Late For The Job Interview - Short Story

Lilly was walking slowly along the canal. She had plenty of time. Her job interview was scheduled at one o’clock and it was only a 40 min long walk from her house.

She was almost at her destination and still had half an hour to waste. It was in her blood to play it safe and always leave early for the interview. She had so many funny situations in her life so far that she knew better than leave it to the last train or bus. Things kept happening and she actually was late for an interview twice in the past.

Once she had a hard disk failure the night before, so she neither had details of the interview location nor any contact details to her agent. She had them all in her emails though so she decided to go to her old workplace and connect to her emails there. Unfortunately the first train she could take to get her there was too late to make the entire journey in time to get for the interview by 9 am. Of course she called her agent and asked him to pass her apologies and tell them she would be late but she knew she lost points already. Who would believe in such a story!

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Another time she has got on train that would get her to the interviewing company office an hour before time, yet the train stopped in the middle of its journey and stayed in the same spot for more than an hour. Pretty unlucky but still she felt grateful that she was sitting on the train and not being the cause of it all – there was a fatality on the rail track and they all had to wait until the ambulance and other units dealt with the situation.

So she learned her lesson, it’s better to walk aimlessly around waiting for time to come than be in a rush. She took a day off for this interview and she was dreaming now about getting this job. The company was well known in the area and had a great reputation but what was extremely important, it was located in the same town where Lilly lived. ‘No more trains, busses and underground’ she was thinking dreamily. ‘Just a power walk each morning. It would be wonderful’ she thought.

Lilly felt nervous. She did her best to prepare for anything that could come her way, she dressed smart and was there way before time. Still she was very anxious as she was dreading the HR part of the interview. She knew she will have no problems with technical side, she was good at it. All in all she was working in this profession for more than ten years.

Still she hated HR questions. “What are your 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses? “ was one of the questions she didn’t know how to answer. ‘Man, I can’t be honest there, can I?’ she was talking to herself. ’If I give them real weaknesses they won’t hire me, so why do they ask it at all if someone has to find something that is not a real weakness to pass it!’ she was wondering. She didn’t like to boast about herself either so even the strengths part was a challenge for her.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time professionally” – this was another horrible one. ’What can I tell them!’ she was despairing, ‘If I say I want to do the same job they’ll think I’m not ambitious but I really like to develop software and don’t want to manage people!’ she thought. There was no real career hierarchy in a software development other than going via people management route but it wasn’t what a real coder would like. Programmers were introvert by nature and Lilly was one of them. ’Maybe I should tell them I want to be an IT director? ‘ she tried to amuse herself and ease the tension, ‘but then they will probably think I’m getting too big for my boots’ she thought with melancholy.

There was one more they usually asked and she was worried it might be the case again – “Why do you think you are a better candidate than others we interviewed?”. ‘Well, you tell me!‘ she always wanted to say. How on earth she would know. She was good but she was sure the others were too and she hated to sell herself. It wasn’t her style ‘I’m a developer not a sales person!‘ she thought with desperation when she was pondering on this question.

Lilly’s tension hasn’t eased but it was time to enter the building so she took a deep breath and went to the reception. She informed the receptionist that she was here for the job interview and the lady told her to sit down and wait for a while.

She didn’t have to wait long and she met Steve, quite handsome man in early forties. He didn’t seem too happy to see her and she found out why quite quickly. ‘We were expecting you, Lilly, at 8 am so why did you come so late? ‘ he asked calmly. ’At 8 am? I was told to come at one o’clock’ she answered with a shock in her voice. To show she wasn’t joking, she took out the printout of the job interview details and presented it to Steve. He had a puzzled looked on his face when he was reading the email. ‘Well, must be either the agency or our HR department got things horribly wrong then’ he said apologetically. ‘The trouble is Lilly that the HR cannot interview you at this moment as everyone is out for lunch so you will need to come here again in a couple of days if this is ok with you’ he said. ‘We can still do a technical part today as we decided to use this new testing kit and the machine is still available’ he added.

‘Let’s do the technical bit then’ Lilly relaxed a little as she knew the dread of HR interview was took away from her. They walked upstairs and she was sat in front of the computer. She was told that all questions can have more than one correct answer and that each answer is weighted. The obvious answers were giving fewer points than those requiring a bit more expertise, but also the obvious wrong ones would give more penalty points than those that would seem to be a little tricky. She was also warned that the test would get tougher if she would keep answering correctly and would become easier if she failed too many so she wouldn’t probably know how she was doing.

She was left alone and could focus on questions. One hour passed quite quickly but she answered all the questions and actually enjoyed herself. It was her world, tricky questions and tiny details of the computer language were the bread and butter for her. They asked her to come back in two days for HR part at 8 am. As an apology for the trouble they have promised her tests results so she would know how it went.

On Thursday morning Lilly’s stomach was in knots, the dreadful bit was coming quickly. She arrived at the company office well before time as usual and was pacing nervously outside for half an hour or so. She didn’t feel ready for those funny questions at all, but she doubted she would ever be, even if she rehearsed for hundreds years, it simply wasn’t her cup of tea.

Steve came to pick her up and took upstairs to one of the meeting rooms. Two other men were waiting there already. They have introduced themselves and strangely enough none of them was from the HR department. They closed the door and Steve started to talk. She was puzzled as she was expecting some HR person and not IT people.

Soon the mystery was explained. Steve said that tests results were outstanding. Apparently she was among the top 5 of all the people taking this test. She was quite pleased with herself but seemed like they were even more amazed as none of their own people has got similarly high score.

This interview took a really interesting turn as instead of the HR interviewing her, they were trying to convince her that the company was the best place to work and that the benefits pack they offered was really outstanding. Lilly has never been in such a situation and felt a little odd but after listening to them boasting about their company for another few minutes, she suddenly understood that they simply wanted her there. ‘They actually want to hire me! Wow!’ she thought. ‘No more commuting, no more trains and no more HR interviews’ she thought with huge relief and continued listening to them with a bliss on her face.

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Comments 11 comments

WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

I love stories with happy endings, and this one shows how we can tie ourselves up in knots over things that may not even happen. Good job. Voted up and awesome.


Ania L profile image

Ania L 5 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Good morning @WannaB :) Thank you very much for your comment :)

You are right, we worry so often about things that never happen :)

Btw I was dreading those HR interviews for so long that I have decided to learn how to deal with such questions and in the end trained to become a life coach ;) They only ask such questions and no others!


saitam profile image

saitam 5 years ago from Lisbon

Great Story, and it is funny how it ends.

Voted up and hope you continue to write.


Ania L profile image

Ania L 5 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Thanks @saitam. The best part is that it actually happened to me :) Sometimes real life creates the most unusual and unexpected endings.


SanXuary 5 years ago

MY story was not as happy. I went to an interview once and wore a new pair of dress pants. I sat down for the interview and during it they asked for my drivers licence. Standing up and reaching for my wallet I discovered my hand reaching through the torn hole in the back of my pants. Apparently the back pocket had snagged on my drivers seat and torn it wide open. I spent most of the interview protecting my assets, walking sideways and backwards from the place I imagine that I was not all that comfortable during the interview. I was never contacted again and have no idea if anyone ever knew but just maybe that was not the job for me. Enjoy the laugh and remember I never thought once something like this could ever happen to me.


Ania L profile image

Ania L 5 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hello @SanXuary, it must have been an awful experience! I'm sure you were far from feeling comfortable and not being able to focuse interview questions!

Similar thing happened to me - I talk about pants problem - but luckily not on interview, but just one day at work. Luckily my shirt was long enough to cover what had to be covered. From that moment on I always have a sewing set with me as things seems to happen even if we don't believe they may :)


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 4 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

Ania L, that was actually a 'beautiful' story. I voted it up and beautiful. I don't use the 'beautiful' tag very often.

You know, I wouldn't have thought anyone could write an engaging short story about someone simply heading for a job interview (no car crashes, no explosions)..... Anyway, your technique was/is excellent!

First, you let us know how swell it would be for Lily if she got this job, right in her neighborhood; if she got it, it would mean an easy power walk to work each morning instead of the bus or something.

Second, we find her anticipating the interview, dreading the HR part (I didn't realize there would be a second part at this time).

Third, she gets to the interview and we find there's been a bit of a cock-up with the times (turns out it was HR's fault; sorry, we can't do the HR part now because everybody's at lunch (come back in a few days); but we can do the technical part now.

Fourth, she aces the technical part and is hired on the spot without ever having to suffer the HR part she hates so much!

I'm going on like this because your writing inspires me, and you make it look so easy. But I know that it is not. For example, if I tried to write a story, right now, about walking down the block in the morning to my favorite cofee shop and having the most wonderful bagel on Earth, it wouldn't come out nearly as good (or even technically competent) as your story here.

One other thing: Lily was 'late' for the interview, but not in the way I expected, so there was a surprise there as well. But Lily captured the two things she wanted more than anything in the world at the time: 1) the job in her neighborhood, to which she could simply power walk to every morning; and 2) she got the job by showing her rather epoch stuff on the technical side (which she loved) without having to even address the HR part (which she didn't love).

Anyway, excellent execution of such a SEEMINGLY simple story.

Take it easy.


Ania L profile image

Ania L 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Thank you so much wingedcentaur for such a long and detailed comment about the story and specifically about my writing style. You really made my day :)


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 4 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

No problem, Ania L. Your work is a pleasure to read!

Later!


johnmariow profile image

johnmariow 3 months ago from Connecticut

Excellent story. Very realistic from the anxieties expressed about the HR interview to the very end when she realized they wanted to hire her. I enjoyed reading it.


Ania L profile image

Ania L 3 months ago from United Kingdom Author

Thanks! Interestingly enough I still work for this company, 8 years so far and no plans to change :)

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