Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Job Interview at Starbucks

Dear Diary,

Here's how my job interview with Starbucks went down on October 21st at 11:30am.

I sat at a table at the King Street location across from Keith, the young manager, and Allison, the even younger assistant manager.

MANAGER (KEITH): How would you define good customer service?

ME: Well, first, let me start by saying this: I think Starbucks should get out of the coffee business.

MANAGER: Pardon me?

ME: If your baristas didn't have all these complicated coffee requests from your lunatic customers, employee morale would go through the roof.

ASSISTANT MANAGER (ALLISON): And what should our employees do if they're not making coffee.

ME: Well, let's say you have a customer who goes on vacation and they lose something in the water, like an earring, and their pair of earrings is ruined because they're missing one earring. You'd fly out your barista across the ocean and your barista would deep sea dive and find the earring that the customer lost. It'd be exactly like that old lady on Titanic. Another business I can see Starbucks exceeding at is rotating the wheels on trains.

Allison, the assistant manager, looked at me with incredulity in her eyes.

ASSISTANT MANAGER: That's interesting...

MANAGER: Eric, let's just pretend that Starbucks stays in the coffee business for the foreseeable future.

ME: Okay, I'm all for pretending...

MANAGER: Good. How would you react if a customer returned a cup of coffee to you, saying that they didn't like it?

ME: Well, that's a good question. Good question. Well, let me see... I think I'd take the cup and taste it myself. I'd have everyone behind the counter taste it, and then everyone in the staff room. I'd have all our customers at the tables taste it, and then I'd go out on the street and have everyone there taste it. Then I'd have everyone fill out a questionnaire about it, answering questions like: what kind of finish did the coffee have? Did the flavor linger on your tongue? Did it taste like Encore? Then I'd bring it to a vote: is this a good cup of coffee or not? Should it be awarded a medal? Then I'd have our customers at tables draw medals on paper and cut them out and color them gold, silver, bronze and then we'd award the medals to different coffees.

ASSISTANT MANAGER: What would the customer who returned the coffee be doing during all this?

ME: What was the question again... about the coffees and the medals? I forget.

MANAGER: Maybe we should ask a whole new question.


MANAGER: Eric, what would you do if you believed another team member wasn't pulling their own weight?

ME: Mmmm, what would I do?... I would call them out on it, and say, "You're not pulling your own weight... in fact, starting tomorrow, I think you should do my job and everybody else's job and all the customers' jobs." Like, let's say we have a customer named Joe who's dancing in the Nutcracker – I would make that team member who isn't pulling their own weight go to the Nutcracker show and dance for a few hours, see how they like being in those shoes. I'm sorry, what was the question again?

MANAGER: Eric, if I could be candid, I really don't think we have something to offer you here. I'm sorry, it's just that you're not what we look for in a Starbucks team player. You come across as eccentric... and disturbed, and possibly dangerous.

ME: Well, would you consider hiring a friend of mine, and then maybe I could collect a finder's fee from them?

MANAGER: Let's just say I would not hire anyone who knew you, ever. Eric... if you could leave this table... right now... it would make this less awkward... for all of us.

ME: All right... no problem.

I took my paper cup of coffee and began moving away.

ME: Thank you. Thank you for this opportunity.

The two managers just nodded and smiled, with an unsmiling look in their eyes. I sat at the table next to theirs. I stayed there from 11:30 in the morning until closing at 11:00 in the evening, just nursing the same cup of coffee, allowing myself a tiny sip now and then. As they moved about their busy day, I just stared at the managers and their employees. I never even got up to go to the washroom. So, please, if you visit the Starbucks on King Street, don't sit at the table by the newspaper stand.

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