“Are you ready?” Dave asked.
         I looked out of the office window into the reception area at the first candidate. I opened my notebook and smoothed the page, picked up my pen and cast my eyes over the applicant’s name. I nodded.
         “Yes, let’s do it.” I widened my eyes in nervous excitement. Dave scraped his chair back and stood up to open the door.
         “James?”
         The man in the reception looked up. He was wearing an ill-fitting suit and looked completely uncomfortable. He was about the same age as me, medium height and build with a belly that looked like it was all beer. His tight curly hair sprung out in all directions. He pushed his glasses up his nose and stood up to follow Dave into the meeting room.
         I never imagined I’d be hiring staff. When I started inspired design three years earlier, I had no more ambition than doing some freelance work and creating my own small scale mobile phone games. But I’d recently won a contract that required more work than I could do alone so I had to bring in reinforcements.
         I smiled reassuringly at James, recognising a kindred spirit. I appreciated the effort he’d made in wearing a suit but knew he’d be much less stressed if he was wearing jeans. I made a mental note to implement a no dress code policy in the office.
         “Hi, James, take a seat. Are you okay?” I asked.
         “Yes, thank you,” he mumbled as he sat down. He leaned forward, resting his folded arms on the table, then he leaned back, crossing his legs, his right ankle resting on his left knee. I waited for him to make himself comfortable.
         “So, James, I’m Olivia, I own Inspired Design, this is Dave, he owns the building.” The two men nodded at each other, “so, in the event of a zombie apocalypse during working hours, what would you do to ensure my safety?”
         James looked up at me in surprise. Dave started chuckling and I smiled encouragingly.
         “Well I would lock all the doors and windows and wait it out, even though there’s no scientific evidence that zombies could ever exist and if by some miracle they did, exposure, dehydration and their incomprehension of basic survival needs would kill off a zombie horde within days if not hours.” I felt a smile spread across my face as he continued, “I’d share the emergency food I will inevitably stockpile in my drawer, now that you’ve mentioned it though.”
         “Lovely, thank you. Will there be cake in the draw?” I asked, momentarily distracted. James frowned.
         “Maybe some tinned syrup sponge pudding. I mean who knows how long it’ll be stockpiled for, you know?”
         I nodded, realising the stupidity of the question. I smiled back at him and turned to the more formal questions.

***

         “So what did you think?” Dave asked after James had left the room. I nodded.
         “I liked him, a lot.”
         “He seemed great, he was confident in his technical know how. Bit quiet though.”
         “But that’s not a bad thing, I like quiet.”
         “Will he be able to meet clients and represent Inspired on your behalf?”
         I pondered this, I couldn’t see it. James seemed like a man who just wanted to plug himself into the matrix and stay there. Eventually I shrugged and screwed up my face.
         “Doesn’t really matter though, it’s essential I get a programmer first and foremost.”
         “Okay, shall we meet the next guy?”
         I nodded, I felt exhausted already and we’d only interviewed one person.
         Steven Teller was straight out of university. He was confident and charismatic. His black suit looked tailored, yet somehow casual, his jacket was unbuttoned revealing a fitted waistcoat and smart navy blue shirt. His hair was cropped short at the back with a long floppy top that spiked forward into the air casting spikey shadows across his forehead. As he shook my hand a slow confident smile began to spread across his face. He looked every inch the stereotypical tall dark and handsome.
         I hated him on sight.

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