1293: Job Interview

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Job Interview
When you talk about the job experience you'll give me, why do you pronounce 'job' with a long 'o'?
Title text: When you talk about the job experience you'll give me, why do you pronounce 'job' with a long 'o'?


Following on from his attempts at networking, Beret Guy, the oddball of the xkcd cast, conducts an interview for a position at his mysterious company.

Much like most of Beret Guy's interactions with people, Beret Guy is cheerful and upbeat, yet indicates that he has at best a scrambled understanding of how people in this situation normally act. Because of this, the job interview becomes increasingly bizarre, starting with Beret Guy's assertion that the company headquarters is a "real building [he] found", implying that the building's reality might be in question. In addition, "finding" the building may imply that he does not own or rent it, but simply found it empty and moved in. He says his company makes "stuff for phones", but then adds, "like apps and stickers," two wildly different products in terms of both production and profitability. He is strangely vague about both the position ("someone to write on our computers") and the salary ("a bunch of paychecks"). Then he mentions ghosts, which is either a powerful disincentive from joining the company, yet another sign that Beret Guy is mentally unsound, or both.

The strip finishes with Beret Guy plugging a cord into what appears to be an electrical outlet clumsily labeled "Soup," which then, implausibly, actually starts dispensing soup. Most electrical outlets do not function like this.[citation needed] However, this is a typical behaviour of Beret Guy - see a similar example in: 1395: Power Cord. It is possible that the electrical outlet is connected to a pipe which supplies soup from a soup reservoir or kitchen elsewhere in the facility, which would require the fixture to have a specialist valve-connector and the 'cable' to involve a pipe with a self-sealing end that 'keys' the valve open. It may even be more likely, given Beret Guy's 'abilities', that the outlet is taking electricity from a suitable power supply and the cord ultimately uses mass-energy conversion to turn it into soup; this would be in line with the possible operating mechanism of Beret Guy's water-creating dam in 2710: Hydropower Breakthrough.

The title text may be a reference to the biblical story of Job (pronounced with a long O to rhyme with globe), who was put through many horrendous ordeals to test his faith in God. This suggests that the interviewee will be taking on not a "job experience" but rather a "Job experience" (i.e. the job will be a horrendous ordeal).


[Beret Guy walks in, followed by a...'prospective hire'.]
Beret Guy: Welcome to our company! We're headquartered here, in this real building I found!
[Both people sit down at a table. The 'hire' has a tray with food and a beverage. Beret Guy has a bowl. In the adjacent wall, there is a power outlet with a paper label taped to it marked "Soup". A small roll of wire sits next to Beret Guy's chair.]
'Hire': What do you.. do?
Beret Guy: We make stuff for phones! Like apps and stickers.
[Beret Guy grabs the roll of wire.]
Beret Guy: We want to hire you to write on our computers. We can offer you a bunch of paychecks! There are ghosts here.
[Beret Guy unrolls the wire and plugs it into the wall.]
'Hire': ...Are you sure this is a company?
Beret Guy: I hope so!
[Soup streams out of the plugged-in wire into Beret Guy's bowl.]

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Wouldn't this be a continuation of the story in "Networking" Whiskey07 (talk) 09:00, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

I completely agree, Whiskey. That comic is clearly a prelude to this. Grahame (talk) 07:35, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Isn't it Beret Guy character, and not just "employer with a hat"? --JakubNarebski (talk) 10:02, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Why is the soup coming out of the electrical outlet (OK, it is label "soup", but that still does not explain it) Spongebog (talk)

Who said it was an electrical outlet? It's clearly a soup outlet, it's even labeled as such. 16:23, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
My first thought was that this was a modern soup kitchen of some sort with the basics of public supplies. But I've never seen or heard of such a thing? Does anyone know if they exist? Grahame (talk) 01:31, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
It's definitely an electrical outlet. This reinforces that this is a virtual company, not a real one. Sulis (talk) 10:04, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
My understanding of the outlet matter is that:
  1. It is an actual U.S. - style electrical outlet.
  2. The coil of wire seen at the chair's leg in panel 2 which beret Guy uses is actually a handheld electric heater that was commonly used to heat water in Eastern Europe before electric kettles made their way there; such heaters are still being sold here (example (in Polish))
  3. The water in the bowl is already boiling in panel 4.
  4. Beret Guy is going to add some cheap instant soup to the water, e.g. Chinese-style instant noodles
It may be worth noting that such heaters are very cheap, you can get one for an equivalent of $3-5 on a flea market. The whole Beret Guy's new business is an extremely low cost one... 10:34, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I'd think it's really just a soup (or whatever liquid it is) outlet. Reasons: 1. I don't see any heating attachments while the wire isn't plugged in. 2. To me, the drawing in the last panel rather looks like liquid pouring out of a hose. 3. It even says so in the official transcript: "Something one can only hope is soup streams out of the wire into Beret Guy's bowl" 11:25, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, I don't like doing it, but I feel so strongly that this is surreality, not the more 'mundane' water-heater idea, that I actually reverted the explanation change making it so. (We don't know how he gets the soup from the outlet, or what happens if you plug a vacuum cleaner/etc into that outlet, but then we don't know how Beret Guy does most of the stuff he does. Or, when we do, why..?) 14:49, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

"We can offer you a bunch of paychecks" - but not actual money? 16:31, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Anyone have an idea of what "There are ghosts here" means? --Dangerkeith3000 (talk) 16:34, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

I assumed it was just part of a quirky interview. I feel it ties in to the later "interview from hell" stuff - it's not the sort of thing you want a job interviewer to raise in your interview. Even if the place does have ghosts, it's a terrible thing to mention. I think it just adds to the surrealism that others have mentioned and with which I agree. Grahame (talk) 01:31, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I thought it was a reference to some buzz-word that Beret Guy misunderstood, such as virtualization or intangible benefits or high spirits. I just couldn't figure out for sure what the source was. 04:34, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Probably a play on "Ghostwriter" Spongebog (talk)
Realized that this is probably a reference to Call of Duty: Ghost. Often tech companies will refer to the fun environment they have, and how guys will get together for LAN parties on the company equipment, and mention the games they play. Beret Guy, having heard and misunderstood, stripped this down to, "We have ghosts." 05:51, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
Could it be a reference to the Snapchat mascot? 07:44, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

I think the joke here is just that this is an example of a "job interview from hell" or at least a very surreal/oddball job interview. Basically everything Beret Guy says or does is nonsensical or a non sequitur. E.g. "this real building I found" gives the impression that it may be a vacant building that he has somehow gained entrance to. It seems unlikely that a real company would make both apps and stickers for phones. Obviously you can't get soup out of a wall by plugging a cord into an electrical outlet. The humor derives from putting oneself in the position of the interviewee being confronted with this odd situation. 18:33, 20 November 2013 (UTC)Pat

Does Beret Guy mean physical stickers for decorating the outsides of phones, or in-app stickers like WhatsApp has? The latter is significantly less weird here. Wizardofdocs (talk) 06:27, 11 September 2021 (UTC)

I suspect he is being a bit dadaist on this one. 22:46, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

It is more accurate (theologically and biblically - assuming that the biblical account (which is the only one we have) is correct) to say that God allowed the trials but they were performed and initiated by Satan. (And to those who want to dispute it being a real story or question the accuracy of the Bible - that's not the point. The point is that it's the only account we have so let's be accurate about what the account portrays.) So I've changed the description to reflect the view that "God allowed" and "Satan did the horrible things" rather than that Job "was put through some horrendous ordeals by God to test his faith" which is partially true but technically inaccurate, but I kept that "God did it to test Job's faith". Grahame (talk) 01:31, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Are we using the Jewish version of the story of Job, or a Christian one? As I understand it, in the Jewish story it's God doing all the things, and Satan (as an advisor, literally a devil's advocate) merely gave God the idea that Job needed to be tested. Wizardofdocs (talk) 06:27, 11 September 2021 (UTC)

It's exactly the same story, except that many Jews use the original Hebrew and Christians by and large use multi-translated (Hebrew --> Greek --> Latin --> English, for instance) versions in their Bibles. There are lots of translations, of course, and lots of variation in those translations. Nitpicking (talk) 13:08, 27 November 2021 (UTC)

Forgive my ignorance, but I don't understand the reference in the explanation to "the countless humorous signs near wall outlets and faucets." I haven't run into such signs (or didn't realize they were humorous). Can someone fill me in? -- Amz (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I've only encountered one such sign in person. It was near the outlet powering the web server at my last job. The sign was labeled "DOES (sic) NOT PULG (sic) OUT" in meticulously-careful handwriting. It was hung in much the same manner as the comic. While the meaning was clear, I found it funny how poor the English was, given the care taken on the calligraphy. 05:57, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

/dʒɒɒɒɒɒɒɒb/ or /dʒoʊb/

I don't think "job" is meant to be a religious reference. I think its similar that to how one might pronounce C# as "C-pound". 06:13, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

It very clearly is connected with Job in my opinion - there is piles of connection mentioned by numerous users here. Perhaps you don't see the connection because you don't know anything about Job. Grahame (talk) 08:39, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
It's not a matter of opinion. The only word in English that is pronounced "job" with a long O, rhyming with globe, is the biblical figure. Xhfz (talk) 13:02, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, there's also GOB from Arrested Development... - 07:37, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
To elaborate, I think he is saying /dʒoʊb/ (rather than /dʒɒːːb/) because he never heard anyone say it before. For example, let's say we reverse the roles of these two guys in the comic. Suppose Beret guy looked up some buzzwords to impress the interviewer. I think the result is that Beret Guy will pronounce things like Hadoop as "Had-dop", URL as "Earl", GUI as "Guy", @ as "ear", Apache as "'A'-patch", etc. Surely someone has this problem before, *cough*. 05:00, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
I like the connection further up that a long 'O' could also be how a ghost may pronounce this. Given the surrealism of the comic, could it be that Beret Guy *is* a ghost? The reference to himself, then taking soup out of the wall, then 'hoping' it's a real company... maybe we're missing the clear implication you'd get if you were the guy in the chair in front of him in this situation. Steve 13:10, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

This, as well as networking, seem to me as commentary on the fragility of the 'typical' 'modern' job (and the 'typical' 'modern' company) - in terms of constancy of profession, livelihood security and permanency (and number of employees) - when compared to the 'typical' jobs of a few decades past. Many of today's SMEs and jobs live in economic bubbles, as well as credit bubbles: conventional metrics used to evaluate the strength of a job - monetary remuneration and monetary profit, no longer correlate well across career time-scales. Casting the quirky Beret Guy as the employer stokes cognitive dissonance (people expect a business owner/founder/employer to have the pulse of society, to be good strategists, etc.) 10:30, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

I think this is completely misunderstood. The comic is about some startups and their lack of inherent value, as demonstrated by the ridiculousness of facebook's recent attempt to acquire Snapchat for $2bn. The office is called a "real building" to emphasize that the company's product is not real. Beret guy is just throwing out a bunch of buzzwords, which demonstrates that he clearly does not have a business plan. The ghosts reference, as well as the "long 'o'", or 'joooooobs' (nothing to do with Jobe from the bible) in the alt text, which is how a ghost would pronounce 'jobs', alludes to the fact that it's a ghost company (a company that doesn't break even). Finally, the fact the he can make food, a necessity for survival, come out of a wall socket (electricity, allusion to the virtual app world) demonstrates the misconception that these app companies have real value. 06:27, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

I have no comment about most of what you've written but am completely convinced that Randall has Job from the bible in mind. It is not spelled "Jobe" in English. The comments Randall makes and which others have connected with the Job character make far more sense than connecting it with something which ghosts might say. Grahame (talk) 08:39, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I know it's spelt "Job", but wanted to avoid being ambiguous. I don't see the "piles of connection mentioned by numerous users" you mention above; the explanation contains it (which could have been written by you) and you mention it in this discussion, that's it. This interview is in no way arduous and the interviewee is not really tested as Job was. Where do you see the connection between the comic and the Book of Job? As for the ghost explanation: as a user pointed out earlier, the Snapchat logo is a ghost, he mentions ghosts in the comic, the comic came out the same week as the Snapchat offers. This comic is clearly about Snapchat and the ridiculousness of the founder turning down an offer of billions of dollars for something that doesn't generate revenue. Where does Job fit into that story? 09:32, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I edited what had already been written about Job. Check the history. You're right - I may have exaggerated "numerous users". But I agree with whoever had written the comments/explanation about Job linking it to his job being a "trial of faith". I make no claim at all that it connects directly to most of the rest of the comic. As Randall often does, he's gone off on a tangent - he especially does this in title texts - switched gears so to speak. And the connection is not to the interview but to the job. Check the title text again. And it's not exactly the "book of Job" but the character/life of Job as described in that book. And as explained by whoever originally wrote in the explanation the connection to Job. And I'm not disputing that other aspects of the comic have other connections. I'm not saying that it doesn't connect in other ways as you are seeing. What I'm saying is the title text is clearly a reference to Job. Grahame (talk) 00:27, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps the Job-experience allusion also refers to Snapchat being tempted by opportunities to sell out. 06:55, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

The term "long O" is unambiguously used to denote "the long sound of O", the vowel of globe and Job, as opposed to "short O" or "the short sound of O", the vowel of mob and job. Since "long O" has that specialized meaning, to describe /dʒɒɒɒɒɒɒɒb/ we must say something like "a lengthened short O". Xhfz (talk) 13:13, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

I wouldn't say unambiguous, but yes. This looks like the "English class" meaning of "long O", rather than the linguistics meaning, which has to deal with languages like Japanese where you can simply have a long vowel sound. Darekun (talk) 08:19, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
The official term for the vowels described here would be a close or open O. Or more specifically close-mid and open-mid, since there are closer and opener vowels. And even more specific a close-mid back rounded and open-mid back rounded vowel. The O in globe isn't longer than that in job as far as I can tell. Tharkon (talk) 23:01, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

My initial impression of this strip related to 288: Elevator; the link between apps and stickers on phones, the "SOUP" on a slip of paper taped over the outlet, and the job description "write on our computers" come together to suggest the business is built on the operation from 288. Of course, on a higher layer, attempting to rely on that operation is interview-hell madness — but it seems clear to me it's what's supposed to be going on on the lower layer. Anyone else think this has merit? Darekun (talk) 08:19, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

I think the person being interviewed steps into a virtual world during the interview. The stickers and the apps are both not real world goods and the job is likewise not real world. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Why do people seem to have difficulty understanding when something is supposed to be surreal? It's not meant to represent a virtual world, or be an allegory for startups, or anything like that. It's just a surreal little escapade. Sheesh... -Pennpenn 04:50, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

I think in a job interview there're always two kinds of people: those who think a company must be serious and official and the attitude must be the same. And the other half of applicants - who think it's just for fun (I mean the interview) and tool development is something truly exciting and does not require any particular efforts. Briansage (talk) 07:45, 19 July 2018 (UTC)

How common is it to do a job interview in parallel with lunch? 07:52, 9 June 2020 (UTC)

I don't know how common it is, but I've certainly heard of it. L-Space Traveler (talk) 12:04, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

Perhaps when Beret Guy refers to ghost he means GHOSTwriters, people who write without using their real name. 19:19, 22 April 2023 (UTC)

More than that, under the name of others (who are willing to support that act; in fact probably actively inducing the impersonation, arranging it and at least partly suggesting what kind of thing the end result contains), not just an identity-obfuscating pen-name for whatever reason. 21:19, 22 April 2023 (UTC)