Monday, 23 March 2009

Third interview nerves are killing me.

Well I reached the next and last stage of the interview process and I’m more nervous than I was for either of the previous two because at this stage all I can do is mess it up! I’m thinking I might just keep my mouth shut and nod occasionally. Or at the most restrict my answers to no more than thirty second responses.

Also I’ve completely run out of original questions to ask. I’ve got, “Did you choose the decor yourself?” and “Where do you get your hair cut?” left.

So the three tips for a third interview are,

Say as little as possible
Always keep your trousers on
And, no matter how right it might feel to wear your regular clothes, you know, to show them a bit of the real you! Don’t. Always wear the interview suit as it’s a sort of deflector shield.

I’m putting all my eggs into one basket and I keep trying not to. I’m also spending money as if I’ve probably got a job and I haven’t. That said, a friend told me I might as well spend like I’ve got a job tomorrow because, come tomorrow, I might not! It made sense at the time.

Third interview nerves are killing me.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Second interview angst is killing me

A man is shipwrecked on a desert island. He builds a raft using the last of the resources at hand, one that is sturdy enough to brave the seas and get him rescued. He spends all his time and energy building the raft but recognises soon it will be too heavy for him to lift so he heaves it down to the water’s edge. He erects a mast and even turns a washed up shirt into a flag to put atop. He can visualise his escape from the island and he can taste the salt air. All he needs is for tomorrow to pile on supplies of smoked meats and fish, and bottles of fresh water that will sustain him for up to two weeks and eventual rescue.

In the night he dreams a huge wave comes in and snatches the raft from him. He holds on to the thick guide rope and buries the soles of his feet in the wet sand but the raft is too heavy and the rope too slippery and he can’t hold on. He gives it one last inhuman effort but alas the raft is taken by the ruthless ocean. The storm rages around him and he falls to his knees pounded by rain. He watches hopelessly as his salvation drifts off into the night, until finally it disappears into the darkness.

The same is true of a final interview. You have invested so much in getting to the final stage that you can almost reach out and touch the salary, benefits and everything else that goes with regular employment. And at the same time you know it can all be snatched from you by a simple act of nature – maybe the CEO doesn’t see you as a fit for the company or one of the interviewers is in a bad mood.

I’ll tell you how it goes sometime after tomorrow. I hope I will wake and my raft will be there waiting to carry me to salvation. I have a second interview and hope to make it to the third and final interview stage. I am building my raft of research and tethering it together with strands of knowledge. I can only hope it is sturdy enough and that nature doesn’t decide to screw me over.

This second interview angst is killing me.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Why we are where we are

If you have never watched Jon Stewart’s Daily show (on More 4 and repeated online) you really should. It can be schmaltzy and at times somewhat trite, and it isn’t always as funny as it is often touted to be, but then you will get some truly extraordinary piece of television like this (about 23 mins long and only for those in the UK, see below for further options):

Jon Stewart, on previous shows leading up to this one, highlights the fact that financial channels such as CNBC are on the side of inflating the markets and are rarely interested in serious journalism exposing the corruption , neglect and mismanagement that has put us all in the position we are in right now – and the reason why it is so hard for me and millions of others to get a job. Families are being put to the sword and pensions are being lost and Jon Stewart, in this one magnificent interview, articulates the thoughts of everyone who is pissed off at the way the people operating the financial system have screwed us all over.

The link above will last for about 5 days but you will likely find it again on youtube (enter Jim Cramer Vs Jon Stewart) or on the Daily Show website at

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Dry mouth syndrome is killing me

Well I’ve thead, th.., I nud u drunk water. Ahhhhh! Well I’ve said my piece and delivered evidenced and practical examples of the work I’ve done in previous roles. I feel I acquitted myself reasonably well in the interview except for one small problem, dry mouth syndrome! I don’t get outwardly nervous so my demeanour and voice are never affected by stress, I do however sweat like a fat man walking up a hill. If they had insisted I remove my jacket I would have had to claim my shirt was two-tone. I also get dry mouth syndrome, most likely as a result of my sieve like body.

Sure, it’s not a pleasant image, believe me I know, but the point is I should always have some water on hand and normally I do. The problem was they were late interviewing me and I was offered drinks on several occasions which I turned down. The receptionist offered, the person interviewing me popped out and asked if the receptionist had offered, then the second interviewer, on suggesting we begin the interview, offered again. Again I refused as I didn’t need one.

By the time I really did need a drink I felt I was so committed to not having one that to go back on it now would show me up as a flip-flopper. Flip flops can kill a Presidential candidate (see in particular John McCain’s ridiculed views on abortion so what would it do to me? NO. I set out my non-drink position early on and I was going to stick to it even though by the end I, and probably they, could hear my rough hewn sandpaper tongue scraping against the corrugated iron roof of my cave like mouth.

From now on I take my own supplies, bottle of water, prĂȘt a manger sandwich and a transistor radio in case of Die Hard style interruptions. Maybe just the water.

Time will tell if I get called back for a second interview, or if my dry mouth has sabotaged my chances. This dry mouth syndrome is killing me.

Friday, 13 March 2009

The anticipation is killing me

So it’s the day of the interview and I’m writing this to keep me calm and focused. I’ve done the research, I’ve memorised some key phrases and buzz words which I want to slip in if the going’s good. I’ve taken on board advice from friends and re-read a book on interview skills. Be humble but come across as a problem solver. Be humble. Humble. Penitent! Penitent man. Only the penitent man shall pass. Only the penitent man. Penitent man. THE PENITENT MAN IS HUMBLE IN THE EYE’S OF GOD!! DUCK!!! Wait, no, that’s Indiana Jones and the search for the holy grail.

So what next, after I finish this? Perhaps I should look at what jobs are out there. So I know my options. I can check the BBC website to see if they have gotten anywhere with my application. I bet they had hundreds of applications for the post. It’s important to have options available so I don’t get desperate and start crying at their shoes.

“Please, please, for god’s sake give me the job. I’ve only got one more individually catered pocket of porridge left and the car’s about to be repossessed – and I’ don’t even own a car! You bastards, you bastards are all the same with your shoes and your .. faces. I don’t mean it, I’m drunk. Oh lordy have mercy on this shattered man. Give us a job.”

The shoes are polished, the tie picked out and all that remains is for me to carefully pick words from my brain that give me the best chance of getting the job. Actually I need to link those words into coherent sentences or it could all go wrong.
Thorough. Punctual. Incendiary. Taffy. Thanks. Bye.

So be humble and offer them a solution to their problems. They are looking for someone to fill the role and relieve a burden on them. All I have to do is show them I can be part of the solution and not another problem. I’ve been running interviews lately for someone to take the spare room in my flat. I’ve mentioned the search before. The truth is I was looking for someone who is not going to give me any problems. I could have gone with a riskier option and had someone who I couldn’t beat up, but I thought it best to go with the smaller guy. Of course I’m joking, sort of.

Right on with it. Wish me luck. The anticipation is killing me.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Looking for a flat mate is nearly killing me

Got no money, blah, blah, blah! Need to rent my spare room out, yada, yada, yada! So I’ve been looking for a tenant to share my home. I’m sure you can imagine the trauma involved in finding the right person. It’s a business deal but it’s also my home life. It’s extra cash but consider my sanity. Getting the right person can be something of a minefield. I think I have one but until the cash is in my hand I’m not going to get carried away.

Here’s the sort of thing you have to deal with, no additions, no editing. This guy sounds like a blast, no?

Cool guy looking for young virbrant houseshare

Hi, I will keep this a bit detailed so you know what you might get. I am 26 year old guy, very easy to get along with who is self employed and looking for a place in London with good transport links (24-7 bus service if possible). I work from home so spend lot of time on my computer but am sociable as well, I have a large selection of DVD's and CD's, a Wii and Xbox360, a 42" TV, Blu Ray player etc so the room I am in needs to be big enough to fit all this, and the room I am in needs to also come with a TV connection, internet and Sky connection, but as I said I am happy to socialise as well and only spend a lot of time in my room because it is my work, and while I like being on my own I like being with people as well. I love music and goto gigs as regulary as possible, like things from Rock n Roll to Indie to singer/songwriters and also finding good up and coming bands because tickets to see them are cheap! Love going to the pub as well. I also have a passion for foreign films and have tons of DVD's that include them (Over 600 DVD's and about same amount of CD's), so I have plenty of stuff you can borrow! I also support Liverpool so no Man Utd fans! (Just kidding). I do go out for all nighters sometimes so sometimes I can come back in the early hours, normally once/twice a week and normally on a weekend, but sometimes during the week (Rarely). I am not a professional, I am not a suit wearing guy, just a chilled guy who might look a bit rough and ready but am easy to get along with. I can provide references from the estate agents of where I currently live and would like a 3 monthish rolling contract (Maxium of 6 months, but not 12 month even tho I will likely stay longer then that it is just you never know with this economy what can happen) and I can pay upto £750 a month, perhaps more for the right place. I don't care if I share with male/female, gay/straight, black/white, etc etc, as long as you are cool, and would ideally prefer a few people in the house but will consider anything as long as you are fun but I also appreciate people have to work :) Ideally I'd like something for around Mid April onwards, I am in no rush to move so if it is something bit later in the year that is fine.

The first interview

I’ve secured my first interview. It’s difficult not to lower yourself into the warm soothing bath of relief. It’s difficult not to say, bugger it I’ll buy the more expensive soy sauce because pretty soon I’ll have a high paying corporate job. You can’t do that. I don’t know anyone who gets the first job they interview for. It’s a learning experience, just like filling in application forms and learning their abstract code. Of course you can do everything you can to help the process along, you can do the reading, practice interview skills and take deep breaths. But at the end of the day you get better by doing.

So it’s a relief to know my CV alone can stand me in good stead to break the first barrier. I don’t know how many more hoops there will be to jump through. I can only try to see this as a positive step and not as the end of the struggle. I’ve made it to base camp at the bottom of the mountain and I’m peering upwards towards the cloudy mountain top.

Yet having said all of that I want to squeal with joy and picture the life ahead of me, fancy cars, Champaign, buying mum something decent for Mother’s Day. I want to imagine holidays in the Caribbean and not having to buy own brand supermarket food. But here lies disappointment and frustration. Here lies the crushing defeat of life and the weight of the world. So best to stick to the plan, work hard and keep applying for job after job.

Still I will accept the boost in confidence in good faith.

As the Temptations said, “Keep on truckin’ baby”.

Friday, 6 March 2009

The angst is starting to get to me.

OK! Very funny, the joke’s over. I’ll take that job now. Anybody. Anybody. Bueller. Come on, seriously, I’ve had enough now and I’m starting to get worried. A few weeks is fair enough, go through the hell of searching for a job, of filling in countless forms with their ridiculous questions, but I’d very much like a job now.

The angst is starting to bite. You know the angst is biting when you start singing to yourself in a high pitched squeal and when small, almost inconsequential, problems make you want to give up. Well the angst has locked its shark like teeth around my ripe plump posterior and it isn’t letting go. Bugger. The only way to tackle the angst is to have a plan and achieve steps on that ladder to success, each step gives you hope. My first step is to get a flat mate to relieve some of the pressure of paying the mortgage. I have five people coming to look at the room this weekend, so I can only hope one of them isn’t too freaked out by the giant clown head I leave on the pillow. Maybe I should chuck that.

Step two is to go down the council tax people and see what help they can give me. I need everything I can get at this stage. I’m only worried that by having a flat mate I might invalidate getting help on the council tax. The one thing about this that absolutely pisses me off is that I can go to talk to my mortgage company about taking a payment holiday but I have to keep paying for the bloody Olympics. Unless I get a job with the Olympic Delivery Agency which would be great, like getting your money back.

Step three is to go into my mortgage company and have a chat with them about what I can do. My fixed rate is up shortly and the Bank of England have done their bit by reducing the interest rate to 0.5%. So hopefully payments should fall.

I don’t have a step four. I DON’T HAVE A STEP 4!!!! DONT PANIC. DON’T PANIC!

Boy this angst is killing me.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Getting my five a day is killing me.

According to the producers of strawberries it takes ten strawberries to make up one of your five a day. That’s fifty strawberries a day to stay healthy. I’m thinking that’s a recipe for the runs. Of course you wouldn’t eat fifty, in fact you can barely eat ten without thinking it’s going to influence things a little bit too much in the downstairs area. So who makes this up? Who decides how many strawberries constitutes 1 of your 5 a day? And what of salad? Who’s measuring the salad?

The NHS Five a Day website says one portion consists of:
‘Small-sized fruit: 2 or more, for example 2 plums, 2 satsumas, 3 apricots, 2 kiwi fruit, 7 strawberries, 14 cherries, 6 lychees.’

So might I suggest the strawberry producers are lying through their teeth and in fact seven average size strawberries constitutes 1 of your 5 a day. But what has all this got to do with finding work you ask, you’re an idiot going on about fruit when you should be looking for a job! Well, one thing I have conspicuously failed to mention in this blog so far is money, cold hard cash, or more likely the lack of it.

Ok so strawberries are out of season and are flown in from Spain which makes them more expensive and carbon unfriendly. However shopping for the money conscious centres around frozen food that uses poor quality fish and battery farmed chicken in some sort of crispy batter, not berries and vegetables. It’s white bread not seeded granary loaves. And it’s crisps and snacks at low, low prices, bottles of coke for a pound, Cadbury’s fingers for 89p. Is this because when you’re out of work you want to comfort eat and the supermarkets are catering for what people want as opposed to what they should have? Or is it because the frozen crap is so damned cheap anyway that they can lop off 50% of the price and still make a large profit? Probably both.

So my beef steak tomato is this, how can I afford my five a day on a budget, especially when the producers of such goods are lying to me, encouraging me to eat more of it than I need to. Oh and potatoes don’t count. Wait a second, isn’t this what, Jamie Nakedchef was telling everyone a while back, well done mate, big success. Not. Getting my five a day on a budget is killing me.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

GCSEs, A’ levels! My younger self is killing me!

Richard Herring, the middle-aged comedian who used to be on TV (his description not mine), looks at life in a very unreserved and truthful but always funny way. I’m a fan of his work and his recent show – The Headmaster’s Son – contains a nugget of gold as big as a really big diamond. In it Richard begins a dialogue, nay an argument with his 16 year old self. It’s his way of wishing he knew then what he knows now, but also that he wishes he was now what his 16 year old self wanted him to be then. In short, actually I’m lost, but the point is what does it matter what his 16 year old self was, all that matters is who he is now – and that’s just my point with GCSE’s and A’ levels. What possible use can they be on a job application form that requires you have a degree?

Phillip: “This man has PHDs from Cambridge in exobiology and cosmology, surely qualifications of note in applying for this research position. He’s gonna be a star. A star I tells ya!”
Gerald: “Oh dear, look, he didn't do that well in his GCSEs.”
Phillip: “No! Cast out his damn soul and let not his pathetic and tiny brain curse our eyes and our ears no more. He’s dead to me. Dead!”
Gerald: “That was quite dramatic.”

On reflection, looking back, way back I will admit I was a bit of a lazy bugger. I lacked direction, motivation and purpose. I did what I needed to do to get by and no more. The only area in life where my procrastination was a major problem was in school, and that’s only a problem now when I look back on my results - they were good to middling. I always did just enough to get to the next level. No one told me in twenty years time I’ll be judged on these results. I was focusing on the next step, A’ levels and University. Give me a break.

How do these kids do it with all the A stars at GCSEs. Seems today that every kid in the country comes out with at least five A grades, sometimes in swearing and knife crime, but As none the less. Is someone telling them – look out kids, you may think school is for having fun with your mates and getting by academically but in twenty years time this could make or break your life! I was too busy playing football and chasing girls (for chasing girls read playing Diplomacy) to care about the future.

It’s my firm opinion that junior academic achievements should be wiped from your record, like a spent crime from when you were caught pissing in the street by some overzealous policeman, as soon as you get to university. From that point onwards only your university grades need be given. As an aside I now detest public urination and see no good reason for it, you see I have changed.