The knock on my office door interrupted my review of job applications. I looked up to see a member of our staff laughing. “What’s so funny?”
“Job applicant call for you on line one.”
Our want ad specifically said No Phone Calls. “We’re not taking calls on this job opening.”
“You’ll want to take this one. The guy asked to speak with Mister Tomato.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. I’m used to people mispronouncing my last name, but this was the best one yet. I decided to have some fun with this person and answered the call. “I’m sorry, Mister Tomato is in a meeting. Would you like to speak with Ms. Cucumber or Mister Avocado?”
If you’ve ever been in a position to hire someone, you’ve no doubt had an eye roll moment. I’ve had several. They range from bizarre things on resumes to weird wardrobe choices for an in-person interview.
You know that old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have?”
A lot of people don’t even dress for the job they want. Case in point, the guy who showed up in the Goodwill fall collection, wearing ratty jean shorts, an old t-shirt and sneakers. He sat across from my desk and wiped his brow. “I just cut the lawn.” Wow, sorry this job interview played havoc with your yard work. Not dressing for success seems to be a problem with young men, who need to learn about this new-fangled invention called a steam iron so that they don’t look like they slept in their shirts.
Then there are the people who apply but honestly don’t want the job. I had one application that looked good: the right experience, a well-written cover letter. But the guy lived far away so I started with a phone interview. He picked up the phone after several rings. “Uh… hello.”
No energy in his voice. Sounded like I woke him up. No problem. I introduced myself, adding that I was calling from Arkansas.
“Oh. Well… I really want to work in Florida.”
Game show buzzer! Wrong answer!
Checking the social media posts of job applicants became a great tool for thinning the herd. Of course, young people will scream, “That’s private!” Yeah, good luck with that. Every manager who wants to avoid a potential headache does this. One applicant who looked promising had posted several photos of himself passed out in a drunken stupor. Game show buzzer! And one young lady shared her accomplishment of having a bit part in a movie. One problem, it was a porn movie. Big-time game show buzzer!
Once I got down to the shortlist, I invited people in for a face-to-face interview. Normally I could figure out within five minutes if the person was right for the job. But since this was a newsroom, I added a little twist called a “current events test.” Twenty questions that anyone who read a newspaper or watched a newscast on a daily basis would easily pass. Some politics, sports, finance, pop culture. Nothing terribly difficult.
One woman had been a good interview so I put her at a desk and handed her the test. She furrowed her brow as she looked at it. “Why do I need to know current events?” Oh, I don’t know, because this is a NEWSROOM!
Then there are the people who write, in all caps, RESUME, at the top of a resume. Gee, I had no idea what this sheet of paper was, so thanks for clearing that up. I actually saw one woman who had her dress size listed on her resume. Another included 8 x 10 shots of herself in a bikini. (One of our young, single male staffers said, “Hire her!”)
Finally, cover letters contained all sorts of mistakes. Along with my last name changing to Tonto, Toronto, or Titanic, I remember one that stood out. The letter was well written and the applicant seemed like someone who could make the shortlist.
Until it got to the end. “I look forward to meeting you at your conveyance.”
I waited all day at my car, but she never showed up.
Randy Tatano is the author of more than 20 novels, writing political thrillers under the pen name Nick Harlow, and romantic comedies as Nic Tatano. He spent 30 years working in television news as a local affiliate reporter and network field producer.