Hundreds of hopeful people waited hours at the Athletic Round Table bingo hall Monday morning to gamble on 10-minute interviews for high-level jobs with Egghead Software.
A bingo reader board hung above the interviewing tables, and a best-bet roulette wheel leaned against a wall.
The job search was chancy, and the candidates knew it.
“I waited for about 3-1/2 hours,” Randy Michaud said. “I went in there, and the interview was about five or 10 minutes. That was about it. It was kind of discouraging. I came in raring to go, and by the time I got in there, I was hunched over.”
Almost 300 people started lining up at 7:30 a.m. Monday for the first session of three days of job fairs for Egghead. The company is preparing to transfer its corporate headquarters to Spokane from Seattle.
The company hopes to hire 40 to 50 people from the nine interview sessions during this job fair. The jobs will pay between $17,000 and $50,000 a year.
The morning turnout overwhelmed Egghead’s eight interviewers. More were called in for the afternoon session as the morning group interviews stretched past the lunch hour.
“We expected a pretty good turnout,” said Nicole Hillman, business recruiter with the Spokane Area Economic Development Council. “These are some of the uppermanagement positions. We didn’t expect this much. It’s great.”
Three council staff members showed up at 6:30 a.m. to set up the bingo hall. They tied up bunches of red and white balloons and hung white butcher paper to screen off the interview area from the 21 bingo tables that held job candidates.
Mike Stoddard dressed in an $800 Italian suit and $300 tasseled shoes. He waited more than two hours for his chance. He now works between 40 and 60 hours a week writing multimedia titles. He wants to be hired as a systems analyst.
Stoddard was one of the lucky ones. He answered the six screening questions well enough to be asked back for a more intensive round of interviews starting Thursday.
“I passed with flying colors,” he said.
Eric Lund boasts a doctoral degree in chemistry and a master’s in business administration. He works in Seattle as a technological analyst for the Washington Research Foundation, but he has family in Spokane. He applied for a job in finance.
As Lund waited, he read “Higher Superstition,” a book analyzing postmodern thought critical to modern science. Lund wasn’t optimistic about his chances with Egghead.
“It’s very difficult in five minutes to sell yourself in terms of their needs,” he said. “My background is a little bit different. Being a Ph.D. chemist and looking for a job in finance is a little bit unusual.”
Lund scanned the room and wondered about the background of other candidates. He wasn’t optimistic about their chances.
“Probably a whole lot of wishful thinking is going on in this room,” Lund said.
The candidates carried briefcases and Manila folders with their resumes and cover letters clipped inside. They gunned for one paralegal position and for several finance and information services jobs.
The company also interviewed retail candidates for a new Spokane store.
As the hours wore on, some people grew tired, and some grew discouraged. They jiggled their legs, folded their arms, put their faces in their hands and stared forward.
By the end of the first session, few candidates talked to each other. The silence was broken by the rings of cellular phones and the call from a person at the interview area’s glass doors, most often “finance” or “information services.”
One by one, each candidate walked forward.
“There’s a lot of quiet desperation here, folks,” muttered one waiting man, already more than five hours late for his job.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: Interviews Candidates also will be interviewed at 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. today and Wednesday. Another job fair is scheduled later in August and another in early September.