Chapter Two – The Interview and The Cavemen

Alice thanked the receptionist for welcoming her and quickly  followed her up the carpeted stairs.

Resume, check. Portfolio, check. Just breathe, check.

Nodding profusely, Alice took a deep breath and smiled as the  receptionist proceeded to cram the entire history of Cave Inc. during  their thirty-second trek up the stairwell.

“We’ve just been through this acquisition and I hear talks about      re-branding. So I said, honestly, the logo on the door, I really can’t wait for them to redo it. It’s kind of an eye sore.” She prodded on and on about the decal on the windows, the abstract art hung up on the walls and automatically lowered her voice as they passed through the hallway.

Alice looked around observing the corporate landscape around her, she noticed that her stilettos made a hollow knock with each step she took. The green carpet had now turned into a grayish plastic tile that reminded her of the linoleum in her grandmother’s house.

Around her she saw several employees who were actively engaged in their work environments. No one looked up from their computers and double flat panel screens. She heard the clickety-clack of keyboards and the brewing of the coffee machine across the hall. The silence was so loud. One gentleman walked around with his blue tooth headset and seemed to be reciting code in a foreign language in a barely discernible whisper. She smiled at him as if to acknowledge a hello and he seemed to stare right though her.

She thought to herself. Hmm. A little anti-social here are we? Cave didn’t seem like her kind of company at all. No one even wanted to say hi.

In the hallway, she could see the production warehouse through the glass windows that lined the top half of the floor. Workers were steadfastly filing boxes with papers and shuffling about their day.  Her eyes drifted back into the hallway and she stared again at the man in the headset wondering if he even noticed that his hair was caught underneath the headband of his earpiece, no dice. It looked like he was wearing a toupee.  They passed another group of cubicles before they got to their destination, another group of people staring mindlessly at the work in front of them. She wondered why these people looked so stoic. Then she thought,  it must be the acquisition. It felt like morale was sucked out of the room and tossed into a capsized Tupperware bowl.

She heard a deeper hollow knock that indicated footsteps approaching. A lady in a grayish brown cardigan sweater made eye contact with the receptionist as she effortlessly tied her dirty blond locks in a matching  grayish brown scrunchie. This lady looked like she was about in her early forties, frazzled and a bit disheveled. Her eyes were piercingly blue and her walk was hurried yet paced. She smiled and reached out her hand to greet Alice.

” Alice McQueen, meet Terri Mayland. She’s our HR Manager,” the receptionist stated with glee. Before she could thank her for the introduction the receptionist turned and bobbed back down the long hallway and disappeared into the stairwell.

Alice smiled and shook Terri’s hand.

” A pleasure Ms. McQueen, can we get you some water? Coffee? Tea?”

She seemed too hurried to be hospitable so Alice assumed that Terri may have been running on auto pilot all morning. She knew for a fact that Terri was in back to back meetings with candidates all day from what the receptionist was telling her earlier.

“No thanks. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, tea isn’t really my thing either, and I’m afraid water will make me want to pee real bad.”

Alice’s eyes widened in horror.

Oh my goodness, did I just say that?

Luckily, Terri was too busy trying to open the sliding door to the office to notice the latter part of her comment. Relieved, Alice shook her head no and entered the office.

It reminded her of a fishbowl.

The office was one she had never seen before in all her years of working in the Corporate setting. Instead of the standard maple doors and brushed aluminum handles she was used to, the door to the office was a sliding door. She felt as if she was in a greenhouse with all of the green carpet that covered the office wall to wall; Alice was sure the sliding door had something to do with her association to the greenhouse.

Aside from the green fishbowl they were meeting in, and the numerous stacks of paper on the cherry wood office furniture, she was pleased to see that her interviewer looked as if she was having a good day. There was something terribly odd about the office though, it looked as if it was inhabited by three or four people simultaneously with all of the random artifacts, books and binders scattered all over.

“Let me just get your resume out here.” Terri clicked on her mouse while scanning her computer screen.

“Oh, I printed out a copy for you.”

“Thank you Ms. McQueen, that gesture will certainly save us some time. I can’t seem to print to the office printer for some reason.”

“Please, call me Alice. Have you checked your IP settings? You may not be connected to the server.”

Terri smiled, “I haven’t the patience with technology today, yesterday or any other day. I just expect for it to work.”

Alice seemed baffled by Terri’s comment. She was sure she had heard this come out of her mother’s mouth before.

She heard Terri humming while she scanned the document in her hands. Terri carefully glanced at Alice’s attempt to cram her work experience and educational credentials on one sheet of paper. She saw Terri’s eyes navigate through the document and linger for a second on the top left hand corner. Alice knew Terri was looking right at the picture that she had put on her resume, next to her contact information. She didn’t say a word.

I hope she liked that picture. It definitely makes me stand out.

Terri put down the resume and suggested they get started.

The interview continued on like normal as Terri described the position and told her a bit about how she had also just started at Cave only a couple of months ago. It didn’t take long for Alice to realize that Terri filled the position that she was trying to get Brandon to give her the order for a while back. She asked Alice all of the normal questions, open-ended, close-ended, behavioral and the like.  You name it, Terri asked it. Alice found that as the interview continued she grew more and more comfortable. It was more like a conversation between two people rather than a one-way exchange of information usually leaving the candidate nodding and “overselling” themselves. Something about this was very normal. Aside from the conversation taking place in a proverbial fishbowl, Alice was feeling more and more confident as the minutes passed by.

It lasted about an hour and a half as they talked about her experience, what her goals were, where she went to school, how it aligned with the company goals. Terri even explained to Alice that this role would be supporting the re branding and integration of the current company culture of the very office headquarters they were sitting in. The job sure sounded like interesting and challenging work and Alice was up or all of it. She did after all major in HR, and this seemed like a great place to hone her skills and bring her head knowledge about the topic to life. All of the necessary evils during the job interview were covered and Terri and Alice seemed to be off to a great start.

At the end of their conversation, Terri explained what would happen for next steps and somehow even threw in some conversation about her son who played hockey and their crazy travel schedule in the last year. She noticed that Terri kept a good balance of connecting with employees though revealing just enough personal anecdotes about herself. This affirmed Alice’s conclusion that Terri would be a great boss to work for.

Oh, I get it, Terri is a hockey mom! She quietly thought to herself. Alice knew these types of women were cut form a different cloth. Terri was an absolute dynamo, intelligent, outspoken and very very pleasurable to be around.

“So Alice, any other questions for me?” Terri was smiling now.

Alice couldn’t help the inquisitiveness on the tip of her tongue. So she asked.

“Just one. I’m curious, what’s with the silence out there?” Alice pointed to the sliding door which had plain view to the entire second floor. She tilted her head slowly and chuckled, a group of people were now huddled around a fellow co-worker’s cubicle ranting and cheering as if they had all just discovered fire. It sort of reminded her of something cavemen would do.

Terri scoffed at her question and delivered a very genuine remark.

“That’s the IT department.”


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