Note: This is posted “as is”, no editing or proof reading involved, as part of the 30 Shorts In 30 Days project. During April I will be attempting to write and post a new short story everyday.
It is said that the secret to a good workplace is that everyone there not only don’t hate each other, but that they like each other. In an average working week a person will spend forty hours at work with their colleagues. Which doesn’t sound too bad, until you also find out that they spend fifty six asleep. There are only one hundred and sixty-eight hours in a week, which leaves seventy-two hours for things like commuting, eating, washing and socialising. It’s estimated that on average people spend four hours a day with their loved ones during the week, so that even with weekends helping to tip the balance, almost more time is spent with your work colleagues than with your significant other.
So it is understandable that when looking for new members, time and care is taken to make sure that the selection is right for both parties. To this end, lots of research hasn’t been done on how best to do this. Instead, over time, one of the most socially awkward, terrifying situations two or more people can be placed in has developed; the interview.
“So, tell me Mr Bradley, what do you think you can bring to this position?”
Connor was prepared for this question, he’d been asked variations of it at all eight interviews he’d had so far this year, and it was only March.
“The main thing I think I may be able to bring, is a fresh perspective on things, a way of looking at the daily problems that are encountered and solving them without recourse to tried and tested, textbook techniques, that may not be best suited to this particular company.”
“Ah yes,” the woman interviewing him replied. “It doesn’t mention on your c.v. any particular experience or training in this industry.”
Well, yes, there was that. Connor was pretty certain he’d never done this sort of job before, he would be very certain but he still wasn’t quite sure what they did. The advert was full of buzzwords and non-speak, and even sitting down with a thesaurus, he’d not been able to figure out what the job title actually meant.
“No, but I’ve found that certain skillsets gain through experience in the field, whilst difficult to learn are easily transferrable,” he replied.
“Oh, such as?” The interviewer asked.
“Well, the soft skills mostly. Knowing that when office hours are nine to five, that means to be at your desk at nine, ready to work. Not to turn up around nine and start the day with a half hour chat in the staff kitchen, or to start winding down around four so that by five o’clock you’ve already got your coat on and are half way down the stairs. Also knowing that in an organisation where there is no receptionist, it’s everybody’s job to answer the phone, and how to take a message properly, and make sure it’s passed on to the person who needs it,” Connor explained.
“That’s all well and good Mr Bradley, but how do you see yourself being able to transfer those skills to urban gardening?”
“The job you’ve applied for is as an urban gardener, have you ever done any gardening?” The interviewer asked.
“I’ve managed to keep a cactus alive for a couple of years,” Connor replied hopefully.
“I’m sorry Mr Bradley, but without any knowledge or experience in this field I’m afraid I can’t employ you. To be honest we brought you in for an interview because the job centre makes us take a certain amount for each post, and, well we were curious as to why someone with no obvious connection would want to apply.”
The other secret to a good workplace is that every member of staff is capable, and competent in doing their job. And, Connor realised, this wouldn’t be a good place for him to work.