The secret world of the job hunter

20 Apr

I’ve been searching for a graduate/entry-level job that has the potential to lead to a promising career for the past ten months now, and with only a handful of interviews and only slightly more responses or acknowledgements from companies, I think anyone could appreciate that it’s not always easy to stay positive. The endless job rejections and applications, the follow-up phone calls and emails and then further rejections don’t make it pleasant . The monotony of the cycle of the job hunter in this economy is enough to drive anyone to break out the cocktails before 10am, however I’ve found that job hunting does have a lighter more humorous side to it as well (and I’m not just talking about hysteria!) and this week I experienced it.

I had applied for a job as a press assistant for a retail company through a recruitment agency, not receiving an acknowledgement that they had got my application, even after I sent another two emails, I was feeling dubious that this was going to be a successful application. After two weeks of not hearing anything I decided to write it off as another lost cause, concentrating on other applications I had made. Then out of the blue I got a call asking if I was available for an interview, I was excited but sceptical that they wouldn’t reveal which retail company it was for, still I thought to myself ‘an interview is an interview.’

Determined to make an impression I donned my most fashionable smart clothes, even wore my high heels (girls will understand how painful a sacrifice this was in order to make a good impression, ever tried walking round London in heels? After two hours you would be willing to hitch a ride with the devil himself to take the weight off your feet) packed a selection of my portfolio in my handbag, I even printed out some of my ideas for various communications strategies that I thought could work for a retail company. Yes, I was going to make this work, come hell or high-water this job was mine. 

Arriving at Kings Cross and firmly pushing down the butterflies in my stomach, I headed towards the underground, I quickly did one last check that I had all the details of the interview in my mind, who I was talking to, the building address and the nearest coffee shop (as a post-interview necessity.)

I arrived fifteen minutes early and checked in at reception, following the directions of the receptionist I made my way up to the right floor and checked in with the recruitment companies reception, and was told to wait in the seating area. Twenty minutes later and there was still no sign of my interviewer and I began to feel nervous again, the receptionist gave me apologetic glances and when it got to half an hour I decided it was time to find out what was going on. Two calls from the reception desk later, and finally my interviewer put in an appearance, I plastered on a smile that gave no hint of my annoyance of being kept waiting for over forty minutes and  stood up to greet him and shake his hand. Ignoring my hand he went past me to a door opposite and just said ‘come in’, I withdrew my hand, quickly lowered my raised eyebrows and swallowed bubbling sarcastic comments on his rudeness that were racing to the surface. Sitting down he began flipping through paperwork, not even bothering to look at me, and at that time I realised there was no point expecting the customary apology for lateness, still I kept a rictus like smile fixed on my face determined to make this work.

He gave some information on what the role entailed and what the different stages of this process would be, and I began to relax thinking this poor start was just a blip, ‘he must just have been having a bad day’ I thought as I for the first time since I had arrived, gave a genuine laugh at a quip he made about getting down to business.

Then it all began to get very strange….

‘What do you think of Lady Ga Ga?’  at first I thought I had misheard him or perhaps drifted off and imagined it (I had been listening to Judas on the train after all) So I asked him to repeat it and no…I hadn’t got it wrong, so I answered and that lead to a barrage of unusual and baffling questions.

‘What font would you use to tattoo a loved one’s name on your back? Which font size?’ ‘Do you like dogs?’ and ‘would you ever consider putting blue food colouring in your eyes to see what happened?’ (these were just a select few of the weird questions I was asked) he even showed me an ink blot and asked me ‘what do you see?’

As I answered each question my brain was screaming at me ‘this is ridiculous, this man is clearly a moron or perhaps is having a mental breakdown. Why are you actually answering these completely irrelevant questions? Why aren’t you asking him if he’s taken any medication today?’

Not able to stay silent any longer, as he paused for a drink I cautiously asked him ‘is this a personality test?’ He looked surprised ‘no we don’t conduct anything like that here.’ Before he could continue I quickly said ‘I’m just surprised that there haven’t been many questions about my suitability for the role’ he just flicked through his paperwork and commented ‘dont worry there will be.’

There wasn’t…as I walked out the building I felt shell-shocked, I just kept thinking ‘did that actually just happen?’ I made my way to Starbucks and for the first time in my life ordered the largest size caramel frappuccino, feeling that I needed it.

On the train home after my mind had analysed to death every moment of the interview, I decided this was going to be one of those crazy things that only I could have possibly got myself into, an amusing story for my friends.

The secret world of the job hunter isn’t always pretty and isn’t always exciting but sometimes, just occasionally is strangely funny. Filled with manic people doing crazy things for jobs, and I can only imagine how many people are out there, with weird job hunter experiences, just like mine.

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One Response to “The secret world of the job hunter”

  1. meganchapple May 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    I nominated your blog for the Sunshine Award! You can see your Award at http://meganchapple.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/brighten-up-my-day/

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