If ever there was a timely Friday Five, this one must be it. In a week in which I’ve spent one day learning about preparations for moving on (I’ll blog that tomorrow – one unexpected side effect of the NaBloPoMo is that I really can’t afford to just post whenever I think of it – I’ll surely run out of ideas far too soon that way) Mother Laura has produced questions on that terrifying event, The Interview.
1. What was the most memorable interview you ever had?
I’ve had quite a startling lack of interviews in my life, actually and none particularly stand out…When we first moved out of London and funds were almost non-existent, I tried to find any sort of un-demanding part time job to help…and again and again I fell over my Cambridge degree, which was suddenly not an asset but a huge liability. Oddly, it never occurred to me to leave it off the CV, even after the MD of a local quarrying firm, who had wanted some clerical help in the office told me categorically
“I couldn’t employ you. You’re friends with some of the people I work for”.
OK, there probably was a bit of a mismatch of my abilities and their needs – but at that moment what I needed most was an extra £100 per week and I really couldn’t see why over-qualification might be a problem. "But that was in another country and besides, the wench is dead…"
2. Have you ever been the interviewer rather than the interviewee? If so, are you a tiger, a creampuff, or somewhere in between?
I’ve never been part of the sort of career world that put me in the interviewer’s seat, but I have been part of a panel appointing a new teacher at the village school. On that occasion, I was so bowled over by the wonderfulness of one of the short-listed candidates that I was desperate for her to teach my children – so my approach was definitely along the “cream puff” lines. I so wanted her to show her best self, which she did, praise be – and got the job, and was every bit as much of an inspiration for Hugger Steward as I'd hoped. I don't think I do "tiger" actually...
3. Do phone interviews make you more or less nervous than in-person ones?
I’ve never had one as such, - but the story that follows concerns a phone conversation to advise me of the result of an interview.
Imagine the scene. Idyllic summer’s evening somewhere in the Cotswolds.
I’m attempting to lead a small pony with a large appetite along the grassy track to his field, without hesitation, deviation or pauses for snacking en route.
Suddenly the calm of the evening is broken by an electronic version of a Bach Brandenburg concerto…
Tis the mobile.
Frantic rifling in many pockets ensues (all horsy clothes must be well pocketed, as you always need innumerable bits and pieces about your person, just in case). Finally the phone is located, dropped (missing a cow pat by inches) retrieved – miraculously all before the ringing stops.
So far, so good, though I’m dimly aware that Todd the Pony, who had been intent on nothing more interesting than the grass immediately in front of him, has spotted something more exciting….He is beginning to be restless.
“Kathryn, this is Bishop J” says a voice…”I have some news regarding your Selection Conference”
Oh. The world stops. Last time this bishop phoned and began with these words, road blocks and disappointment followed. With an effort, I reconnect with the here and now, just in time to to receive the words
“Warmly recommend you for training…”
Suddenly the evening sun glows with a new gold. It’s Yes….I can go forward. This wasn’t all a mad and unliveable dream…but just as I begin to take my part in the conversation, the lure of the wheel-barrow of hay only yards away becomes too strong. Instead of the polite and grateful responses to be expected from a brand new ordinand, what the Bishop actually hears is
“No…(Excuse me, Bishop….Yes, I am still here…) No. You wretched animal (Not you, of course, Bishop….I’m sorry. You were sayi------. COME BACK HERE"
Bishop (resignedly, knowing that distraction and Kathryn are constant companions) “I sense perhaps this isn’t the best moment to talk…”
4. What was the best advice you ever got to prepare for an interview? How about the worst?
At the training day this week, the thing that struck me right between the eyes was the need to really know who you are yourself, as fully as possible before you try to present that self to a stranger at interview. It may sound obvious, but it’s only too easy to go into an interview focussing on the obvious things that you imagine the interviewers are looking for - while what really matters is that the job should be a good fit for the whole of you, not just the bits that can “do” whatever it is.
Worst advice….before my first selection conference “Be yourself”.
There’s quite a lot of this particular self, and I think I drowned the selectors in Kathryn that time round. I wasn’t less honest at the re-match, just less keen to share everything, no matter what!
5. Do you have any pre-interview rituals that give you confidence?
No – if I can only manage to leave the house in Good Time that is more than enough for me.