Wednesday 9 April 2008

Panel game

So anyway I went for this interview. And you know what it's like when you just don't click with the interview panel but it seems a bit melodramatic to walk out so you dutifully go through the motions?

Question, answer, question, answer, and you really don't care any more because you know you don't want to work there, so you recite the answers in a sort of Dalek monotone, slotting the words together like bits of Lego.

You know exactly what I mean, don't you? That's how it was when I shot up to the ninth floor of a swish office block with an eye-popping view across the city of Belfast.

It was a government quango called, shall we say, the Monitoring and Supervisory Agency. You don't need to know what it actually does, but I'm sure it's frightfully useful.

So for starters there was the interview by numbers routine. It also didn't help that one of the female interviewers reminded me uncannily of a woman I once worked with who (allegedly) was heavily into bondage.

I looked disbelievingly at the blonde hair, the thin lips and the beady eyes and it was a supreme effort of will not to imagine her in a pair of handcuffs or tied to a bed post. People who start these unforgettable rumours should be horsewhipped.

If that wasn't distraction enough, all the interviewers were scribbling like people possessed, their red-hot biros scratching away feverishly as if I was confiding the meaning of the universe. I mean, how much information do you need to decide if candidate number six is a little treasure or a total goofball?

So anyway I stoically did my bit, everyone thanked everyone else and I rushed out into a biting Arctic wind that practically stripped off my clothes, my body hair and my eyeballs. What I have to go through to earn an honest crust.

PS (Thursday afternoon): Would you believe, I've been offered the job! But I have another interview next week for a job I really want, so I'm still going to turn this one down and take my chances. Brave or what?


  1. Now I realise why I like being retired!

    I bet you will get this one, always the way.

  2. Grannymar, I don't think I'll be ready for retirement for a while yet. I quite like working as long as it's an interesting job with like-minded people. But this job was decidedly not for me!

  3. You never know what they thought of you as a candidate, Nick.
    Fingers crossed.

    I would kill just to even get an interview at this point.

  4. Had to do a little translation work for myself on this one as I'm on the other side of the Atlantic:

    Quango: quasi NGO. Got it.
    Daleks: the "exterminate" robots in Dr. Who.

    I enjoyed the post. Sounds like you had a (cold wind) blast at the Monitoring and Supervisory Agency! Good to evaluate them as much as they you.

  5. I hate panel interviews. The Public Service do them here as part of the Equal Employment Opportunity policy. It only takes one person to sway the panel and you're in or you're out.

    I once had a panel interview because my contract position became full time and I applied for the job. Despite the fact I'd done it for 2 years I still had to go through the bloody interview process . . got the job . . .then took a voluntary redundancy 3 years later because the department closed! Good luck with the hunting and wild imaginings of panelists in their latex suits! Wicked kinky indeed and kills the nerves.

  6. Thanks, Medbh. Can't think why someone with your intelligence and application can't get an interview! It's an unjust world out there.

    Matt - Sorry about the local lingo. I thought the Daleks were world-famous? And spot on with quango! How about Lego? Yes, with my lengthy work record, I'm pretty good at evaluating the evaluaters!

  7. Baino - Panel interviews are pretty much the norm here as our equal ops laws are now some of the toughest in the world - as a direct result of the Troubles. Hadn't thought of the single dissenter factor. Glad you charmed your panel anyway. Wicked kinky was about it - damn gossips.

  8. Gawd, Nick, I laughed through your post. I had a similar one for a national news agency yonks ago and I literally hated everything about everybody once I walked in the door. It was very much an old boys' club and I just knew they were going through the motions of seeing the bloody woman and finding fault with her, you're dying to say I don't want this bloody job or working with you lot of self-important prats, but you can't. A word should be invented to terminate the big sham.

  9. www - Yes, I bet there are plenty of those sort of interviews still going on, with the token woman wheeled in to be surreptitiously rejected. It's funny I've never heard of anyone actually walking out instantly, we all seem to be suckers for etiquette.

  10. At least you realized during the interview that you don't want to work for or with them. I hate when interviewers forget that you're interviewing them, as well. Sorry it wasn't a better experience.

    I have an interview tomorrow for a higher position within my current company and one next week that's in another state.

  11. Nicole - That's right, quite often the interviewers don't bother to sell themselves, they just assume you're desperate for the job so it doesn't matter. Good luck with your own interviews!

  12. I am surprised that you got through the interview without making any Freudian slips - like asking who would be teaching you the ropes :-)

    It makes me realise that I haven't had a job interview for more than ten years (and how much I hated them then). I think it was the worse case outcome. I was the second choice candidate and number one blew them out so they offered it to me.

    I find equal opps policies generate a huge amount of time wasting (though i am not opposed to them in principal). Often people are obliged to advertise a job - even though they already have an internal candidate in mind. Equally they often to wade through 50% of applications which are only made because people have to apply for x vacancies per month to get their benefits. Who would be a HR manager??

  13. Still giggling at your handcuffs fantasy.

  14. TH - Freudian slips, you're right. I might have asked if I'd be tied to a desk all day!! Indeed, equal ops applications are amazingly laborious - but much fairer for a sexagenarian like me! I wouldn't like to be in HR anyway - wouldn't want to dismiss anybody!

    Hulla - I wasn't giggling at the time, I can tell you. But I was probably giggling like a lunatic on the way home!

  15. Teehee, loving your great sense of fun.


  16. Hulla, it's so often the case that if I didn't laugh, I'd cry. But yes, I tend to see the funny side of everything - even someone dropping dead. Can be a bit of a liability sometimes!

  17. Good luck with interview number 2.

  18. Thanks, Red. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, everything else crossed!

  19. I hope you get the one you want Nick.
    Break a leg.

  20. Thanks, Muddy. Here's hoping!

  21. Yes, Nick, people who are into B&D should be horsewhipped.

    It must have been your dashing, debonair "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" attitude that got them.

  22. Heart - People into bondage and discipline should be horsewhipped - well spotted! Do you know, I never even intended that one! Not sure about the debonair theory - probably more likely the other candidates were hopeless!