Do you really want that job?
A guy is glaring at you across a table, asking a lot of impertinent questions.
He wants to know why you want to work for the company.
You can’t say it’s because you “really like paying rent and eating every day”.
That’s because you’re both caught in the “stupid dance” that is the job interview.
A new play will open in April at La Mama for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival that explores this “antiquated and unnecessary process”.
James Hazelden is eminently qualified for the position of playwright and director. He’s been on both sides of the interview table and still works in an office.
The Job Interview takes that experience and turns up the heat, bringing together a manipulative manager who “has swallowed the Kool-Aid for corporate speak and sounds like a mission statement” and a real person who needs a job.
When the 50-minute interview spirals out of control, it is based on James’ own experiences and stories he has collected.
In an interview with Inner City News, the playwright outlined some of his ideas about the crippling culture of the corporate sector.
Many managers, he said, were promoted because the company didn’t want to lose them, but they had no management skills.
“A lot of managers are dreadful, toxic, needy and strange,” he said, with some “freeze frozen” since 1992.
Then they get behind the interview table and this is their chance to make it hard for innocent applicants.
In James’ own worst experience, going for a job with a local council, the interviewer asked what he would do if he didn’t know something.
“I said I knew the guy in the job, and I would ask him. ‘Yeah, but what else?’ he asked. I said I would check the internet. ‘Yeah, but what else?’ he asked again. Eventually I said I would reach out to other people.”
“He looked at me and said, ‘Well we got there in the end.’ The idea of working for that guy made me ill.”
James said there was no need to humiliate interviewees or figure out ways to rev them up in an interview. “It would be nice to just be nice.”
The Job Interview is James’ fifth play at La Mama. He got his big break in 2016 after winning a Short & Sweet award and the theatre backed him for a new work at that year’s Comedy Festival.
“That gave me confidence,” he said. “The play went well, and I’ve done it every year. I felt so supported.”
In The Job Interview, James claims to have created his most evil character in Alex, the interviewer who doesn’t just stop at psych testing.
The Job Interview, La Mama HQ, April 11 to 16. •