UK holds its own against mad Yanks

UK holds its own against mad Yanks

There’s nothing Guru likes better than having a go at the Yanks – and we’re not even talking about his clandestine trips to Florida over the Spring Break period either.

The other week (Personnel Today, 28 March), these hallowed pages reported a series of odd interview tales from personnel executives in the Colonies. Not to be outdone, Guru put out the call to arms to his disciples to share their yarns of interview hell.

With a swell of national pride, Guru can offer the UK’s responses to those shockers from across the pond:

Dear Guru, The company I worked for was interviewing for an archaeology project manager – pre-requisites being a degree-level educated individual with commitment, focus, drive and reliability. “Can you give me three words to describe yourself?” I asked an applicant. “Scorpio, dog lover (I’m aware this is two words but she obviously wasn’t) and fairy,” she replied. While trying to choke back the laughter that was threatening to explode, I asked: “What transferable skill can you bring with you to the company?” I was hoping for something more in tune with work-related things. “I bake a mean sponge cake,” she replied. End of interview.

Disciple Jean Pattison

Dear Guru, When I attended my first work interview for a pharmaceutical company in the mid 1960s, the section boss talked about cricket for the whole interview. I obviously knew enough about the subject as he told me there and then I had got the job. When discussing wages, he asked me if I smoked and what brand. When I told him, he reduced my intended wage accordingly because that was the brand he smoked and I should not smoke the same or a better brand than the boss.

Disciple Doug Proctor

Dear Guru, Having read your excellent article on interview stories, colleagues recall:



  • The candidate who brought his dog to an interview.

  • The candidate who 20 minutes into an interview realised that he was in the wrong building, the wrong interview, and not the person whom the interviewer had named at the beginning.

  • The candidate applying for a job as a ‘fabricator’ in a plastics factory was questioned about the blatant lies on his application form. He responded that he thought making things up would help him get the job.

Disciple Neil Stoner

Dear Guru, I had a candidate who told me when asked about his hobbies that he was interested in postal chess. Despite trying to move him on to another subject, I had to listen while he spent the next 40 minutes explaining the finer points to me. Essentially, you move your piece, write it down and send it to your opponent. He then does the same. Suffice to say, he didn’t get the job.

Disciple Emma Lister

Dear Guru, Myself and a colleague were once interviewing for engineering apprentices. A 16-year-old youth entered the room with a large art folder. It soon became apparent that he had no technical aptitude. One of the final questions was what his hobbies and interests were outside of school. He then proceeded to open his art folder and set up a display of hand-made Christmas cards on the desk in front of him. He told us that as we were interviewing him, he would give us a special deal, on top of the discount he would normally give out of season (it was June). When we said we were not interested in buying any, he packed them away and stormed out of the room. Later on that day, I was passing our receptionist, who was showing everyone these bargain hand-made Christmas cards she had bought…

Disciple Adrian Hancock

Guru would like to thank the many millions of you who sent in your interview woes. By highlighting just how inadequate some of our working population can be, we show how well we can still compete in the idiocy stakes with our cousins in the New World. Looking at the papers, you’d think the US had a monopoly on half-baked and misconstrued decision-making. So it’s great to see the UK can still stand proud in this day and age and compete for top honours in this field.

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