As a human resources director several years ago, I interviewed a relatively long-term employee for a promotion from warehouse worker to receiving clerk in the accounting office of our garment company. A tall, loud man, he had a reputation for being cocky, and I had counseled him about his performance and the way he dealt with his co-workers.

On the day of the interview, he sauntered into my office and sat down in a chair, his too-short tie dangling over his prominent belly. I did the usual: Did he understand the job's responsibilities? Why did he think he should get the job? Then I came to my favorite question, the one I make sure to ask every applicant.

"Describe your ideal job," I said.

He leaned back in his chair, looked at me carefully and smiled.

"I'd like to have your job because all you do all day long is sit around and push papers."

Did he get the job? Guess.

Betsey Hurwitz-Schwab, Cumberland, Md.

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