I was unable to find this MP3 for sale. I just keep listening to it on the Simon Bookish MySpace music site. If anyone knows where to find it, let me know.
In my 20’s, I probably had somewhere around 50 or more jobs. I really was always just trying to make enough money to get to another town or to support a creative endeavor or both. To get a job, you usually have to interview for 10 different jobs to get one job. So if I averaged 10 interviews for each job, I probably have been on about 500 interviews. I got pretty good at the whole process. I also figured out that if you interviewed a lot, even for jobs you didn’t want, that you would get better at interviewing.
For a creative person that doesn’t necessarily want a job, this is torturous. I started trying on different characters. I treated the interview as a rehearsal. During some periods of time, I would only keep a job for two weeks. Either because I really didn’t want the job and didn’t know that during the interview process or they really didn’t want me and didn’t know that because I was playing a character. After sort of finding a way to enjoy interviews by inventing a performance rehearsal for myself, being out of work became kind of exciting. Another opportunity to practice acting. In most cases, this would be the most creative and challenging part of the entire job.
I have found the persona that interviewers seem to enjoy the most is the pushy character that points out everything they are doing wrong. People seemed to like this and found it entertaining and reassuring. “This is what you are trying to do? Well why don’t you try this? Let me challenge the fundamental philosophy of what you are trying to accomplish.” People like to laugh at themselves. People like to think that by hiring you, they will do their jobs better. The funniest part of this story is that the character started off as a persona and then it turned into what I do for a living.
But there is still this disconnect between who I am and who I present to people at work or in an interview. But I do think that everyone is like this. And at that point the whole thing becomes absurd. Everyone really would rather be doing something else, but everyone has to make money somehow. So while the interview is about verifying whether a person has the skills to do the job, it is mostly about figuring out whether the job applicant can act like someone who cares about the job. For example, no one likes working with the guy that constantly points out that we are all just slaves to the system. You know! The guy that presents all of this information to everyone in the office like they had not thought it themselves and already come to terms with it. And everyone wonders how that guy made it through the interview process. Because the interview process is supposed to weed out people that don’t fit well with the team. And most team players know how to act like they care about the job. And really, this caring about the job business, is probably the most important part of any job.
Leo Chadburn is Simon Bookish. And this song quantifies the absurdity of the interview. Sitting in a meeting room with a long conference table. Even if it’s not that imposing, it’s still some kind of meeting room and you have never been in it. Someone comes in and asks a series of inconsequential questions that really don’t get to the heart of who you are or what skillset you have mastered. Not to mention, this interviewer doesn’t want to be doing this job either. So they just make notes and appear to care about what they are doing.
“She sits down next to me
I forget who she is immediately
The questions she asks are very vagues
I forget them too
I mumble vague responses”
But I have had some fun in interviews. After a while, you learn to figure out when you don’t want the job. So once you recognize that part, you can do whatever you want in the interview. And this song reminds me of that:
“Leo, which British Monarch do you most identify with and why?
I reply, with conviction, ‘Queeeeeeeeeen Victoria!’”
I love how the music captures the spirit of the interveiw. I usually am very tense even when interviewing someone else. And I have problems with anxiety. I have an anxiety attack in almost every interview. I am very good at hiding it. So the music gets really frenetic right at the point where I would start to lose it in an interview. And there’s this whole automaton feel to everything. Like we are all just robots submitting to the scrutinization process. Why do you want to work here? I will make something up now because the reason I want to work here is that I need money. His moment of honesty toward the end “Queen Victoria!” is even presented in this awkward robotic sound. The interviewee malfunctioned. The whole thing rolls off with these sort of David Bowie theatrics. The disjunctive noise that breaks up the music just adds to this. I kept looking around for more information on the song, because I have a feeling it’s part of a larger musical piece but it stands on its own for me.
It isn’t that we don’t want to work. It’s that we would find other ways to be productive if left to our own devices. Hats off to those people that are doing exactly what they want to be doing. But in all the jobs that I have held, I have come across too many examples of people doing something other than what they truly want to be doing with their day. Most of us get through our day with the satisfaction that comes from putting in a day’s work. And even doing a job you don’t like can be partially fulfilling in that way. But I love how this song presents the absurdity of our interactions when we are bringing people together to do a job. The interview! The ultimate excercise in irony.