Having worked tirelessly to get back in the “normal” workforce recently, it came as something of a pleasant surprise when I was asked to attend for an interview. That in itself isn’t so surprising, what was surprising is that this job was top of my wish list and to get the opportunity to interview for it was a great…. opportunity.
I prepared myself the best I could for the big day. I went out and bought a whole new outfit. I suited up to the nines so sharply I resembled a younger, Welshier Don Draper.
|It's like looking in a mirror!!|
All that was left to do was present myself and rock their socks off with my witty, intelligent and concise interview technique, which basically involved me stealing Don Draper’s entire persona.
Yes, I like Mad Men.
I entered the interview room to be confronted by four middle aged women with bad haircuts, cheap clothes and skin that was the wrong side of ripe.
|Enter our lair!|
This was the kind of scenario that ol’ Don lived for. Within seconds he would have had them eating out of his hand and asking him to be their boss. I intended to follow the same path. If Don Draper had taught me anything, it was this: "You want some respect? Go out there and get it for yourself."
However, there was just one tiny flaw in my otherwise flawless plan.
As I was introduced to the cast of the Bitches of Eastwick, I felt a slight unease and realisation running through my mind. People generally look for traits in others which they possess in themselves. It’s a fundamental rule of human nature. I may have many enviable character traits, but being able to relate those to four forty something former house wives with a maxed out Primark store card was a big ask. Short of starting the conversation by asking them if they had watched some angry working class soap or a brain numbing realty TV show last night, I was already on the back foot.
No matter. As soon as the interview questions start, I would give them little option other than to consider me the front runner for this position.
Then shit got serious.
My mind raced. Wait, was that question even in English??
No, can’t have been? I only caught about a third of the words she actually said. To be honest, I think she was using an Elvish dialect I was not totally familiar with.
My mouth opened and vague, jumbled words spilled out.
If pie charts had had anything to do with the question I have no idea, but she seemed to pick up interest and wrote something down when I said the phrase “core management liaising skills”. However she seemed less interested when I talked about “like..patient confidentiality stuff, you know?”
I have no idea what my answer sounded like to them, but to them this is probably the kind of answer I gave and how I looked giving it:
Deciding to tag team me into submission, the questioning moved on to the next battle-axe in a blouse.
I could feel the blood rushing around my head. Had it started to drip out of my nose yet? I couldn’t be sure. I reached for the plastic cup of water that had been set in front of me and took a nervous sip. I resisted the temptation to throw it over them to see if they would melt. But my guess is yes, yes they would.
Surely the first question was just a tester. A kind of “no win situation” or “Kobayashi Maru” if you will, that would show them how a person reacts under duress and extreme pressure. I was wrong.
|I started to sob a little at this point.|
The question was longer and more confusing than the first. I quickly scanned my memory for key words and cues that could help. I sat there with my mouth open staring at the ceiling. I had to say something.
A long and exasperated sound seeped from my larynx. I wasn’t totally sure, but I think I might have been having a serious stroke at this point.
I started rambling again. A half remembered reference to “conduct” lingered in my brain as I checked off meaningless phrases and platitudes relating to this subject. I rubbed my now numb face in the hope of sparking some semblance of life into my answers, but all that came were stories of “client interaction” and “petty cash…reimbursement.. bus tickets..photocopy chart, list, prescription doctor”.
They witches cackled and sneered as they wrote down notes on their little forms. Their writing too small, far away and upsidedowny for me to read. But I knew what they were writing. I KNEW!
“HAHAHA. Can’t believe this guy is actually trying to answer these questions! He’s not even a 47 year old woman! Why would we hire him?”
Almost unbeknown to me I had stopped talking and they had moved onto the third woman and her question. By the time I had I had stopped talking and she had started, she was already half way through her question but I decided that I would at least try to get one question reasonably understood and give a decent answer.
|"How do you feel, empirically speaking of course, you can respond to a work scenario that is conceptually heterogeneous in appearance, but displays homogeneity characteristics upon further effective and target led investigation."|
I sat there and thought about it…..
|For what was a VERY long time|
I had nothing.
Not a single word of her question made any sense and I had already used up every single reference to my skills and experiences that might otherwise allow me to tread water for a few minutes.
As Don Draper would have said:
|“I'm glad that this is an environment where you feel free to fail.”|
I stroked my hair and started rocking back and forth in my seat.
They all just looked at me for what seemed like an eternity. I now knew how those poor bastards in Dragons Den felt when they cracked under the pressure and couldn’t even remember what invention they were trying to sell.
I had no choice but to ask lady number 3 to repeat the question. She looked at me with an almost palpable level of disgust and contempt and then proceeded to repeat the question like she was trying to teach basic reading skills to a retarded 3 year old kid who grew up a middle child in a pack of wolves.
|“HOW….. Do you.. That’s YOU!!! FEEL, EMPIRICALLY SPEAKING, of….………Course………|
She gave me no hints or help as to what the hell she was talking about, but just repeated the question word for word in a much slower and patronising identical manner.
This brief rest bite did give me a brief opportunity to leave my body and observe the car crash that was happening before my eyes. It was not a pretty sight in all fairness. Whoever that guy in the suit is sitting behind the desk should really wipe the dribble from his chin.
I feigned new and appreciated understanding of the question and gently nodded in some sort of realisation that the words she said now made sense.
|I did not.|
But the penny had not dropped. I was as lost as I had been at the start of the question, but at least now I had been given enough time to formulate some sort of answer. I figured anything had to be better than just sitting there like I had been struck down by a severe and sudden case of “locked in syndrome”.
Again I prattled on about “people skills” and may have even given a short speech on how.....
|At this point, I was seconds was from reciting the lyrics to Shiny Happy People|
More scribbles on their notes as I continued to give them a show of bewildered false conpentence not seen since they banned the circus from training Apes to ride Horses.
|Which is probably a good thing|
I started to shake. My breath came in short deep grunts, interspersed with the primal howl of a wounded animal. I rutted the floor with my shoe. Some sort of reply came from within. I had no idea what I even said, but I think I may have cursed her house in Klingon at one point.
Then it was over.
I had worked on a funny joke regarding the “What are your weaknesses?” question, but they didn’t even have the good grace to give me the opportunity to use it. In case you’re wondering, it was something about being a “bit of a racist”. There was a whole setup and punch line thing that doesn’t make sense out of context. What you think you could do better?
Needless to say I didn’t get the job. I have requested some feedback from the interview panel. A little bit in order to pick up some hints, but mainly to try and remember what the hell I actually said.
I’m quite annoyed and dismayed why people would want to turn an already tense and nervous situation into a full on mental torture session. We all have access to a thesaurus, but that’s no reason to take the piss. I really don’t know what they hoped they would get out of their petty and silly actions? Maybe the job had already been “promised” to someone else and this was their way of just stacking the deck, or maybe they were just jumped up, self-important fish wives who needed to try and make themselves look better than they actually were. Either way, their loss.
Never mind. Plenty more interviews out there, meaning I get to do this all over again in the near future.