So can I start by asking, why do you want to read this blog? Sorry, I just went into interviewer autopilot then. Yes, the factual entertainment show The Job Interview returned for a second series this week. In each episode we meet hopeful candidates as they are grilled for jobs with companies such as Virgin Trains, the RAC and Ciaté. Now I have been both an interviewer and interviewee on several occasions so there were some reassuringly familiar emotions and some jaw dropping blunders.
The programme is a fixed rig set up, so all the interviews take place in an office and the participants are filmed remotely so even though they know they are on telly, they don’t see the cameras. We first met the unnamed receptionist , who judging by the “Richard Branston” line are there for comedy value. The interviewers then erect a pull up banner outside the room (no expense spared on the branding) and the candidates are bought in.
The first set of interviews were for someone to work in the shop on Virgin Trains. They wanted someone with a good sense of humour and good customer skills presumably so that they can make the customers laugh and feel good about the extortionate price they have just paid for a flapjack. There were 3 candidates; Jagat who is currently unemployed and a self-confessed train geek; American Susan who by her own admission “changes jobs a lot” (cue scribbling down of notes from interviewers as alarm bells start ringing) and Bianca, a student who needs to get a job as she has already run up debts of £17K in the first year of her psychology course.
The interview began with that staple “What attracts you to the job?” Cue Jagat’s life story about his dad working for BR. “Can you give an example when you have gone above and beyond to give a customer service?” Cue Susan’s unbelievable response “I can’t think of one…there are just too many”. That one’s going in interviewing tool box:
“So Mr X can you give an example of when you did Y?”
“I could, but there are just too many to mention”.
Back of the net. Jobs as good as mine.
Susan had another belter up her sleeve; as an example of how organised she was she told them “I got some seeded bread out of the freezer last night so that it was ready for me this morning”. I believe Seb Coe does the same. It’s planning like that which made London 2012 such a huge success.
One of the exercises they had to do was reading out a tannoy announcement. They all insisted on doing the “bing boing” before they read (but as you can guess Jagat’s was the most realistic). Bianca was good; Jagat was polite and reinforced the fact that alcohol was only available to over 18’s (apparently trains aren’t like ships with different laws. The driver can’t marry you either) and Susan was, well, terrible.
After the interview we see the interviewees being rung up and told who got the job. Bianca was offered the job but the told Jagat that they would ”like to stay in contact for future vacancies” which is the interview equivalent of being told “we can still stay friends” after you have been dumped. Not gonna happen.
Next up was beauty company Ciaté (nope I have never heard of them either). The interviewers were founder Charlotte who shouted a lot and Marketing boss Caroline. The candidates were; media graduate George (who appeared to be channelling Tim Nice-But-Dim); South African Mieke, who had the most expressionate face and eyes ever; Soleil an American blogger and hippy Sophie who was doing social media for the Orangutang Foundation. (I never knew that orangutangs were organised enough to have a foundation never mind be on social media.)
George’s presence was relayed to the room by the mardy receptionist (while the other one google Ciaté to find out who the hell they were) who commented that “a rather handsome young man is waiting in reception for you”. If that situation was flipped with opposite sexes, I don’t think it would have made the cut. George bit the dust early doors scoring a massive zero on the hashtag questions. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what #TBT, #MUA, #FOMO or #BAE meant either and I think I’m pretty social media savvy as I have at least 17 followers on Twitter and check it religiously nearly every other day. (Answers at the bottom of the page).
Next out was Sophie. Apparently Ciaté is an acronym for Colour Indecisiveness Attitude Trauma and ego…or something like that. It’s their core values anyway. The candidates were given the letters and had to write what they thought the letters meant. If they didn’t know they were urged to be creative. I thought Sophie was. I mean A is for Animal Cruelty Free is quite clever, but Catherine wasn’t impressed and let her know. Now I cannot claim to be completely up on modern interviewing technique, but is “real-time feedback” now a thing? Don’t you normally feedback after the interview, not during it? That comment sent poor old Sophie to the ladies in tears (which conveniently also had cameras in) and out of the process shortly afterwards.
The main contenders were Soleil and Mieke. They both had amazing back stories, which at the end of the day is what this programme is all about. The final test was to come up with a social media strategy for their new product “glitter flip” which was new lipstick. Both candidates tried it on wrote their strategies. At this point I wondered what George would have done if he had made it this far. At the end of the interviews Charlotte and Caroline high fived each other (which again I have never done in an interview) and Charlotte fixed her make-up and checked her Instagram feed. The job went to Mieke but at the end we found out what happened to the other candidates; Soleil is now a professional blogger, Jagat was later offered a job on Virgin Trains and Susan went onto have a succession of jobs, but there were so many that she couldn’t name any for the update.
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The answers to the hashtag quiz are:
#TBT – Throwback Thursday
#MUA – make up artists
#FOMO – fear of missing out
#BAE – before anyone else
So now you know!