Now, I get the feeling that I may not be the only one who's had to subject myself to the not-entirely-welcome experience of attending multiple job interviews over the past couple of years. But then again, maybe it is just me, and the whole economic downturn thing is a vast conspiracy to mess me around and see how many doors have to get slammed in my face before I drop the pretence of civility and start taking hostages....
But on the off chance that there are one or two others in this country who are in the same boat, I'd like to share some of the stupid questions I've found myself being asked in these interviews. Keep in mind, these are just a broadly representative cross section; they're not even the most stupid questions I've been asked. A lot of those have now been buried as suppressed memories, and will probably come back to haunt me in the years to come, like some form of post-traumatic stress (“Sarge! Sarge! I can smell HR. They out by the wire...”).
What did you most enjoy about your last role?
Just when did we start being so American about everything? What did I most enjoy about my last role? The sort of people who ask this question with a straight face are the same people who put the company they work for front-and-centre on their Facebook and Twitter profiles - the same company that will let them go like a post-curry fart the moment that keeping them on is less economically viable than getting shot of them. Now, don't get me wrong; pay me a wage and point me in the direction of what you want done, and it will get done, with no fuss and the absolute minimum amount of whinging. I'm dependable that way. Just don't ask me to use up emotional bandwidth actively enjoying the experience. The thing that I enjoyed most about my last job was exactly the same thing that my dad enjoyed about his, the same thing that his father enjoyed about his: the bit where you get to go home at the end of the day.
A gratuitously stupid question, and one that should be banned from use on the British mainland.
How well do you cope with stress?
The irony of this question was that it was being asked (actually, at one point it was almost being shrieked) by an interviewer who looked like she was one bad morning away from climbing up a bell tower and dropping complete strangers with a few well-placed shots from a carbine. She kept asking the question throughout the interview, becoming more agitated each time. How well do I cope with stress? Well, obviously a little bit better than you, love.
How would you feel about working with people who are younger and more ambitious than you?
Where to start? Not only is this question guilty of making gross assumptions about the interviewee, but it marks the interviewer out as being, well, a bit of a clueless, arrogant twat. So all your people are ambitious, are they? Right, we'll go ahead and suppose that the absolute minimum expression of this ambition is that they expect to be managing their own team within a couple of years, okay? Given that your company revolves around teams of at least six people, that means that your organisation needs to expand six-fold in that same time period, or risk thwarting the ambition of your employees, yes? Now that's not a very realistic goal in the current climate, is it, fucknuts? So either you're a) training people up so they can go and work for one of your competitors in a couple of years time, in which case you should shut the fuck up, or b) your people aren't quite as ambitious as you like to think, in which case you should probably go ahead and shut the fuck up.
Of course, that would be the eloquent way of answering that particular question, but it's not the first response that springs to mind. The response that first springs to mind is “How would you feel about me ramming that telephone on the desk so far up your arse that you'll have to pick your nose just to get an outside line?”
What would you do about Saddam Hussein?
Given that this is now a moot point, you can probably guess that it wasn't asked recently, so maybe asking daft fucking questions isn't a such a new phenomenon (though it certainly seems to have gone up a few notches in the last couple of years).
To give this question some context, I was interviewing for a very junior role in the MOD, years and years ago. As far as I was concerned, I'd be making sure that all the office paper clips were properly accounted for, and ensuring that the photocopier was ready for deployment at a moment's notice. What would I do about Saddam Hussein? I didn't realise that was going to be my responsibility. Jesus Christ, don't you have people for that?
But in reality, my ideal job? Well, I'd probably have to say Blow Job Tester for Kylie Minogue
What would be your ideal job?
Maybe this was a trick question. Maybe the answer they were looking for was “This job. Absolutely this job. I would enjoy nothing more than sitting in your dingy little office, fielding phone calls about fuck-ups that occurred way before my time with the company, with the express train to Bristol clattering past the back window every twenty minutes and shaking another ceiling tile loose, for a wage so derisory I would have told you where to shove it back in 2005.”
But in reality, my ideal job? Well, I'd probably have to say Blow Job Tester for Kylie Minogue.
I can imagine it now: “Oh yes, that's actually very nice....no, there's no need to get it all in – you're an extremely attractive woman, Miss Minogue, but gagging just isn't a good look for anyone....oh that's new, yes I like that.......wait.........wait..............oh, my......there we go. Right, I think that's it for this morning. I'm thinking a quick bite of lunch, then back here for more of the same? Except maybe this time we'll see if you can still fit into those gold shorts from the Spinning Around video. What's that? You need me to come in this weekend? Saturday and Sunday? Well, of course, if you think it's absolutely necessary....”