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Madeleine Begun Kane

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For a job applicant, an interview is to be sought, then dreaded, then endured. And managers rarely relish interviews any more than the trembling supplicant on the other side of their desk. So it's probably just as well that people can't read minds. If they could, most interviews would be aborted within 45 seconds:

INTERVIEWER: Good morning Mr. Jones. I'm so pleased that we've finally had a chance to meet. (This loser's been clogging my voicemail and email with desperate messages.)

APPLICANT: It's a pleasure to speak with you. (She's been dodging my messages for weeks. I'll never get this job.)

INTERVIEWER: George Smith recommended you highly. So naturally I reviewed your resume and gave you a call. (George is an idiot. Why is he wasting my time with this jerk?)

APPLICANT: I've known George for years, and he's very familiar with my work. (George is an idiot -- a well-connected idiot. And if he weren't my wife's brother, he wouldn't give me the time of day.)

INTERVIEWER: So tell me something about yourself. (He must be a relative. God I hate this job.)

APPLICANT: Well, ---- I have a highly diversified background -- everything from computer programming, to teaching, to sales. (One of these days I'll find something I'm good at.)

INTERVIEWER: Which of those fields best reflects your skills? (Just what we need around here -- another jack-of-all-trades.)

APPLICANT: Well, ---- I'd say I'm equally strong at all of them. (I hate them all. Why do I keep saying "well"?)

INTERVIEWER: Z Corporation takes pride in having well-rounded employees. (The only thing well-rounded about our employees is their derrieres.)

APPLICANT: I do feel that my broad range of experience allows me to see the big picture and enhances my ability to function pro-actively. (She'll never buy this. I don't even buy this.)

INTERVIEWER: That sounds very interesting. Why don't you tell me about your last job? (What crap. He's too sleazy even for sales.)

APPLICANT: I was the Northeast Sales Manager, responsible for directing a sales force of seventeen. Unfortunately, my position was eliminated as a result of our acquiring a large competitor. (One with a sales force that actually sold.)

INTERVIEWER: What do you feel you took from that experience? (I'll bet the only thing he took was their customer list.)

APPLICANT: I developed managerial skills including how to evaluate manpower, delegate tasks, and allocate responsibility. (Three martini lunches and their customer list.)

INTERVIEWER: If you had to name your greatest strength, what would that be? (They all claim strong interpersonal skills.)

APPLICANT: Well, ---- that's a tough one. If I had to name just one, I suppose it would be strong interpersonal skills. (There I go with that "well" business again.)

INTERVIEWER: And your greatest weakness? (I wonder if he'll pick "perfectionist" or "workaholic.")

APPLICANT: My perfectionism does get me into trouble sometimes. And I have to fight my workaholic tendencies. (More like alcoholic tendencies.)

INTERVIEWER: That's very interesting. (Bingo.)

INTERVIEWER: I see you've worked for four companies in the last 18 months. Were all your terminations the result of downsizing? (I can't remember the last applicant who was terminated "for cause." Everybody's afraid of lawsuits.)

APPLICANT: Yes, I'm afraid this economic downturn has been tough on white collar workers like me. But a growing company such as yours is perfectly positioned to benefit from my skills and maturity. (I sure hope George has as much influence as he claims. Otherwise I'll never be able to afford the divorce.)

INTERVIEWER: What kind of position are you looking for? (If George makes me hire him, I'll quit.)

APPLICANT: Well, ---- I'm flexible, of course. But the ideal position would both use my talents and skills and provide the kind of challenge that would grow me as an employee. (Something that pays well, isn't demanding, and has a fancy title. I sure wish I knew how much clout George has.)

INTERVIEWER: That's good to hear. (If he says "well" once more, I'll shoot him.)

INTERVIEWER: Are you presently considering any offers? (Fat chance!)

APPLICANT: Frankly, I've been targeting my job search to a few select firms such as yours. (Fat chance! I've been rejected or ignored by everyone within a fifty mile radius.)

INTERVIEWER: I see. Is there anything else you'd like to tell me about yourself? (I just love being lied to.)

APPLICANT: Only that I'm hard-working, a team player, and that I'm eager to make whatever contribution I can to your firm. (Will this interview never end?)

INTERVIEWER: Is there anything you'd like to ask about Z Corporation? (Please don't.)

APPLICANT: I think George has me pretty much up to speed about Z Corp. (What's the point of asking?)

INTERVIEWER: Good. But you may not be aware that many of our sales employees do their paperwork at home via computer hook-up with headquarters. How would you feel about that kind of set up? (It's either work at home or be stuffed into a two-by-four box like me.)

APPLICANT: Whatever's best for the company is fine by me. (Now we're talking four martini lunches.)

INTERVIEWER: We don't have many jobs available right now. Would you consider a trainee position on our software sales force? Not that I'm in a position to make you an offer, just yet. (Please say no, so I can tell George you turned me down.)

APPLICANT: I'm ready and willing to consider any and all offers from a company as respected as yours. (Damn that George. Next they'll ask me to sweep the floors. I must have sounded too desperate.)

INTERVIEWER: I'll be glad check our job slots against your credentials and see if we find a match. (I'd rather set fire to his pathetic resume.)

APPLICANT: Thank you so much for your time. I've enjoyed exchanging ideas with you. And I'm certain my references will confirm everything I've told you. (I hope they're better liars than I am.)

INTERVIEWER: It's certainly been a pleasure speaking with you. I'll be in contact as soon as I have an opportunity to touch base with your references. (They'll think I'm a lawyer when I get through cross-examining them.)

APPLICANT: Thanks. I really appreciate your time. (I'll never hear from her again.)

INTERVIEWER: You're very welcome. And lots of luck to you. (Boy, will he need it.)

APPLICANT: One last thing. When may I expect to hear from you? (I won't hold my breath.)

INTERVIEWER: Give it a week or two. (Don't hold your breath.)

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