Tag Archives: interview

Dude, what happened?

This guy doesn’t know what he’s doing, sitting on that park bench, waiting to make a move. He should have made a move like an hour ago, or even if he tried to do something like half an hour ago, maybe he could have pulled something off. But now there’s no chance. Even if he got up right this second, he’s going to be late. He’s regretting ever having gotten up and gone into the city today. Or even more than that, he’s regretting going onto craigslist looking for jobs, spending all of that time writing out his resume, taking the day off so that he could go into this interview.


And for this, it’s pathetic. He knows it, too. He got up early. No, even before that. He’s been getting up early for days, ever since he got that email from the recruiter telling him that she set up a meeting. It was one of those moments where his heart let out something that can only be described as a double beat, like one beat, but with the power of at least two, followed by a silence, a long moment where he could feel the sweat build up in his glands, that moment right before his skin would get wet, it was cool, but not in a comfortable way, like an electric way, like even though he knew it was sweat, it could have very easily been fire. And that moment stretched out forever, he wondered if his heart would ever start beating again, and right before it did, it always did, for a fraction of that infinite space, something inside just kind of wished that it wouldn’t start up again. He didn’t want to die or anything that dramatic, but going forward didn’t really seem that appealing either, and he wondered what it would be like to spend an eternity right here, right in this elongated pause in between beats.

But then it beat and he couldn’t go to sleep that night. The closest thing he got to rest were these sort of sleep-like states where, even though he was aware that he was in his bed trying to not be awake, the dreams came at him anyway, dreams of showing up to the interview, trying to blow on his hands to evaporate some of the sweat from his palms, trying to figure out what he’d say to the secretary when he walked in the building. And then he’d have dreams in the other direction, where everything would go almost ridiculously according to plan, if he had a plan. But they’d hire him and right away he’d be the boss and he’d accumulate so much vacation time that he’d be on vacation almost instantly, a tropical island getaway, one of those seaside resorts where he wouldn’t even have to raise his hand to order another drink, no, the hotel staff would be so accommodating, they’d have it all timed out, so that exactly as he took his last sip, the empty glass would be replaced by a new one.

This was like three days of non-sleep, all the while the pressure of figuring out what to say, when to show up, how many copies of his resume to print out, what subway he’d take to the office, what kind of tie would he wear, should he wear a full suit or just a jacket and tie, did he need to get a haircut or would that look too eager? And he got there like three hours early, just in case, just in case the subway broke down, or it started raining and the tunnels got flooded, or if he lost his MetroCard and all of the machines at the station stopped working, so he’d have to walk to the next stop just to be able to pay for his ride, or if he got to the building on time but couldn’t find the right entrance, so many variables.

And in his rush to get out the door in the morning, he was starving, but he didn’t eat anything, and he usually drank like three or four cups of coffee, but not today, nothing, and so he couldn’t go to the bathroom when he woke up, because he was so nervous and he didn’t have the coffee in his system, and everything just felt off, hungry and full at the same time. He figured he’d get something to eat, get a cup of coffee. But not now, not just yet, maybe in an hour, just so that he’d get that nice after-lunch buzz, just one cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine to really make him stand out, to bring out his inner go-getter.

In an hour or two. But for right now, he might as well just sit on this park bench and try to calm down, to cool off. And he sat there and watched everybody else coming and going to their jobs. He looked at his messenger bag, which really wasn’t necessary, he only had one folder inside, five copies of his resume printed on not-too-fancy cardstock inside of that. Did the bag look as hollow on him as it felt carrying it around? Could you tell from looking at him that gravity was having a hard time keeping this empty bag fastened to his shoulder?

And he couldn’t get off of it. The sweat came back but this time it did feel like burning. And even though the minutes ticked by in what seemed like an exponentially decreasing speed, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he should’ve gotten something to eat a while ago, that now he wouldn’t have time to walk around the block and find a deli, to eat something without making it obvious that he’d just eaten, that he should’ve gotten up ten minutes ago and started walking toward the building, that his phone’s ringing in his pocket and he should at least answer it, say something about being right outside, that he should really at a minimum take his phone out of his pocket to see if it was the recruiter or the employer trying to figure out what happened, why he didn’t show.

And what’s it going to feel like on the train ride back? Just because you look like a commuter coming back from a job doesn’t mean everyone can’t tell that it’s all bullshit, that you’re the only pretending, just for one day. What are you going to say to your cat when you walk back inside the apartment later on in the evening, when he’s looking up at you, asking without asking, how did it go? How are you going to just sit back down on that couch like nothing happened? What did you do today, dude, what happened to your day? Are you going to have to get this shirt dry-cleaned again? What about the slightly more expensive resume paper, are you just going to add that to the list of money spent on almost making it to a job interview? And what’s the point of trying again? What are they going to say if you ask for another day off? How is next time going to be any easier?

Come on, Bill, give me a call, for real

Dear Bill Simmons:

I’m not going to lie, I thought I would’ve had a full-time job at Grantland by now. Which is … well, whatever, you’ve probably got hundreds of would-be employees dedicating full columns on their blogs every week begging you to give them a shot as staff writers on one of the greatest sports and pop culture web sites of all time. I guess I’m just going to have to wait here patiently until you realize I’m exactly the writer you guys need to elevate Grantland to the next level.


No, even higher up, at least three levels higher than where you guys are currently at. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a great site. I’m not trying to say that it’s necessarily lacking in anything, you know, besides me as a staff writer. Bill, I’m like Butch Goring on the 1980 New York Islanders. Would they have gone on to win four Stanley Cups in a row without Butch? I mean, they still would have been a championship caliber team, so maybe. But then again, maybe not.

That’s me Bill, I’m the missing piece of the puzzle at Grantland. I get along great with everybody. Just think, you could’ve sent me to Sochi and I could’ve gained inside access to behind-the-scenes operations and special guests interviews. Like who? Like, I don’t know, maybe President Putin? Why not? I could have done it. Sure, I don’t speak any Russian, but I speak a better language: the all-encompassing dialogue of friendship.

And English. Seriously, everybody speaks English. I would’ve just kept walking in his direction pretending that I’m a lost American tourist, and then when I got close enough, I would’ve whipped out a microphone and my Grantland press pass and I would have been like, “How do you justify the use of authoritarian tactics on your own people? Why didn’t that fifth Olympic ring open up like it was supposed to? Where’s the rest of that meteor that fell out of the sky last year?”

His guards would immediately spring to action, holding up walkie-talkies, trying to restrain me and drag me out of the building. But Vladimir would stop, because despite whatever the international community says about him, he’s a man that respects power. He’d look me in the eye and he’d say something in Russian, at which all of the guards would release me. Some other Russian guy would come up to me and say something like, “President Putin admires your courage. You will be granted exclusive interview. Where are you from, the Times? New Yorker?”

And I’d just say, “Grantland.” Of course I’d call you up immediately and give you the exclusive. Just think about how much worldwide coverage you’d get, Bill Simmons, one-on-one with Vladamir Putin. And that’s just the start. If you go back to my 1980s New York Islanders analogy, I’ll keep getting better and better, our working relationship, hopefully I’ll grow to earn your respect just like I would have the Russian President.

I’m getting carried away. Who knows if you’ve even read any of these letters yet? My big worry is that I’m going to be doing it for years, letter after letter, and then one week I’m going to go on vacation or something. I’ll say, eh, I guess I could just skip one week. I mean, what are the chances that Bill Simmons is going to discover my blog on the one day that I decided not to post him an open letter? And then that would be exactly the day that you’d find your way here.

And seeing nothing of immediate interest, you’d scan my pages of text before writing me off as just another amateur Internet guy. After maybe ten or fifteen seconds, you’d click x on the web browser before you even got a chance to see all of these letters, to you Bill. Obviously I’d have no way of ever knowing if that were to be the case, but I have a pretty vivid imagination, and just the possibility of that happening is enough to keep me writing every week, regardless of if I’m on vacation or not. And that’s what I’ll bring to Grantland. I’ll work around the clock, never taking a break, barely sleeping, I’ll throw all other relationships and activities to the curb and make being one of your staff writers my only priority.

Let’s do it Bill. Call me up. Maybe you can get me to Sochi before the gold medal hockey game.


Rob G.

Billy, sweet Billy boy

Dear Bill Simmons:

Panel & Screening Of "Beyond Playing The Field" 2010 Tribeca Film Festival

Bill, what’s up man? Am I getting through to you? Do I have a job at Grantland yet? Maybe this is all part of the process, like, week one, you saw my first letter, you were like, big deal, I get crazy letters from people all the time. And then week two, you saw that second letter and the beginnings of a smile started to form at the corners of your mouth, you thought, OK, maybe this guy’s serious. Probably not, but maybe. And here we are, week three, I’m imagining you reading this paragraph, this very sentence, and maybe you’re not directly thinking about personally giving me a call to say, “Welcome aboard, kid,” but there’s a part of your brain that can’t help but think about that spot over in the corner, you’re saying to yourself, “Well, maybe I could fit an extra desk there. And yeah, I guess we might be able to scrounge up the money to pay another full-time writer.”

I get it Bill, I know that this is a process. We’re still getting to know one another. Well, that’s not true exactly, because I’ve been reading your stuff online for a while now, I’m sure I know you about as well as you want all of your readers to know you. But you’re just getting to know me, through these letters. Assuming you are reading these. And yeah, I’m not blind to the fact that you might not be seeing them in real time. It’s hard to attract the attention of famous people on the Internet. It’s even harder when the sole purpose of attracting that attention is purely trying to get something out of that famous person.

Am I making that clear enough Bill? I just want you to give me a job. I don’t want to go through the whole traditional trying-to-break-into-the-industry route. I just want it to happen. I just want to magically say the name Bill Simmons three times in a row, and then you’ll appear in my inbox. It’ll be a letter that says something like:

“Hey Rob! I just came across all of your open letters to me on your blog. I’ve got to say, I’m really impressed with your style. Although it doesn’t take a lot of guts to just put stuff online, I’m more interested in the fact that you just kept writing to me, every week, posting links to your blog posts on Twitter, linking them to my Twitter, hoping that eventually I’d see something and offer you a job. Well, here it is Rob, the offer you’ve been waiting for. When can you start?”

You can use that letter if you want, I know you’re super busy, writing your own stuff. You probably don’t have a ton of time to respond individually to every aspiring writer seeking employment through your web site. I can start on Monday by the way. Any Monday. You call me or email me on any day of the week, and I’ll be there that Monday. Unless you get in contact with me on a Monday, in which case I’ll be there the following Monday. You understand, right? Same-day notice is a little tough.

But yeah, I do understand, there’s a lot of noise out there, everybody wants a cool writing job, it’s statistically improbable that I’m going to get your attention just by writing these letters. It’s tough out there, getting a job that doesn’t involve waiting tables. And writing? Forget about it. If I had any success nailing a writing gig, well, I wouldn’t be begging you from the Internet for a long-shot chance at a job.

Most of the stuff I send out gets no reply, which is almost worse than a flat-out rejection, because even if I did get rejected, at least I’d know that my stuff was getting through. With the no response, I can’t even imagine that my email or my resume is ever opened in the first place.

Except for this one time, I applied for an editorial position on some video game and comic book web site. I really wanted it, so badly, so I had an Edible Arrangement sent their office with a note that said, “Please, please, please, please, please hire me.”

And yeah, they called me in for an interview. It was crazy. Seriously, I started worrying that it was actually crazy, that I had put myself out there in a way that was abnormal. I pictured these people reading my note and thinking, did this guy actually send us a bouquet of fruit? I guess we should have him in here, just because, you know, he sent us the fruit.

I didn’t get the job, not even a callback. The whole interview was so awkward. When I got face-to-face with the editor in charge of hiring, I totally froze. I was sweating through my button-down. My answers didn’t make any sense, and I forgot to bring up the Edible Arrangement entirely. I mean, he didn’t bring it up, and I didn’t bring it up, and the next thing I knew, I was outside on the corner, little speckles of foam accumulating at the corners of my lips because I was so nervous and my mouth got really dry. And even though for a second I felt like I’d cracked some sort of code, like a “how-to-get-a-guaranteed-interview” life hack, man, those Edible Arrangements aren’t cheap. If only I had a ton of money, I could send you an Edible Arrangement. You and everyone else I’d like to work for.

Hey Bill, can I borrow fifty bucks? What do you like better, pineapples or strawberries? Can I please have a job?


Rob G.

Write that down. Did you write it? Use that for the article, that’s a good one.

I’m reading the newspaper, all of these articles where the writer is interviewing someone, a politician, a business owner, maybe some guy on the street in order to get a sense of how the public feels. Whenever I see those quotation marks, I’m always trying to imagine myself as if I were there, a guy on the sidewalk watching a journalist hold up a mini tape recorder to a person’s face, getting that quotation.


It’s got to be a tough job, listening to people, letting them get their side of the story out. Even if you aren’t the most opinionated person in the world, I imagine that, if you have a microphone thrust in your face, you’re going to have something to say. If you’re writing an article for a newspaper, you’re supposed to get a bunch of different viewpoints, right? So that means going through all of those clips and trying to piece together a sentence here and a comment there that’ll make sense in terms of what you’re trying to put down on paper.

And maybe you are the most opinionated person in the world. Maybe a reporter is asking your take on a story and you’ve got a lot to say about it. “Write that down,” I can hear someone telling a reporter, sprinkling it in every few sentences, “Make sure you write that down too,” after an especially poignant insight, “Did you get that down? Put that in the article.”

I wrote for my newspaper in college, but only opinion pieces. I’ve always felt like the whole process of researching something, then calling people up to talk about it, then doing all of that fact-checking and everything … it’s just way too much like schoolwork, that is, too many separate little things that I’d have to somehow edit and coalesce to make a finished product.

Why go through all of that trouble when I could just run my mouth, pull words straight out of my ass, give it a very quick read through to make sure I haven’t made any egregious grammatical errors or contradicted myself several times throughout the course of a piece, and then call it a day?

But toward the end of my senior year I wanted to branch out a little. I wrote an article for the sports section about the water polo team. I felt like I needed to write a news article. The news editor gave me a story, I don’t remember the details, but I know I had to call up the head of campus security. When the phone rang, I was really surprised that he actually answered it. I had really only prepared to leave a voicemail message, to get one in return, and then to use that as the quote for what I’d put down in the article.

I think it was maybe about safety? I can’t remember. The only thing I do recall is not really having much to say, and this guy knew it, but he was nice enough to play along with the wannabe journalist. I got home, the whole interview process left me a little less than confident about my credentials to write a news piece, and so instead of finding random students on campus to continue the investigative process, I just made a bunch of fake quotes and attributed them to my friends and roommates.

And so yeah, part of me wishes that I had started with the news pieces earlier, like maybe instead of bailing after one awkward article, I could have stuck it out, learned how to do it for real. Because whenever I read a quote, from the mayor, from a homeless person, I always have their voices in my head, I’m always piecing together the ninety percent of the interview that didn’t make it to the finished product. The “write that down,” and, “Ooh, ooh, make you sure you get that, make you use that in the article. That was a really good one. You’re going to use that, right?” But I don’t know, because I never bothered, and now I’m just stuck sitting here imagining how everything goes down in real life.