Bad Ideas, Biglaw, Food, Interview Stories, Job Searches

Interview Horror Stories: The Roll Recycler

mountain of bread rolls.JPGThe evening air is turning crisp. The kids are back in school. You’re starting to think about where to spend Thanksgiving. That’s right, everyone: Autumn is here. (Official start of fall this year: Saturday, September 23.)
In the legal world, everyone knows what fall means: job interviews. Second- and third-year law students are interviewing for summer associate positions at law firms. Third-year law students, as well as recent law school graduates, are interviewing for prestigious judicial clerkships. (You can find out the latest clerk hiring info here.)
To celebrate the season, we’re going to share with you some of the more interesting or amusing interview stories we’ve heard. To make a contribution, please email us (subject line: “Interview Story”).
Please note that your story doesn’t have to be a tale of disaster. Stories about interviews that are weird, cute, or heartwarming are also welcome.
We’ll kick things off with this little anecdote:

I don’t mean to be the etiquette police; I’ve committed many a faux pas over the years. And I understand that not everyone grows up in privileged surroundings where they learn, from an early age, which fork is which.

But I found this lunch behavior rather odd, coming from an interview candidate who went to a top college and is now at a top law school. Presumably she has attended some formal events, semi-formal events, or business meals, where she has had the chance to observe others.

So here’s the story. We’re at an interview lunch. The candidate takes a roll from the bread basket. She butters it. She takes a bite out of it. And then she PUTS IT BACK IN THE BREAD BASKET.

None of us said anything; but everyone noticed. I could not believe my eyes.

One of the other associates at the table takes out her Blackberry — perhaps also a breach of etiquette, but quite common in this town — and taps out a message. A few seconds later, my Blackberry vibrates. I apologize for the interruption — “I’m waiting for an urgent message from a client” — and check my email.

It’s a message from my colleague across the table. Subject line: “Bread.” Message text: “Did she just do that?”

It’s time for Above the Law to perform our mitzvah for the day — what’s known in the publishing trade as “service journalism,” or “news you can use.”
Today we offer job applicants this friendly advice: After you remove a piece of bread from the communal bread basket, it is considered yours. Never return it to the basket. As John Locke might have said, by “mixing it with your labor” — by lifting the roll out of the basket, and placing it on your bread plate — you have converted that communal property into your own.
So please, when it comes to rolls in the bread basket, “no backsies.” We know that people are starving in sub-Saharan Africa. But your buttered, half-eaten roll of sourdough will never make it to them. Thank you.
Cf. Seinfeld, The Muffin Tops. For those of you not familiar with that classic episode, excerpts from the script appear after the jump.

From the script for Seinfeld, “The Muffin Tops”:
Rebecca: Are you the ones leaving the muffin pieces behind our shelter?
Elaine: You been enjoying them?
Rebecca: They’re just stumps.
Elaine: Well they’re perfectly edible.
Rebecca: Oh, so you just assume that the homeless will eat them, they’ll eat anything?
Mr. Lippman: No no, we just thought…
Rebecca: I know what you thought. They don’t have homes, they don’t have jobs, what do they need the top of a muffin for? They’re lucky to get the stumps.
Elaine: If the homeless don’t like them the homeless don’t have to eat them.
Rebecca: The homeless don’t like them.
Elaine: Fine.
Rebecca: We’ve never gotten so many complaints. Every two minutes, “Where is the top of this muffin? Who ate the rest of this?”
Elaine: We were just trying to help.
Rebecca: Why don’t you just drop off some chicken skins and lobster shells.
Elaine: I think I might.

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