The Interview

interview, interview room, creative writingWhen the woman on the phone asks for a meeting, I envision a comfortable table, a set of four stiff-backed chairs, a pitcher of ice water with four to six glasses, and a smallish window where some gloomy ray of sunlight strains to show through dusty blinds.

In other words, a setting like most of the interviews I’ve endured these past six months.

I knew nothing about this company when I applied for the positon of “Director of Possibilities”; we’ve only communicated by e-mail. At my age – on the upside of middle-age – I’m in dire straits, having applied for dozens of jobs in my field: CREATIVITY. My applications have been repeatedly denied.  Each of those firms want someone “fresh,” innovative,” “a thinker outside the box” – their terms for why I don’t get chosen for the job. blinds, office,

I know the real reason. Ageism.

But my spirits rise as I prepare for this up-coming meeting. I wear my trendiest “young” clothes: blue jeans with a snag at the knees (which I pay extra for), an orange sweater with a loose scarf around my neck to hide the wrinkles, and high-top florescent blue sneakers.

Thank God for the sneakers, I think with a doomed sense of humor as I park the car at the address I’ve been given. Turns out I’m in a state park. The instructions, just texted to me on my phone, state:

“Follow the path for five minutes. At the fork, bear left. At the pond, bear right. Then follow the birch trees to the chairs.”

interview, creative writing, photo promptAnd now here I am. Three empty chairs on a bed of tall green grass await with wildflowers dancing wildly in the background. No one else in sight.



I wrote this piece of flash fiction after viewing the photo prompt, above. I wonder what YOU imagine when you view this picture? 

126 thoughts on “The Interview

  1. I am *so* appreciating the timing of this piece, as I prepare for an interview later this morning!!! I’m jealous of the environs the character has encountered;). All I know is that a talking toad definitely belongs in one of those chairs.

    • I need to know how the interview went! I hope you kept this fanciful piece in your mind, and that imagining three chairs in the forest kept your vision clear, focused, and CREATIVE. 🙂

      • Those chairs could definitely have been in my interview… The place I went to had lawn games (resort), and an ocean view… Magic, indeed. And lucky for me, I got the job:). Thanks for starting off my morning with such a pleasant adventure!

  2. Pam,I love your response to this prompt and was hooked from the start and the slow build up of preparing for the interview! Wouldn’t that be a grand location for one! These reminded me of an area in the forest in Sweden called the ‘King’s Throne’ from ancient times. Today only the stone seats remain in a circle with a far grander one at the top…this is a mini modern version of that! Happy Weekend, my friend! 😀❤️

  3. Pam, how wonderfully you wrote this piece of flash fiction. You have me swinging with your feelings and thoughts and then – surprise! There we are,
    In a lovely garden with three chairs. How inviting. Where is the little coffee table for our drink and cake?
    I have been to the stone circle Annika talks about and it really would invite to a deep and thoughtful interview. No ageism there.😊.

    • I’ve never been to Sweden and feel as if I’ve missed out on much by not doing so. I agree – get people out in the forest, listening to the woodland animals, smelling the pine and the acorn, feeling the breeze in the trees, and ageism and discrimination are erased. Only creativity abounds.

    • YES, I think that’s the point of this chosen place for an interview. Potential employees can express and relate true “out there” possibilities. If only we all could get out of the boxed-in walls of bureaucracy and let creativity abound.

  4. I adore this story, Pam. I’m positive the woman with fluorescent blue sneakers is a shoe in for the job! When I looked at the chairs I imagined forest animals recently vacating them, cleaning up the remains of their impromptu party so two legged creatures are none the wiser.

    • My imagination runs rampant with the thought, but in this case, I’m having such a fun time hearing the story lines that others create from this scene. Thanks so much, Mary. I plan on some ‘serial flash fiction’ in the near future. ❤

  5. Great flash! This picture definitely looks like anyone who sits in these chairs will be talking with purpose, don’t you think? I think I would also love an interview like that. My library job interview was long (indoors in a windowless room) and I was asked very specific questions and then took a test on the Dewey Decimal System (it was easy) at the end. I hadn’t been on an interview in 20 years, so I didn’t know what to expect, but my previous job interviews were a lot less structured. Maybe someday, I will have an outdoor one like your narrator did!

    • Anyone who finds a test on the Dewey Decimal System easy – is a genius in my mind!
      Hmmm, an invisible library only available to those who can access the secret chant, given in these chairs by the head librarian if the two ‘inductees’ pass the Dewey Decimal System test. How’s that?

  6. A job interview! Who would have imagined that your mind would have taken those three chairs and moved in that direction??!! My first thought involved fairies. I’m thinking fairies lead a little girl out in the woods to those three chairs. (The creative mind won’t give any other hints as to what happened unless I start typing.) Good one!

  7. I was so hoping this was real, Pam–and I know you would have aced this interview. I can imagine you wearing–and rocking–that outfit.
    So many interviews now are phone interviews–or SKYPE.

    • How BORING – interviews by phone or Skype. Most likely, those jobs are set in sterile walled cubicles. I’m fortunate to work in a space that overlooks forest and hawk with the classical music beaming out Magic Hour composed by Kenji Bunch while the aroma of my crock pot beef stew sneaks up the stairs to tell me when it’s dinner time. 🙂

  8. I see three old ladies, sisters, known collectively as The Magpies. They’re sitting there waiting for their grandnephew to arrive with his fiancée, who they already know they do not like.

    • L.O.V.E your imagination!!!! Yes, and when the fiancée arrives, turns out she has some dark magic and she turns the three sisters into thee brothers, who then conspire to…. well, you know the REST of the story, I’m sure.

  9. You need a response with a positive tale. Unfortunately I seem to have lost my talent for fiction now that I’m involved in marketing nonfiction. Your early mention of “ageism” brought back memories of interviews where I’d walk into the room and watch interviewers’ faces fall as they thought, “I don’t want to hire my mother.”

  10. What a wonderful piece of flash fiction, Pam! It would be so great for interviews to take place in an environment like this! My first thought when I saw the picture was that Alice and the Mad Hatter had already left the tea party. 😄

  11. I loved this, Pam!!!! My now, long ago career in HR made me laugh, wonder and speculate at this quirky,
    unusual interview setting!!! Loved the job title and the requirements!! LOL!!! Thank you for
    this delightful little story!! Would love to hear Chapter 2….

    • Hello my long-time (but long-time no-see) friend. Yes, I thought of you with your HR background. Think of how much fun you could have had if you had free-range on the interview setting! Knowing you, though, perhaps it would have been on the deck of a sailboat. 🙂

    • I hope you DO try it, Jennifer. Photo prompts are so much fun, particularly if we writers don’t THINK about what we’re going to write, but just move the pen and see where it leads. That’s what happened with me. I saw the photo and realized immediately that this woman was going to have the surprise of her life when she reached the interview address. 🙂

  12. You got me! I thought this was a real story and wanted more. What an original spin on this photograph. When I looked at the photograph, I thought of Queen Victoria spending the time in the woods — you can tell I’m a fan of the PBS show.

    • You and me both, Patricia. I finally just saw the first episode of the new session (there were two parts for some reason…?). Yes, the forest was so much more prevalent and part of life back then, before it was cut down as the population increased tenfold.

  13. What magic you weave, Pam. I should know by now your story telling mixes reality and make-believe, but I fell for it hook, line and stinker. 🙂

    Still, I understand the truth of age-ism, which I have encountered recently trying to test the waters for a publisher. TIght jeans and an orange sweater might do it – ha!

  14. Pam, your stories turn out to be true in the end and I wasn’t expecting this interview to be fictional but those chairs in sharp contrast to the prompt speak volumes about your creative spirit. I would love to be interviewed in those surroundings though I have always enjoyed to be on the other side of the table but I am delighted that there is no table! 🙂

  15. “A stiffed back” interview for a director of burial services with the cemetery bordered on one side by a thinned forest. Or it could be an interview for a field manager/ranger of a nature preserve. The job seeker might be quizzed about the trees and plants and birds that inhabit the area and what could be offered to encourage public participation.

    • You are a realist and a thinker, Yvonne. Great ideas on what’s really going on in this photo prompt. Made me think of when my daughter took a teaching test in MA after she graduated with a teaching degree in CA. The test included lots of questions about MA trees and plants, but she only knew about CA nature, not New England’s!!! Ack. 🙂

  16. I love your response to this photo, Pam. Just seeing the photo alone would make me start thinking of a scary story. I like your creative, positive spin!

    • I don’t/can’t watch scary horror films, nor read horror books (too many nightmares afterwards). So, yes, my fiction turns more fantastical and toward the light. Thanks so much for reading it here! xo

      • I’ll join you in that beautiful forest. It sounds cool. I hate to admit that I’m using the air-con on and off to stay cool. Our summer is still quite warm (hot, even).

  17. Loved reading this Pamela, ‘The Director of Possibilities’ now that would really interest me 🙂 As to the chairs my first thoughts were saying, now these interviewers know a thing or two about Nature when we sit within her office of possibilities.
    I want the story to continue as you sit down take in your surroundings to see robed figures walk out of the woodland with light surrounding them. As you felt their harmony envelop you.
    And when one sits down to ask the first question..
    ” So tell me Pamela, do you Believe in All things are Possible? and how would you tackle some one who said told you only Dreamers thought that? 🙂

    From one Dreamer to another.. Enjoy Your Creative Year as Director Pamela.. You got the Job! xxx ❤

  18. This was great Pamela…I loved wondering where you were going with this. I also wondered if it was you writing or a new character in your book. You have me thinking now.
    The setting is calm and serene and beautiful…I love the woods. I see myself sitting there, waiting for my two best friends…I have brought the wine, one will bring the lemon meringue pie and the third will fly in late, in total disarray, flopped in her chair and asks, “what’s happening today”…the two of us that arrived on time, with our gifts, will roll our eyes to the heavens…once again.

  19. I love this story, Pam. So hopeful.
    (I’ve been trying [trying everything] for 5+ years to get a job [any job] back in the southwest. Usually I’m just ignored. I could count the number of interviews I’ve had on one hand. I hide my age on applications as best I can, but they can tell age by the level of experience. As for the federal jobs… Oh no of course they wouldn’t engage in ageism. The date of birth is on the top line of their forms.)
    So this little story gave me a smile. Hugs.

  20. This is a great piece of fiction, Pam. I must be honest, that chair setting certainly doesn’t remind me of an interview in my field (accounting). It looks like something secret and fun and to do with reading and literature.

  21. I’ve been meaning to come over and visit, so your comment on “The Art of Racing in the Rain” finally got me here. (And thanks for visiting.) I liked your piece a lot – on target, I’d say.
    Me, I had a pretty strong reaction to those chairs. I felt they were for me, my mom, and my dad, who have both passed over. We were going to be given a chance to discuss how our lives went together, to clear away the old misunderstandings, to remember “the best of” our shared experiences, to see what they think of how their child is doing now, and to just let go of all that bothered us, and see each other in as pure a state as possible. And then I’ll be left in the chair alone for awhile to find a good place for it all in my heart.

  22. I loved your choice of flash fiction to match these three chairs, Pam. Definitely you would have been offered your position of a lifetime! Your outfit sounds positively fun and no one would guess your age, my dear, anyway!
    I look at these chairs as a job interview for a member of the gypsy’s caravan. Out of the woods would be a handsome older version of Johnny Depp, wondering if you could improvise a scene from your favorite play or movie.
    I would turn my chair around and act very relaxed, talking like I was confident to the other two people. I would say I wasn’t easily swayed or did I easily fall for suave men.
    Then I would stand up, put a foot up on the chair and try to seem “hip” like a modern day Katherine from “Taming in the Shrew.”

  23. Oooh I love this! I want more 🙂 Who turned up to interview you? The trees? Fairies? People who’ve decided to live and work in the woods away from the mainstream? The wind? And what does the job involve? Great piece, and it’s full of possibilities!!! You definitely would have got the job 🙂 Love, Harula xxx

  24. Pingback: The Interview — roughwighting – Review Your Resume for a Successful Job Application

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