The American Interview: A Play

PAUL, a hiring manager who interviews candidates in front of the people hiring the candidates
RYAN, an actor interviewing to be a sr. software developer
EMMA, a mid-level software developer interviewing for a promotion
MARY, receptionist
One side is the lobby of Technical Systems. The other side is a conference room. There’s a door and wall in between. Present time.
At rise, MARY sits at desk in the lobby playing on computer.
EMMA enters, carrying a messenger bag, and walks up to the reception desk.
(without looking up) Please have a seat.
EMMA Uh, Mary?
(looks up and points to chairs along the wall)
Please have a seat.
(Frowning, EMMA takes a piece of paper from her messenger bag and consults it.)
Interview for the Sr. Software Developer position with Paul at 9:30am on Tuesday, November 8th?
MARY Yes. Please have a seat.
(EMMA takes a seat in the first seat. MARY goes back to playing on her computer. Ryan walks in with a briefcase.)
Hi. I’m here for the interview with Paul.
(looks up with a smile)
I’ll give him a ring to let him know you are here and he should be here shortly. Would you like some water?
(MARY picks up the phone.) MARY
Okay. Please take a seat and he should be with you shortly.
(RYAN nods and takes a seat. MARY speaks inaudibly into the phone.)
(smiles turns to RYAN as he sits)
Hey. I’m Emma – interviewing the same position. Aren’t you the actor from, um—
(EMMA snaps her fingers as she tries to recall the show. RYAN waves her off and takes out his phone, playing on it. They sit in silence, the only sound being MARY typing. PAUL enters with a notepad.)
(ruffles through the notepad)
Uh. Emma and Ryan.
Follow me please.
(takes a seat himself and pulls resumes from behind the notepad)
Please. Have a seat.
(EMMA stands up and sticks out her hand for PAUL to shake. PAUL doesn’t look at her. RYAN remains seated.)
(PAUL walks into the conference room. EMMA and RYAN follow. PAUL points to chairs seated around the table.)
I didn’t know this was going to be a group interview.
If you can’t handle the job, you shouldn’t have applied.
(RYAN and EMMA take seats across from one another.)
EMMA That’s not what I said.
Okay. So this is an interview for a Senior Software Engineer position and you two were our top candidates. Tell me a little about yourselves. Ryan.
We all know about me and what I? can do. We know that I can and will do things to make this place better, things you haven’t even thought of, things yet to be thought of.
(RYAN starts waving his hands.)
I have so much experience. I can do a better job than her. Thank you.
(RYAN nods and leans back in his chair and puts his hands in his lap.)
PAUL (turns to EMMA)
First, I would like to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview for this position. Now about the experience. I have a degree in Computer Science from MIT and have been working as a programmer for the past ten years. I have experience with php, HTML, CSS, OOP, and git, among other things.
(flips through resumes)
Okay, great. You have a list of authors and a list of books. An author can have many books and a book can have many authors. How would you set that up in the database?
We all know how that would be set up in the database – it’s great. You can tell who wrote what book, easy. You can put them in easy. It’s simple really. I’d do it better than her.
(RYAN points to EMMA.)
Create a linker table, an author table, and a books table. The linker table would have a primary key and two foreign keys that link back to the author and book tables.
Okay, great. Now can you explain to me joins?
(leans forward and puts elbows on the table)
A join is when you bring two things together.
May I draw on the white board?
(PAUL nods. EMMA gets up and walks over to the white board. She picks up a marker and draws Venn? diagrams and starts shading them in. When she’s done, she starts points to them.)
This one in an inner join. Outer join, left join, left inner, left outer, right, right inner, right outer. Depending on which
Just do it.
one you use will determine which values get brought back. Let me go back for a moment. A join is when you put together two tables in a database in order to make a bigger table. You join them on a common value. Which one you use determines how much data –
PAUL (raises his hand)
Thank you.
(PAUL flips through notebook. EMMA puts down marker and sits down.)
Tell me of a time that you didn’t get along with a co-worker.
RYAN I fired them.
(looks astonished at RYAN but continues)
There was –
(looks up at RYAN and then back at his notebook)
Can you tell me what encapsulation is?
We all know what that is. What are these questions? For amateurs?
(RYAN scoffs.)
Well, encapsulation is usually used in object oriented programming
(continues to ruffle through notebook)
Thank you.
(RYAN smiles and rests his interlocked hands on his stomach. PAUL looks between EMMA and RYAN.)
This is just so I can see how you think through things. You’re in a two story house. One door that leads upstairs. You’re downstairs and once you leave, you can’t come back in. There are three switches downstairs and three lights upstairs and you can’t see the lights until you go upstairs. How do you determine which switch goes to which light?
We all know how to do this. It’s simple. It’s so simple that once you go upstairs, you’d know which light goes to which switch. Why is this even a question?
EMMA Are they all already off?
Are they all your standard bulb? No LEDs?
PAUL Standard bulb.
EMMA What you could do is—
(EMMA strokes her chin.) Turn on one light—
(stands up and raises voice)
That wouldn’t work. My plan would work perfectly.
I wasn’t finished and you haven’t said anything of substance all interview.
PAUL (raises his hands)
Okay. Let’s not get hostile. Emma, you shouldn’t be so quick to yell at people.
(stares at PAUL for a moment)
Right. As I was saying, turn on one light –
You’re not listening to him. You’re so unfit for the position if you can’t even listen to the guy giving you the interview.
(RYAN turns to PAUL)
This is exactly why I should be hired over her.
(RYAN starts jabbing his finger towards EMMA.)
My experience out ways hers. I would be a better fit. I did research on her while we were waiting.
(RYAN holds up phone and waves it around.)
Did you see that one of the projects she worked on had major bugs?
(RYAN paces.)
This should disqualify her from this position. There should be an investigation.
I understand your frustration, Ryan but we must continue our interview.
(PAUL gestures to the seat RYAN was just sitting in.)
We aren’t quite done yet.
(RYAN sits down)
Okay. Next question. What are some ways to secure your applications?
RYAN Build a wall around it.
EMMA (sighs)
There are different types of authentication—
Alright. That’s all the questions I had. Do you either of you have any questions for me?
(slams hand onto the table)
Yes. Are you seriously considering her for this job?
(EMMA looks at RYAN with a raised eyebrow.)
Yes. I am seriously considering both of you.
Do you have any questions or concerns about me?
(PAUL turns to EMMA.) Do you have any questions?
EMMA Yes. I have a few.
(EMMA takes out her notepad and flips to a page near the middle.)
How is your current team? What are they like?
What does that have to do with anything?
(smiles and turns to RYAN)
A lot. That’s okay, though. I have a few others.
turns back to PAUL.)
How would I be getting tasks?
Good questions. From the customers and our competitors. If the customers, as a whole, want enhancements, we try to give it to them. If there is a bug, we try to fix it. If a security hole is found, it should be patched promptly – we don’t want takes from the outside.
Okay. Great. Thanks. I have one more question.
I think that’s quite enough, Emma. I think we’re done here.
(RYAN turns to PAUL.) Yes?
(PAUL nods and gets up.)
Well, it was a pleasure to meet both of you.
(PAUL sticks out his hand for RYAN to shake but ignores EMMA.)
I will be getting back to you soon as to our decision.
(PAUL picks up his stuff.)
There’ll be more interviews if we like you. We’ll let you know.
(Paul smiles and gestures towards the door. EMMA and RYAN head out.)
Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
(speaks to EMMA under his breath)
I can’t believe they’re honestly considering you. You’re so crooked, I can’t believe they haven’t seen right through you.
(EMMA smiles and keeps walking.)
At rise, EMMA’s phone rings. It’s PAUL and she answers.
PAUL Hi. Emma?
HI, Paul. How are you?
I’m doing well. I’m just calling to let you know we offered the position to another candidate.
EMMA (sighs)
Alright. Thank you for letting me know have a good day.
(EMMA hangs up.)
This was a good learning experience, at least. Next interview, I’ll do better.

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