Tuesday, 14 July 2009

What to take away from interviews

A job interview is a very stressful experience. It requires a lot of preparation and, if at the end of it you are not offered the position, often results in that empty, desolate feeling of disappointment, not to mention an empty wallet thanks to the train fare you’ll never get back.

People harp on about them “all being good experience”. Well cheers, but my interview experience bank is pretty full to bursting right now, it’s my monitory bank that could benefit from a serious credit injection.

Something I prefer to take from interviews (in addition to the obligatory “what could I have done better” crap) is the amusing anecdotes, which for some reason seem to stick in my mind.

For example, I recently had the good fortune to be interviewed by the most demeaning character I have ever come across. It was a very relaxing experience, as half a minute in I decided there was no way in hell I was going to end up working for the man, and he came out with some pretty corking lines.

An excerpt of dialogue from minute four:

“So, what’s this Global Competition Review then? You weren’t there very long, what was that an internship?”

He was referring to the longest period of employment on my CV, so that was quite heartening.

He went on to describe his publication as “utterly global” – I’m glad I now know things can be semi-global – and then accused me of lying on my CV because I couldn’t fire off 10 QuarkXpress keyboard shortcuts. So that was pleasant.

I’ve tripped up on occasion too, of course. I was once giving a critique of a very serious business newspaper to the editor and publisher, and told them that several sections resembled the terms and conditions of a competition, they were so small and boring, and that they should really consider introducing some colour onto the features pages to lift the words off the page. They laughed. I thought, ‘oh marvellous, at least I’ve made them laugh,’ until mid de-brief, I pretty much realised they were laughing at, and not with, me.

Far and away the best one-liner I’ve come across in an interview though has to be this:

“Country Companion? That sounds like a 70s style porno for countryside dwellers.”

It is in fact a very safe round up of book reviews, readers letters and countryside news regularly published in Country Living magazine. Brilliant.

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