Rilke Goes On a Job Interview

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Interviewer (I): How did you hear about this position?

Rilke (R): A whispering in dark streets.

I: That ice storm really did knock out a good deal of our power. Why do you want this job?

R: If this is arrogant, may God forgive me… I will sing you as no one has.

I: I suppose that could come in handy on the phones. Tell me a little about yourself.

R:  I want to describe myself like a painting that I looked at closely for a long time, like a saying that I finally understood, like the pitcher I use every day, like the face of my mother, like a ship that carried me through the wildest storm of all.

I: Detail-oriented! Fantastic! Can you tell me about a time you made a mistake?

R: I am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough to make every moment holy.

I: We work in short-walled cubicles here. I like to think of it as privacy meets non-privacy. One foot in, one foot out. What do you consider to be your greatest strength?

R: I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm, or a great song.

I: Versatility. Okay. How about your greatest weakness?

R: Where I am closed, I am false.

I: Hmm. Where do you see yourself in five years?

R: You see, I want a lot. Maybe I want it all.

I: Ladder-climber. Noted. What type of management style do you prefer?

R: [Someone who] walks with us silently out of the night.

I: Daylight savings will be over soon. That parking garage is more innocuous than it looks. Speaking of forging ahead, how have you exercised leadership?

R: I am sometimes like a tree rustling over a gravesite and making real the dream of the one its living roots embrace.

I: A motivator! I might seat you next to Jenny; she picks her nails most days and spends an inordinate amount of time on Snapchat and whispering about her most recently failed relationship. How do you deal with outside pressure?

R: There’s a power in me to grasp and give shape to my world.

I: More and more you’re sounding like our candidate. What do you like to do outside of work?

R: I love the dark hours of my being.

I: Hmm, so you’re an introvert. Less desirable in sales. Would you be willing to relocate?

R: I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.

I: Sounds like it won’t be a problem. What are your salary requirements?

R: We are grasped by what we cannot grasp.

I: I truly don’t know what you mean. Tell me, what motivates you?

R: The dragons in our lives are…waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.*

I: I feel very much that way about cats. What is your biggest pet peeve?

R: So many are alive who don’t seem to care. Casual, easy—they move in the world as though untouched.

I: As long as you don’t use terms like “drone” or “cog” around here you’ll do fine. Do you have any questions for us?

R: As it happens, the wall between us is very thin. Why couldn’t a cry from one of us break it down?

I: Remind me why should we hire you.

R: When my soul touches yours a great chord sings!


*All lines taken from The Book of Hours, except this one, which was taken from Letter to a Young Poet.


Liz Blood is considering a move to Aspen. She's got no food, no job, and
her pets heads are falling off.

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