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.