Title text: Hey, before you go, can you explain to me what job I now have?
This comic is based on a common annoyance when job hunting, being told that they'll "keep you in mind", but don't offer you a job. A job interviewer, Hairy, tells Black Hat exactly that.
Black Hat offers a briefcase to his interviewer. From the vague phrasing "this" and the context, one would expect the briefcase to contain money to bribe the interviewer into hiring Black Hat. Instead, it contains a portal or gateway into an impossibly deep chasm.
After falling through the chasm, the interviewer lands in the interviewee's seat, and Black Hat is now sitting in the interviewer's seat, effectively switching their roles.
The former interviewer tries to pull the same trick on Black Hat, creating a momentary illusion of an infinite loop through recursion, a common theme in xkcd comics.
When Black Hat opens the briefcase, however, he reveals another common annoyance when job hunting, being told that the opening has already been filled. Black Hat's statement works on two levels, one meaning that "the job opening has been filled", and the second meaning "the opening to the briefcase's chasm has been filled". In the latter sense, opening may also be used as a synonym of vulnerability, in which case filled would mean patched.
The title text is said by Black Hat. It refers to the fact that, even though Black Hat now has the interviewer's job, he has no idea what his function is.
There's a possible second meaning to the phrase "perhaps this could change your mind;" it may be that Black Hat and Hairy have quite literally swapped minds, thus why black hat is suddenly sitting in the interviewer's seat and finishing the interview and Hairy is sitting in the interviewee's seat being interviewed. The chasm inside the briefcase may have been a hallucination Hairy experienced whilst his mind was being swapped with Black Hat's.
Other Job interviews have been portrayed in 125: Marketing Interview, 1088: Five Years, 1293: Job Interview and 1545: Strengths and Weaknesses.
- [Black Hat is interviewed by Hairy.]
- Hairy: ...but thank you for applying. We'll keep your résumé on file.
- [Black Hat pushes a suitcase over the table.]
- Black Hat: Perhaps this could change your mind?
- [Hairy opens the suitcase.]
- [Hairy lifts open the top.]
- [Camera pans over the suitcase to reveal a deep hole.]
- [Camera zooms into the hole.]
- [Hairy is falling into the hole.]
- Hairy: AAAAAA
- [Hairy falls into a chair with the suitcase falling on his lap.]
- [Hairy is dazed, and is being interviewed by Black Hat.]
- Black Hat: ...but thank you for applying. We'll keep your résumé on file.
- [Hairy looks confused.]
- Hairy: !??!
- [Hairy looks at the suitcase.]
- [Hairy pushes the suitcase over the table.]
- Hairy: Perhaps this could change your mind?
- [Black Hat opens the suitcase.]
- [Black Hat looks inside.]
- [Black Hat turns the suitcase around.]
- Black Hat: I'm sorry—
- [The suitcase is now filled with paper.]
- Black Hat: —that opening has been filled.
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The title-text refers to one of the issues I've had as an interviewer - the applicant sometimes doesn't understand the job they're trying to get. Of course in this case Black Hat can be excused, since he now has the interviewer's job, not the one he applied for.
Normally when I get offered a briefcase it contains a monetary bribe, a factor missed out in the explanation. I too would be surprised to find a portal in a briefcase.
The title-text also sounds like it contains a dig at interviewers, who seem to exist solely to block and stall candidates.
The hovertext might also reference the fact that the original interviewer doesn't know what else is different in this universe, and therefore doesn't know what his qualifications are or what else has happened thus far.
The briefcase technique should be mentioned in this article. Is a form of causing a good impression in an interview.
Hovertext probably is a saying of Black Hat as interviewer, not other way round.
I agree, the hovertext is Black Hat asking the other guy, whose job he now has, what exactly IS that job. "Before you leave" is the clue: Black Hat isn't leaving, he has a job here now. Johngardner (talk) 20:42, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Should the (ex-)interviewer be identified as Hairy? Mark Hurd (talk) 11:56, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
I just want to point out that I find this particular comic incredibly evil, even by black hat's standards. *shivers*
Probably my favorite comic, not counting the Journal series. Netherin5 (talk) 17:43, 6 March 2019 (UTC)