Unknown location in a large UK city, between the central train station and commercial district. This area is still generously described on some CVs as a “busy town centre”, although it realistically only occupies a no-man’s land between these two hubs of genuine activity. From the window our interviewee can see a Ca$h Converters, a small café and several boarded-up buildings. The office is small and sparsely decorated. This gives an impression of transience, as if this building has held several enterprising marketing companies over the years only to have them fail in sequence. The floors are boarded, the walls newly painted red, with two small pictures of a New York skyline and an Art Deco style clock on the wall opposite the entrance door. This sits above a desk that houses two receptionists, both of whom pretend to work for independent companies. Our interviewee stands when beckoned, enters a separate room, and takes out various sheets of paper from his bag and arranges them on the desk.
After 10minutes, a gentleman enters. He wears a grey suit with scuffed black shoes. He has a terrible skin complexion, is tall and full of energy. Both shake each others’ hands, smile, and begin.
Pimply Gent: Hello Mr _____, remember me? We spoke on the phone. You found us alright then did you?
His smile broadens even more. He sits at the end of a long table, with his body facing slightly away from the interviewee, stroking his tie slowly, sometimes stopping to pinch the end lightly. Our interviewee laughs tersely. He inhales to speak.
PG: Great! Well I wont be interviewing you, your interviewer is running late from a meeting. One moment please.
20minutes pass. A more serious, but equally tall, gentleman enters. He wears a slightly darker suit, is thinner, and doesn’t smile. Handshakes this time are firm, eye contact assured though fleeting. He gives the impression of a person agitated.
Serious Man: Right, Mark filled me in on your CV. Basically, I don’t give a shit about CVs, or degrees, or work experience, or words, I just want to know what you can do. So what can you do?
Interviewee: I can do the job, I say so on my CV, and Cover Letter.
SM glances over CV and Cover Letter.
SM: So you do. Let me put it this way. You’re answering my questions well, and that bothers me – it means I’m not able to see the real you. I want to know about your motivations – where do you want to be in five years time?
Interviewee pauses, then begins to answer…
SM: AND NO BULLSHIT. If you don’t know, then don’t make it up. Because I don’t know either, and if you make it up, I’ll have to make it up.
Interviewee: I want to start my own business.
SM: Do you know how many graduates come here and tell me that? You’d be amazed. Sell me this pen.
Interviewee: Would you like to buy a pen?
SM: NO! That’s the whole point. I’m going to leave and come back, and when I come back in, I want you to tell me why I’m qualified to be your boss. Here, you can even take my notes. Then I’m going to buy that pen off you.
SM leaves and re-enters.
SM: Hello, I’m John. I’m looking to buy a pen.
Interviewee: Hello John, how about this one?
John: NO. Ok, here’s where you went wrong. You didn’t even ask me about my semi-professional football team. You didn’t even ask about whether or not I wanted a pen. First thing in sales is – you have to establish need. I don’t need a pen, I need a sycophant who’ll go all gooey eyed when I tell them how great I am. I want someone who can validate me every hour, on the hour. Don’t you get it at all? You’ll never work for Serious John Inc. with that attitude.
Interviewee: Serious John Inc.?
John: I’m going to make my own company in five years time, Serious John Inc. Think I’m going to work where I am now for the rest of my life? Not a chance! So now I want you to ask me some questions.
Interviewee: Well, I noticed from your website that you’re an international company. Any chance I can work abroad?
John: What’s the point? We’re going to inflate to breaking point and sell to Brazil in three years. How’s that for a five year plan? I could be in jail by then.
Interviewee: You’re fired. Out you go.
John: Can I at least have my clipboard back?
Interviewee exits stage right. John covers office in petrol, and curtains fall as he lights the match.