And Alex Said: Bullshit

7 February 2003

Column 14: Bullshit, 7th February 2003

You’ll have to leave university one day – and if, like me, you’ve done bugger all work all year, that day may come sooner than you think. That’s a pain in the arse – you’ll have to sacrifice your life of kebabs, disco cheese and low hygiene and go and find a job.

Unless you’re going to use your detailed scientific knowledge to try for a career as a trapeze artist or as a model for Y-fronts, or your father is in charge of a nuclear weapons company or the Government, you’ll have to go through the tedious process of job interviews.

So, you turn up for your interview at GlaxoBarclaysUBSWaitroseTSB or whatever, armed with your gleaming CV and a stack of the usual clichéd bullshit answers. “I can work on my own, but I can also work in a team!!!” “My job stacking shelves at Tesco’s not only taught me the value of basic items such as cheese and bread, but also the value of teamwork in a fast-paced retail environment!”

You’re prepared for the obvious questions, then – but what about the downright weird ones? My last interview was full of them:

  • If you were an animal what would you be?

I don’t suppose it matters – animals don’t go to job interviews, so anything would be preferable to being a human in this case. Presumably answers such as sloth, dung-beetle and skunk wouldn’t have got me very far. I suppose I’d be a dog – I could lie around at home all day and wouldn’t have to make my own dinner. Admittedly that dinner would be dog food, but there’s always leftovers. You also get to sniff people’s groins, and nobody really minds.

  • Give me an example of a time you coped in a crisis.

Is this a good time to tell the interviewer about the time when, after downing half a bottle of vodka, I shat in a paper bag and threw it at a gang of football hooligans?

  • What’s the most challenging thing you’ve ever done?

Well, I had to run pretty quickly from those Manchester United supporters. Am I supposed to have sailed solo around the world on a home-made balsa wood raft with one hand tied behind my back, while proving the Goldbach conjecture or something?

  • What are your greatest weaknesses?

Even though I’m fat, talk a lot of crap and I’m about as tidy as the scene of an unfortunate mincing machine accident, I suppose I’m supposed to say how I’m a perfectionist and work too hard. However, my real weakness must be answering questions like this without vomiting all over the interviewer.

  • Lark or owl?

I’ll have the owl please, and a side order of chips.

I have to wonder, though, how well they assessed my aptitude for that job with an interview like this. They turned me down, but not once did they ask to see how well I could use a dustpan and brush.