An Asylum Seeking Migrant Answers Tricky Office Job Interview Questions

What would you say are your greatest strengths?

I think of myself as a rational risk-taker.  Look, I was happy back home, working a physically taxing but not uninteresting job in the lemon and orange groves and contemplating a retirement some distance away. Then a gang of thugs approached my teenage son, who I have devoted my life to educating and who would soon attend a university in Europe, if everything worked out. They brandished a pistol at him and told him they would kill him if he didn’t join their gang and start extorting protection money from the local merchants, who were our lifelong friends. That’s when I decided we’d have to get out and our family snuck out of Suchitepéquez under the cover of darkness to journey thousands of miles through unknown lands, all to face an uncertain future here. Oh, you’re going to ask why I didn’t go to the police, aren’t you? Guess who was in that gang? That’s right, the police. But, you know, when you can’t change something, you do something about it.  I’m just not the kind of guy who’s going to leave the copier unattended after a paper jam, you understand?

What are your biggest weaknesses?

Okay, I know this is a trick question.  I’ll be honest with you, I cut some corners to get here.  If you see a different background as a strength rather than a weakness, that’s great. I have a dual degree in physics and engineering, but I never got to use it because society kept collapsing, often when your government decided to overthrow ours.

Another weakness is that  I’m afraid of small, enclosed spaces. I traveled two hundred miles in the vibrating tire well of a truck and that freaked me out.  But if I can have a desk and a reasonably sized cubicle, it won’t be a problem.

Tell me about a challenge you were able to overcome?

After we had crossed into Mexico and found ourselves in Tijuana, were near the U.S. border, we hired a coyote named Ernesto, who said he would guide us safely through the desert, but I didn’t trust him. Other people warned me about Ernesto. Said I couldn’t rely on him.  But those same people also said trying to cross into the United States without experienced help was suicide.

So I had my son peak over Ernesto’s shoulder and learn the code he used to lock his iPhone – I believe this demonstrates my ability to delegate and qualifies me for management.

Two nights into the journey, when I was sure that Ernesto was going to abandon us to the elements, stealing himself back to the safety of Tijuana with all of the money we had given him, I took his iPhone out of his backpack when he was asleep.

Ernesto spent the rest of the next day’s journey, a thirty mile hike through scorching desert,  searching for it. But he never said anything about it, probably not wanting to betray his own weakness. I, of course, had shut it off so that it wouldn’t ring, which I believe shows my attention to detail.  You have to plan your work and work your plan, I’ve always believed that.

On the third night, Ernesto did abandon us, but I had his phone and my son had the code, so we were able to use the GPS on his fitness tracker to guide us safely into U.S. territory. I can also tell you that I burned 1,536 calories that night.

I’m not sure how Ernesto found his way back to Tijuana without the phone, and since you’re probably going to ask for my greatest professional regret, I’ll admit that’s it. Ernesto was a shifty scumbag, but I hope he’s not a pile of baked bones in the sun. I think my compassion is, by the way, one of my good traits.

What is your greatest professional reg– oh.  What do you do with your time off?

Oh, that’s a good one. Honestly, for most of my life, when I had time off from one job, I used it to work another job.  What can I say? I love my family and will do anything to ensure their safety and happiness. I’ve done construction, handy work, drove a cab, I fix electronics.  I mean, I have a dual degree in engineering and physics, it’s just not where the jobs were in a country constantly on the verge of societal and economic collapse, what are you gonna do?

But I understand that you have a concept here called “work-life balance,” so I would probably spend time reading books that will make me a better employee.  I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself. I’d spend time with my family, too. I love them so much.

Why do you want to work at this company?

Look around.  I don’t mean to sound rude but I could come here, work three times harder than any of you and it would still be the easiest job I’ve ever had in my life. What’s not to like? Hi