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The Seeker Part Ten: This Must Be the Place

Written By Written by William Reagan | May 18, 2017

The recruiter at the creative staffing agency had assured Nathan this job was a perfect fit. It was his first time working with the agency, so he refrained from joking, “Another one?!” In Nathan’s experience, the Venn diagram of the supposed candidate/client culture-fit was never remotely close to concentric circles. In some cases, the overlap included little more than the dress code.

But as this interview wound down, he was surprised to feel like the recruiter might have been right – it did seem like a good fit. When he recognized his own excitement, he immediately tried to control his emotions. There are too many variables in the equation to feel confident about the early returns. He’d walked away from other interviews feeling optimistic, only to learn in the post-mortem of subtle frictions that had eluded his notice in the adrenalin-fog of the interview.

He expected the same would happen after this one, so he didn’t put too much weight on his easy rapport with Erin, the VP of Marketing. Yes, she’d used the phrase “that’s exactly what we’re looking for” – twice – but that might just be a verbal tic, like the way someone says “it was the funniest thing ever” about every story they recount.

To quell his creeping elation, Nathan reminded himself that the interviewer never wants the candidate to think it’s going poorly. If she’s a pro, she wouldn’t let on that he’d missed the mark on a critical response, inadvertently cussed, or committed some other invisible faux pas that would prove to be a deal-breaker.

As they left the conference room, Nathan prepared to thank her for her time and emphasize his interest in the job, but as he reached to shake her hand, she said, “While you’re here, I’ll show you around, give you a feel for the place.” Nathan silently reminded himself that she might do the same for every candidate. It wasn’t proof the interview had gone well.

Nathan smiled. As a copywriter, he appreciated using the right word at the right time, and sometimes, that word is a curse. If she swore, maybe it was okay if he’d cussed himself during the interview.

As they walked, Nathan scanned the office. Unlike many of the corporate offices he’d worked in, the décor was eclectic, even erratic, like a dinner table set with mismatched plates. The desks resembled those in the pictures of Nathan’s dad’s office from the 70’s, and probably cost a fortune in the post-Mad-Men era. Erin stopped where six people were having a spirited conversation. There was one empty desk. As she began to talk, her phone rang.

“Shit, I have to take this one,” she said, holding up one finger. “Less than a minute.”

Nathan smiled. As a copywriter, he appreciated using the right word at the right time, and sometimes, that word is a curse. If she swore, maybe it was okay if he’d cussed himself during the interview.

When Erin turned away, he pretended to read a poster-size infographic, but he was really eavesdropping on the conversation happening at the desks. He was surprised to hear a woman arguing the merits of Soul Coughing, a 90s band that Nathan loved. He was less surprised to hear several arguments against them, as he was used to that at his current job. He was impressed that they had a democratic process for choosing work music, and amused that it seemed to work about as well as the national democracy.

Erin pocketed her phone and swept her arm across the room as if she was showcasing what was behind Door #2. “So this is us.” She quickly told Nathan their names, then pointed at the empty desk. “That’ll be your desk.” Nathan assumed she’d simply forgotten to add, “if you get the job,” so he warned the group he would likely be tipping the scale in favor of Soul Coughing. Two of them groaned, while the band’s primary proponent said, “Hire him, Erin. He’s obviously qualified.”

As they all talked, Nathan couldn’t shake the feeling that he was having a first day of work discussion, not an interview. Instead of general overviews, they discussed pending projects, even describing certain clients as if to give him a head start on his assimilation. The conversation was so fluid that Nathan had to resist the urge to sit down at the empty desk.

Was it possible for a job to be a perfect fit? Nathan always had to endure something, whether it was continual chatter from the next cube, a rampant infection of the Dunning-Kruger effect, or just some dipshit who insisted on calling him Nate. But what if there wasn’t any of that? What if it was just collaborative people, in a comfortable space, doing interesting work? It was surely too early to know if this was the place, but Nathan had a sense that the circles on this culture-fit diagram had a whole lot of overlap.

Eventually – he’d lost track of how long they’d been talking – Erin announced, “I have to get on another call.” She whispered to Nathan, “Make sure you keep your phone on tomorrow,” then said louder to the group, “Say goodbye everyone.”

With flash mob precision, all of seven of them said, “Goodbye everyone.”

Nathan was finally comfortable admitting to himself that the interview had gone well.

 

By day, William Reagan is a mild-mannered marketing copywriter stealthily sneaking clever wordplay into the most corporate of collateral—but at night, he’s a creative mischeivian bent on taking the shortest possible path to profound truths and/or preposterous lies. (Still mild-mannered then, too.)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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