Recently I applied for a job at BYU and I got called in to interview for it. I was excited about this because I applied for this same job a couple of years ago and got a dismissive email almost immediately. It's a fairly competitive position—the pay isn't great but it comes with free room & board and a benefits package. so that kind of makes up for that, plus a large chunk of the "working hours" are "on call."
Everybody wants this job.
Needless to say, I was pretty excited to get an interview. It kind of made up for being rejected so quickly the first time I applied—and I was also excited to actually have a shot at getting the job. After the interview, though, I wasn't so sure I wanted the job so when they called last night and said, "We made up the list for second interviews and you aren't on it, but thanks for coming in to interview," I answered rather enthusiastically, "No, no, thank you."
Andrew was like, "What's up?"
And I was like, "I didn't get the job, isn't that awesome?"
The interview was, to put it politely, the most peculiar interview I have ever had. Ever. And I've had several.
I was called into a room and introduced to a panel of three people. That part was completely normal.
Then they asked me a series of yes/no questions and I kept wondering how I could answer the questions in a way that would exhibit my finer qualities—you know, take the floor a little, offer some stellar PAR stories, control the interview. Unfortunately, no matter how I mulled and moiled on how to expound upon my answers the questions were hopeless close-ended.
"Can you commit to working 40 hours a week?"
"Do you have a problem carrying a cell phone with you while you are on-call?"
"Will you be able to provide child-care for your children 10 to 15 hours per week?"
"Are you willing to become an expert on resident life at BYU?"
(See me attempting to expand my sentences? I did a good job.)
"Will it bother you to have your sleep disturbed by student parties and such?"
"No. I'm pretty used to..."
"Are you willing to live by and encourage students to follow the honor code?"
I stopped trying to expand my sentences by this point because, well, obviously they weren't going to answer to anything longer than a one-syllable utterance.
That barrage of questions eventually ended and we moved onto role-play. They "love role-playing." I know because they told me so. With those exact words.
The first situation was pretty normal. There was a guy with a tongue-ring and, since body piercings are against the honor code, I had to convince him to take it out. I thought that scenario ran pretty smoothly. I am a thespian...or was...seriously. I won the improv contest in my drama class in grade nine. Does that count? It doesn't matter. At this point I still thought the interview was relatively normal. Hypothetical situations are not foreign in interviews.
The next situation they gave me was...a little different. There was this girl who liked to crawl around on all fours. At first people thought it was funny but soon everyone begins to be a little weirded out. She insists on crawling into "floor meetings" and will rub up against peoples' legs, meow, and insist on being scratched behind the ears. Sometimes she will lick her hands and smooth her hair. Basically, she likes to pretend to be a cat. What do you do?
I'm pretty sure I cocked my head and blinked my eyes a few times to communicate, non-verbally, the words screaming through my mind: "Are you serious?!"
"Well," I started, and then paused. "It's obvious she's in need of some extra attention and that she needs help knowing how to behave in intimate situations—like living in a dormitory—away from her home environment. I think I would talk to my resident assistant about assigning this girl some 'friendship-dates' with other girls on her floor so that she can get to know the girls and they can help guide her socially."
"Thank you," my interviewer said, "We'll visit this scenario later."
He then asked me a few normal questions, like, "What's a project that you've completed recently that you felt was challenging?"
So I told them about raising money for a well in the Central African Republic and running a half-marathon because, let's face it, both of those things were hard things. (And! As of today I passed the $2500 mark so my goal of earning enough money to fund half a well is complete! Though it wasn't at the time. Maybe that's why I didn't get the job...)
After a few other normal questions we got to the point of the interview where we were supposed to revisit that other scenario. Only they didn't tell me that in so many words. Instead our exchange went something like this.
"Alright, so, pretending you're fulfilling this position, there's a knock at your door. It's me. I'm angry."
Then the interviewer proceeded to yell at me.
"THERE'S A PROBLEM IN YOUR BUILDING! MAYBE YOU'VE HEARD ABOUT IT!"
"Perhaps. Can you tell me about this problem?"
"THRE'S A GIRL ON MY DAUGHTER'S FLOOR WHO ACTS LIKE A CAT AND I WANT HER GONE. TODAY!"
"Oh, yes. I am aware of that problem. We've been working with her."
"WELL, YOU HAVEN'T BEEN WORKING HARD ENOUGH! SHE'S A NUTJOB! SHE LICKED MY DAUGHTER. MY DAUGHTER CAN'T STUDY OR SLEEP BECAUSE SHE'S SO STRESSED OUT ABOUT THE CAT LIVING ON HER FLOOR. THIS IS NOT A PET STORE; THIS AN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION!"
"Is your daughter a roommate to this girl? I've talked to her roommates and none of them seemed overly concerned. In fact they were all anxious to help her."
"I DON'T CARE WHO WANTS TO HELP HER. I DON'T WANT HER ANYWHERE NEAR MY DAUGHTER. SHE NEEDS TO BE LOCKED AWAY SOMEWHERE. SHE DOESN'T BELONG AT BYU—I'M PAYING GOOD MONEY TO HAVE MY DAUGHTER LIVE HERE AND I DON'T NEED SOME WHACKO CREEPING HER OUT!"
"As far as we know this problem is isolated to the dorm—she acts like a human in her classes—so we've been working with her to teach her how to behave in a more acceptable manner here."
"THAT'S THE PROBLEM: I DON'T WANT HER HERE. MY MONEY IS WORTH MORE THAN THIS—I AM PAYING TO HELP MY DAUGHTER FEEL COMFORTABLE BEING AWAY FROM HOME. THIS GIRL HAS GOT TO GO."
"This girl is also paying for her right to be here."
"I DON'T CARE. I'M A LAWYER AND I HAVE CONNECTIONS AND IF SHE'S NOT GONE BY THE END OF THIS WEEK YOU CAN EXPECT TO HAVE A COURT SUMMONS IN THE MAIL. I KNOW MY RIGHTS."
"At this time I don't feel comfortable moving this girl out of her room. As I said, we've been working with her and I don't think it would be good for her to upset her social surroundings just when we're beginning to make progress. I can move your daughter to a different floor if you'd like..."
"MY DAUGHTER ISN'T THE PROBLEM. MAYBE YOU'D FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE DISCUSSING THIS IN COURT IF YOU CAN'T FEEL COMFORTABLE EVICTING THIS FREAK!"
"Sir, you are obviously very upset about this but I am sure we can work out a solution that you would find satisfactory. Perhaps if we allow her to stay until the end of the semester—we only have a few weeks left—and then shuffle things around. We can also suggest to her that she attend sessions at the counseling center to help her work through this."
Then my interviewer cleared his throat and said, "That's enough."
I feigned exhaustion and pretended to wipe sweat off my forehead, "Phew! That was one angry dad."
"Well, you'll get a few of those in this position."
"Yes, I imagine so."
Then they asked my what my "ideal community" would consist of. It's possible that the lyrics to the state song ran through my mind. Or at least the first line since that's the only part that I know. I am pretty sure I fumbled through this answer simply because I didn't want to accidentally break out in song.
Utah! People working together.
Utah! What a great place to be!
When the interview was finished I shook hands with everyone and thanked them for the opportunity to interview and they said they'd let me know by Thursday if I needed to come in for a second interview.
My first thought after leaving that room was, "That was...weird."
I wasn't upset about not being called in for a second interview, not in the slightest, because, after that first interview, I'm not sure I could work with those people. They were a little...weird.