An Interview With an Asshole

I came into the job market as a recent college grad in what was without question one of the worst times to be a entry level young professional with limited experience. It was the middle of the 2008 recession and the United States had not been in as bad of shape economically since the great depression. Despite having a few years of sales experience under my belt, finding entry level work was very challenging. I got creative with my job search and ended up networking with a few alumni from my college fraternity who set me up for an interview within a day.
The company was a smaller operation a few miles from my house and seemed to have all the ideal qualities of a place I wanted to work at. The pay looked good, opportunity for growth was there, and they even encouraged a casual dress code. I already had a man on the inside, so all I needed to do was nail the interview and I had the gig.
My interview was originally going to be scheduled for the day after St. Patrick’s day but the responsible alcoholic in me knew I’d never make it to an interview with a St. Patrick’s day hang over so we bumped it up one day to have it on the morning of St. Patrick’s day at 10:30 with a guy named “Geoff.” I showed up right at 10:30 due to the lack of parking which set me in a bit of panic when I first arrived. I put it out of my mind knowing a minor glitch like that wouldn’t stop me from getting job if they liked me.
I was dressed to kill in a 3 piece pin-stripe suit, shined black leather shoes, face shaved, hair looked perfect, etc. Shortly after introducing myself to the receptionist I was sitting in comfortable chairs filling out paperwork. I was two thirds the way through the packet they asked me to fill out when the secretary said, “Geoff will see you now.”
I realized just at that very moment that the man I was interviewing with didn’t pronounce his name “JEE-OFF” but in fact he just spells “Jeff” very poorly. Prior to that day I had never met a person named “Jeff” that spelled it as “Geoff.” A huge wave of relief had come over me as I walked into Geoff’s office. It appeared I had dodged a fatal bullet or two already.
The receptionist led me to the back of the office and down a hallway to a closed door. She knocked quickly and I heard a man with a deep voice say, “Send him in!” from inside.
I thanked the secretary and walked into Geoff’s office confidently. Geoff was a tall serious looking man with bright orange/red hair. I smiled as I extended my hand for a handshake.
“Good to meet you sir, I said shaking his hand then grabbing a seat in the chair in front of his desk. Happy St. Patrick’s day by the way.”
Geoff’s head cocked to the side and his eyes squinted. “I beg your pardon?”
“Today is St. Patrick’s Day, I had assumed by your hair and your name that you were Irish.” I said explaining with a half chuckle.
“I’m married.” He said looking sternly at me as if I had offended him.

I came into the job market as a recent college grad in what was without question one of the worst times to be a entry level young professional with limited experience. It was the middle of the 2008 recession and the United States had not been in as bad of shape economically since the great depression. Despite having a few years of sales experience under my belt, finding entry level work was very challenging. I got creative with my job search and ended up networking with a few alumni from my college fraternity who set me up for an interview within a day.
The company was a smaller operation a few miles from my house and seemed to have all the ideal qualities of a place I wanted to work at. The pay looked good, opportunity for growth was there, and they even encouraged a casual dress code. I already had a man on the inside, so all I needed to do was nail the interview and I had the gig.
My interview was originally going to be scheduled for the day after St. Patrick’s day but the responsible alcoholic in me knew I’d never make it to an interview with a St. Patrick’s day hang over so we bumped it up one day to have it on the morning of St. Patrick’s day at 10:30 with a guy named “Geoff.” I showed up right at 10:30 due to the lack of parking which set me in a bit of panic when I first arrived. I put it out of my mind knowing a minor glitch like that wouldn’t stop me from getting job if they liked me.
I was dressed to kill in a 3 piece pin-stripe suit, shined black leather shoes, face shaved, hair looked perfect, etc. Shortly after introducing myself to the receptionist I was sitting in comfortable chairs filling out paperwork. I was two thirds the way through the packet they asked me to fill out when the secretary said, “Geoff will see you now.”
I realized just at that very moment that the man I was interviewing with didn’t pronounce his name “JEE-OFF” but in fact he just spells “Jeff” very poorly. Prior to that day I had never met a person named “Jeff” that spelled it as “Geoff.” A huge wave of relief had come over me as I walked into Geoff’s office. It appeared I had dodged a fatal bullet or two already.
The receptionist led me to the back of the office and down a hallway to a closed door. She knocked quickly and I heard a man with a deep voice say, “Send him in!” from inside.
I thanked the secretary and walked into Geoff’s office confidently. Geoff was a tall serious looking man with bright orange/red hair. I smiled as I extended my hand for a handshake.
“Good to meet you sir, I said shaking his hand then grabbing a seat in the chair in front of his desk. Happy St. Patrick’s day by the way.”
Geoff’s head cocked to the side and his eyes squinted. “I beg your pardon?”
“Today is St. Patrick’s Day, I had assumed by your hair and your name that you were Irish.” I said explaining with a half chuckle.
“I’m married.” He said looking sternly at me as if I had offended him.

“Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s day, it’s a big thing in my family anyway. My last name is Ryan and we’re proud of our Irish roots. I usually celebrate the day with friends and it’s generally good time by all.” I explained affably at first then having to force a smile by the end due to the awkward position he had put me in.

“I’m assuming you don’t have to work tomorrow then?”

“Well yes, I’m not actually working tomorrow, No.” I stammer.

“Which is it, yes or no?” He said writing something on my resume then looking up at me.

“I’m not working tomorrow.” I reiterated feeling puzzled. This already hasn’t gotten off to a good start.

Clearing his throat and shaking his head as if I had just said something majorly ignorant, Geoff looked me up and down and said “Let’s move on.”

As the interview continued I realized my sense of humor and personality were not going to earn me any points. I knew my best bet was to stick with using my smarts to impress this guy and maybe win him back. We talked about my work history for a bit then transitioned into what his company does.

I’ve always known the best way to show that you’re a good listener is called “reflecting.” It’s when someone says something and you repeat it by changing a few words and re-arranging their statement a bit, and then send it right back with a few extra bits of your own flavor; reflecting. A simple example, if someone says “I went to the beach this weekend.”

Your response would be something to the effect of, “So you went to where the water meets the land, how was it?”

Geoff reclined fully into his chair, “What can you tell me about our company?”

I pause for a moment, “I understand your company works very similarly to eBay but it’s for the government.”

Geoff looks, “That’s it? Let me tell you a little more about our company here. This company works like a federal contractor version of eBay. Essentially the government puts out projects they want to get done and in order for them to be fulfilled/contracted out, the government needs to show the public that it had more than one bidder on the project. It lets the people know that the government isn’t playing favorites and it helps them get a better deal. Our company runs a website that allows other companies and contractors to bid on smaller government contracts and projects.”

I tried my best to summarize what he said and then asked him if they did anything in the way of a rating system similar to what eBay has. That way you’re able to say whether or not a company did a good job and would be recommended for a second project. It might be good to know if a company completely botched a job.

He stared at me blankly for a moment then said, “I never said anything like that. What did that come from? That has absolutely nothing to do with what my company does or what I’m talking to you about. Were you even listening to what I said?” Then he shifted his eye brows as if to say, “what’s your excuse for being a retard.

I was shocked. I rarely encounter assholes of this nature especially in a professional setting. But I do know this game. This is a game in sales when someone inserts language that makes for an awkward pause the first person who says anything loses control. I lock eyes with him and shift my eyebrows to mirror his expression. It’s called the first one to speak loses and I was ready for a good old fashion showdown. He was clearly no stranger to this game as he glared at me while shifting his eyebrow expression to an intense scowl.

I couldn’t believe this guy had the gall to insult someone that doesn’t even work for him so nonchalantly during a job interview. If this is going to be the guy I’m working for, I didn’t want this job. Kicking it into high gear, I maintained eye contact as I shift my chin upward and tilted my head slightly back while flattening my lips. I wrinkled my forehead and shifted one eyebrow upward to give the expression of you are an unbelievable piece of shit right back at him.

We were in a full-on eyebrow wrestling match. His expression would change and I’d change mine as well. We sat there exchanging expressions in silence back and forth for 20 seconds. It seemed like minutes had gone by but I held strong. It was obvious this guy isn’t going to say anything for the rest of his life if it meant he was going to lose to an arrogant little shit like me. This was an ex military man with too much pride. I found out letter they called him “Colonel” around the office.

Finally, hardening my stare while I loosen my legs I sat all the way back in the chair and kick my right leg up and onto my left knee. I slowly folded my hands together to rest on top of it with a satisfied look. I give him a I’m pleased with myself grin and then calmly said straight faced, “I don’t know what you want to say.”

“Well alright,” Geoff said. “We have your information and we’ll let you know within a week if you’ve got the job.”

I start laughing, “Yeah sure, thanks!” I said sarcastically standing up shaking his hand with an iron grip shaking my head still laughing.

Geoff looked even more puzzled now than ever, I turned and exited his office. I stopped and paused for a second in the hallway. I took a step back and poked my head through Geoff’s open door, “Happy St. Patrick’s day!” I said again with a wink and smile.

Geoff squinted at me with fire in his eyes as I pulled my head back into the hallway and walked out the office a little bump in my step. Knowing full well I would not be getting that job EVER, I found myself drinking a green beer at a bar with old friends putting on a fake Irish accent a mere 20 minutes later.

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