Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fear and Loathing in The Conference Room

So, as the people who know me (which is probably everyone reading this, unless my introductory post has taken the entire Internet by storm -- dear Google, please let me know if I'm choking your poor servers out on accident) are likely aware, I am not currently employed.

As someone who is not employed, I occasionally end up going to job interviews when my resume, which I print exclusively on hot pink paper, dunk in a Chanel No. 5 knockoff that I bought out of the back of a van, and then put rubber-stamp lipstick kisses all over, gets me a response. (If you received one of these resumes and threw it out immediately, telling your friends about the idiot who printed his resume on the hot pink paper and made it reek of cheap faux-French perfume... don't you feel silly now?)

As someone who is not employed and is pretty good at technical things, when I do go to these interviews, they are almost inevitably conducted by a horde of ravenous monsters.

I humbly present to you an examination of some of the various types of monsters one can expect to encounter when attending job interviews, to help you maximize your odds of a positive result.

So, without further ado:

The Compleat Guide To Surviving Office Exploration, 1st Ed.

Chapter The First: Humans

Monster: Executive Officer
Frequency: Common

When interviewing for any position within a large organization, you are likely to encounter an Executive Officer, generally considered to be the Boss Monster of the level. Executive Officers are often in generally good physical condition for humans that rarely see combat, and may be wielding a cup of overpriced coffee. Generally older than the other monsters in the cave, the Executive Officer may also be a spellcaster, or possibly some sort of vampire or lich; the other monsters will generally defer to it when it decides to stop peering at its phone/book/wristwatch long enough to speak. Expect to defend yourself against open ended behavioral analysis questions such as "Why do you want to work for us?", "Where do you see yourself in five years?", and "If you were a fruit, which fruit would you be, and why?".

Protip: The correct answer to the fruit question is NOT "A banana. It's a painful memory, and I don't want to talk about it. Let's just say that cartoons do not paint an accurate picture of the hippopotamus. They are less jovial than you might expect."

Monster: HR (Humanoid Resource) Manager
Frequency: Common

The HR Manager is also a common encounter when delving into office buildings in search of gold, experience, and loot. Generally, the HR Manager's task is to appear to ignore every word you say and write arcane runes into the spellbook it always carries. Beware! These runes are a ritual method of ejecting you from the dungeon; if you provide too much, too little, or the wrong information, it will speak a Power Phrase, such as "Thank you for coming in to see us," which is a form of clever mind control that compels you to stop trying to talk your way deeper into the complex and instead to shake the hands of any surviving monsters, turn around, and leave defeated. The exact mechanism of this spell is unknown, however, and while you may avoid its effects by wearing protective equipment, you will suffer a severe penalty to your appearance of normalcy if you have to pull earplugs out every time one of the other monsters attempts to address you in your language. Be keenly aware of the HR Manager's facial expressions, as they may indicate when it is about to strike.

Chapter The Second: Humanoids

Monster: Troll Systems Administrator
Frequency: Uncommon

Trolls Systems Administrators are occasionally found in the conference rooms. Their duty is to test your ability to resist telling offensive jokes. You can identify a troll systems administrator using three key characteristics:

  1. Extreme body odor. Depending on the clan the systems administrator belongs to, this may be that of garlic, too much Drakkar, or hobo. While the too much Drakkar clan is often actually the most offensive smelling, never underestimate the cunning of the hobo systems administrator, who spends much of its time practicing movie quotes and MMORPG references to expose you to the other monsters as an outsider or an infiltrating member of a rival clan.
  2. Embarrassing cell phone ring tones. These can also help to classify which clan of trolls system administrators the creature belongs to (for instance, Star Wars vs. Star Trek).
  3. The systems administrator may or may not introduce itself at all, choosing to allow the Humanoid Resource Manager to perform the introduction, whereupon the systems administrator is directed to nod its head a little bit to confirm that it has not yet died of sloth.

Very little action is ever necessary on the adventurer's part to defeat a troll systems administrator. Under normal circumstances, some machine somewhere in the building will have a panic attack and summon it to perform a resurrection rite, leaving you with one less monster to contend with. In the worst case scenario, you may find that following it into a room and simply using "kill troll with sword" will suffice. (Note: You might have to type it a few times. Do some finger exercises.)

Monster: Orc (Sales and/or Marketing Rep)
Frequency: Rare unless someone tells them lunch is being catered

The Orc is a relatively low-level monster within the monster chain of command which has been endowed with more responsibility than it seems reasonable for it to handle. Some Orcs seem to actually be successful when faced with these responsibilities, and unfortunately it is these glib creatures that you are most likely to encounter; the Orcs who do not enjoy such success are more typically found in the basement of the office building, shoveling the bodies of rejected job applicants into the furnace to heat the cavernous offices.

The Sales and/or Marketing Rep Orcs often like to claim to be college educated, having completed their MBA from the University of Phoenix, where they purchased papers written by grade school children from India occasionally to ensure their success. They will interject largely meaningless comments while eating the free food provided at the meeting, or will interject entirely meaningless comments about the lack of free food provided at the meeting: "Excuse me. I was told there would be punch and pie." These monsters, while occasionally novel, may be safely ignored. If angered by an act that they consider offensive, such as someone taking the last bear claw (which they were hoping to pack into their cheek before escaping to their cubicle to hide it for later), they can be easily distracted by silver change. Nickels are most cost-efficient, as they are often mistaken for highly-desirable quarters by the Orc's myopic vision. This trick continues to work because the Orc Sales and/or Marketing Rep's hyperinflated ego insists (wrongly) that its vision is just fine, and that only nerds wear glasses.

Chapter the Third: Quadrupeds

Monster: Canis Familiaris
Frequency: Extremely Rare

The office dog is not a common sight, because the other office monsters have typically either already eaten the indigenous dogs of the office, or are hiding it from the other monsters to avoid having to choose between paying for doggie day care or having the small monster destroy their living cave while they are trying to trap adventurers.

Years of abuse have left the office dog docile and used to strange creatures, so it is exceedingly rare that one will ever be a concern, but it has been included in this manual for the sake of complete documentation of known species.

Generally small (so that they can be hidden in drawers or breadboxes), the office dog, once discovered, may be used as a projectile weapon in a pinch, but its damage potential is much smaller than that of a stray cat (which are not included in this manual, as they are not generally found in offices unless one of the Orcs has a laser pointer and not enough bodies to shovel). The lesson to learn here? Always be prepared with a stray cat in hand when entering an office building.

Chapter the Fourth: Other (Special Cases)

Monster: Wumpus

There is almost always a wumpus somewhere in the office. Be vigilant; while the wumpus is a large and easy-to-spot creature in many environments, its sucker feet allow it to hide where you might least expect. Have you ever noticed, for instance, that most offices have false ceilings? And remember, if you shoot at it and miss, it might move into another office.

You might argue, "but, shad, those are to conceal network, telephone, and power wiring in an open environment! You're being ridiculous!" I assure you, I am not. 

The moment you stop watching that false ceiling, you're screwed. Teeth and gore EVERYWHERE.

In fact, it might be better to just avoid these offices entirely and start a blog.


  1. This should be attached to all applications and job postings; handed out at colleges, tucked inside the lunch boxes of children. Great guide :)

  2. LOVE IT. I'm sending this to everyone I work with... except for those who are included in the classifications above.

    Excellent use of compleat, by the way. Has anyone tried to tell you yet that it was a typo? Lol