Half the fun of seeking a job on the staff of Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), according to several people who have tried, is getting interviewed by Roy Greenaway, the senator's administrative assistant. A recent job applicant, for example, was asked early in an interview with Greenaway if he had ever been bitten by a dog, how he reacted to the dog and how he felt about the dog now. Another remembers telling Greenaway that he often jogged through the zoo in the morning. Greenaway asked, "Do the animals jog with you?"
"I do a very free and open kind of interview," says Greenaway, a 50-year-old former high school teacher and inheritance tax and condemnation appraiser. "One of the things you ask is a sort of disconcerting question to see how a person responds to it. And that's what I'm doing. I've gotten very funny stories with the dog question from people who go into a very elaborate story about being devoured by a Labrador retriever when they were 4 years old."
On one wall in Cranston's office are four paintings from the National Collection of Fine Arts; Greenaway says he sometimes asks job applicants which is the best. "There is no correct answer," he says good-naturedly. "If you ask a question that there's a correct answer to, you're not asking good questions."
Greenaway says his freewheeling interview style gives him a better understanding of a person likely to be faced with unusual constituents who live in the diverse state of California. One job seeker who was not hired said he found Greenaway's approach similar to that of Esalen apprentices "who believe you can learn a lot about a person by throwing them off course."
Greenaway says he once sensed something was amiss while talking with a job applicant. When he asked about her leisure - time reading, he learned her favorite author was a very conservative novelist. "Then she began to describe what she liked," Greenaway says, "and it turns out she had a real devotion to the potential that fascist leadership has for this country."
Footnote: Has Greenaway ever been bitten by a dog? "Yes." How did he react to the dog at the time? "Frightened." How does he feel about the dog now? "Much better."