So, for instance, when you find yourself gazing into the eyes of one of the panel from underneath, having tripped on a concealed step on the way into the interview room, staggered across the room like Frankenstein’s monster, lost your balance and swallow-dived into their lap (Leicestershire Record Office).
Or when a member of the panel says, in response to your answer to one of their questions, “Oh! Oh dear! Oh dear!” And stops the interview while they make a laborious note on their assessment form (Guildhall Library, London).
Or when you discover that their laptop is running an older version of PowerPoint so your carefully constructed presentation can’t run, and you hear yourself suggesting that you do it with sock puppets instead, a la Sesame Street or Sooty and Sweep, and proceed to demonstrate how it might work (“What’s that you say, Mr Talking Fist? You think we should start with an information survey leading to business process analysis…?”) (Liverpool Council).
The latest – though by no means so extreme as these examples – came on Thursday, when I went for a job interview in the south of England, and the head of department leaned over the desk and said, “To be honest, what really worries me about you’re saying is…” Which is nature’s way of telling you you’re not on their wavelength. Ah, well – I’d have liked the job, but I also know there’s more fun to be had in the future I’m going to experience now. (Maybe also in retrospect I shouldn’t have proposed, when they explained that the layout of the building was basically triangular, that for the next family history fair they could cover it in green tinfoil and invite people to guess which Quality Street sweet it was supposed to be.)
Modest progress this week, what with interview preparation and then travelling down to the south coast to be put to the question, as the Inquisition used to quaintly describe their charming techniques for getting at the, ahem, truth. But hopefully you can see the yoke pattern in a bit more detail this time (with apologies again for the poor photography). I’m trying to get my head around knitting back-and-forth, which in a pattern of this complexity, as I’ve said before, is a bit like trimming your beard in the mirror. Blood all over the place. (Not that all my readers have that problem, of course.)
You may be wondering how the cat’s been behaving after my complaints last week. Well, after I got up at 4am to get a flight to take me to the interview on Thursday, she got her revenge for being left on her own all day by being sick 4 times the next night – at approximately 2.75 hourly intervals – causing my route to the bathroom the next morning to resemble nothing so much as a game of hopscotch. Anyway, here’s a picture of her in regal mode, in her default nocturnal position: standing on my chest and sneering down at me in a “your ass is mine, puny human” sort of way.
Speaking of job interviews, none of the ones I’ve undergone are quite as bad as the case I witnessed as part of the interview panel one time many years ago. The county archivist studied the candidate’s application form closely before asking, “Would you say you were the sort of person who paid close attention to detail?” The candidate looked as sincere as possible and said, yes, he rather thought he was. Only to be crushed utterly by the county archivist’s follow-up question, “Then can you explain how you came to make an elementary spelling mistake on page 3 of your application form?”
He did not get the job. In fact, he may never have worked again, and I picture him in later life expiating out his sin in a remote Indonesian island, like Conrad’s Lord Jim, forever trying to regain his honour and live down his shame.