The Interview (Flash Fiction #76)

Jennifer Chung doesn’t think she stands a chance, but she knows she has to go to this interview. It’s a well known company and a good position, which is something Jennifer has always dreamed of but known that she won’t be able to reach. She is just too nice, too introverted, too plain an Asian American girl to be noticed by others.

Her family came to America when she was eleven years old. Since then, she spent all her after-school hours from 3PM to 10PM every day in the takeout restaurant her family owns. These two factors always come to her mind whenever she thinks about her disadvantages. She has an accent that will not help her in a job search; she has spent most of her time working in the restaurant while her peers improve themselves in extracurricular activities.

She chose “business” as her college major since that’s what people always choose when they don’t know what to choose. After graduation, she sent in numerous resumes but got few interviews. And then her college friend Cindy told her about an opening in her company. Cindy is an outgoing, vivacious, pretty multiracial girl, who everybody likes. “Come for an interview. They will like you. I recommended you.” Cindy says, but Jennifer is quite doubtful. She is too diffident. Still, she has to go since if she turns down opportunities like this, people would stop telling her about job openings.

She is a very meticulous person and she prepares for this interview in her usual manner. She inquires about the dress code. Also how expensive her suit and shoes need to be. She reviews all the questions, especially those weird interview questions like “why do you want to work for our company.”

When she arrives for the interview, she is very nervous. Her smile is awkward, her gesture is stiff, her answers are either too modest or too open, either too idealist or too practical, either too short or too long. The people who interview her–there are two of them–look very serious. The woman Ms. Weiss is obviously the subordinate of the man Mr. Smith. She does all the questioning while he chimes in once in a while. Before the interview is over, Jennifer becomes certain that she has almost zero chance of getting this job. She doesn’t feel any rapport with the two people and they must feel the same way about her. Her heart sinks. In the end, Ms. Weiss asks, “If you don’t get your dream job, what will you do?” Jennifer smiles. Actually knowing that she has no chance frees her from the rigidity and the nervousness. “Is this a question for your database, in order to calculate statistics of job applicants and draw a beautiful curve? Well, I will work in the takeout restaurant my parents own. I’ve been working there since I was eleven. Every day, for seven hours at least.” She says.

Actually she has not been proud of her restaurant background and it is not something she usually reveals to strangers. If anything, she has always thought the restaurant is an impediment to her career and social relations. But what the heck. She won’t get the job anyway. She can afford to indulge herself in saying something very honest.

“Really?” Mr. Smith says. “I worked in a restaurant when I was young too. It’s a demanding job.” Then he started to talk about the town he lived and the hectic work in the kitchen.

“You are hired, Jennifer. This position needs quite some diligence and I think you, among all the candidates, are especially suitable for it, given your work experience in the restaurant.” He says.

Jennifer stares at him, utterly surprised.

45 thoughts on “The Interview (Flash Fiction #76)

    1. That’s so true. A lot of immigrant children work so hard to fit in and they often don’t realize their strength. Also their families usually don’t have the money to allow them to travel back and forth so that they can be better immersed in two cultures. It ends up that they try so hard to embrace one culture and didn’t take advantage of their dual backgrounds.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. That’s very true. Wish it is different. I know some people have tried for years to establish bilingual charter schools that can help their kids to know their own cultural backgrounds better, but it is so difficult to the point that it almost never succeed. Hahaha. I guess diversity is … Hahaha. What can I say…

          Liked by 2 people

  1. The things we try not to talk about can actually open doors for us. I read through the comments and saw that this is a true story. I’m happy for her.

    Ooh! “Why do you think we should hire you?” is another ridiculous interview question. 🤦‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree with you. A lot of interview questions are so absurd. If one answers “I need money” in reply to the absurd question”why you want to work for us”, one is labeled as uncool and unemployable. That is so fake. Most people work because they need to earn a living. There’s no other reason. If one says something else, it is not really genuine. Just be real. These absurd questions are so fake and so soul crushing to those gentle and unpretentious souls who just want to get along. And these questions are a breeding ground for disingenuous and masked replies.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think they made a good choice in hiring her but she shouldn’t be so down on herself or her parents. A lot of people (not all, but a lot) respect hard work, loyalty and dedication which is what Mr. Smith sees.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment. It is true that people respect hard work. This is actually a true story. I don’t know the girl so well, but I heard the story about her. It is said she started to work in the restaurant when she is seven–I changed the age to eleven. Actually I don’t think I can do her job. I would be bored out of my mind to work in a restaurant day after day like that. I don’t have her stamina.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so happy this story has the well-deserved happy ending for Jennifer. 🙂 As I was reading this, it reminded me of my friend who also grew up working for her parents’ businesses every day after school: a Chinese buffet and later on, a fish market. She often told me she felt disadvantaged for not doing extracurriculars like her peers in high school, meanwhile I look up to her so much because of her abundant work experience and how she already knows many useful life skills.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are soooooo right. I can’t agree more. Working really helps people mature so quickly. I mean when one needs the money and has to endure all the boredom to complete a job with care. That helps one grow up about two years in one month. This is actually based on a true story.

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        1. Yes, one grows up so quickly sometimes. I worked in restaurants for three to four months and I didn’t like it at all. I am not a person who can be so virtuously observing the work ethic despite my dislike of the nature of the job.

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        2. Me too. I am not a good Asian as far as Asian stereotype goes. I am also not a qualified sweet woman that the society really likes to see. However I have to say I am a normal human being. And no amount of propaganda will make me change my normal-ness.

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