Thursday, 29 April 2010

A Chance to Shine...or not.

Speaking with a friend/ client the other day about interviews reminded me of a strange one that I went through some years back.

I had taken some time out from my “normal” career to concentrate on writing. Not the wisest thing I’ve ever done. You live and learn, no? And if you don’t learn you deserve everything you get, but that’s another wisecrack for another time. Once I ran out of money, I decided to go back to a “proper” job and joined an agency.

A brief word on agencies: shite.

Anywho – I don’t like to talk about my day-job on here on account of it could get me the sack, so let’s just say that I’m “Something in Finances”. I wear a suit, shirt and tie...and that will have to be enough people.

So this “agency” set me up with an interview at a local posh hotel. I was told to turn up at 10am. Being anal about time – if I’m late – which does happen now and again – I worry about it as if I was waiting to hear the results of a biopsy at my local clinic – so I was there in PLENTY of time.

The reception of the hotel was empty when I arrived so I sat at a small chair and made myself as comfortable as I could. I checked the knot in my tie in the mirror on the far wall, picked a piece of lint from the crease on my trousers which was sharp enough to slice a ham and then looked down at my shoes which wore a shine strong enough for me to count my nasal hairs. Of which I had many. It looked like somebody stuck one of Cher’s wigs up there.

I swithered about popping in to the gents to give the old proboscis a pluck. Just then a young lady in a black suit walked from behind the reception desk...are you here about the interview, she asked?

Yes, I cleared my throat in that pretending not to be nervous way. And sniffed, wishing that nose hair was retractable like a cat’s claws.

Please, follow me, she said and then turned in to the public bar. Interesting place, I thought, for an interview and doesn’t she fill those black trousers very nicely. We sat at a small table. She put a brown A4 envelope on said table and pulled a pen from her inside jacket pocket.

What’s your name? She glanced at my tie and made a small face of surprise.

I told her and mused over her reaction to my tie. It was a nice tie, but not that nice.

She wrote my name down on the back of the envelope. And then took in the shine on my shoes.

I raised an eyebrow, thinking, this is casual.

So tell me, she smiled, why do you want to get into this industry?

Well, I paused gathering my thoughts and wondering if she had read my CV, I’ve worked in this industry since I left school. It’s what I know and what I’m good at. ( I HATE having to spout all that bullshit.)

She wrote something down and offered me a smile. Like she liked what she saw.

What about transport, she asked. Do you have your own car?

I have a car, I said wondering what a strange question that was, but if I’m successful with this interview I plan to sell it and take advantage of your company car scheme.

Her chin slackened somewhat, her brows furrowed...she put her pen down as if the penny and five hundred of her sisters had just dropped and asked, so you’re not here about the night-watchman’s job?

Oh how we laughed.

I told her I was “Something in Finances”. We laughed again. She apologised for the mix-up and escorted me back to the bar where a middle-aged man with a comb -over haircut and wearing a home-knitted tank top/ shirt and tie combo looked up expectedly. Casting for Clichés was obviously the name of the agency that supplied this candidate.

At this point a man in a grey suit rumbled in the door holding a briefcase in one hand and pulling a suitcase on wheels with the other.

Mr Malone? He asked.

Yes, I said and couldn’t help but taking a look at my watch. It was twenty minutes after my interview was supposed to start. I then realised how this action might be viewed and hid my watch-bearing hand behind my back as if that meant it never happened.

He pretended not to notice my transgression and without as much as an explanation or an apology he walked past me with a curt –This way. He bustled through the bar and into a suite of rooms beyond.

Grey Suit Man began to empty his suitcase on to the table. While I’m getting ready, he said, you may as well get out your passport and driver’s licence.

My, eh, passport, I asked?

Did you bring something to prove your address?

My address, I asked?

The agency, he pulled a video camera out of his suitcase and placed it on the table, sent you some information and in it we asked you to bring identification etc.

It didn’t arrive.

What about the CD? Did you get a chance to watch the CD?

What CD? I asked beginning to get really pissed off. The list of his transgressions piled up in my head; his lateness, his briskness, his rudeness, the agency’s ineptitude (is that a word?)

The CD that explained about our application process and the role-play that we will have to record...

...this really hasn’t been organised very well, has it? The words tumbled from my mouth, by-passing my usual very strong self-edit button.

Well, he huffed, we are going through a HUGE recruitment drive at the moment and I’m doing several of these a day and you rely on these agencies to ....and blah, blah, blah. And as he blahhed for Britain I realised that no matter how strong my performance was over the next 2 hours I was never, ever going to get past this part of the interview process.

That was 5 years ago.

I still haven’t received notification of how well/ badly I performed at the interview.

So go on, spill – what are your worst interview experiences?


  1. I wonder how would women feel if somebody put posters like those above in their toilets?

  2. But let's have fun imagining what might be on the posters...

  3. I once told an interviewer how much fun it was getting drunk with a very high level exec in the company at an office party and being very bleary at work the next day. Why did i say that??? And no, i didn't get the job. signed, lushly yours

  4. You know, whenever I do the self-destruct thing I tell myself that there was a very good reason. I just need to delve into my self-conscious to find it.