Yesterday I went for an interview for a job with the NPS (National Probation Service). It was the fourth or fifth interview I have had over the last few months, and it might just be that I'm starting to get better at them.
Not to say that I'm going to get the job (though God knows I need to), but if I don't it will be because someone else has come along with bags of experience and who performed well at their interview. It won't be because I buggered it up like it might have been in the past.
Yet the fact remains that no matter how good I get at interviews I will always hate them. They present you with an entirely false situation, and as such are no good indicator whatsoever of whether a person is suitable for a particular job. I was asked four simple questions about the NPS (living with someone already employed there certainly helped), but most of my answers came as a result of a little internet research. As long as it could read and was good with a mouse you could have trained a chimp to learn what I needed to know.
I don't really have any alternatives to the interview process as it stands, but let's kick a few ideas around anyway. Perhaps they could film candidates carrying out tasks related to the job and broadcast it on Channel Four. When everyone's examination has been viewed you could get the moron population who are hooked on reality television to vote for who they think should get the job. Or else they could bring in some Alan Sugar-esque administrative Big Shit to judge the hopefuls on their clerical skills. One by one he could fire those who failed to cut the yellow stuff leaving the remaining, successful candidate to become his administrative apprentice. They could film that aswell. The idiot masses would be glued to it.
There was a practical side to all of this. I was asked to complete a short data entry test aswell as a little examination of my copy-typing skills. If I fail that I'm in serious trouble. I didn't go to University for three years to get a degree in journalism to fail a tin-pot copy-typing test. The copy was littered with mistakes which the sub-editor in me felt compelled to correct. Now I'm worried that they'll penalise me for not typing the thing out exactly as it was on the paper. Still, if they want a workforce who dutifully copy everything robotically regardless of whether it is grammatically accurate then I guess it is not the job for me.
All of this was done using a headset for instructions. That was the best bit about it. At the end I thought for a second of emulating Ron Atkinson, roughly removing my headphones at the end of the task and chucking them haughtily at the nearest cameraman. We're on Channel Four or BBC2, remember? By the time I post this blog I might actually find out whether I have got through to stage two of the interview process. That's a 45-minute interview aimed at finding out how I would deal with specific scenarios. Badly, I hear you cry.
On the way home I saw a transsexual on the train. Wearing a short skirt, covered in fake tan and enough make-up to transform Anne Widdecombe into Helen of Troy, she(he?) was nevertheless clearly an ex-man. With a voice as deep as the Indian Ocean and clearly visible facial hair, I was left feeling sympathy with her for the botch-up of her surgical transformation. It was about as convincing as Hugh Laurie's American accent.
You hear so many stories about men incandescent with rage having been fooled by sexual partners who turn out to be not quite what they seem. No danger of that with this one. If the voice or the beard didn't give her away, then surely the Adam's Apple would. Of course, I say this having crossed her path in a state of sobriety. Had I been plied with lager at the time I might have taken a different view.
Time to get the drinks in.