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Job interview? Just sing it and wing it

A bloke in charge of advertising

A bloke in charge of advertising

I have just been to the best job interview ever. Which is good, because I have had some real stinkers.

A job interview is not the kind of thing that makes you want to leap out of bed in the morning. It’s not like you’re going to be having lunch with George Clooney at the Savoy and, if you hit if off over the Poire Belle Helene, he’ll be asking you to write his next movie.

No. Job interviews, generally speaking, are a weekend spent with dentist in-laws, being examined on philosophy and arse-licking, condensed into an hour.

The weirdest job interview I’ve ever had? That would be the one in the advertising department of a local radio station. It didn’t go too badly. At first. I impressed the head of advertising with my choice of music for some processed cheese (Air on a Cheese String), but then he asked me, quite seriously, what famous actor I would choose to play him in a film. And what film it would be. What kind of question is that??? My mind, poor at the best of times in these situations, went completely blank. I stared at the guy, who was small, pinkly balding and perspiring freely,  and then, in a splurge of sycophancy, I mumbled, ‘Oh, that would have to be Samuel L Jackson, of course, because he’s the coolest man on the planet.’

A cool dude

A cool dude

‘And the film? he pressed, smirking slightly.

‘Er, oh…’ and then I blurted, ‘Babe the sheep pig, because he looks like you.’

Most crushing job interview? That would be one I had in the seventies, when no one had really yet got to grips with equality. It was for the job of junior reporter on a weekly paper, and it all went swimmingly until, at the end, the editor said, ‘Well, it’s a choice between you and a young man.  So, of course, I’m going to give him the job.’ Yes, he really said that. Mind you, he also said he’d call me back in six months, and he did. So, fair play. (ish)

Most time-consuming and ridiculous interview? That would be for a multi national bank. Not in the money department, you understand, but as editor of a staff newspaper. When I got notification of the interview, a friend said to me, ‘They’ll ask you what you like doing in your spare time.’

‘Oh, that’s easy,’ I replied. ‘Lying in bed and eating chocolates.’

‘Nooo!’ said friend. ‘You can’t say that.’

‘Why not? They’ll think I’m being friendly and humorous.’

‘Banks don’t have a sense of humour,’ counselled the friend. ‘Say, that whatever time you get home, you like to go out for a run. Otherwise they’ll think you’re sluggish and hopeless.’


And it came to pass that, during the interview, I was given several bizarre tests cunningly designed to reveal the inner me (including building the Forth Road Bridge out of plastic straws). Efficient people with clipboards watched my every move, and would ask at intervals, ‘How do you like to unwind after a day at work?’ (Oh, I have to go for a run. It’s absolutely my favourite thing). Or, ‘What’s your favourite pastime?’ (Running, of course, or possibly going to the gym. You can’t beat an hour or two on the treadmill – I mean, it did wonders for Oscar Wilde); or rank, in order of preference, your ideal method of relaxation: a, watching TV; b, lying in bed; c, eating chocolates; d, going for a five-mile run over muddy terrain in the dark (Yes, you guessed it.)

And, get this: I got offered the job. I didn’t take it though. It was too much like hard work.

Which brings me to my latest interview. This was for a job as an adult education tutor for my local county council. Zero hours contract, mind, and no cast iron guarantee of any work, but it was worth a go. So I jumped through most of the hoops online, and was called to interview last Tuesday at a former stately home in the depths of the lush spring countryside. They (whoever they were) started building the house about 900 years ago out of the glowing local stone, and the Victorians put an end to it with fancy bits of brick. It had gothic doorways, and crumbling turrets and lush untidy lawns with a stand of beehives at a safe distance. It was the kind of place that made you want to take a cup of tea out onto the terrace and conjure up a best selling romance, while the cook and butler got busy with the bacon and eggs. (Enough pointless description, ed).

Anyway, there I was with three other hopefuls, who teach music, drama and relaxation therapy. We all had to give a 15-minute lesson. The music teacher was first. She had all of us, including the county council types, up on our feet singing What shall we do with the drunken sailor and Oh, sinner man. She gave us tambourines and scrapy sticks and divided us up to so we could do part-singing. And it was truly joyful. (And mostly in tune.) Then it was the drama teacher, who emptied a bag full of masks on the table (I got the one labelled ‘confused’) and showed us how to mime. (Move over, Rowan Atkinson). My 15 minutes on how to write natural-sounding dialogue was a bit quiet after all that but, because I’d also had instruction on how to meditate from the other teacher, my nerves had flown away. I was having A Good Time. And guess what? I got the job! (And I’m hoping that the other three were taken on too, because they were really good.)

My classes are being time-tabled, and the leaflets are blowing out over the land. All I have to do now, is get some students. Music and mime, anybody?

Picture of Samuel L Jackson: commons.wikimedia.org

Picture of Babe the Sheep pig: simple.wikipedia.org

About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I lwant to; even when I can't think of much to say. I do a lot of work for local businesses - get in touch if you like my style.


28 thoughts on “Job interview? Just sing it and wing it

  1. Got a good laugh from that one. They gave the job to the guy instead of you, but they were the ones that missed out, not you. He was probably the nephew of the editor and that was the real reason for giving him the job but he didn’t want to sound like he was doing anything “wrong”! how things were so wrong back then.

    Posted by Nolsie | May 2, 2015, 2:38 am
    • No, he was no relation. Just a spotty oik. It didn’t occur to the editor that he was doing anything wrong. In fact he felt he was doing the right thing, because of course, men should get precedence. True.

      Posted by elainecanham | May 2, 2015, 11:38 am
    • Yes agree, when I started working there were a few of the senior guys in the places I worked at that still thought that way and good riddance to that.

      Posted by Nolsie | May 2, 2015, 12:05 pm
  2. Glad you got the job…well written…love it!

    Posted by Kirt D Tisdale | April 28, 2015, 9:20 pm
    • Thanks, Kirt. It’s amazing what can trigger memories. I’d forgotten all about those other job interviews until I had that one last week.

      Posted by elainecanham | April 28, 2015, 10:23 pm
  3. I want to go to your class! Why are you living in the wrong country? It’s most awfully inconsiderate of you. In the meantime, congratulations on your appointment. I’m glad they didn’t give you the electrocution module.

    Posted by Tara Sparling | April 28, 2015, 11:57 am
  4. Congratulations on getting the job! ❤

    I remember jobs I applied for which were sexist as the day is long. I'm grateful I don't have to go that route anymore. Retirement is my gig now. 😀 😀

    Posted by Let's CUT the Crap! | April 27, 2015, 4:52 pm
  5. Congrats on the job. Those sound like some wild interviews in the past. Wonder if everyone has had a few memorable ones.

    Posted by Charles Yallowitz | April 27, 2015, 11:42 am
    • I’m sure they must. What about you?

      Posted by elainecanham | April 27, 2015, 11:52 am
    • Top 3:

      1. Interviewed a ‘video distributor’, which ended up being a porn seller. I wore a suit while sitting next to a stack of porn DVD’s. Didn’t get the job because I showed no interest.

      2. Had an interview and was told that there were several misgivings about hiring me. I was too timid. Couldn’t take the job because of a personal issue that came up.

      3. Went for an office job and was asked ‘Why do you want a job that is normally held by a woman?’ I had no answer and didn’t get a call back.

      Posted by Charles Yallowitz | April 27, 2015, 11:56 am
    • Why do you want a job that is normally held by a woman????? That’s appalling. Mind you, a mate of mine got asked by a newspaper editor, ‘You’re not going to have babies, soon, are you? because I’m not taking you on if you are.’

      Posted by elainecanham | April 27, 2015, 11:59 am
    • It was rather disheartening since I’d been doing office work for nearly 3 years in New York. I couldn’t get anything in that field in Florida, so my resume gathered a bunch of retail jobs. That made it hard to get back into office work when I went back to New York.

      One thing I should mention: it was a woman who asked me the question.

      Posted by Charles Yallowitz | April 27, 2015, 12:15 pm
    • That’s such a ridiculous question, but I expect you’ll be able to use it somewhere in your writing…,

      Posted by elainecanham | April 27, 2015, 12:38 pm
  6. Well done on the job, won against stiff competition I can see. I’m sure you will be very successful in attracting students and all the rest of it 🙂

    Posted by Peter Wells aka Countingducks | April 27, 2015, 10:32 am
    • They weren’t competition, as such, because we all teach different subjects, and I’m sure they must have been hired too, because they were so good.

      Posted by elainecanham | April 27, 2015, 10:41 am
  7. Wonderful! I hope you don’t swear too much in your natural-sounding dialogue.

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | April 27, 2015, 10:22 am
  8. Well done for surviving all those dodgy interview techniques, And well done for getting the job!

    Posted by Jools | April 27, 2015, 10:16 am

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