|All Being Well…#1 “Trust Yer Gut”|
I was interviewing for a job a few years ago, it was a pretty basic admin job at a sixth form college. When I turned up I immediately KNEW it was wrong for me. I’ll let you pick up on all the red flags as we go…
There were five candidates interviewing for the job, I know that because we were all held together in a meeting room, with teas, coffees and biscuits. Each of us were given a printed timetable for the morning. We had a tour of the school with the headmaster, then we had an interview with the deputy headmaster, then an interview with the headmaster. The job didn’t entail working directly with either of these people. We did the tour all together right at the beginning of the morning so people felt like they had to strike up a rapport with the headmaster during the tour, I cringed at it all, I felt like I was on the Apprentice or something.
Because we all had different schedules, we took part in the different interviews in different orders. Hence all the waiting around together and the Headmaster’s Exec Assistant ferrying us back and forth between the waiting room and the interview rooms. The other candidates were all really nice and we did chat quite a lot, being left to get along in that room.
The interview with the deputy was fine, the usual sorts of questions. I noticed that she had a water bottle on the windowsill behind her that had green gunk floating on top of it. I hoped it was some sort of science experiment and not just a bottle of water that had been left in the sun for several years. I guess I’ll never know.
The interview with the headmaster was simply everything I hate about interviews all in one. As I entered the fusty office I noticed he had drawn the curtains so it was uncomfortably dark, he sat at a grand desk with an oil painting of himself on the wall behind him. I’m not making this up.
Firstly he asked me why I had applied for this job because the salary was clearly too low compared to my previous one (I wanted to go from a full time role to a part time) He then said he would have to think about whether it would be ethical for him to agree to give me this job, when the salary was so low compared to my previous job. He then asked me to explain my work history since I took my GCSEs. At the time I was in my early 30s. So I had to go through 16 years of my life and work history, including answering follow up questions about why I moved to and then left Peterborough (relationship, then a break up) and why I moved to London (getting over same break up).After I explained my entire working life, he then asked me to explain my work as a poet, this was not something at all relevant to the role I was interviewing for. He then tried to impress me with his knowledge of some almost-contemporary poets. If you’ve been in this situation, you know to just nod along and act impressed that they’ve heard of Seamus Heaney. He said he wanted to get a proper understanding of me as a person as working here was like joining a family.
The call telling me I didn’t get the job came that afternoon, from the headmaster himself, repeating that he wouldn’t have felt morally right causing such a pay drop to “a man like me”, but he was pleased to have met me and he wished me best of luck.
Even before the last, humiliating interview, I knew knew KNEW I didn’t want the job. But I felt like I had to go through with it all anyway, just in case my mind changed. My mind may have been undecided, but my gut was 100% sure already. If I’d trusted my gut I might have left early, maybe that would have been rude, but it would have been the right decision.
I’m not saying we should all be following our guts and cutting and running out of situations all the time, but listening to your instincts is really important. That first thought is usually the truest one. If it means you don’t have to sit through a morning of awful interviewing, it’s probably worth it.