Surviving Customer Service 7

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

Interviews in the customer service world are unlike anything in the business world. In the business world you’ll sit at a desk. The interviewer will have papers strewn across the desk. You’ll have good posture, be wearing a suit and, possibly, have an air of confidence.

That’s not quite how it goes in customer service. Usually the manager will be leading you around tossing questions, of which your response will only be half heard, over their shoulder.

Although you may think that’s a very distracting way to interview, it works to your advantage. Ignore the useless babble about how it’s a family. How much they watch out for their own. How fulfilled you’ll be.

Be honest, you hate your family, corporations only care about you if you were your height in hundred dollar bills, and, as far as being fulfilled, that’s sort of true. They’ll do their best to fill up all your time.

What you need to pay attention to are the non-verbal cues you’ll see throughout the store. To catch the non-verbal cues you’ll have to pay attention to the employees busily pretending to work as you pass.

If they refuse to make eye contact and seem as if they’re not breathing run out of the building as quickly as you can. The manager is an ogre and possibly a card carrying member of BEKK (Baby Eating Kitty Killers) who, once corporate gets enough evidence, will gets fired for fondling mannequins in the lingerie department then placed on the fast track to 4AM infomercial hucksterism followed by a stretch in the big house.

If they smile and nod in unison you’ll want to make a more subtle escape. They’re all jockeying for the soon to be available managers position and will eat your liver over a pallet of cream corn to accomplish it.
If they’re friendly with the manager you might hang around until the end of the interview but, the moment you get home, change your phone number.

This group is well versed in the art of shorting the till, stealing stock before it hits the loading dock, and credit card fraud. Corporate is aware of their extra curricular actives and is just wanting for the subpoenas to come in before swooping down and cleaning house.

If they’re polite to the managers face but roll their eyes or make even more menacing gestures out of sight you may want to wander off slowly into another department.

This manager is ineffectual and is afraid to cross the employees because their (fake) friendship means more than doing the work. During your first shift every job that’s been piling up for months will be heaped upon you and you won’t see the light of day for half a year.

As you can see, watching for the subtle clues of the crew can pay dividends during your job search.

The interview itself is nothing more than an opportunity to probe you. The moment you showed up, proved you were alive, the job was yours. But they have to go through the talking part. They do it to put on an air of professionalism. When you think about it, most of the questions they’re asking are answered in the application. The other questions are a series of well-honed questions to test your psychological mettle.

This is the time they’ll give you things like the corporate mission statement. Don’t bother reading it because, no matter what inspirational sentiment they’ve heavily paid a writer (such as myself) all it truly means is,

“Profits! All we care about it the bottom line and one way we’ve found to accomplish it is to buy cheap shit, sell it for much more than it’s worth while paying our low-level employees (that’d be you) just enough to sustain them so they have the strength to come to work every day.”

They’ll also give you the blessed Employee Handbook. We’re going to cover that in the next chapter but you should know it’s filled with nothing more than corporate speak designed to cover their asses while making it virtually impossible to sue when they fire your ass.

The most important item you’ll be given is a name tag. I’m not saying it’ll have your name on it but, and trust me here, don’t lose it. To the company that tag is more important than you. This will be your first of many brandings by the company.

Just like a cow, you are now chattel. You will be prodded and poked; penned for hours with only the florescent light to keep you warm; their corporate-speak will be seared into your head until, years after you have escaped their clutches, you’ll be able to recite their approved sales pitch; and, even more despicable, you’ll be able to rattle off SKU numbers of products long removed from the shelves.

Once the interview really gets rolling you’ll have to recite a series of appropriate and hackneyed phrases to show your desire to work for this corporation. Don’t worry that they sound trite, that’ll help the interviewer see that you’re already, at least partially, indoctrinated.

Also, don’t give a second thought that the interviewer will think the lines bullshit. They know they are. So, to try and put you on an even level at the interview, here’s a list of phrase you will recite and what the interviewer actually hears.

“I feel I’d be an asset to the team.”
“I’ll show up when I’m supposed to.”

“I’m a hard worker.”
“Right now.”

“I’m a people person.”
“Customers, on the other hand, suck.”

“I believe in giving an honest days work.”
“I’ll only steal when no one’s around.”

“Being on a successful team is important to me.”
“I need a job. Why else would I be here?”

“I was a valued member of the team at my last job.”
“The day I left.”

“I find pleasure in work.”
“Because I know I’m getting paid.”

One you and the interviewer get a rhythm that’s when the interview will really take off. They’ve heard you go on about how you are an honest, hardworking, law-abiding member of society and not once did they spit up their latte.

So now it’s your turn.

You will be offered a list of questions that have few, if any, right answers. These questions have been honed to a razors edge so that any psychological anomaly that resides in your subconscious mind will be deftly revealed.

Okay, I’m just trying to scare you here. They’re actually there to give the interviewer something to do while thinking about what to drink after work.

As mentioned, there are no ‘right’ answers to these questions so answer as blandly as possible. And by ‘blandly’ I mean lie. Go ahead! Toot your own horn! Tell them you’re the last triple crown winner in major league baseball! Tell them you invented a cure for dog drool! Lie as big as you’ve always wanted to because they’re not listening anyway!

Have you learned nothing so far? You’re sitting there, right? You haven’t pissed yourself or stolen anything off the desk, right? Then you’ve got the job.

Unless. . .

As with any situation in life, you can make a mistake. So what we’re going to do is go over a potential list of interview questions. We’ll point out some of the pitfalls you’ll encounter and some answers you should not give if you want to exit the building under your own power.

Tell me about yourself.

Whatever you do here, DO NOT be honest. Tell them about your idealized self, the self you would have been if you hadn’t spent your formative years playing beer pong and playing video games.

In other words, use the talents you’ve honed over the years when you’ve got caught doing something and you needed to extricate yourself from that situation.

That’s right, lie. Often and big.

What do you find most attractive about this position?
The cashier. Although true, this is an example of why you shouldn’t go with the first thing that comes to your mind. Take a moment, seem as if you’re giving this some serious thought, and pretend you’re vying for the Miss America crown.

What do you know about our organization?
If you’ve heard anything bad, like they’ve dumped toxic baby dolls in a school yard or have the women who stitch their designer t-shirts give birth right on the line to increase the number of their employees.

Turn it around. They’re charity in the community knows no bounds and they show compassion to working mothers by having on-site child care.

What have you learned from participation in extracurricular activities?
Herpes itches. Although you may know that as fact, again, it is not an appropriate answer if you’re trying to actually get the job. If you’re not then go for it!

Why do you want to work for us?
Do not say it’s a requirement of your parole. Remember, you’re in a situation where lying is a prized commodity. If you’re not a adept liar what better time to practice? You’re inquiring about employment for a job that will force you to lie to a good eighty to ninety percent of the people you come in contact with. So make it a whopper,
“Because the camaraderie I felt meeting the other team members and the way you’re making me feel as we speak made me feel as if my life’s choices have finally placed me in the family I should have been born to.”

Why should we hire you?
It won’t hurt here if you’re actually a little humble. Tell them although your past experience proves you’d be an asset to any company with the foresight to hire you, the real reason is you saw how understaffed the floor was so, if you don’t get out there tout de suite homicide detectives will be cordoning off the area within the hour.

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your life?
Don’t go for the easy answer such as, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, or Bernarr MacFadden (inventor of the penis pump). It’s best to go with someone obscure who the interviewer most likely won’t know but had major impact on the customer service industry. I’d suggest that rat bastard, Harry Gordon Selfridge.

What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
Let’s be honest, the answer, unless you can make customers shit diamonds on the way out the door, there’s nothing special about you. If there were you’d be curing something or inventing a booze undetectable by breathalyzer.

So reach into the big ol’ bag ‘o sports cliches and spew a few.

“I hit the ground running.”

“I give one hundred and ten, no, one hundred and eleven percent.”

“I think I tore my groin on that turnaround.”

How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our team?
Hahahahahahaha! Oh, no, that’s not right, don’t do that. See? Even I, someone with hundreds of interviews under my belt, can get caught up with the moment and react like a rational person. You must, at all costs, resist the urge to act rational. It will be your downfall and prove that your brain has waves which means you are a thinker which stands to reason you’ll last two maybe three days on the job. Then what’ll happen? That’s right! The interviewer will have to do more interviews which will severely cut into their internet poker playing.

How would you describe the ideal job?
Although various and, let’s be honest, unattainable positions are racing through your head resist the urge to mention them. The interviewer knows this can’t be your ideal job so they actually ask this question to get ideas for their career change.

How long would you stay with us?
This is tricky because if you say ‘The rest of my life!’ they’ll know you’re lying and, although everything out of your mouth is a lie, you shouldn’t be too flagrant about it. So give a non-answer such as,

“As long as the work is rewarding.”

“As long as I feel I am an asset to the team and an employee you can count on.”

“Until you find out I lied on my application and the phone numbers I used are for sex lines.”

What do you look for in a job?
If long hours, short pay, and mind-numbing banality is your answer you’ve come to the right place!

How would you describe yourself?
Do not describe yourself as you do in your internet profiles. The main pitfall of using that well thought out description is they can see you.

If you had difficulty with a supervisor? How did you resolve the conflict?
Don’t mention the time to gave your manager a swirly. As your manager, they’re looking out for their own safety. Tell them you scheduled a meeting off work hours where the two of you sat down and discussed a variety of solutions that could be realistically implemented and agreed upon. Remember to leave out the swirly and your parting remarks,

“I hope your toupee gets sucked into the toilet, you fat bastard!”

Why did you decide to seek a job with us?
Isn’t this the perfect corporate question? Okay, sure, you were looking for a job but, let’s be honest, until you walked by the place and spotted the ‘help wanted’ sign you probably didn’t even know they existed.

But, oh, big corporate master needs you to stroke it’s massive ego by making you answer a question that eliminates any possibility that you’ve already interviewed at eighty-seven places and this was your last option before your roommates through you out of the house.

Because of that, you should answer thusly,

“Your corporate identity is held in such high esteem how could I not want to work here?”

I know, I know, if I sucked any harder the back of my head would implode but, as I’ve said before, lie and lie big!

What are your long-range career objectives?
This is another attempt by the interviewer to get new job ideas. Don’t fall for it. Tell them insurance fraud.

How well do you work with people?
Unacceptable response: “How dumb are the people?”

What’s more important, the work or the pay?
No seriously, stop laughing this question has actually been asked. It’s a test to see just how pliable you are.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
They want you to say, “In a high level management position just like yours.” Because they like to feel they’re not alone in their misery.

But they know if you answer, ‘Working here!’ you are either lying (remember, don’t be too obvious), after their job, or such a moron they’d spend most of their time cleaning up after your debacles.

This is a perfect opportunity to toot your own horn (yes, I mean lie) and tell them of all the humanitarian endeavors I just told you you’re interested in.

Saving the rain forest, saving the whales, opening a bar called Club Baby Seals. It doesn’t matter what you say as long as you’re not seen as a threat to their power.

How would a good friend describe you?
Do NOT say drunk, cellmate, or lucky to be alive.

What are your expectations regarding promotions and salary increases?
I’m joking! They’ll never ask that.

What’s the most recent book you’ve read?
This one has a title that sounds vaguely helpful. That should be enough to fool them.

What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
DO NOT use anything that connects in any way, shape, or form to any bodily function or excretion.

What do you do in your spare time?
This is the part of the interview when they get to know the real you. See your dreams, ambitions, and loves outside the confines of the work-a-day world.

So, for gawd sake, don’t tell them the truth! Tell them you help the homeless get their start (you’re an arsonist). Tell them you help single mothers get their start. Anything other than that you’re a spliff smoking, couch napping slug. Because if they find that out, they may want to hang.

What interests you about our products?
Answering ‘easy to steal’ is considered bad form.

How do you work under pressure?
Handfuls of pills and a six-pack.

What things are most important to you in your job?
A sense of team, servicing customers, and the pride you feel at the end of a tough, long, stressful day are all acceptable responses.

And probably the biggest lines of bullshit in this entire Lie-apalooza. There can’t be a human left on the planet who wakes up with a smile on their face, bounce in their step, and song in their heart on a day when they have to go to work. But, if there is, that’s a person I have to meet.

To kill before they procreate.

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

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