Monday, April 7, 2014

Guest Blogger: Alex Hughes

Character Interview with Isabella Cherabino (the sequel)
By Alex Hughes

For a lark, I thought I’d run through CareerBuilder’s list of top job interview questions with my character Isabella Cherabino, to see how she would answer. Unfortunately, before I was quite halfway through the list, she was called away to an emergency task force meeting, and I was forced to reschedule. Here’s our second interview, a few days later.

A: Thanks for letting me reschedule the rest of the questions, Detective Cherabino.

C: I’m not certain what you’re getting out of the answers, but I’m always happy to help someone who gives me case-solving clues.

A: I’m doing a psychological study.

C: As long as you change my name and identifying information, that’s fine.

A: (makes non-committal noise) Ready for the questions?

C: Go ahead. I only have a few minutes for this meeting anyway.

A: What is your typical way of dealing with conflict?

C: There’s a certain amount of conflict that’s normal for a police department of our size. We deal with criminals, after all, and with the recent budget cuts, there’s a lot of pressure on everyone. I try to figure out what somebody really wants, and if they’re a peer, figure out how to get that to them in exchange for what I need. Most of the time that works. I take blocks in my way as challenges most of the time.

A: Most of the time?

C: I have a temper when you push me too far, especially when it’s a situation I’m not used to or that disappoints me. I’m working with my sensei, and have been for the last several years, on controlling that temper. He’s happy with my progress so far.

A: What tools or habits do you use to get organized?

C: I keep a pristine murder book. Everything—and I mean everything, from scene impressions to attempted phone calls—goes in that book. I’ve had people be able to take over my cases halfway through with no loss of efficiency. I also keep detailed files on pretty much every criminal I come in contact with. You’d be surprised at how often their worlds overlap, and information on one comes into use with another. I admit, though, that with all my files I can get a little behind on official reports and forms. Adam and now Michael are helpful in that respect.

A: Tell me about a time where you had to go above and beyond to get a job done.

C: There was a time last year where I was volunteering for Electronic Crimes because they were short staffed. Some nasty stuff, that. I won’t even talk about what the sickos were doing when we lifted up rocks and shone lights on them. But I still had a full case load, and this was before Michael. I was working pretty much all the time, between Electronic Crimes and Homicide. I was exhausted. But then I noticed a connection between one of my murder cases and a screen name in one of the chat rooms. It seemed like a coincidence, but the physical location trace came up in the same city block as one of my suspects. He’d been planning a crime against an unnamed woman, and then a woman fitting that description is one of my victims. It took me a week of favors and traces, but we finally proved they were the same guy.  The jury deliberated twenty minutes on that case. He’ll never get parole. It was worth the extra effort, even if I did sleep at the department for a few days.

A: What was a major obstacle you were able to overcome in the last year?

C: Budget cuts have been really hard on the whole department, and everyone has less resources. Even with all my work, I’ve had to wait weeks or longer for basic results. It’s been very frustrating. But I did manage to get Michael Hwang promoted to junior detective after a particularly significant case assist, and he’s been phenomenal. A lot of the time, he can find a clue on his own, or while working with me, that will serve the same purpose as the test I needed, and we can close the case even without the test results. It’s more stress and work, but it gets the job done.

A: In what ways—

Alex is cut off as a knock on the door comes.

A: Really? Another interruption?

C: This is how my life goes, Ms. Hughes. Please feel free to reschedule with Michael.

Adam Ward opens the door and tells Cherabino there’s a murder case that needs urgent attention. They’ve found another body.

Cherabino nods at Alex and leaves. She, cursing, picks up her notes and sees her own way out.

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