The Corporate Drone

I just went and did a bit of interviewing in the US, the time on plane flights was enough for me to write a short story on the subject. I had been researching the issue for some time as well in preparation, which ended up more useful for humor writing than for actual interviewing. Thus it’s based on the stereotypes, not on my actual experiences (except that the Zerg were on my mind after one particular interview 😉 ).

“Please come in Mr. Smith. Take a seat.”
The tunnels in this hive were cramped and windy. Mr. Smit sat down on little more than a protrusion of rock from the wall. He could feel the hard rock pressing back at him through his chitinous exoskeleton. Though the desk was small, most of the segments of the hiring managers segmented body hid behind it. All Mr. Smit could see was the head, with multi-segmented eyes and strong mandibles that clicked as he talked. A bow tie poke above the edge of the desk, a dark navy that perfectly matched his suit collar (and presumably the rest of his suit).
“This is a formal hive Mr. Smith, will you be able to wear a tie if offered the position?”
“Yes sir, of course sir.” squeaked back Mr. Smit as he silently cursed his prolonged unemployment. When he lost his only tie during the practical interview for that fire-dancing position, he could not afford to replace it. Over his abdomen and thorax was the last of his clean cotton, the rest was patched up with woolen rags which were swelteringly hot underground.

The stuffed suit spoke up again, “Mr. Smith, what makes you uniquely suited towards being one of our hive drones?”
“Well sir, I’m a hard worker averaging 160 hour work weeks and I can carry fifty times my weight.”
“Wrong answer Mr. Smith. Drone is not a unique position and your bragging would not fit into our culture well.”
“I don’t plan on being a drone my entire career sir.”
“Of course you don’t, but drone is what we’re hiring for now and there is no advancement potential for this role in the immediate future. Now it says on your resume that you’ve been unemployed for a year, would you care to explain that?”
“Certainly sir. When the nearby red hive staged a coup of my old hive a year ago, all the black drones of worker status or below were made redundant. I was a junior drone at the time so the more senior drones from that hive filled up all the nearby vacancies pretty quickly. That year was spent fruitlessly competing for those jobs, as well as hitchhiking to this area in hopes of a little less competition.”
“So no-one in the past year thinks that you are worth employing?”
“I didn’t say that sir. However the current environment is extremely competitive and despite being on many competitive candidate lists I have not been given an offer yet.”
The manager spat back dismissively, “I’ll just put that down as ‘loser’.” Mr. Smit sighed at this treatment, wondering how much worse things would get before they got better.
The stuffed suit continued, “Moving along, what would you say is your biggest strength as a drone?”
“My biggest strength is… strength? I can lift fifty times my body weight.”
“Yes, you mentioned that before” said the suit with a sneer. “What would you say your biggest weakness is?”
“I have a point in my exoskeleton halfway down the inner thorax which dislocates under pressure…”
“No, not your weak spot,” snapped the manager, “I’m familiar with your biology from the detailed medical information you allowed us to extract. Incidently, we don’t offer dental benefits for your mandible configuration. But back on topic, what would you say is your biggest weakness as an employee?”
“I don’t know sir. I guess my weakness is an inability to answer questions like that.”
“An inability to answer the questions of a superior is going to be quite a mark against you. This position involves being able to work in a strict and deep hierarchy. Next question, if we spoke to your previous queen what would she say about you?”
“Well it’s difficult for me to say sir. I’ve never been a queen. It would be difficult for her to say either, because the reds ate her when they took our hive. But if she were alive, and if she had ever met me instead of only interacting through several layers of literally faceless bureaucracy, I sure she would say I was an honest and hard-working drone who deserves another chance.”
“Mmm… okay. Do you have anything to support that claim?”
“Uh, no?”
“Mmm… okay. Tell me about a situation where you were in conflict with another employee, and how you resolved it.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a situation.”
“It’s okay to think back more than a year. We’re trying to dredge up some traumatic memories here, not for insight on who you are now.”
“No, I really haven’t been in such a situation. My only job so far was as a junior drone for eight months with my last hive, and all I ever did was transfer food from the foraging annex to the storage cavern. I didn’t need to talk to anyone, and no-one would ever talk to me, and so there was no conflict.”
“I’ll just put down your lack of business communication experience now. You should highlight such glaring issues on your resume next time, or it looks dishonest. You can hardly expect us to hire you if you don’t have demonstrable problem solving skills.”
“How am I supposed to demonstrate myself if no-one gives me a job?”
“That’s your problem, and when you solve it perhaps you can use that on your resume. Moving right along, we’re short on time now. If offered a position here, what would you expect as compensation?”
“Oh not much at all sir. My last job only provided room and board, and I’d be happy with up to 20% less than that.”
“You’ve been away from the workplace a long time. Modern hives expect workers to manage their own accommodation. There is a flexible monetary reimbursement package however, and I believe it may come to just under 20% of the value of your last package. Assuming that your previous hive had something as cheap as the standard slum tunnels for junior workers. Our tunnels are slightly more expensive, but that’s due to them being the best around. No-one can match the population density of our worker tunnels. As for your actual compensation package, it would be two drops of nectar a day.”
“That sounds perfectly fair sir”, mumbled Mr. Smit, for whom even a drop of nectar would be a step up from his current subsistence struggles.
“Glad to see your expectations are reasonable” replied the stuffed suit smugly. The shine on his mandibles made it clear that he got more than two drops of nectar a day.

The hiring manager quickly continued the conversation, “We’re almost out of time, do you have any quick questions for me?”
“Yes sir. The position description just said ‘Drone’. Is this a manual labor role, a reproductive role or a combination of the two?”
“Oh my this is definitely just a manual labor position. Drones used for reproduction have a much more rigorous screening process. Full background check and DNA sequencing. Higher quality applicants too, you are certainly not qualified for that role.”
“But all they do is mate with the queen and then die!”
“True, but the Queen requires that only the best be sent to her chambers. Well, we’re out of time now so I’ll just wrap this up. Now we’re not likely to ever call you back, but if we did here’s what the role would entail. We’re expanding our mining operations and we’re looking to grow our team of drones who move loose rocks out of the tunnels. It’s all heavy lifting in unstable tunnels, but it’s a highly coveted position because you see sunlight occasionally. Still keen to be considered for this role?”
“Yes sir”, muttered the dejected drone.
“That’s great. We’ll keep your resume on file as we have a high mortality rate in this position. If you’re lucky, you’ll be hearing from us in six to twelve months.”
“Thank you sir”, Mr. Smit meekly replied as he got up from his uncomfortable seat. His squishy internal organs ached with pain from the prolonged compression.
“Okay you can leave now. Good bye Mr. Smith”
“I don’t have anywhere else to go…”
“Not a problem. I’ll have security throw you out.” the suit cheerfully replied. As Mr. Smit looked around, two giant mandibles with bodies attached came racing up the tunnels fore and aft. As he began to scream the real, human, Mr. Smit woke up.

He glanced apprehensively at the bedside clock; 0432 blinked back. He felt like going back to sleep but he couldn’t risk sleeping in again. His supervisor, Mr. Jones, had been riding his ass all week about arriving at 0905 on Monday. Not to mention that Mr. Jones said his job was riding on finishing that TPS report by tomorrow. So he got out of bed, had breakfast and got dressed (in that order – there was no-one else in his studio apartment). Fully alert after the first double shot coffee, he took his second with him in the car for the hour long commute. He enjoyed the peaceful, only lightly congested, freeway at five in the morning. He decided to wake up early more often to enjoy it; after all it’s the little things that add up in your daily grind.

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