I flunked a job interview over questions about shoplifting

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

I dated a man who worked for Circuit City, a now-defunct American consumer electronics retail company. He told me they were hiring, and he suggested I apply for a job.

Since I was out of work, I gave it a go. I filled out a job application, and they called me in for my first interview. Despite my social anxiety, I aced that first interview. I gave them all the answers I knew they were looking for, whether or not they were true.

Customers? I love them.

Angry customers? I love turning them into satisfied customers.

Customer service? I love it.

Customer complaints? I love solving them.

Nights and weekends? I love working them.

The job was almost mine if I wanted it, and I wanted it. I just had one final interview to go.

On the day of my last interview, they led me into the security office to be interviewed by the head of store security. We had a great conversation, and I answered all his questions to his satisfaction and my own until...

"Have you ever witnessed anyone shoplifting at one of your previous jobs?" he asked.

"Oh, yes," I replied. "When I worked at Value-Land Food Warehouse, I saw my coworkers stealing all the time," I gushed.

I launched into several fun anecdotes about the times I saw my fellow employees stealing not only from the grocery store where I worked but also from the department store next door.

"We were all teenagers working at our first-ever after-school jobs, and I guess some of us were a little free with the five-finger discount. We were like kids in a candy store. That doesn't make it right, but it was what it was," I said.

"What did you do about it?" he asked.

"Nothing," I replied. "Well, I just watched them."

"You watched them," he echoed. "Did you report them?"

"No," I replied. I felt suddenly aware that I had veered off the path of offering only the right answers.

"So what would you do if you saw one of your coworkers stealing from Circuit City?" he asked.

Visions of teenagers walking out the back door with car stereos stashed in their baggy sweatshirts flashed through my mind.

This interview is so done, I thought to myself.

"Well," I replied. "Now that I'm older and wiser, I would report them," I said.

And that was it. The interview was now officially done. He shook my hand and thanked me for my time before showing me the door, and no one from Circuit City ever called me again. I can't say I blame them.

It was probably for the best because there was no way I'd get involved if I saw one of my coworkers shoplifting. That's way above my paygrade.

If stores want to prevent internal theft, they need to hire and train more security staff, not rely on a clique of teenagers to handle their business. I wish I had told him that.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

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