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Filey – Mrs Hunter’s Pattern: Week 2 – 9 May

We’re recruiting for a couple of posts just now, and I’m getting flashbacks to some of the skeletons in my own personal Closet of Interview Horrors. The most unpleasant was at an archive in the City of London back in the early 90s. It’s usual to show candidates round an archive before interview, and then ask them for their impressions as a lead-off question. Not this time. I was shown straight into the boardroom. Across the table was a panel of grave, besuited middle-aged men in cufflinks. Cufflink No.1 blithely began by saying that they expected anyone who wanted to work there to have already paid a visit in their own time, and, presuming that to be the case, what were my impressions? “Actually I’ve never been here before,” I replied. “Oh dear!”, he exclaimed. After a ghastly silence, during which they all bent over their assessment forms to write, as far as I could tell, “Oh dear”, it was Cufflink No.2’s turn: “In that case, can you tell us why you’ve applied for this job?” He asked, before adding nastily, “Apart from the money, that is.”

The Launch of the Isabella Fortuna

Another gem was the time I was interviewed by the entire Library Committee of a certain council in Wales, about twelve people in all. This time they gave the candidates the questions beforehand, so we had time to prepare. When I was called in, the Chairman read out the first question. I said I’d like to take the first two questions together—not trying to be clever, but because it genuinely seemed to make sense to merge them in one answer. The committee heard me out in silence. After a lethal pause the Chairman picked up his list of questions again. “Thank you, Mr Reid,” he said. “Now then, question two…”, which he then proceeded to read out in full, leaving me feeling like I’d just trodden on a rake.

I’ll pause it there, to build up suspense before revealing the interview that still haunts my dreams, and turn instead to the current gansey project. The pattern is starting to reveal itself nicely: panels of open diamonds and ladders interspersed with cables. The “rungs” of the ladders and the cables come every seventh row (this is the only change I’ve made from the original as recorded by Michael Pearson, where both happen every eighth row; I just like seven-row cables). It’s an easy pattern to knit, but a spectacular one nevertheless—the only downside is having to make eighteen cables every seven rows.

Coming up Daisies

And now we come to my worst interview experience. No, it’s not the one where my presentation wouldn’t load, and I ended up giving the talk using finger puppets, grim though that was. This one was in Liverpool, in an old council building. As I was shown into the room I saw the panel waiting inside, sitting in chairs in a row (there wasn’t a table this time). As I was looking at them, and assembling a friendly, non-threatening smile to greet them with, I neglected to notice a fatal step up to the room. This I duly caught with my trailing foot. My entrance was therefore rather more exciting than I’d intended, as I stumbled several paces before losing my balance completely… and ended lying face-up in the lap of the lady who was head of libraries, looking right up her nose.

But let us avert our collective gaze with a shudder from the tragic scene. Like Agent Kay in Men in Black, these are all several of a hundred memories I don’t want; in fact, if anyone out there has a standard-issue neuralyzer and would like to come over and flashy-thing me to erase them all, just let me know…

Gorse at Helmsdale

8 comments to Filey – Mrs Hunter’s Pattern: Week 2 – 9 May

  • Annie

    Mine doesn’t stand up to any of yours, but to thank you for your last especially (because it perhaps remind me to not be drinking coffee while reading your postings), here is my most memorable visit interview:

    My first professional interview as a brand new speech pathologist, I though it had been going very well and that I probably had the job. Until I was asked what my philosophy was. Usually quite a talker, couldn’t think of a single thing to say. The silence grew so uncomfortable that I really just wanted to just leave in a hurry, without saying goodbye. Don’t ask if I got the contract.

    • Gordon

      Hi Annie, I’ve often wondered what I’d say if I ever had a bizarre question thrown at me, like Ben and Jerry’s would apparently ask candidates to write a poem (“There once was a young man from Wick/ Whom cookie dough ice cream made sick…).

      What’s my philosophy? I’d be tempted to answer “Hegelian dialectics” just to see what they said next…

  • Oh ..how do you manage such awkward situations that somehow become so funny when retold with time and space to cushion them..thankyou for the images…and the knitting

    • Gordon

      Hi Meg, I’ve said it before but my life is basically a badly-scripted sitcom, only without the laughter track and the wah-wah-wah soundtrack..

  • =Tamar

    At least you were face up…
    I´ve just realized that long, stretched-out cables mean the knitter doesn´t have to cable as often.
    On the other hand, eight-row cables work in the flat. Seven-row cables in the flat require some purl-row cabling.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, you’re absolutely right, a seven-row cable means every second cable happens on the reverse side. But this no longer bothers me, ever since I realised that you do *exactly the same thing* to make a reverse cable as a right-side cable, and it works. I don’t understand how it works, but it does. It’s like a magic trick with a cable needle!

  • Nigel

    Oh gosh., hilarious. It’s funny, my worst interview was probably my best. I had prepared by reading a “how to win at interviews” book. It was the late 1980s in London and I had bought a grey double-breasted suit. I had a skinhead at the time so I probably looked like a criminal from the East End. When I arrived I was given an information sheet about the job, which showed the salary. I was appaaled by how little they were paying. Oh well, I was interviewed by a panel of four people. As I no longer wanted the job I gave the quickest and snottiest answers I could think of. Three weeks later I was sent a letter saying they had a position, for twice the salary! As it turns I had been given the wrong info! It was for the BBC. I think things have changed since…

    • Gordon

      Hi Nigel, that’s brilliant! I think sometimes we give of our best when all the pressure is off, and we don’t care. I fold like an origami flower under pressure, but soar like an eagle when nothings at stake… (in my mind, at least!).

      I once had an interview where I couldn’t answer any of the first six questions – I was just starting out, and they were all competency based. I despaired, and relaxed, and as a result just opened up and talked. But I still got the job -which must have really annoyed all the candidates with actual experience…

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