Prologue: The Interview
“Hello, may I speak with Ms. Scuterburg please?”
“This is she,” Elaine responded sternly while scowling. She had half a mind to hang up, as the number was not saved on her phone, and lately, she’d been bombarded with telemarketer calls.
“Hi Ms. Scuterburg, my name is Hope and I’m with a company called BioOrg, you recently applied for a position at our company.”
BioOrg? Elaine didn’t remember applying for that company. Although to be fair, she had been spending an obscene amount of time applying for every single open position. After a while, all the companies resembled each other, and all the job descriptions welded into one. Sometimes she’d apply for the same job twice having not even realized she applied the first time.
“Hi Hope, thank you for giving me a call,” she responded with a much milder attitude, and fingers crossed.
“I’m calling today to do the initial phone screening, if all works out well, we look forward to extending you an invitation to interview on-site. So do you have a few minutes available right now?”
“Yes! Yes!” Elaine shrieked excitedly into the phone.
“So, tell me a little bit about yourself?” She began.
“My name is Elaine Scuterburg. I graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s of science in Chemistry with high honors. I have extensive internship experience in various fields. I also enjoy learning new techniques and working in a supportive work environment. Overall, I’m a great team member and love working in large groups on projects for the further advancement of any company and my knowledge base. I look forward to being an integral asset to your team at BioOrg.”
Hope seemed impressed with Elaine’s initial response and continued with the customary set of questions. She inquired about her strengths and weaknesses and asked all the questions that Elaine had answered a million times before. It seemed that Hope was just merely writing down the answers and was indifferent to the actual content. All in all, the call took about twenty minutes with Hope hanging the customary carrot of: “if the hiring manager likes the responses you gave then we’ll give you a callback.”
Elaine, however, wasn’t holding her breath, she had been through this so many times, often with no callbacks. Yet, her thoughts were interrupted when she got a call back after only thirty minutes letting her know that they expected her for an on-site interview at 8 am the next day.
Elaine hung up and began running around the apartment like a headless chicken. She had to hold her breath and dive into her closet to find her black interview suit and a white button-down. Her apartment was small and cramped and the closet was better suited for a five-year-old. Finding one thing seemed to take forever. But she couldn’t settle for just slacks and a button-down, she wanted to look perfect. This interview was important, BioOrg turned out to be a biotech company and one that sounded very promising. She was also low on money and needed a job so desperately, preferably one that didn’t involve flipping burgers.
It was already 6:00 AM and as usual, she had awoken as soon as she heard the click before the alarm went off. She rushed through her morning routine and examined herself in the mirror again. Teeth were sparkling white, hair pulled up in a ‘professional’ looking bun, the plain black suit hung perfectly, and she was finally ready to go. She touched her neat hair one last time in hopes that the movement would somehow stop the bun from sagging by the time she got to the interview. Some would say that Elaine was blessed with thick long hair and mesmerizing curls that seemed to always reflect glints of the sun’s rays. Yet, she never saw her hair as a blessing, she much rather thought of it as an untamed force of nature.
So she said her prayers and began heading over to the small Honda sedan awaiting her in the parking lot. As expected, she hit up traffic as soon as she entered the freeway. She had figured that leaving her place at seven gave her just enough time to make it there on time. Yet, she could still feel the anxiety building up as she stared at the long line of red tail-lights ahead of her. She was yet again reminded just how much she hated driving in Houston, having moved a lot during her life, the lack of public transportation was quite irksome. Houston did have its perks though, mostly the fact that there were more jobs available for people with degrees like hers.
Elaine couldn’t dwell on the topic though, she had to focus on positive thoughts and being able to carry herself over as well as she possibly could. So, she did what was sure to put her in a great mood. She turned on her internet radio and was shamelessly singing along at the top of her lungs as she was stuck in traffic. It worked perfectly and her nerves began to settle.
She had finally made it, parked her car hurriedly, and began making her way into the building, checking in with the front desk lady. She pointed to a lobby area on the right to which Elaine walked taking a seat on one of their black leather chairs. Anticipation began building inside of her and she could feel the butterflies begin to form. Not before long, other people began aggregating in the lobby, all of which were dressed in suits. They must be there for the interview as well, Elaine thought to herself.
Her agony did not last long, as a man passed through glass doors, which led straight to the lobby. He was about six feet; wearing a black suit that looked overly ironed, to the point the edges were stiff, almost unnatural looking. He had a blank face as he called about twenty names from a list he was holding. Elaine shot up upon recognizing her name and, along with nineteen others, followed him through the glass doors into a large room. The room looked like it was designed for grandeur meetings. There was a large rectangular table stretched out in the center of the room with twenty-four chairs surrounding it in a circular fashion. The chairs and the table seemed to swallow up the room in its entirety. Other than that, the walls were empty and white, with the exception of a large flat-screen TV on the farthest wall.
The man in the suit motioned for everyone to take a seat, so all the attendees scrambled to the closest chair, fumbled around pulling them out, and sat down. The level of anxiety in the room was palpable with everyone peering at their neighbor wearily as if to say ‘you’re going down.’
“Welcome, we are glad that you all were able to join us and look forward to sharing some information about BioOrg with you. If you could all face the screen we can begin.” The interviewer stated.
He turned and faced the tv and turned it on. Immediately the BioOrg logo popped up on the screen and a lady came on and began to explain the company goals, and harp on all that the company had accomplished. By the end of the propaganda video, every single person felt that it would be an honor if they were selected to work at BioOrg.
Then, to everyone’s relief, the stern-looking man left the room. There was an unnatural coldness about him that seemed to disappear with him. After a few moments, a man in his sixties walked in. He was wearing a lab coat and had an air of knowledge around him. His white hair was neatly combed and not a single hair was out of place. He looked like he might have been a heartbreaker in his twenties. He had hazel green eyes but there was a coldness there that sent shivers up Elaine’s spine.
The man introduced himself as Mr. Rutherford and continued to talk about the company saying “As you saw in the video, BioOrg is an organization that specializes in biology and chemistry and their uses in our everyday lives. All of you currently sitting here on this table have been handpicked to further advance this organization. We could actually care less about your social skills, we simply need people who have brilliant minds and will be able to solve our current issues or invent new techniques. Does anybody have any questions?”
Brilliant minds, Elaine felt a sense of pride, she was glad someone finally looked at her GPA. She had graduated top of her class and worked hard to keep an almost perfect GPA. Often sacrificing time with my friends and family, forcing herself to study. All the other companies had turned her down because she didn’t have any ‘soft skills,’ as they referred to it.
She felt the time had come to show off what her brilliant mind concocted. She had tried to do her homework on the company and a question had been gnawing at her. Figuring she might as well ask, she Raised a shaky hand and waited patiently until he gave her a nod. “How come I’ve never heard about BioOrg even though I know your company strives at improving human life, I even tried to Google the company so I can be prepared for today’s interview, but my search results were futile?”
The man looked impressed at the question and answered “that is a very astute observation Ms. Scuterburg. Actually, we don’t improve people’s lives in terms of products and such. Our research is in the field of human genomics, DNA, and fighting diseases such as cancer, AIDS, and the like. Most of our work is funded by the government and is top secret, thus it results in our lack of presence in search engines such as Google.” Elaine was surprised he even knew her name but she was satisfied with his answer. She had always dreamed of finding the cure for cancer after seeing so many die as a victim of the disease.
Mr. Rutherford continued with the usual group interview questions of introducing oneself and such. He then told everyone he would contact us again by the end of the day if we passed this level. Then as awkwardly as everyone had entered the room, the interviewees made their way to the door.
As soon as Elaine walked out into the sunlight, she could feel a wave of relief rush over her like a weight had been on her shoulder and had been lifted. Even she was a bit surprised at how great it felt. The worries of the interview faded into history and she stood there with the sun gleaming down on her olive skin relishing in the warm heat that seemed to embrace her.
She drove home, heated the last package of instant lasagna, and curled up on her couch eating and waiting for the phone to ring. Hours passed and still, no one called. She was starting to get worried. It seemed that the more she waited the slower time was passing. Then suddenly she was startled by the phone ringing. She immediately sprang up, sending the empty dish flying on the floor and she dashed towards the phone.
Her ‘hello’ was faint and sounded like a scared kitten, but then there was a pause “hello!” the voice boomed back at Elaine.
“May I speak to Miss Scuterburg please?”
“This is she,” she replied with her fingers crossed.
“I am Mr. Rutherford’s secretary and he would like to inform you that you made the cut. No further interviewing is necessary and you will start off with a salary of $80,000 a year. Are you willing to start tomorrow?”
Elaine was in a stupefied state, she forgot to answer. All she could think of is that she can finally afford things again. That salary was way more than she expected for an entry-level position. Elaine could finally take her social life off hold and actually go out with friends without worrying about finances. She could almost see the fireworks erupting in celebration inside her tiny apartment.
“Hello?” The voice broke through the trance and brought Elaine back down to earth.
“Oh yes, I’m sorry I was just shocked, yes I definitely accept the position. Thank you! Thank you very much.”
Elaine hung up and resumed her daydreaming. She knew that her life was about to change. A part of her was questioning how she managed to get the job so easily, but the relief at being employed and the sheer salary drowned out all of her worries and reservations.