Harry Potter and the Order of the Unemployed: My First Real-Job Interview

2 Nov

I walked into the Human Resources building at Universal Studios, thanking God that I didn’t die in a car accident on the way there.  (If you didn’t know, Florida drivers are actual psychopaths. It’s almost like you have to do the complete opposite of what would be considered “safe” on the road, and then you’ll fit in. I think it’s because there are so many tourists who don’t know where the heck they’re going, paired with a cult of bitter and resentful native Florida drivers who just want to get to work ONE TIME without any stupid tourist cutting them off. JUST ONCE! In result of this resentment, the Natives have road rage before they even get into their cars. They cut people off, tourists or not, before the people can cut them off. Both of these, when added together, result in the Obstacle Course of Death, which can also be called “driving on the road.” This Obstacle Course of Death is full of swerving and swearing, jamming on the breaks, animated choice hand gestures, and general road rage for everyone involved.)

So! Needless to say, when I pulled into my “New Applicant” parking space, I was feeling pretty victorious. Not only had no one beeped at me, but I hadn’t cut anyone off, or missed an exit, or turned the wrong way, or done anything that a native Floridian wouldn’t have done. And I hadn’t lost my life. (I still consider myself a member of Team Tourist, but only because I don’t know my way around that well yet.) It’s the small things, people.

I was wearing a knee-length pencil skirt style dress with a suit jacket. I had on the heels I wore for my senior Musical Theatre Showcase for Ball State. I felt like I was going into an audition, but I knew I wasn’t going to be asked to sing anything. I wasn’t even carrying a headshot. So that was all very confusing for me.

You see, this was my first EVER real job interview of my life. (Wait, scratch that- that was a lie. I interviewed for Applebee’s once. But that was for being a waitress.) This was like, for an actual company. I was wearing an actual suit jacket.This was actually an interview, and I was actually nervous.

Maybe it’s just me, but fellow performers, you can probably relate to this: I would rather sing 32 bars of some song and do a monologue for a room full of 500 people, than sit down one-on-one with someone who looks me dead in the eye and essentially asks me, “Why should I pick to give money to you and not the other fifty people in the waiting room?” I’m not used to defending myself. The only “defending” I do is in a call back setting, and even then it’s all through singing, dancing, and acting. At the end of the day, if I don’t get the job, I can leave and tell myself “Maybe I just wasn’t tall enough.” “Maybe I wasn’t what they were looking for.” “Maybe I shouldn’t have mixed that high C.” But after an actual real-life interview? You can’t leave and tell yourself you just weren’t tall enough, or that the girl who got the lead is probably sleeping with the SM or something. You just have to accept the fact that you weren’t good enough, end of story.

Knowing all of this, I walked into the lobby. There were two desks: a small security desk to the right, and a large desk with a saturn-esque planet looming over it in the center of the lobby.  Along the rings of the Saturn planet a sign read: “It’s a BIG Universe! Where do YOU fit in?”

I heard myself think, “I just want to get paid minimum wage to work in a gift shop.”

Security Woman: Can I help you?
Me: Uh yes, please. I have a scheduled interview appointment for 3:00.
Security Woman: Please fill out one of those little slips right there, and then take it to the big desk. Let me see your bag.
(I hand her my purse, and reach for a slip.)
Slip: WHY ARE YOU HERE? Please circle: Orientation. Second interview. Third interview.
Me: Oh no, I’m going to have to come back and do this again a second and third time? But… I don’t have another pair of sensible heels!”
Slip: Scheduled appointment time ______.
(I put an X in that box, and write 3:00 in the space.)
Me: Thank you!
(I start to walk away.)
Security Guard: Uh, ma’am? Yoo hoo! MA’AM!
Security Guard: Uh. Your purse?
Me: OH! Oh, goodness. Thank you….
Me: Keep it TOGETHER, man…

I approach the planet desk, and see that on the other side is a seating area completely FULL of human beings who look either A. nervous, B. terrified, or C. jaded. Almost like the room could be separated into two groups: Those who have never done this before in their lives, and those who have done this for 17 years straight without success. I hoped they couldn’t smell the newbie fear that was surely permeating through my pores.

Desk Lady: (incredibly calm and collected, with a voice that sounds like a cheesy Yoga instructor on one of those 90’s straight-to-VHS fitness tapes) Hhhhhello. Whhhat can I do for you today?
Me: Hello! I have an interview appointment scheduled for 3:00.
(I hand her the slip to prove this.)
Desk Lady: (calm, sweet smile, paired with a slowly extended tranquil hand.) Whhhy yes, just let me take a look here…
(She types my name into the computer system and starts to click around. For a brief moment I fear that I won’t be in the system. What if I got the wrong day? What if I’m late? What if I’m too early? What if-)
Desk Lady: (Closed lip grin with relaxed, drooping eye lids.) Ppppplease take, one of these ffffffforms. Behind me, you will ssseee…. a basket of clip boards, and… Ppppens. Fill out the form, and then…. Returrrn the clip board and ppppeeehhn. To mmmme.
Me: … Thank you.

I grab a clip board and pppppeeeeehn, and manage to weave my way through the knees of others to find an empty chair. I haven’t seen this many seated, waiting, nervous people since the DMV. And then- I hear it. The familiar dialogue. The familiar music. The shouts of “Expelliarmus!” Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix is playing in a small TV mounted in the corner of the room.

And that is the exact moment when I knew everything was going to be okay.

I wait for an hour. I see others come and go, people’s names being called, people who leave in large groups for “Day One Orientation.” (All of the unemployed hopefuls collectively shot those groups a steamy death stare.) At one point, a man in a suit came out and called for “Dominique.” At this point, two women stood up. One was a tiny twig of a shy white girl, and the other was a large, robust sassy black girl. They stared at each other for a moment, thoroughly confused. The entire room went silent. Finally, the black girl said, “Wait. Which Dominique?” After some clarification, the meek white girl disappeared to be interviewed, and the sassy black girl sat back down muttering, “This shit is whack.”

When I sat down, Harry was being seen off at platform 9 and 3/4. When I got called back to be interviewed, Harry was saying goodbye to Sirius at number 12 Grimmald Place after saving Mr. Weasly from Nagini. I was actually getting pretty emotional, watching Sirius assure Harry that he wasn’t a “bad person,” and that “The world isn’t separated into good people and Death Eaters. We all have light and dark inside of us, it’s what we choose to act on that makes us who we are…”

Voice: May I please speak with CAROLYN?
(I quickly get my emotions back in check and grab my forms and purse.)
Dominique: (muttering as I slide past her) What, she’s gets called before me? I was here first. This place, I can’t even, I mean- shoot. I’m done. I am DONE.
Me: Hello, I’m Carolyn!
Lady: Hi there, I’m Heather. Just follow me back here. Sorry about your wait!
Me: Oh, it’s not a problem!
Me: (thinking) You have all the time in the world when you’re unemployed. It’s fine.

Heather leads me back into a room divided into tiny cubicles. We slide into one of the little squares and sit down. Our knees awkwardly brush together because it’s such a close space. And so, the interview begins. I was so nervous for this moment that I spent the night before google-ing “top interview questions” and preparing my answers. I talk a lot about my time spent in King’s Island, how I was part of a “performance team” there. Everything is going pretty well. My mouth is a little dry from my nerves, but after a while I’m able to relax and just talk. Heather is a really sweet girl, and she seems to be enjoying herself as well. When she asks me why I’d like to work at Universal Studios, I say the first thing that comes to mind.

Me: Well, I mean, I’m sure you hear this all of the time, but I would absolutely LOVE to work in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I am SUCH a huge fan, I’ve seen all of the movies and read all of the books multiple times. That would honestly be a dream come true.

The interview continued, asking generic questions about my previous professional experiences, etc. Finally, I felt like the interview was coming to an end.

Heather: Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is we don’t have any merchandise positions available right now. The good news is, though… that with the Holiday season coming up, we will have some openings, and I believeee… that some of those openings will be in Harry Potter World.
Me: *Actual audible gasp.*
Heather: (Smiling) Soooo… I’m going to go a head and quiz you on your Harry Potter knowledge!
Me: (Finally truly believing that dreams really do come true, even when you’re not in Disney World.) Okay!!!!
Heather: Okay. So. What is your favorite book or movie, and why?
Me: That’s easy. For the movies, I liked Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Heather: (Taking notes) And why is that?
Me: I liked how they dealt with Harry’s darker side. It’s the first time that Harry is really starting to be affected by his mental connection to Voldemort, and I feel like they showed his struggle onscreen in a very accurate way. For the books? My favorite would be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I liked how it didn’t follow the traditional format of “Harry goes to school, Harry solves a mystery, Harry comes face to face with Voldemort and defeats him.” It gave a lot of insight into Harry’s past, about who betrayed his parents, Peter Pettigrew, all of that.
Heather: Very good! Okay. So which Harry Potter character best matches your personality?
Me: (After some serious consideration) I guess I would have to say Hermione in the later novels. She’s a bit of a book worm and very driven, but at the same time she’s not a know-it-all. She helps Ron and Harry with whatever they need, and she’s very kind to others.
Heather: (still note-taking) Okayy… On a scale from one to five, five being the most, how much do you think you know about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?
Me: Well, I don’t want to brag, but… I would probably say a 5.
Heather: Okay! Let’s skip some of the easier questions then. Let’s see… (She scrolls down) Let’s see here… okay. What is the instrument used to collect and store thoughts and memories?
Me: The penisive in Dumbledore’s office.
Heather: Very good! Lots of people don’t get that one.
Me: (thinking) How can you not know that?
Heather: Alright. What is the magazine that Luna Lovegood’s father writes for?
Me: The Quibbler.
Heather: Yes! Hm… What subjects do Hermione and Harry teach the other students, and where?
Me: They teach Defense Against the Dark Arts in the Room of Requirement.
Heather: You know, most people say they’re a 5, but they really aren’t. I’m impressed.
Me: Thank you! (thinking) Please just keep asking me questions about Harry Potter.
Heather: What publishing venue does Rita Skeeter work for?
Me: Oh. Um… gosh. That is a tough one. I know that one is in book 4…(thinking) I haven’t read that one in years. Shoot. I know it’s obviously not The Quibbler. The Inquisitor? Is that even a paper in HP world? Gah. (spoken) The Inquisitor? Man I can’t remember, it’s been so long since I’ve read that book.
Heather: The Daily Prophet.
Me: Of course!!! How could I forget that!? (Thinking) That is literally the most obvious answer. Great job, Carolyn.
Heather: Name three of the seven Horcruxes.
Me: Tom Riddle’s diary. Ummm… The ring that Dumbledore acquires. And the locket.
Heather: You are good.
Me: (thinking) Three out of seven isn’t very hard to do.
Heather: If you could have any career in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which would you choose?
Me: I think I’d like to be an Auror. Learning all of the defensive spells would be awesome. But at the same time, I love animals, so teaching Care of Magical Creatures would be wonderful, too.
Heather: Well! You did wonderfully! I will definitely pass your information along to that department. We’ll contact you in the future if any positions open up.
Me: Thank you!

I shook Heather’s hand and walked out of the door, past the nervous and jaded people in the waiting room. (Thankfully, Dominique was no where to be seen. Apparently she had finally been called back for an interview.) I opened the door and walked into the bright Florida afternoon. And you know? For a first non-sparkly job interview, I felt good. I felt confident.

If only all real-life interviews were based on a knowledge of Harry Potter… If only.


2 Responses to “Harry Potter and the Order of the Unemployed: My First Real-Job Interview”

  1. Caroline Robelen November 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Congratulations on what seems to have been a wonderful interview!! I hope you get the position at WWoHP. You’d be a perfect fit! 🙂

  2. movingonmyown November 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Yay!! That would be awesome! Make sure to follow-up with her! Did you get an e-mail or phone number? Bug ’em until the only thing they can do is to hire you 😉

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