On February 1, Revolver launched its most ambitious WANTED contest to date. We asked writers to create a fictional character and apply to a real job. The job? A 3-month prompt-based SERIAL PROJECT on Revolver. The editors narrowed it to down 5 semi-finalists out of the 33 submissions we received. What follows are their characters’ answers to the first round of screener questions. Want to see this character make it to next round? Tell us in the comments.
Katie Ennis. And can I just say, right off the bat? I am excited to be here, excited about this opportunity. Very excited. Is that your husband, in the picture there? What a catch! What a silver fox! And those kids, are those your kids? They are going to be such catches! Little future foxes! You can just tell. Such a lovely, foxy family. Which is sort of beside the point. The point being that I am so, so excited about this possibility. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
2. Reason for leaving prior job?
Sort of a lack of upward growth opportunities? I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with OmniCorp Industries. But I think I’m definitely ready for new challenges elsewhere? Also, there’s been kind of a grisly string of ax murders at our corporate headquarters, I don’t know if you’ve heard?
And please understand: I am NOT the type of person who focuses on the negative. But the ax murders have definitely led to a work environment where it’s difficult to thrive, and I am so ready to flourish elsewhere in a new, exciting role such as this one. So, so ready.
3. Have you been convicted of a prior crime, and if so, what and when?
No, nothing like that. Of course all current living OmniCorp Industry employees are under investigation, due to the unsolved axe murders and all, but that’s just to be thorough. There’s been a lot of “where were you between the hours of five pm and eight pm on Wednesday night?”-type questions, and the answer is always so easy: I was working! That’s how committed I am to making sure the job is done right—I will stay as late as needed, burn that midnight oil, do whatever it takes to make my team succeed. And beyond the satisfaction of a job well done, it serves as a great alibi! Ha!
I apologize, I shouldn’t joke about it, Chris was an amazing guy and we all miss him every day.
4. Do you have any restrictions on your ability to travel? If so, please explain.
No, I love to travel! In fact, if you have any far-away offices, I would love to be considered for placement there. There was sort of a spooky message in the cafeteria of my current employer this week? Like a white sheet with red painted letters—and we’re all really really hoping it was red paint, because MAN was there a lot of oozing red puddles all over the floor—saying “MAXIMIZE PROFITS OR FACE MAXIMAL CARNAGE”; and my reaction to that is like, ok, if I am not safe HERE, I will do extraordinary work over THERE, with Best Buy, such an amazing Fortune 500 company with exciting positions all over the world, whole oceans away from my current work environment, which has been proving negative, stifling, and extremely murder-heavy.
Again, with the investigation the police have asked that no one leave the state just quite yet, but I am so confident that they will understand the need for haste. So, so confident.
5. Do you think a manager/ boss / employer should be feared or liked? Explain your answer.
I believe, more than being feared or liked, a manager should be respected. I think with “like” and “fear”, you run the risk of entering territory where it’s difficult to sustain a working relationship. I don’t want my manager to take it easy on me just because we’re friends, and vice-versa—I don’t want to feel I can’t challenge my boss just because he’s doing friend-type things for me. Like when John and I were in the break room, eating some leftover birthday cake, and we heard this screaming coming from the elevator banks? And John got all pale and clammy but said, “Katie, run for the stairs, I will check to see what’s happening!” and he took out his tiny Swiss Army pocketknife and started walking all shaky-legged towards the elevator bank, even though the screaming had stopped and now all we could hear was this terrible silence, like even the air conditioner seemed to have stopped its constant sighing at that moment, even the machines seemed breathless at the horror taking place on floor 22? I knew John was just trying to be the “nice boss,” and we should have covered each other’s backs as we BOTH made our way to the emergency stairs. Should John ever be seen again, I will definitely give him that feedback.
Conversely, an office run on fear is never as effective as an office run on respect. An employee who is in constant fear of her job and/or life won’t feel safe enough to take the innovative risks that a successful businesswoman needs to take to help her company succeed. Like, the disturbing correlation of the ax murder victims to employees who hadn’t made their spring-quarter forecasted sales numbers? And our new and mysterious CEO Brian Horn’s pronouncement that “We will cut out the fat from our corporation and make it the lean, mean, online-retail-industry-leading machine that OmniCorp Industry was always destined to be, no matter what difficult decisions need to be made, because that is what our stockholders and our customers deserve?” When I heard that I wanted to tell Bryan, “Hello! That is not helping morale among your terrified and rapidly diminishing workforce!” But I would never feel comfortable giving that feedback for fear of an ax finding its way into the back of my skull. Whereas in a respect-driven workplace, feedback is always welcome. It really is all about respect.
6. Can you describe a time when your work was criticized and how did you handle it? Please be honest.
Sure! Recently, my current place of work had its annual performance review. And I don’t think it’s being boastful to say that my numbers this past year have been phenomenal, that I’ve really pushed the boundaries of what has been tried in the modern online retail environment and that those efforts have lead to overwhelming success, a success driven by my hundred-hour work weeks and by always carrying a “can-do” attitude; but even with all of that, I was still feeling nervous, because reviews can be stressful and nearly a fifth of my coworkers had recently been exterminated via hatchet wounds sustained at their homes, in their cars and in their cubicles, etc. The walk to the conference room was very quiet due to the recent murder-based turnover of personnel, giving me lots of time to think to myself, “Katie, YOU know that you are a spunky and successful lady-titan of industry, now go in there and show THEM!”
Of course, imagine my surprise when I enter the conference room at 11:45 AM, exactly on time, and not only is Tess Lynch still in the room (whose review was supposed to finish fifteen minutes prior), but there at the head of the table is CEO Brian Horn himself, wiping his hands with a filthy-looking handkerchief, looking very upset!
“I’m so sorry, I can come back,” I started to say, but Brian waved his hand for me to sit. I sat. Tess Lynch, I now noticed, was looking incredibly dead, with this glazed-over expression of horror and an ice pick protruding from her tummy. Her sales reports were spread out all bloodied on the table in front of her, and I shuddered when I saw how low her numbers were—down three percent from the year prior! No wonder Bryan looked upset.
“She was like that when I came in,” Bryan said.
“Oh,” I said, and brought out my folder of sales numbers.
And when I launched in to my review speech, I admit, my voice was sounding a bit shaky and quiet, and I may have even been whimpering a bit, due to the stress of the situation and my friend being in such a difficult, dead way and all. And my CEO said, “Look, Ms. Ennis, you can drive all the fantastic results in the world, but if you can’t speak about those successes with confidence, what good will it do you?” And I noticed he was playing with something sharp and shiny-looking underneath the table, and I thought to myself: Katie, focus! Be the businesswoman you know yourself to be! Get out of this room alive!
So I took a deep breath, finished my self-review with a much more confident tone, and Mr. Horn commended my ability to speak up for my accomplishments and told me I was free to leave. I’ll admit to you, I cried from the joy of walking out of the conference room that day. The recycled office air has never tasted so sweet; my swively office chair has never cradled me so comfortably. Business, Mr. Horn helped me realize, is a battlefield. And not a fairytale battlefield where everyone is trying to be a hero but a real one, a scary one, where so much is lost and your survival is accountable to exactly one person—yourself.
Which is not to imply that I’m not a team player! Please don’t take it that way. I’m just a bit nervous. Not to be dramatic, but it sort of feels like my life depends upon getting this job, some days! I just want to communicate how hard I will work for you. I will be the best. I will never tire. I will hold myself responsible for my actions. Please take me away from all of this. I will be everything you’ve ever wanted in an employee, and oh so much more.
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WANTED is an occasional community writing contest run by Revolver. We give a prompt and our readers respond. If you’d like to receive email alerts—and that’s all you’ll get, a short email—saying there’s a new one, sign up here: