Since I’ve put in a considerable amount of effort into looking for a job the last few months, I’ve been on a few interviews. Most were your standard job interview where I was required to list my strengths, weaknesses and where I saw myself in five years.
This interview was a little different, mainly because it started out as a really good interview. I am pretty good once you get me in a room and talking. I was being interviewed by two of the staff and it was flowing well; I had even made them laugh a couple times. The company was a commercial real estate firm with a small staff and they were looking for someone with the right experience, but they were also looking for someone they thought might fit into the company culture.
So, everything is going well and I’m at the point where I think I may have a shot at this job. Then the president of the company walks in and sits in on the interview for a few minutes. My resume is passed to him and he’s looking it over as the three of us continue talking. As I’m talking about the two years I spent overseas, the president interjects with the following question:
You’re not a terrorist, are you?
It’s one of those moments I wish my brain could have kicked into gear and given some smart-ass retort and I thought of a couple of doozies on the way home:
Only in the morning before my first cup of coffee.
No. Usually I get the term, feminazi.
No. You’re not a Republican asswipe are you?
Pretty sure the last two would have ended the interview right then and there. Unfortunately, the question so threw me off guard that I could only respond with, “Ummmm…no.”
Oh, and the information on my resume that prompted that question? Under the list of responsibilities from my job working at a local CHRISTIAN magazine, I had put that I was in charge of the “social justice” section of the magazine. The president stated that he was just kidding and left the interview shortly after, but it definitely changed the tone of the interview. Instead of talking about my work experience and what I could bring to the company, I was asked how I handled “people with different types of humor and different views?” I took that as code for, “Will you freak out at politically incorrect jokes, that might include racism, sexism and homophobia?” I couldn’t imagine having to face that question and possible workplace culture if I was Muslim or a WoC. In the end, I told the interviewers that I gave as good as I got. They seemed satisfied with that answer and the interview concluded shortly thereafter.
I didn’t end up with a job offer and it’s probably for the best. I may have taken the job because I need the income, but based on the interview, it probably wasn’t going to be an environment I felt comfortable in. So, live and learn and have witty comebacks ready at all times.