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Early in 2002, the employees of my job were notified by the higher-ups that the economy was not great, neither was business, and that not only were we not getting any raises this year, the company might be cutting all of us back to 20 hour work weeks (meaning half pay). And if that didn't help, they might have to start layoffs.
Needless to say, I started looking for a new job.
In September of 2002 there was a posting for a job at a Virginia State office, where my wonderful wife works. It seems that they had an IS employee leave and they needed to fill the position. They have a policy of trying to "promote from within", so the job opening was emailed to all of their employees. This is how my wife found out about the opening.
Around October 1, since no one internal to their had applied for the position, they opened the job to outside applicants. Since my wife had known about the job ahead of time, I had already prepared a resume and application for the position. The cutoff for applications was October 15, so I waited until then before I expected any kind of response.
A week later I received the "we have received your application, and we are reviewing..." form letter. You know the letter, the one that seems a carefully worded letter that kindly indicates "you have nothing to offer us, so we threw your resume in the trash. Have a nice day". So I waited for the call!
I waited a week. Nothing
I waited another week. Still nothing.
After three weeks of hearing, you guessed it, nothing, I put it out of my mind. I figured that I had heard the last of it, and maybe Burger King was hiring (their uniforms always seemed so sharp).
Two days later, the State folks called me at work. Good morning, Mister Pungo, this is Mrs. Personfromthestate, can you talk to me right now? Sure. Can you come in for an interview next Wednesday? Sounds great, see you then.
Wednesday comes around, and I head to the interview. Now, I'm notoriously nervous in interview situations, because you're sitting there trying your best to not look like an idiot, and your looking for acceptance (you know, like on a first date). I arrive at the State office and head to Human Resources. "Good morning, Mister Pungo, nice to meet you, here is some literature describing the position and our benefits package. If you will have a seat and read these, the interview board will be ready for you shortly".
"I'm sorry, did you say the board?"
"The interview board, yes."
"Great. Thank you". Shit.
This is the part where I really start to freak out. Having an interview with one person is enough to cause hives. I sit down and start to nitpick myself to death. Why wait for the "board" to do that, right?
Some of you may not know, but back in August of 2002 I had to have emergency surgery to remove a gall bladder that had gone gangrene. Well the jacket that I was wearing for this interview had been purchased prior to my surgery. Since the surgery, I weigh about twelve pounds less. Although I'm almost certain that my gall bladder did not weigh that entire twelve pounds, my stomach is a decidedly different size. What a difference twelve pounds makes. At least in this jacket. This thing could now close around me enough that if you moved the buttons, you could make a double-breasted jacket out of this thing. Oh great, I look like I stole a jacket from the Big and Tall shop.
One of my socks has bad elastic, and keeps falling down. I have white dog hair (from our Westie) all over my pant legs. I pulled my hair back for this interview, but I know that my long hair is going to offend someone. My shoes didn't look this dirty when I put them on, did they?
And on and on and on.
They let me beat myself up for about twenty minutes, and then they called me in to the room. To meet The Board. I'm about to be "gang interviewed". Queue music that inspires a deep sense of dread.
I'm led into a room with three people, where one gets to ask me the "touchy-feely" questions, one gets to conduct the "technical interview", and one gets to ask questions about my past jobs. At this point, a thin bead of sweat begins to form on my top lip, and I feel like I need a cigarette. And I'm allergic to tobacco, if this gives you any idea of how desperate I'm beginning to feel.
The touchy-feely questions are first, and each time I answer a question for interviewer #1, interviewers 2 and 3 make notes in their notepads: why are you applying for this position; what do you consider your biggest strength; what do you consider your biggest weakness. How do you answer that one, without giving them a reason to not hire you? "Well I have a horrible temper, and I once killed a co-worker for touching my desk toys". Now a small patch of sweat is beginning to form in the small of my back.
The technical interview portion is next. I manage to write a bit of SQL script that the guy likes, but I can't remember the name of a Combo Box ("well, it's kind of like a text box, but it also has a drop-down list of items to select from. It's a combination of the two..."). Interviewers 1 and 3 make notes. At this point I'm hoping for a massive coronary to liberate me from this madness.
The "past job experience" portion is next. What did you do at your last job? Why did you leave? What do you do at your current job? Why do you think this will be a good position for your skills? "I don't know. It seemed like a good idea at the time". Is my nose bleeding?
After the interview, I drive home with thoughts of turning on the gas when I get there. Unfortunately, we have an electric oven. I just can't catch a break today. Needless to say, I had written off the whole thing. No one could possibly want to hire me after that interview.
Three days later, the phone rang. I had a new job.
Man, I knew that I had nailed that interview.