The Day I Didn’t Get The Job
Rob Edwards shares his worst ever job interview: an Apprentice/Battle Royale-style fight to the death (not literally) with 25 other candidates.
This was to be my first interview since graduating from university in July, with a 2:1 in Creative Writing and the sense that I could do anything.
Standing in a room filled with 25 other candidates for the same job isn’t a great way to start an interview. Some stood, others sat, we all made polite conversation with one another to pass the time. Many were students in Bristol looking for work over the winter holidays, others like myself were recent graduates, trying to get another bullet point for the CV and try and earn some money.
This was to be my first interview since graduating from university in July, with a 2:1 in Creative Writing and the sense that I could do anything. A sense that I was quickly disabused of when I realised my CV was a shambles. Want a interesting or funny script whipped up? I’m your man, but ask for a cover letter and I’ll run a mile.
With each job application I sent off I was quickly met with the standard curt response of ‘thank you for your application but you have been unsuccessful’ or the deafening silence of no reply at all. With each rejection, I was left with the niggling thought that maybe I should have gone for a more practical degree. After all in the age of blogs and Tumblr everyone’s a ‘writer’.
After all in the age of blogs and Tumblr everyone’s a ‘writer’.
Making small talk with a few of the other candidates I heard the same story. An actress waiting for her big break, a screenwriter with a script in an agent’s slush pile (a slush pile being the stuff that’s never read and thrown out in the spring-clean). To hear so many familiar tales of employment woe was both soothing and distressing. Knowing full well that there are others in my position or worse helped gain perspective, but knowing you’re on one of a hundred sinking ships doesn’t help you float.
Instead of having the typical one-on-one interviews, we were told that today was to be a crash course in the daily life of the establishment we were seeking employment from. Everything from our bar skills, salesmanship to our knowledge of window dressing would be tested. It was to be our very own version of ‘The Apprentice’, with well-meaning creative types replacing the borderline sociopaths all vying for the approval of an indignant Alan Sugar.
It was to be our very own version of ‘The Apprentice…’
Divided into groups, we all went about with various tasks, improvising a sales pitch for various items of clothing, working concession stands and bars. It was all done in a light hearted way and for the most part it was rather enjoyable. We role-played various scenarios for the concession stands and bars, one customer was looking for something that was nut-free, another was looking for something for her fictional child. When it was my time to act as barmen, I quickly blew it by not asking for ID from the customer who was playing a 17-year-old, but who out of role was clearly in her mid twenties. Not expecting this light hearted role play to contain a ‘GOTCHA’ moment I crashed and burned, and in my mind I stood before Lord Sugar with his index finger cocked and ready to fire.
By the time the day was over I had accepted my fate, I hadn’t got the job.
By the time the day was over I had accepted my fate, I hadn’t got the job. Pity I could do with the money. We sat in the same room in which we started and a list of names was read out, these people were asked to stay behind and everyone else could go home. At the start of the day we’d be told that people asked to stay behind hadn’t got the job but that they the interviewers simply wanted to see more of them. They went to such lengths to tell us that these interviews meant nothing that they clearly meant something.
A few days later I received the email confirming what I already knew. I hadn’t got the job, just like I hadn’t got all those other ones before it and the ones that’ll come after it.
This constant cycle of application, rejection, application is the very definition of disheartening.
At time of writing I’ve got three applications pending disapproval, and doubtless I’ll need to write a hundred more before all is said and done. I wonder about the script writer with the script as a door stop, the actress trying to stay motivated. This constant cycle of application, rejection, application is the very definition of disheartening. You are being told in no uncertain terms you are not good enough. But remember this, someone was good enough, and if you put your mind to it, and never let up, one day that someone will be you.
It’s hard out there, right? How is the job hunt going? Got any useful tips to share? As ever, let us know on @rifemag
Get Help Finding a Job by Hal Morrell-Samuel