interviews? Or have YOU given an odd response to a prospective employer that you wish you could have taken back? Any fun summer internship stories? Share in the Comments!)
Funny - Oh Wait - So You ARE the Boss of Me

The Snap Heard ‘Round the World

I'm nervous enough on this job interview, and now he insists on a Japanese-speaking sushi restaurant -- things go hilariously downhill from there! #funny #interview #sushi #humor

So then…he says, “How about sushi?” and I respond enthusiastically, “Sure!” – because how could I not? He’s the interviewer and I’m the interviewee.

Even though I’m 25 and live in Manhattan, my experience with raw fish dining is severely limited, since I was raised mostly down South where we prefer our meals cooked, battered, and deep-fried.

However, Ted clearly loves authentic Japanese fare, since he’s ducked into a dim-lit little restaurant whose patrons are all Japanese, except us, and whose menus are all in Japanese with no English subtitles. There are pictures though — and I desperately look for something that appears to have collided with flame at some point.

We sit at the counter. There are a few tables, but all in all, it’s a pretty small place. Ted passionately describes how fresh the fish is, how inventive the chefs are, and how the restaurant is so genuinely Japanese, the staff doesn’t even speak English. It’s clear he enjoys the cosmopolitan aura.

When the sushi chef comes over for our order, Ted lets loose an impressive list of exotic Japanese names for various raw fish.

I point to the picture of the chicken teriyaki.

While we wait, Ted asks about my current position, education, and interest in changing industries. I try to appear intelligent, dedicated, sophisticated, and witty.

He’s about 10 years older than me and has been working in the field I’d love to join, so I have lots of questions for him too.

When the meals arrive, Ted gleefully surveys his colorful platter of bite size sushi and deftly begins plucking away with his chopsticks.

My chicken teriyaki is in one large piece. It has not been pre-cut into thin little slices.

There is not a fork in sight. Nor a knife.

A quick scan of the restaurant confirms that no one here is using a knife and fork – and that such a request of the sushi chef would probably result in deep shame, loss of honor to family, and possibly hari-kari.

I’m too embarrassed to mime “knife and fork” to the chef, so I gamely pick up my chopsticks and try to corral the chicken into my mouth, while simultaneously answering Ted’s interview questions.

I manage to spear some thinly-sliced cucumbers which appear to be garnish, but I still can’t make any headway with the chicken. Finally I stab the chicken with one chopstick and start sawing off a piece with the other chopstick. I manage to make a little progress, but then suddenly, the sawing chopstick snaps in half with a deafening “CRACK!”

Time stands still.

Everyone in the restaurant turns toward me, sees my broken chopstick held aloft, and every self-respecting Japanese person shakes their head, rolls their eyes, and whispers “Gringo” to their companions. OK, maybe not “Gringo” literally – but whatever the Japanese word is for “dumdum Yankee who can’t even dine properly; someone bring her a Big Mac.”

I feel like such a hick. I turn bright red, but Ted, without even skipping a beat, just picks up another set of chopsticks and hands them to me, while continuing his next interview question.

I am so relieved! What a prince!

We finish the interview – I even manage a few bites of the chicken – and we walk back to his office. I collect my briefcase, hand him a clean copy of my resume, and thank him for the interview.

He smiles and says, “Yeah, it was really fun. Maybe we could have dinner together some time?”

This takes me by surprise. I was trying to exude the “please hire me” vibe – not the “please sex me up” vibe!

I shoot a look at the photo on his desk with his arms around a woman and two young kids.

I say, “Yeah, that’d be great. Will your wife be able to join us?”

His face falls and his eyes narrow. He’s trying to decide if I’m being deliberately obtuse or if I’m just genuinely naïve.

He coughs and murmurs, “Um, she doesn’t get into the City much.”

I want to say, “Well, I guess not, since you’re so busy dating.” But I hold my tongue.

I just smile cheerfully and tell him I look forward to hearing from him about the position.

I don’t get the job.

I do, however, learn to use chopsticks.

And I also learn to more nimbly thwart unwanted advances from current or prospective employers.

I find that a slightly regretful expression, combined with a heartfelt, “Oh, my fiancé’s so possessive about my evenings” is a fabulous face-saver for the colleague. It shuts down future invitations since I’ve just informed them of my pending nuptials – and it allows them the delusion that if it were not for my jealous fiancé, they would totally have a shot with me.

The only problem occurs if you get the job and after a while, someone asks why your fiancée doesn’t ever attend the company parties – in which case you’d have to consider hiring a fake fiancé for the events which is, of course, a rom-com in the making. So do that.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Can you share a story about an embarrassing dining experience? A job interview gone wrong? A boss or interviewer who asked you out?)