I had my interview. I travelled north by train. I was confident, prepared, practised and well aware that I was equipped and experienced enough to do the job.
I walked into the interview room where I was greeted by a friendly panel. I shook their hands, sat down, had a sip of water … then all my confidence drained from me, the preparation fell away and I mumbled like a child; I even felt at one point as if I had regressed and was sitting in the chair with my legs swinging.
I was thrilled to be in a selection of eight from 92 applicants. But I think I blew it.
Interviews are difficult for old hacks, I think. I had one interview at the start of my journalism career and then got by for decades on word-of-mouth, by proving myself in shifts. I was once interviewed over the phone before moving across the globe for a job: the employer had all the information they needed because I’d been employed by a British newspaper they respected.
Blowing my own trumpet doesn’t come easily. I have to temper the sardonic humour, curb the habitual swearing, pretend a positivity I would find laughable in other circumstances. In doing this I feel like I’m a sweaty teenager in a maths exam who got drunk the night before rather than revising.
Thankfully there were no trick questions.
“How do your colleagues see you?” is a question that once threw me in an interview. I had to fight the urge to say, “Every day through t’week, sometimes through t’window” in a silly voice.
But this time I waffled, digressed, joked and, despite knowing I could do the job standing on my head, felt I was being asked how I would approach brain surgery or switching on the Large Hadron Collider.
But I still don’t need the Fairy Jobmother to help me. She is guest editor in Careers magazine this month: this special edition of At Home magazine offers articles on “dress to impress”, how to build a career in property and opportunities at the British Red Cross.
It basically tells you how to get a job in the way Cosmopolitan would tell you how to get an orgasm.
It also costs £3.95 so had a friend not bought it for me for a laugh, is as much out of my price range as a property portfolio. The clothes it suggests I wear to interview include £135 for a jacket – which someone on Jobseekers’ Allowance could afford if they spent every penny of their benefit.
To me it is a misguided, perhaps even cynical, money-spinner, ignoring the fact that unemployment is at 2.5 million. Mind you, Job Centre Plus does that.
At least after the interview I had the opportunity to use my hack skills. I was lost in a strange city trying to get back to the train station at rush hour. I was on a busy main road with buses speeding past, and no change. I decided to go wild and get a cab but none came. I spotted the local hospital, popped into out-patients and got them to book me a cab. I didn’t even have to limp so, had I got the job, at least I’d know the locals would be helpful. The friendly cabbie was absolutely convinced I had got the job because it was “a lovely day for it”.
At the station I quite fancied a brew and a cake but at over £1.50 each I had to accept the cab as this week’s luxury. I waited at the station trying not to dissect the interview, but wincing and cringing as I thought about what I had said, what I could’ve said and what I should’ve said. I did the same at 4am this morning after Chaplin woke me up with a kick because I was taking up too much room on the bed.
I’ll try not to blame myself when I’m told I didn’t get it. I will tell myself someone more qualified got it. I’ll tell myself everything happens for a reason. I’ll remind myself that with private rents rising – by 1.2% in one month – I might be better off in my social housing flat for a while.
Or I can take the Fairy Jobmother’s advice in Careers and think, “maybe it wasn’t for me”.
I did what I could on the day. Besides, I’m not sure a full-length mirror in front of the loo where candidates nervously ran prior to interview helped me much: who needs to see themselves doing that before convincing people to take them seriously?
When I will find out about the job: This afternoon. Don’t hold your breath
When I have my next interview: Same time next week
Number of rejections so far this week: One (and counting)