Thursday, 05 June 2014
By Vicki E. Jones
The year was 1995. I had some merchandising experience – taking product counts of specific products in stores, setting out new product, changing where the product was located, etc., and had answered an ad in the local paper for a merchandiser for a product I knew would involve lightweight boxes full of lightweight items: condoms. A well-known condom company needed someone to service stores in my area, and a lightweight product would be easy on my back.
To my surprise, I got a response to my resume, and soon found myself on the commuter train to downtown Chicago where I would get off the train at the last stop and walk the remaining half mile to the hotel where the interviews were taking place.
All interviews would take place in the lobby of the hotel which was a large, comfortable area with three sofas arranged in a u-shape.
It was a beautiful, warm sunny day and I was wearing a nice business suit, not too formal but appropriate for the occasion meaning a navy blue pantsuit with an appropriate white top under the jacket. I was dressed for success.
When I arrived, a tall, handsome, middle-aged man was already seated on one of the sofas. Two women were seated on an adjacent sofa and appeared to be in their 70s.
The man who would interview me had perfect silver-white hair that appeared to have been newly styled by an expensive salon, an expensive business suit, expensive-looking designer glasses frames and looked like he had just stepped out of a tanning salon. He stood and introduced himself and we shook hands.
He began my interview by talking about the condom company – its history, market share and expected future which I knew would be a solid future. This was one of the top condom companies in the United States and I was looking for a permanent part-time position, so I felt it would be a good match.
Then he asked the usual first-interview questions such as why I wanted the job and what made me the most qualified person for the job.
After I answered his preliminary questions, he told me about the new product that they wanted a merchandiser for: large-size condoms for generously endowed men. The two ladies on the next sofa had been listening with interest. Now, they looked at each other, began to smile and stared at us intently.
My interviewer then asked me two questions: Did I think the new product would sell successfully? And if so, why?
I thought for a moment and answered honestly: Yes, I thought the product would sell well. In fact, I thought it would sell millions!
“Why?” he asked.
I answered, “Because every man in America will think that he needs one!”
He looked at me and was absolutely speechless. Then he thanked me for my time, shook my hand and said he would get back to me.
When he left, the two ladies on the next sofa exploded into uncontrolled laughter. I knew I had probably blown the interview with my response to his question but it was the only answer I could think of and it was certainly honest.
I never did hear from him but then, I didn’t see any such product come into existence at my local stores after that, either which made me wonder if the company decided that large-size condoms for generously endowed men were not needed in my area after all.
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