INTERVIEW HELL - THE
So, list six of your best qualities.
I had to admit through my silence that clearly I had none.
Well, here I am. Its Monday evening; Ive been waiting since
Thursday. Three interviews. About forty quid on Petrol. Days out first
in Plymouth, then Penzance and then Exeter. The last was neatly rounded
of with a promise; that the recruitment manager would be in touch on
Monday. He was. But Im still none the wiser because Mister Area
Manager Man has gone on holiday for a week.
Is this the way it works? If so, job hunting isnt
very pleasant really. Certainly not good for the nails.
The whole process is a bit of a nightmare; especially if you live where
I do- right down in the depths of Cornwall. Still, at least on the whole
youre spared the awful feelings of inadequacy here, unless you
look at the I.T. specialist jobs!
The job I applied for two weeks ago stood out from the
board like a sore thumb. The words graduate Trainee screamed
out from behind the pins that had crucified it. I couldnt believe
my luck. Graduate jobs are virtually unheard of in this neck of the
Of course I applied. Well, I got the details. That is, I took them home.
And promptly forgot all about them! It wasnt until two weeks further
down the line that I remembered I hadnt bothered to do anything
about it all. Thats when I telephoned. And started the ball rolling.
It was a fast one. Faster that I had anticipated.
On the Tuesday I rang the branch quoted on the job description and was
assured that the position was still vacant. I was given the number of
an area manager and told to discuss it further with him. This I did.
He was a funny guy. Very sales. I winced as his enthusiasm hurtled down
the line, Oh Yeah- weve had a 'lodd' of interest in this
one. Send your C.V. through.
And he was gone. I was left with a peculiar taste in
my mouth. You know when youre not quite sure whether someone has
just been really patronising and rude; or if its just you being
paranoid? It was one of those. I sat on the stairs. Wondering. Had I
just been insulted? Was I insulted? I couldnt work it out. Still
- I sent the C.V. off that night. I wasnt holding my breath.
Next day the phone rang. The enthusiastic voice railroaded me again.
I hadnt been expecting it so soon.
He chatted. He was charming. Polite. Articulate. The pushiest person
I have spoken to in a long while.
I wanted to clarify with you - you are aware that the existing
vacancy wont necessarily be with our Truro branch?
No - Shit. That was that then. But he was still selling,
Yes. I mean. If you didnt feel able to relocate I might
just have to say that this wouldnt really be the position for
you. Do you follow?
Of course I rose to it. Said I was willing to commute for up to an hour.
He had done his job well. Then he bettered it. Somehow I ended up agreeing
to drive to Plymouth two days later for an interview.
And so it continued. He had sold it. I was hooked. I wanted it. He was
very good at his job; even over the phone. In person, his talent was
even more impressive. I left the interview feeling I had just had a
pleasant chat. I clutched the company brochure and dreamed a few dreams
in the tranquil seconds between leaving the offices and realising how
crippled my new interview shoes had left me. This realised, all dreams
were gone. I hobbled back to the car, cursing interview dress-codes.
That was the first of three. Next up was Penzance. This was a proper
grilling. It hurt. I felt like a bit of a moron when asked what I would
be least likely to buy from the highstreet. I felt like still more of
a moron when my pathetic response turned turtle and became a product
I was selling to my interviewer.
Nothing compares to the horror of being asked the infamous interview
question: So, list six of your best qualities. I had to
admit through my silence that clearly I had none. This disconcerted
me no little and quite some. Especially since- when asked to list six
negative things I had to be interrupted mid flow as I reached
the twelfth! I gritted my teeth, silently hoping that it was their policy
to employ unpleasant, difficult, stubborn people. If it wasnt,
well, it looked as though I was well and truly out of the running!
Apart from the mandatory awful moments, the rest went by fairly painlessly.
At least the top button of my shirt never popped open. I had been dreading
it doing this and, as a precaution, had stared down at myself so many
times throughout the course of the conversation that he could have been
forgiven for thinking me rather peculiar. Or that I had a fixation with
my own breasts
and possibly other peoples too!
From here, amazingly ( he cant have noticed the button-checking!)
I was sent to Exeter. That was on the Thursday. I had a very short meeting
with the recruitment manager and was assured that I would be contacted
on the following Monday.
I was contacted as promised. Only to be told that no
decision could be reached until the boss returned from his holiday in
a weeks time.
During the week I spent waiting, I realised just how scary the prospect
of a full-time job really is. How must it feel to hand over your freedom
and exchange your current lifestyle for a new, tiring version which
will constitute the basis for the rest of your working life? Career
stretched out before me, black and forbidding. I wished several times
during those seven days that life worked backwards. At other times,
however, ambition and anticipation buoyed me up. By the next Monday,
I was stressed to the max!
That was this morning. Woke up in an absolutely filthy mood having decided
that whatever happened would be dreadful. If I was rejected, I would
feel a failure. If I was accepted, I would have to sign my life over.
Talk about a rock and a hard place.
The day dragged painfully. I phone-watched grumpily.
Nothing happened. My nerved stretched thinner and thinner. Until at
last the call came.So now I have to wait for the documentation. I start
a week today. Time to re-invent myself.
© Esther Loydall 2000