The following is a one-act play I wrote in college for a playwriting competition.

It didn’t win.


Acing the Interview: a presentation

by Angela Webber

Once Upon a Weekend Submission

Fall 2009: Oct. 18

Acing the Interview: a presentation

NARRATOR (NAR) (male/female): Authoritative, cocky, speaks in a very presentational way (almost fake, but not quite). Wears nice, but not office-professional clothes: perhaps khakis.

PROSPECT/JEFFREY (P) (male) is lovable, sympathetic, but changes throughout the scene according to the narrator’s description. Dresses in a very professional suit.

HIRING MANAGER/ANDY (HM) (female/male) is reasonable, but strict, professional.

FAMLY MEMBER (FAM) (female): dressed obviously unprofessionally (revealing dress, logo t-shirt, tie-dye, or something), this person is the mother/compassionate father of PROSPECT.

FORMER EMPLOYEE/JORDAN (silent character): (male/female) out-of-work programmer: messy (has been in a basement eating Cheetos for days, possibly weeks). Sloppy nerdy/pocket-T t-shirt, cargo shorts or equivalent

INTERIOR, OFFICE, DAY. HIRING MANAGER and PROSPECT sit across from one another at a desk, such that it is obvious PROSPECT is interviewing for a job. There is a door behind the desk to stage right, through which actors can enter and exit. There are papers on the desk, including PROSPECT’s resume and a list of questions the HIRING MANAGER is asking from and making notes on. Also on the desk, a phone, other basic office supplies, a computer monitor or similar prop. PROSPECT is dressed professionally, but in this portion has his shirt untucked so he looks a bit sloppy. NARRATOR sits forward on the stage, close to the audience, so he/she can walk in front of the action. When he is not speaking, NARRATOR watches the scene unfold behind him.

(fade up from black, en media res.)

P: (nervously, with lots of far-too-long pauses) …and though I don’t have experience with Photoshop specifically, I’m sure I could learn it quite quickly, since I, um, have been to college and can learn, things, very quickly.

HM: (skeptical of Prospect’s ability to do the work, but doesn’t want to be mean as Prospect is obviously nervous.) I see. That’s great! Here’s my next question: How have your previous positions provided you with the skills relevant for this position in our marketing department?

P: Well, it would be great if you hired me. See I’m… have… a marketing degree, and I can do marketing excellently. Please?

(lighting switch to focus on NARRATOR)

NAR: Hohoho (expected, fake laugh…) I bet you could see what went wrong THERE. Hi. I’m Mr. Anderson, and I’m here to help. The truth is, most people sabotage themselves in their first job interviews. I’m here so you don’t have to be “most people.” Jeffrey just demonstrated one of those typical “rookie mistakes”… don’t show your weakness! They can smell it! Hohoho… I’m just kidding…. of course. Let’s watch another scene… and see how it goes this time around. Let’s try a little more confidence, Jeffrey!!

(lighting switch to focus on DESK: PROSPECT now has his shirt tucked in and looks much more professional as a result. He now has a briefcase on the floor next to his chair.)

HM: Why are you interested in this position?

P: (with great confidence) Thanks so much for that question, Andy. Let me tell you—I think a position in the marketing department of your fine company is an important step in my career. Frankly, can I be honest? (HM does not react, P goes on quickly) – I’ll be honest, I don’t think I should take this job. But in this economy, there are so few Marketing Managerial or CEO positions that are in solid form… I think I’m going to have to start at the bottom, and I mean not just because your company is so small and relatively insignificant, but the position…(looks at pocket) Is that me? (takes cell phone out of pocket) Oh, hold on just a second, Andy. (answers phone) Hey doll—no, it’s fine, it’s fine of course! I’m going to have to give you a ring later, alright?—Yes I’m doing great… as always. Hahahaha! (hangs up the phone.) Now, where was I? Ah yes…

(lighting switch to focus on NARRATOR)

NAR: Oh no, Jeffrey! Now you’ve gone too far! Never lose your professionalism! So… so far we’ve learned that you need to strike that balance: show your confidence without being cocky. But the interview is more than just how you talk…. It’s also what you say. Let’s try that again, and this time you try to spot everything that goes wrong.

(lighting switch to focus on DESK: PROSPECT is now wearing a fedora)

P: I’ve always admired the work your company does, providing decorative houseplants to orphans in underdeveloped nations. I, like you, understand that it’s the small things that really make a difference in the lives of children. And that’s why I would embrace an opportunity to work with you.

HM: (smiling, really liking this interview) I appreciate that. One final question: Why should we hire you, out of all of the candidates for this position? What makes you a particularly ideal choice?

P: (to self, at first) Why should you hire me… why you should hire me… (raises voice, stands up, begins a musical song-and-dance number, HM is freaked out a bit) Why you should hire me? Oh, Why you should hire me! My name is Jeff and I’m a qualified guy – I’m a real team player and a real fast learner, oh! the reasons you should hire me…

(lighting switch to focus on NARRATOR)

N: Did you catch it? That was a tricky one… but important. Never sing songs or perform dance routines without being asked. (to audience) Of course, you won’t make all of these classic mistakes in your interview—not after this presentation! Hoho. Remember, it’s good to display your talents, but sometimes you can go too far! Make sure to gauge the feel of the room before you stand to perform, and remember that the volume of your voice should reflect the size of your audience. This next scene is the last one. There are at least 3 things wrong… try to see if you can identify all of them! (NARRATOR may exit the stage at this time)

(lighting switch to focus on DESK: PROSPECT is now wearing flip-flops and drinking loudly, but not arrogantly, from a slurpee/equivalent. There is now a big “Less Than Jake”/equivalent sticker on his briefcase.)

HM: (kindly hinting that prospect is not going to be offered the position.) So… Jeffrey. Jeffrey, Jeffrey—thanks so much for coming in to interview for this position.

P: I was afraid that was going to happen.

HM: Ah… yes? What?

P: (voice increasing in volume, as he calls someone from the next room)

Yes. And I think there is something you and I could discuss. Seriously. Isn’t there.. (shouting)

(enter FORMER EMPLOYEE, who for the rest of the scene does not speak, but looks quite pleased with him/herself for being empowered to ‘stick it’ to his/her former employer.)

HM: J… Jordan? What… what’s going on?

P: Yes, Jordan. You remember him. You laid him off, two months ago. Well, that wasn’t a very good idea, was it? Jordan was your network administrator. Jordan left himself a back door. (FORMER EMPLOYEE takes a floppy disk/CD/USB stick out of his pocket and waves it menacingly.) Jordan can bring this company down right now. He has already started transferring your money into several private Swiss bank accounts. He knows how to disable your security system. (rising intensity of speech, excitement. HM is FREAKING OUT. FORMER EMPLOYEE is quite proud.) He knows every little shortcut and every mistake this company has made in the past 15 years, and he knows which governmental department to report to. You’re over, Andy… you’re over. Because Jordan here can bring you down. He’s dangerous. He’s powerful. (PROSPECT and FORMER EMPLOYEE share a meaningful humorous nod). And he’ll do it… if your shoddy HR practices treat me the same way they treated him.

HM: What is WRONG with you! You’re insane!

P: I’m insane? Me? You’re insane! You’re too scared to hire me because I interview poorly, have some typos in my cover letter, and can’t demonstrate competence in marketing or any related field, from previous employment, educational transcripts, or basic questions. Really? ME? I’m insane??! Well now you have no choice, do you?

HM: (PROSPECT, throughout this speech, affected by the criticism… beings to whine/eventually breaks down to a sobbing cry, interrupting HM, who nevertheless continues his beratement. Jordan looks disgusted.) No… I suppose I don’t have a choice… There is no way I can offer you a marketing position. Or any position. You have no practical experience. You should have gotten an internship during college, or… I don’t know… created a portfolio? Gone to class? Listened to your teachers? What have you been doing? How do you expect to be employed? And now you’re trying to BLACKMAIL me? Really? This company has more lawyers than your little action-movie-watching brain can even comprehend.

P: Waaaaa!!! But I wanna have a job!!! Mommy….

(FAMILY MEMBER bursts through the door)

FAM: Oh, Jeffey. Poor wittle Jeffey… I heard you crying from the waiting room… do you need a tissue, baby? (wipes the tears off of PROSPECT’s face with a tissue from her purse) Mommy loves you. Did this mean man tell you you couldn’t work here? (turning to HIRING MANAGER)… you should be ashamed of yourself. Look what you’ve done to him. Jeffey is a positively brilliant boy. He can do anything he sets his mind to.

HM: I’m sorry, ma’am, but I can’t offer him…

FAM: Well then… he doesn’t want to work here anyway. Do you, Jeffey? (taking PROSPECT’s arm and leading him toward the door.) We’re going to find somewhere nicer for you to work, Jeffey. And you can just live in your old room in the house until you find a job. (walks out the door, yelling back at HM) Goodbye, Mr… Andy. And NO thanks. Don’t call us! We’ll call you!

(HIRING MANAGER and FORMER EMPLOYEE share bewildered looks)

(fade to black).