Friday, December 29, 2006

The Interview Pit

Imagine a room with 137 tables. 137 tables where on one side are interviewers; on the other side, you. Different versions of you, black suit, brown suit, red suit, blue suit. Looking on, waiting respectfully for their moment, nervous interviewees. Outside, more nervous interviewees wait on the narrow chairs. Compared to all those tables, the intimacy and privacy of a hotel suite with its odd protocols (call 5 minutes before the interview, not 15; don't knock until it's time) seems a positive luxury. Today, I will be interviewed at one of these tables.

Yesterday, when I was waiting for my friend who had an interview there and checking out the space for today's interview, I had the movie Trading Places in my head -- the part near the end when Louis Winthorp is showing Billy Ray Valentine the trading pit of the New York Stock Exchange. Though Louis says that in the pit "it's kill or be killed," he describes the place with admiration as something like the "last bastion of free market capitalism." As I looked out onto the interview pit, some interviewees skulking away, others smiling as they walked toward me and out the door, interviewers sitting, looking expectantly, hopefully, others looking positively menacing, I thought, "here is our process," the turnover of our profession, the older to the younger.

Though the interviewers and interviewees are separated by a table, not unlike a seminar table, somehow as I looked out into all those job searches, I felt myself part of something.

3 comments:

jessica said...

Wow. I've heard about the pit from colleagues that have been on the job market and...

I just don't think I'd be able to say anything intelligent. I worry that I'll be half listening to the people next to me, noticing other interviewees across the way, and generally not paying the kind of attention that I should due to the buzz all around.

I wonder how many people get the job because the interview went better in their preferred location (pit/hotel/telephone)...

Earnest English said...

I think the tables are far enough away from each other to prevent really being able to pick up snippets of conversation at other tables -- at least for my bad ears. If anything, the table seemed really skinny, so that I was very close to them, my materials and their list of questions between us. So I sort of felt I was in their laps, though maybe that's because I felt sort of enraptured by the excitement of the interviewer across from me telling me about the program. But it would be interesting to see how interview location affects performance. I think I would be a dork on the phone -- half of what makes me amusing to watch is that you can tune out and watch my strange much-made fun of hand gestures!

medieval woman said...

I LOVE the reference to Trading Places (one of my favorite movies) - it's SO like the Job Pit.