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Do You Want the Job?

By Mary Ellen Collins

When I freelanced for an executive search firm, I learned why I never would have had the patience to be a full-time headhunter. I interviewed and wrote profiles of highly experienced men and women who commanded enormous salaries and were (ostensibly) qualified for top-level positions. But the things they said made me wonder how some of them ever made it past the bottom rung of the career ladder.

It wasn’t part of my job to tell them how and why they screwed up, so I had to bite my judgmental tongue a lot. But now I dream about what I wish I could have said in these real life interview situations.

Me: The salary is $250,000 to $300,000. Does your expectation fit within that range?
Candidate: “Well, I’d love to make $250,000, I mean who wouldn’t, but … I’m almost at $175,000 and I’m actually ok with a lateral move.
In My Mind: Are you kidding? You are way too green for the executive suite!

Me: How would you describe your track record in product development?
Candidate: I haven’t been that successful, but let me tell you why it doesn’t matter.
In My Mind: Hijacking the interview won’t work. I’m driving this bus.

Me: What do you think you do particularly well?
Candidate: I iterate very effectively.
In My Mind: No one talks like that, you pretentious fool.

Me: How would you describe yourself as a manager?
Candidate: Teamwork really turns me on.
In My Mind: Yuck! That’s just plain creepy.

Me: How would your colleagues describe you?
Candidate: “Some of them would say I’m a pr--- or an a—h---.”
In My Mind: If you are stupid enough to say that, they’re probably right.

And regarding unsolicited advice, I wish I had interrupted the many, many feline-loving job seekers long enough to say, “No more than one anecdote about your cat, please. Just trust me on that.”

— Mary Ellen Collins

Mary Ellen Collins is a freelance writer and essayist who has been a humor columnist for Angie's List Magazine and a community columnist for The Arizona Republic. She writes the column, It Just Me? on, and her essays have also been published in Notre Dame Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, The Tampa Bay Times, Writer's Digest, SASEE and Outdoor Life.

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