I went for a job interview a couple of weeks ago. I‘m not going to tell you what the job was because you’ll laugh. Or roll your eyes. Or say “oh no, you’re not one of them are you?” in the same way you would if I told you I had ambitions to be, say, a traffic warden. Briefly though, this job was similar to the one I do now, on the same pay grade, with broadly the same amount of responsibility, in the same institution. Which begs the question…
Well quite. But this job was really exciting because it had a person specification which could have been written with me in mind, in an area that sounded diversely fascinating yet still within an organisation that I know and love. It was clearly meant to be. Clearly. Reader, you can see that this story is going to go one way or the other, and so you can stop reading now if you want to, I’ll answer the burning question. Did I get the job?
I did not.
It’s fine, honestly, I’m over it. I’m sure the winner person who got the job will be great1. They are obviously just better than me. No biggy.
Before I applied, I emailed the recruiting manager, who I already knew a little bit and we met for coffee. Just a couple of colleagues drinking massive lattes and talking work, nothing to see. I asked a tonne of pertinent questions and looked interested. Which was easy because I was interested. I also noted that we were wearing almost identical shoes which surely had to count for something? I hoped she had noticed too. She told me that she was surprised I was interested in the job because she thought I was happy where I was? Well I am happy, I told her, but this opportunity just seems too good to miss. I spent the rest of the meeting wondering if I looked too keen. Or not keen enough.
I told everybody I was applying for it. My colleagues, my boss, a visiting engineer who was here for an annual inspection. “Probably won’t see you next year!” I said cheerily as I waved him out of the building. I told a staff member who I knew had his eye on my job that he could probably have it soon because I was more than likely leaving. To hell with due process, I was practically handing over the keys to my office. I started planning which things I would need to take with me (a plastic model of a cat with a pencil sharpener located up its bum) and things I would leave behind for the next person (the fluorescent fire marshal jacket which mysteriously bestows absolute authority on to anyone who wears it).
My boss seemed a bit scornful when I told her I was applying for another job. “You could do that with your eyes shut” she told me and through my false modesty I conceded that she was probably right. This all added fuel to the fire though, the unwavering knowledge that this job was going to be mine. There was no way I wouldn’t get this job. Unless, obviously, there was someone else better suited to it than me but really, chances of that were slim to zero.
I was confident the day before the interview. Perhaps a little too confident because I tweeted the following:
When will I learn to keep my trap shut?
The interview itself was enjoyable, if you’re the kind of person who likes it when someone writes down everything you say. The panel asked the same question in approximately 15 different ways and I demonstrated my vast knowledge and experience by telling them about a particularly difficult person I had to work with recently. This became slightly awkward when it turned out that, even though I had anonymised my tale, they knew who I was referring to. But it was ok because they all disliked him too! I was on to a winner with this lot. By the time they asked the last couple of questions, I knew I was on the home straight. I hadn’t put a foot wrong. They told me that they wouldn’t make a decision until after weekend but that was fine too because what’s one, long, soul destroying weekend between friends2.
On Monday morning, I lost all of my bravado. I had a sudden crystal clear idea that if they wanted to offer me the job, they would have already done so. Whoever they had chosen had already been told, probably on the Friday afternoon thereby cutting out the agonising weekend hand wringing. I don’t know if this was the case or not but it was enough to shake my belief. By the time my office phone rang at about 10am, I was pretty sure they weren’t ringing with good news. While I was on the phone receiving this news (and taking it pretty well to be honest) a colleague, eager to find out if I had heard any news came and peered through the little window in the door of my office. I made a sad face and they ran away. The recruiting manager was extremely positive and told me that there was absolutely nothing I could have done differently, there was just an excellent field of candidates, would be happy to accept applications from me in the future, it’s not you it’s me. At least if I’d ballsed it up I would have something to work on.
The rest of the day consisted of a stream of people coming past my office and asking me if I had any news. They all did sad faces and I pretended I was fine. Which I was although no one likes to lose a competition, do they? My potential replacement metaphorically handed back the keys to my office and then made a joke about bumping me off and burying me in the walls of the building. Which was nice.
So then, I’m still here. Everyone’s forgotten that I was almost off I think, or if they haven’t forgotten they’re certainly not bringing it up over coffee. The whole process was like having a little holiday, a tiny bit of escapism. My boss presumably thinks I’m going to up and leave at the next opportunity but it would have to be something pretty special to tempt me away. Filling out application forms is boring. For now, I’ll stay put with one eye half on the jobs page. Onwards and Upwards.
- And just as soon as I find out who the winner new recruit is I will be plotting my revenge.
- A few years ago I went for an interview for a job I didn’t really want and wasn’t really qualified for. The interview was horrible. After 15 minutes the interviewer and I eyed each other up in the manner of two people who had attempted to sit on the same seat on the tram and I left, safe in the knowledge that like a dreadful first date, he wouldn’t be calling.