Are you Michael Scott?

The job interview question you should ask before accepting employment

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Sep 23 · 5 min read

Show me a “The Office” fan and I’m pretty certain you’ve pointed out a Michael Scott fan.

Steve Carell is lovable. Michael Scott? Not so much. (Photo credit: Sgt. Michael Connors/Wikimedia Commons)

But ask those “The Office” fans whether they’d want to work for Michael Scott in real life. I certainly hope the answer is no. I worked for three (and one Dwight)— all in the same building. I’m still drinking Merlot while trying to forget these people.

Before you take on that next job, and when your hiring manager asks if you have any questions, make sure you ask him/her this: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you relate to Michael Scott?” If you hear any number over five, fling your suitcase and/or purse out of the conference room and don’t stop running until you reach the train.

This is the boss who creates office parties for coworkers you absolutely do not like — and rearranges your workday so you have to attend.

First there was the mandatory half-day, in which I had to come to the office party in order to get paid for the day. And the latter half of the day was spent celebrating an assistant editor’s bridal shower — Boss #1’s BFF in the office. (Note: The assistant editor had already been told by several writers that she reminded them of Dwight Schrute. She was offended, but it was so very, very accurate.) We wasted a bunch of toilet tissue rolls creating “wedding gowns.” We played games trying to guess her favorite things.

For the love of God, somebody just break the law already so I can go back to my desk.

This is the boss who wants to create “games” just to “mess with you” because he “likes you.”

I found three adorable little fake plants to line up on the edge of my desk cubicle. People would walk by, and we’d have a chat about our green and black thumbs. Then here comes Boss #2, who wanted to hide one of the plants on another person’s desk. Every. Single. Time. He. Walked. By. For at least a month. And I daydreamed about clocking him upside the head with all three plants. Thunk! Plop! Pow! Eventually I just took the plants off the cubicle panel and put them by my family photos. His response: “You hurt my feelings” for not wanting to play hide-and-seek.

This is the boss who has no idea how clueless (s)he is about race, and you have no idea where to start.

Mrs. Dwight Schrute had the idea for a “news” story about white people and dreadlocks, and Boss #1 OK’d the idea. Then there was the story about beautiful women — none of which could possibly ever be black women. Boss #1, Guatemalan and clueless, excused the racism of it all by saying, “Hey, we didn’t make the rules. We’re just making a fun photo gallery about it.” This is shortly after Boss #1 also asked me, straight-faced, “Aren’t minorities used to being the only one in the room? Why would there be more than one?”

Then here comes Boss #2 again (a brotha) who constantly reminded me his wife was white, including during the orientation lunch. At some point, I wondered if he wanted me to give him a round of applause for being in an interracial relationship. (Side note: I was also dating a Romanian man at the time, but I didn’t do the LaVar Ball dance in the breakroom, constantly reminding people about it.)

I halfheartedly agreed to a second lunch with Boss #1 a year later, and he loudly boasted at the restaurant about how gloriously woke his wife was for talking about Malcolm X during a panel discussion. Yeah, buddy, we all know who Malcolm X is. There’s a reason the historical flick earned $102 million at the box office. And that’s not even counting those who read the autobiography about the real person. I spent the rest of my time at that job darting down hallways to make sure he couldn’t ask me to go to lunch a third time.

This is the boss who still hasn’t figured out the purpose of Human Resources.

Imagine meeting a new member of your marketing team, and your boss closes the PowerPoint presentation to show off shirtless photos of Idris Elba. Boss #3 is perplexed that a potentially new member of our marketing team didn’t know who “Luther” was already. And then she moaned when she found photographs of him. Add that on to having an editorial meeting with the same boss, who ignored an editing conversation we were having to talk about the “cute ass” of the new Human Resources guy who walked by. Now add a splash of “f — k you” greetings to any employee who had the day off when she didn’t.


Photo credit: Superrcat/Wikimedia Commons

No one wants a boss who doesn’t have a sense of humor. The laid-back boss who you can giggle with and grab a drink at the bar with is a breath of fresh air. But there’s a massive difference between the boss who makes you happy to come to work tomorrow and the Michael Scotts of the world that make you think the unemployment office is a spectacular place to be. Good luck out there, job hunters. May you avoid anybody but Pams, Darryls and Jims, and never get to the point where you realize you’re turning into Stanley.

The Haven

A Place to Be Funny Without Being a Jerk

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

14-year journalist; freelance writer/editor (Upwork); Wag! dog walker; Rover dog sitter; Toastmasters SAA & member; cohost of Do Not Submit; Shamontiel.com

The Haven

The Haven

A Place to Be Funny Without Being a Jerk

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