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Throwback Thursday: The Job 'Interview' From Hell

30 January 2014
Would you like to hear a long story about a really bad job 'interview' I had, that shows a very unstable me not having a clue what to do in a stressful situation? Great, because I'd love to tell it. A couple of disclaimers before I start though; I'm not posting this for sympathy, I'm only telling this story because I find it ridiculously funny now, and I learnt a lot of lessons that day, so I'm kind of proud of my transformation. Also I didn't and won't be taking legal action, like a couple of friends online had suggested, it's in the past and it was kind of my fault - spoilers. Anyway...

It's October, maybe November 2012, and I was fresh from taking an impromptu gap year, with barely any work or interview experience, and the naivety of a 3 year old. For a bit of financially stability, I'd just joined the Job Centre, and had been on benefits for a few weeks - I was really into the jobseeking; I wanted to make a good impression, and I wanted to get a good job as soon as possible so I could come off said benefits.

There were three positions I'd applied for that had actually got back to me with a positive response, all asking me to come in for interviews. One was a charity, which I thought was perfect, but after meeting the people I was up against, I knew I had no chance. The next day I had an interview for what I thought was administration and customer service, but from the e-mailthey told me it was going to be telesales, something which I didn't really want to do or look into yet, so I told them I couldn't make the interview. The last one was supposed to be either administration or secretary work for a small car business, which sounded pretty good, a little classy almost.

That Thursday I got a phone call from them, asking me to come in at 10. This was my second ever proper interview, so I was a little excited and erm, high pitched on the phone. They told me to wear something I wouldn't mind getting dirty, which never really crossed my mind at first, but upon further thinking, I just thought it might have a garage and it could get a bit messy. Boy, was I wrong?

I turned up the next day at 9:45, and found after a quick peep through the shutters that it was indeed a car showroom. I made a bit of an effort, with a navy polo shirt, black jeans and brown canvas shoes (I don't know why,) and sat at the bus stop waiting for them. When it got to about 10:20, I was about to just leave, but I got a phone call telling me they were on their way - they got there about 10 minutes later, lifted the shutters, I don't even remember them telling me their names, and we went inside.

I saw the office upstairs, and slowly headed towards the stairs whilst they went to open the back up, but they came back with a bucket of slightly soapy water and a cloth. My internal reaction was obviously, 'dafuk?' and I told them I was here for the secretarial position. They said the position was for someone to help out in the showroom, and I told them it wasn't what I had applied for. They told me they'd already sent the paperwork to the Job Centre, and went on to inform that the next 2-4 weeks would be an unpaid induction, so I thought I'd see the first day in and just do a rubbish job. I could've walked out, I could've said no and gone home then, but nope.

I did all of the cars indoors and out of the back, it had rained the day before so it was extra wet and fun. I'd slept funny the night before, and had a bit of backache, and some fast jolting movements did not help at all. For an autumnal day, it was surprisingly hot, so that made it even better. I had the face of a slapped arse doing it, and they kept encouraging me to do better and smile, saying things like 'it isn't so bad, is it?' I wasn't scared, it just wasn't the job I wanted to do. I know there are people out there who'd kill for a job, but after only a month or so, I thought I still deserved to do something I wanted.

After I washed the cars, part of me was hoping that was it - I had plans. If the interview had gone well, I was going to celebrate with a congratulatory smoothie, and if it had gone badly, I was going to cheer myself up with a consolatory smoothie, and maybe visit my nan after. Anyway, they said it would be until 6 or 7, so I texted my mum to let her know I'd be out all day.

Lunchtime came, and they gave me a couple of pound to get something from the chippy across the road, a random act of kindness. I had half an hour to an hour for my break, and they'd asked me if I was coming back after lunch, jokingly, but they obviously knew my motives. I said yes, but I really could've just jumped on a bus home - I don't know why I didn't, I really don't.

I don't really remember when the mum had got there, but yeah, she was there after lunch - it was obviously a family business. My next job was to hoover inside the cars, some of them were horrible inside, with old chip wrappers and stuff, but again I went on to do a semi-good job. The cars were pretty close together, and as you can imagine, a fat guy trying to squeeze inside and in between cars was a sight. I also still had some seriously bad backache. They saw I hadn't done the best job, and went on to show me how to hoover properly, and I again went on to say that I'd probably be better at it if I'd actually applied to do it. Sassy, right? Well, at the time I thought I was being clever, go me. I said one more time, I don't want the job, especially as it's unpaid, and they said that if I went back, they'd have to tell them I quit the job, and I'd get my benefits stopped, which was something that scared me a little, as I'd needed the money. Then again, I wouldn't be getting paid anyway, so there wasn't really any difference.

The mum came down to say hello, and made an effort to learn my name (I only remember being called mate by the others,) and I told her what I'd told the others, and she went on to make a couple of comments about my weight. As I was good with computers, I said I'd be good doing a computer based or related job, and she said in a nutshell - if I do an office job, I'll sit and eat, and sit, and eat, whereas I'll lose weight doing their job. It was kind of a legit comment, but slightly inappropriate, no? I somehow managed to cut my stomach on one of the cars as I was hoovering, I don't even know how, but that was a nice addition to the day. I asked them for a plaster and went into the bathroom to put it on. I'll be honest, because of the stress and the pain and everything - I turned the tap on full and had a little cry.

After that cry, I'd got past the point of finding it horrendous, and found it quite funny and almost unreal - this wasn't the day I'd imagined at all. The only way I could get through the rest of the day, was to laugh everything off, that was a surefire winner, right? My mindset changed though, they asked me to do the rest of the cars, which were outside in a waterlogged field of mud, of which the rain had splashed onto the cars, yay, and it was really slippery. My shoes were caked in mud within seconds, and after slipping down the little mound the first time, I broke the heel of one of them. I then slid down the mound, quite dangerously, but managed to fall to my knees and add to the mud. Cue more backache. It dried by the time I'd finished the cars, and they asked if I wanted to chill for a little while, so I sat in one of the cars on my phone for about half an hour, crying in the form. There was nothing left to do, so they said I could go home, and I got all my stuff together. They asked me if I was coming in the next day, and I just said yes. I wasn't. I didn't care anymore.

The 45 minute bus journey home was long, and full of Lana Del Rey. I stumbled home from the bus stop, got in and told my parents everything, and they agreed that I wasn't going in. I had a shower, had a cry in the shower as I was in agony, and laid in bed for the rest of the night. The next day, Saturday, I was still pretty ache-y, I didn't go in, they didn't phone or anything so they obviously knew. I was scared to go to the Job Centre a couple of days later, but after talking to my advisor, and telling him about 10% of this story, he said it was fine, as it wasn't an interview I was given by the centre, so that was a relief.

So yeah, I was a mess, and the only thing to do with days like this is to laugh at them, and learn from them, which I've done, and I hope you did too!
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