Brian Barrymore is not a normal zombie - he doesn't live in the underground sewers surviving on the brains of rats, lizards and (once in a while) living humans. Instead, Brian spends his days working at the head office of a multinational company.
In this English B1 (intermediate) graded reader, we watch as Brian tries to live a normal life while keeping his true nature a secret from his workmates.
CHAPTER 5: Brian's performance review
The months passed quickly and soon it was the day of Brian's first year performance review.
Brian's manager had emailed Brian a few days before to schedule a meeting. In the email, he asked Brian to think about his progress over the year, then complete a self-evaluation form and send it back to him.
"Hi Brian, take a seat," said Peter. "Lovely day, isn't it?"
"Right! These past couple of weeks have been brilliant," replied Brian.
"Everything okay these days?" asked Peter.
"Yeah, not too bad, thanks," Brian responded. "I've been making the most of the sun and going hiking on the weekends."
A lot of people wrongly believe that zombies can't go out in the daytime. Underground zombies don't often come up to ground level because they fear for their safety - police are allowed to legally shoot violent zombies, but reports suggest hundreds of peaceful zombies also get shot every year. Most working zombies, like Brian, choose to change their appearance and hide their true nature - not just for safety, but also so they can be accepted more easily into society.
"That's great! Good to keep healthy," said Peter, smiling, as he cleaned his glasses with a small cloth.
After putting his glasses back on, his eyes dropped to the piece of paper on his desk.
"Thank you for sending me your self-evaluation form," said Peter. "It seems that you've made a lot of progress in the last six months."
"Yes, I think so. It took a few months to really get into the role at the beginning. But after that, I think I got the hang of it. Cindy was a great help, answering all my questions and giving me advice on each stage of the recruitment process."
As Brian's supervisor, Cindy was the person who trained Brian when he first started at the company. She taught him how to 'screen' (check) the CVs of candidates to see if they met the minimum requirements for the role. She showed him how to set up first interviews with candidates who met the requirements and how to actually give those interviews in person, over the phone or over the internet. She explained the importance of clear communication with the hiring manager - the person who requests someone to be hired. And for those candidates that hiring managers were interested in, Cindy also taught Brian how to organise background and reference checks.
Brian was thankful that Cindy never seemed too busy to offer advice when he needed help.
"That's good to hear," responded Peter.
"In the past six months, I've felt much more organised and more confident in my abilities," Brian continued. "For example, it takes me a lot less time now to do activities like screening CVs and setting up background checks."
"Yes, Cindy has been very positive about the progress you've been making. She also mentioned that your interview technique has improved. You're now asking better questions - questions that get candidates to give clear examples of their skills. She says you're asking them for more details when necessary and moving on when you have enough information."
Peter went on.
"I've also noticed you look more confident and presentable, Brian, which is great as it's something we spoke about some time ago."
"Sure, I definitely worked on that back then. It's pretty much a habit now," Brian responded.
Peter adjusted his glasses with one hand and took a sip of coffee with the other.
"Now, Brian. Have you thought about any goals for the next six to twelve months?"
Brian paused for a moment.
"To be honest, I feel like I'm pretty comfortable in the role now. It's been good working with hiring managers from different departments, as I've got to know different sides of the business. I even think I might interested in working in departments like Marketing, Purchasing or Product Development in future."
"Oh, I see," said Brian's manager. "Well, we have had people transfer from HR to other departments in the past. Are you sure you don't see a future for yourself in HR? As you know, Cindy will be going on maternity leave around November so we'll be looking for a supervisor. You might be ready to take on new responsibilities by then."
"Well, I am still learning here so I'm not in a hurry to leave or anything. Perhaps we can see how things go?" replied Brian.
"Sure. Well, over the next few months, why don't we get you to work with the hiring managers from those departments you mentioned? That way you'll have a chance to learn more about the roles in those departments and the kind of skills you need for them."
"That sounds like a great idea," Brian answered.