Friday, 6 September 2013

What would you say is your worst character flaw?

Right, so before I was an Internationally lauded comedic Blogging genius, Sci-Fi author and book illustrator, I used to be a scummy IT contractor.  Going from thankless job to thankless job every three months or so and never making any real friends.

(This is where you feel sorry for me, violins play, and velvet ropes part.)

I mean, in the past twenty eight years I've worked for twenty-five different companies (And had a couple of years off in that time).  And you'd think that with of my experience of them, Interviews would get easier - But believe me, they don't.  I've had loads of the buggers, each more freakish and random as the last, and as I know that you guys enjoy laughing at my misfortunes, I thought that I'd give you a taste of some of the things that have happened to me in the name of prospective employment.


Back in 1986, I had an interview with British Telecom, they asked me a couple of questions about the job, and what I thought I'd be doing.  then one of the interviewers leaned back in his chair and said 'OK, so imagine that you own a Zoo on the south coast, and you've got a month to move the animals to a Zoo you've just bought in Scotland.  How would you do it?'

I 'ummed' and 'Ahhed' for a while then went off on one about how I'd send the Giraffes by road (after checking the atlas for low bridges - This was before Google Maps and all that shizzle) and fly the killer whales up there with the help of the RAF, I'd send the Meerkats by Red Star (British Rail's now defunct parcel service) and let the tropical fish find their own way using The UK's wonderful, fully connected, canal system, I must have gone on for about twenty minutes - it worked though - I was there for five years.


in 1996 - I went for an Agency Interview (i.e. the Agency had already 'sold' them on my experience, they just wanted to see if I'd 'fit in' with the team.) With the Children's clothing company Adams in Nuneaton.  The two managers there gave me a rundown of the team and asked me if I supported Derby County, what with me being from Derby.

I said 'No.'

They said, 'You can start on Monday'


A couple of years later, I had an interview for an electronics company, I think they were somewhere in Birmingham, but I can't remember their name and the only people in the room apart from me were the hiring manager, and the person currently doing the job I was interviewing for.  It seems that he had just been handed his notice, but they wanted him to sit in on the interviews and make sure the 'new guy' could do it as well as him.   What followed was an hour of torture, questions so technical and specific to that particular company that no one, other than the person asking them, had any idea of what the answers would be.

Needless to say, I didn't get that one, and I wasn't particularly bothered.


I had an interview for a civilian post with a 'Government Department' once too.  I still can't tell you which one it was, but I had to travel to the Dockyard at Chatham, in Kent, by train, because I didn't drive at the time.  The journey took three hours and it was raining when got there.  I was made to feel very welcome though. A very smartly dressed, you might even say uniformed, lady brought me a coffee and I was ushered into a nice wood-paneled room to be met by a gentleman with a completely epic moustache, who looked a little bit nervous.  He looked me up and down and said.

'Now, unfortunately, we missed a required skill off the advertisement for the vacancy - I don't suppose you speak fluent German do you?'

I shook my head, he thanked me for coming, and showed me to the door.

Of course, the job might not have required Fluent German, maybe he just didn't like the cut of my jib.


Talking of Germans, I was interviewed by a German chap once, for a job at a train company.  The interview was going really well, we were laughing and joking and he said that even though I wasn't the most qualified person that he'd spoken to, I was the best fit for the team, it all went a bit pear-shaped though when he said.

'Von last Kvestion... How many points do joo haff on jour drivink License?' (It was possible his Mother was Russian, I'm not sure)

'Erm... None?' I replied.

'Ach! joo are not right fur zis job, I do not trust peeples who do not haff at least one conviction fur den speedink.'

I started to reply, and he actually did that thing where you wave your index finger at someone and go 'Ah-ah-ah!' Then he just pointed at the door.


Then there was the interview for a local Steel Stockholder, the Agency called me and said that they were a casual dress company, so I wouldn't need to wear a suit and tie for the interview.  So I went in jeans, a smart shirt, and boots.  The two guys interviewing me were wearing T-shirts, ripped jeans and Reeboks.  The interview went well, we had coffee afterwards and talked about TV shows that we all liked and I waited for the Agency to call me back.

Later that afternoon I got the call to say that I didn't get the job because they thought that I was a little bit too casual.  I laughed when they went bust three months later, like a witch down a drain.


The funniest though I think was when I accidentally got a job with AT&T - I applied for a job as a Cable Monkey, connecting the flashing lights on computers together with bits of wire - Transposed a couple of numbers on the job identification part of the on-line application form (Put ATT34276435 instead of AT34726435 or something) and successfully got the job as the Due Diligence Manager for Europe, The Middle East and Africa... Was there for three months before they figured out I was making it up as I went along.


The most recent one was for my local University, the few, well chosen English words that they'd included in the job advert led me to believe that I could do the job.  The completely different words they used at the interview (including things about dodgy, esoteric, programming languages and sacrificing jellyfish headed ducks to the Dark Gods as a debugging tool) led me to believe that in fact, I couldn't - I'd pretty much convinced myself that there was no way that I was going to get the job, so when they asked:

'Do you have any questions for us?'

I replied, 'Actually yes, do you know what the average diameter of the moon is?'

Needless to say... Didn't get it


So remember kiddies, getting a job is 40% perseverance, 27% dumb luck, 18% hard work and 15% knowing someone who knows someone whose Uncle once had a naked picture of the guy who's interviewing you's Mum.

Or the ability to ask 'Would you like fries with that?'

(P.S. it's about 2,200 miles - If you were wondering)

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