The candidate ran his hand through his hair, straightened his tie, and then knocked three times on the door. It was a strong knock, he thought. Firm, yet friendly. At least, that’s how he hoped the interviewer would see it.
He was a few minutes early to demonstrate his time-keeping abilities. After all, he had little else going for him other than the fact that he could avoid tardiness.
“Come in,” said a voice from behind the door. She sounded bored. That didn’t bode well.
With a last sniff of his armpits to check he hadn’t totally sweated off his deodorant (although there was nothing he could have done about it if he had), the candidate opened the door and went to meet his interviewer.
She smiled at him, but her sharp suit and slick bun gave her a fierce edge. She looked as though she wouldn’t take bullshit from anybody. That made him nervous. He was relying on bullshit to get him the job.
She held out a hand and he shook it firmly. A firm handshake is important – or so he’d heard.
“Thanks so much for giving me this opportunity,” he said with a smile.
“No problem, do take a seat.”
The pair sat down and the candidate watched as his interviewer shuffled through a pile of papers. His mouth was suddenly dry and sticky, and he wished he had the balls to ask for a glass of water.
“So, you’ve a degree in English Literature. What’s brought you to a career in marketing?”
He wanted to say that he didn’t care what career he got, as long as he got one, but he thought he’d better come up with something a little more creative.
“Marketing just seems really exciting to me, particularly digital marketing. Everyone is online these days and it’s amazing how digital marketing has blown up in the past decade. I think I’d really like to be a part of such a fast-moving industry.”
She nodded, but didn’t seem to buy into his response.
“And do you have much experience in marketing at all? I see you’ve worked part-time in a pub for the last 3 years.”
Oh, crap. She wasn’t beating around the bush like many other interviewers did. His lack of experience was already hitting him like a tonne of bricks.
“Well I did spend most of my time there working behind the bar, but I got involved in marketing activities wherever I could. I had some input on flyer designs that my manager worked on. And I helped to organise some events which were designed to attract new customers.”
He hoped the interviewer wouldn’t ring his old manager for a reference and discover that everything he said was pure shite. He’d pulled pints and done little else.
“What aspects of your degree do you think could be applied to the role of Marketing Executive?”
He had no idea, because he didn’t really understand what a Marketing Executive did.
“My degree forced me to think critically about a wide variety of literature, and I think I could translate that into thinking critically about marketing campaigns. I also completed assignments both alone and as part of a group, so I’m capable of teamwork but also able to work independently where necessary.”
This was a response he’d given at every single interview to date, only he switched out “marketing campaigns” with “sales strategies,” “fundraising tactics,” and “recruitment techniques” depending on the job he was going for. He was sure she knew that, judging by her silence.
Eventually she said: “Can you elaborate on your passion for social media?”
He cringed internally, realising how wanky it sounded and wishing he hadn’t bothered putting it on his CV.
“I’m active on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat every day. I have over 20,000 followers on Instagram and 14,000 on Twitter.”
“Impressive,” she said, though her flat tone suggested she wasn’t impressed at all. “What do you post that manages to get so much attention?”
He thought of his Instagram feed which was riddled with topless selfies and cliched quotes about ceasing the day and loving yourself so that others would love you back.
“A lot of it is motivational and inspirational content. I’ve certainly noticed that those types of post perform well on Instagram.”
She nodded, and gave a small, amused smile. She clearly thought he was a bellend and all he wanted was for the whole ordeal to be over.
“Why exactly do you want to work for Budget Bathrooms UK?”
Because he was in an extortionate amount of student debt, had two credit cards that needed paying off and parents who were prepared to kick him out if he didn’t start paying them rent within the next three months. That’s exactly what went round his head every time an interviewer asked him that question, and every time he lied and told them he just loved the sound of the company and was excited to take on new challenges.
Fuck it. It didn’t look like he’d be getting the job anyway.
“It’s a decent salary and I really need the money. And I’ll work hard – honestly.” He may as well have been down on his knees and begging, but he really meant it. He’d graft, as long as he was paid.
She gave a big, phoney smile and he knew then and there that he’d fucked it up.
“Great! I think that’s everything. Thanks for your time, I’ll be in touch as soon as I can.”
“Thank you. Hope to hear from you soon.” Another lie. He wasn’t looking forward to adding yet another rejection to the list.
She showed him to the door and they exchanged awkward smiles as he left.
As the door closed behind him he breathed a sigh of relief and pulled his phone from his pocket. He had a text from his mum:
How did it go?
He tapped out a response as he ambled down the corridor and headed for the exit.
Awful. There’s no way I’ve got it.