The group interview

Published on October 5, 2011 by      Print
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By Erica Schmidt

Read Part 1 of Erica Schmidt’s colorful account of applying for a job with Lululemon.

The day of my group interview with Lululemon began in an elevated fashion.

I awoke at five, caffeinated, and biked to my regular yoga studio.  In honour of the sun, who is planning to progressively disappear over the next three months, we did 108 sun salutations.  I concluded the practice with some backbends, a forward bend, a shoulderstand, a headstand, and a short, tripped out savasana.  Then I rushed into the shower and began my ten-minutes-to-hotness routine.

When I am a Lululemon educator, I will know the difference between the tata and muffin top-tucking features of my hand-me-down Lulu getups.  But for now, I can only describe my clothing choices as very short black shorts and a black tank top in which it is very difficult to breathe for people with very small tits.  (If I were in charge of the tank top names, I would call it the CITTA:  Chatturanga Inflicted Ta Ta Answer.)  I wore my bright blue Vibram Five Finger shoes.  Besides being chronically infused with foot odour and athlete’s foot bacteria, these shoes make me look like a bright blue, stretched out ape.  I wore them anyways, because they are an excellent conversation starter.

Conveniently, Lululemon is located right underneath the yoga studio, so that once I completed my extensive grooming routine, I didn’t have far to travel.  There were ten other candidates at the interview, all girls, all wearing a unique combination of thigh-loving, muffin-smashing, tata-constricting goodness.  We sat on yoga mats, arranged in a hexagon, underneath the men’s rain gear.  (You never know when a torrential downpour might burst onto your downward dog.)

The two store managers welcomed us and explained that this hexagon represented a safe place to share and be open.

Within the hexagon, we need not be afraid of speaking with intention and expressing our emotions.  They went on to introduce us to the grassroots values and culture of Lululemon.  Turns out that Lulu is all about culture and not so much about pants.  This is a relief, since as we’ve already established, I know nothing about pants.

For our first interview question we were asked to describe our background, our passions, and what we hoped to gain in working for Lululemon.  I listened with as much intent and compassion as I could, beginning in lotus position and switching to modified cow-faced legs when my Vibramed feet went numb.  Since the yoga-mat-hexagon was a safe and confidential setting, I cannot tell you about the candidate who began to cry whilst speaking of her crushed Olympic dreams.  When it came to my turn, I did my best to be brief and speak with intention.  A friend of mine who had already undergone the interview process (and been rejected) had advised me to refrain from saying anything dark and sarcastic.  These guidelines left me pretty quiet and inhibited. Unfortunately, a few unfiltered one-liners may still have escaped…

I became mildly uncomfortable about an hour into the interview when the managers brought up the topic of goal-setting.

With joy and enthusiasm and hope, everyone else described their dreams of becoming doctors and losing weight and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  My lotus legs got increasingly achy.  Goals stress me out.  Typically, my goals have been vague and unachieved.  I rarely write them down.  If I don’t get hired at Lululemon, this will be why.  I feel like I don’t possess the insight and wisdom to accurately envision what will make me happy in the future.  I explained my situation to the store manager.

“You know in twelve-step programs, when they say, ‘Life won’t give you what you want, but what you need?’”  Realizing my mistake in mentioning a twelve-step program, I quickly added, “I mean, not that I go to twelve-step programs.  I just find them interesting.  They’re my passion?”

I switched my legs from lotus to cow-face and looked to the ground.   Maybe I should have been honest and told her about the time I went to a twelve-step program, and quit puking in my mouth.  Maybe not.

The last interview question dealt with our “opportunities for elevation.”  Lululemon culture celebrates strength, but it also rejoices at the prospect of reducing mediocrity in its employees.  The process is apparently intensely satisfying.

Likely the best opportunity for elevation goes something along the lines of:
“I’m entirely committed to achieving the highest level of greatness that I can, and often my friends feel inferior to me.”

“I’m so giving and selfless that I never take time for myself.”

Unfortunately, by the time my turn came along, these excellent answers were already used up.  Digging deep into my vast supply of elevation opportunities, I came up with:

“Um, yeah, I never ask for what I want because I don’t think I deserve it and then I cover up my dissatisfaction with chronic self-deprecation and sarcasm.”

The blonde store manager wore a bright fuchsia shawl that announced the Lululemon Manifesto in bold, white, handwritten letters.  “Mediocre is as close to the bottom as it is to the top, and will give you a lousy life,” the Manifesto proclaimed.  The blonde store manager asked me why I didn’t believe I deserved what I wanted.  There was a long silence during which my usual sarcastic brilliance eluded me.

“Uh, I don’t know,” I said.  I felt like something exceedingly awkward and embarrassing was about to happen.

“Maybe there was a situation from your childhood when you asked for what you wanted and didn’t get it?”  No, this wasn’t true.  I’ve discussed this very same matter in twelve-step meetings.  My childhood was shamefully un-traumatic.  The awkward and embarrassing moment was now nearly inevitable.  Shifting out of cow-face and back into lotus, I articulately shrugged my shoulders.

“It must be really difficult for you to develop close relationships if you’re sarcastic and cold all the time,” said the blonde manager.  She was right.  It was intensely difficult.  Nobody liked me.  I was far too obnoxious to have any friends.

I looked at the blonde sales manager with desperately wide eyes.  The awkward and embarrassing thing had taken place.  I was crying and there was no traumatic childhood or shattered Olympic dream to justify it.

The sales manager congratulated me for finally making eye-contact after an hour and a half of standoffish one-liners.

She consoled me by confessing to crying last night while watching Grey’s Anatomy.  Without regaining any composure, I nodded, released my legs and sat on my knees like a normal person.

Tomorrow, I’ll receive an email stating whether or not I’ll be called into a one-on-one interview where we’ll further discuss my elevation potential.  Before we left, the managers reminded us that rather than taking it as a rejection, those who fail to make the cut should view the outcome as, “Not now.”  We were encouraged to apply again and again, using each attempt as an opportunity to elevate ourselves further and further away from mediocrity.  I’ll be sure to keep this in mind.

About Erica Schmidt

Nearly eight years ago, Erica Schmidt moved from Perth, Ontario to Montréal, Quebec in search of Jesus, her bandhas and her tailbone. Her bandhas and tailbone remain elusive; however, she did find Jesus. Although the two were married, Erica now cheats on Jesus with Ashtanga Yoga, Atwood novels, and Ovarian Kung Fu. Just recently, she relocated from Montréal to Halifax to live with a boy she met on a boat. When asked for a word she loathes and abhors, Erica responds, “Vibes. For years, I have been sending good vibes to the universe, and so far, all I have received are pubes. It’s breathtakingly disappointing.”

You can read more of Erica’s musings at or follow her on Twitter.

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  1. gayle says:

    I need to get a job at Lulu because I can’t afford a therapist. ;)

    • Joslyn Hamilton says:

      Seriously! Not to jump on the I-Hate-Lululemon bandwagon (I don’t, in fact, I’m wearing Lulu right now), but does anybody else think this is a little over the top for a shopgirl job interview? I’m just gonna say this: it sounds culty.

      • Chrissy says:

        I agree Joslyn!
        I love Lulu ( what can I say…they know how to tuck in my mommy muffin top:) , but could not make it through that interview without laughing…until I cried…I have a degree in psychology ( shocker, I know) and would never dish out such invasive questions that truly don’t seem to pertain to selling high end retail. I wonder if Coach does this as well:)

        • Hannah says:

          The interview is only the beginning! It gets worse!

        • Devon says:

          Hi I interviewed at lulu today. I have been instructed by every single adult that I have ever met that even to an entry level job you wear something decent. I wore a long sleeved collared shirt and some very nice jeans. I walked over to the lulu after I got out of school and immediately I saw a problem. I was the only person dressed like this. Everyone else had on some sort of workout attire. The interview went alright but when it came to the portion to teach how to do something I was kind of put on the spot. I am a 3 sport athlete. Football, basketball, and tennis. I run for fun and to stay in shape btwn seasons.(i am a senior in high school class of 2012) I was also the youngest person there. Everyone else demonstrated something physical so I felt obligated to do so as well. So i demonstrated a pop up( the move jackie chan does when he is on his back and flings his legs in the air and lands on his feet.) I explained what I though was a pretty good explanation, and some of the managers coworkers tried to coax her into doing it. She did but made the remark ” I will try but I was not that well instructed.” She then attempted to do it but failed miserably. I tried to act proffesional in a rather bubbly gossippy albeit high school environment. The interviewers openly cursed and made jokes, and did not really explain what an educator was. This will be my second job if I get it, and my second group interview. My first was at Willliams SOnoma and I behaved the same way and got that job, but the environment was more proffesional. I really want this job before I go off to school in the fall. I acted proffesionally and did my best to answer the questions in the interview but I was very anxious. I would appreciate any “feedback” as to how you think my interview went.

          • Joslyn Hamilton says:

            Devon, My heart really goes out to you. It’s so easy to walk into a place like lululemon, with all its gorgeous luonTM product and its enthusiastic team atmosphere, and want to be a part of the club. But the truth is, you’re better than that job! Can I be honest? Those people are idiots. They are asking you to join their cult and succumb to their culture — not to sell exercise clothes. You’re better than that. I’d highly recommend getting a job at a coffee shop or something for the summer. You’ll have more fun and probably end up with less emotional scarring. One day you’ll look back on that experience and roll your eyes at those people.

            Response posted on May 1st, 2012 , 9:24 am Reply
  2. Ellen Pierce says:

    Yes, Joslyn, culty and a bit self-righteous… or like they might be smoking something really good. :) Kudos to Erica for enduring that process, and thanks for sharing it with us.

    • gayle says:

      LOL… they’d be way more chill if they were smoking anything good! “Hugs all around, peeps!”
      It sounds like it fits right in with the drink-the-kool aid yogi types; definitely culty.

  3. dave says:

    “had advised me to refrain from saying anything dark and sarcastic. These guidelines left me pretty quiet and inhibited.” lmao! Would have for me too…

  4. dennis says:

    god i hope you get this job… the stories will be endless!

  5. Yogini5 says:

    They only pretend to be your therapist … I’d take the cold, analytical approach over this fake T-group nonsense any day. The cost-effectiveness and lack of hypocrisy of that approach is the best public relations for a company that is in bad need of a little damage control …

    Though they have a way to go to beat Dov Charney of American Apparel at that game …

  6. Hannah says:

    Are you really interviewing there? I worked there once upon a time. It was a nightmare. Cult to a T!

  7. Jenifer says:

    You know, it would be funny if their manipulation technique wasn’t so obvious.

  8. crystal says:

    Erica you’re funny as hell and this post was awesome! But I hate to say it, some of these people posting comments are actually lulu cult members in disguise secretly posting on here to make sure people don’t forget how awesome they are and subliminally convince them to join the elevation of greatness movement. I say, fuck you lululemon! I’m joining the anti-yoga movement and am not swallowing your happier-than-thou-bullshit-pill. And to start? I’m gonna fart every time I’m in the downward dog pose, (which is usually of a sexual nature, not in a connecting-to-yogi nature), and next time I get caught standing around doing nothing, I’ll use the excuse “I’m in Mountain Man… I’m connecting with my spirit… so that I can help elevate humanity to Greatness”.
    Awesome! you girls are my new best friends :) look forward to more laugh-out-loud posts from you!!!

  9. hollie says:

    The cultish therapyish experience at Lululemon comes entirely (IMO) from the fact that every manager is required to take the Landmark Forum. Which is essentially est from the 1970′s, rebranded because its founder fled the country amid child abuse and, I believe, tax evasion charges. I don’t care how great my ass might look in their pants, I will never give them one cent.

    • erica says:

      Yes- I just took the Landmark Forum (what can I say- I was sooo curious!) and it is crazytown cultish brainwashing with weird mind-control language manipulation. There were a bunch of Lululemon and Panda Express managers. To be fair, the ones who were there because of a work requirement were a little more sensible than the people who chose on their own to go, but it is an INTENSE experience and nearly guaranteed to stick if EVERYONE you work with also went through it.

      • Xavi says:

        Thanks. Will try those out. Yeah dark woods by yourself can be eery. Lucky Stanley Park and its aazimng beauty is there. I love this city. It is great, absolutely aazimng. Coming from Calgary, the weather here is like Spring 365 days a year. Has made me a much happier person. Thanks for the advice. And keep up the words of inspiration. I was so tired after teaching all day, and didn’t want to run, but I kicked myself in the butt and went out and am thoroughly glad I did. Better to just do it.

  10. Pelican says:

    Erica…take it from someone who got through the interview process and landed a job as a Lulu ‘Educator’… Run away. Fast. Now

  11. David says:

    One of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen was a window yogi at the Bloor Street Lululemon. They had an attractive young woman in the display window doing yoga poses… like some kind of yogic sea monkey. So weird. I expressed my horror to one of the “educators” in a light joking manner… something along the lines of, “So… uhhh… that’s kinda creepy eh? Hahaha. I mean really. Live window yogi? Something weird and wrong about that… right?”. I just got a confused silent stare in return.

  12. David says:

    p.s. I was assuming all along that your post was pure fiction and humor… then I remembered the Bloor Street sea monkey and realized… it’s probably all true.

  13. David says:

    I think the choice of lotus and cow face may have been a mistake… I would have done the entire session in eka pada sirsasana.

  14. Merlin says:

    Érica! I love reading you. I love your witty cynical dark writing. Keep being you because you make me feel normal. There is so many of us that are fucked in the head. thrust me 2012 is coming and we will be finally home.
    Much love.
    P.S. I miss you, yet, don’t come back life with a sea man is better than Mtl.

  15. Yoga Playlist Egoist says:

    by writing the last 2 pieces about your Lulu questionnaire and interview experience, you have become a REAL educator about Lulu. They really shove this Lululemonade down your throat, and you haven’t even started working there.. I annoy myself for liking the muffin hiding pants and tops, but I suspect that most people buy Lulu not for their ‘elevating’ brand image but rather for “enhancing” our physical appearance

  16. montana says:

    I have an interview there tomorrow lol. Should I tell them I was voted most sarcastic in my high school yearbook? I have a very similar temperment to you, so we’ll see how this all plays out!

  17. ABC102D says:

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