I’ve had a few disastrous interview experiences in my time. In my twenties (back in the 1980s, kids, before the fucking internet) it was difficult to find a teaching job in the UK so I decided to try and become a probation officer. I had to have an interview for a social work qualification at Nottingham University very early in the morning.

I had no money to stay in Nottingham overnight so I walked from my friend’s flat in Earl’s Court, London, to St Pancras Station. This took several hours overnight. I caught the first train to Nottingham. By the time I arrived for the interview I was delirious with tiredness. Nottingham is not easy to get to, no matter where you are in the UK.

As an opening question they asked me where I had come from. I said “Newcastle” (fuck knows why). They looked at my application form and said “But it says here that you are from London.” I replied “Yes, I came from London.” They obviously thought that I was a compulsive liar and completely unsuitable as a budding probation officer – I was not offered a place on the course.

My sister had an even worse experience having an interview at a lawyer’s firm in London. My sister had just been to the dentist and half her mouth was numb. The man interviewing her had a very bad speech impediment. My sister says that it must have looked like she was taking the piss out of the poor man interviewing her. She was not offered a place with that firm.

After sitting on my arse in an office for a couple of years, I found myself on boards to interview job applicants. On one occasion I was a bit surprised at who my co-interviewer was. Called Sue Beard (seriously), she was someone I had not known had interviewed applicants. We sifted the application forms. One of the job seekers we decided to interview had a degree in psychology. Sue commented that she would be interested to ask about that.

The interview went along OK, then Sue clearly decided to ask about the applicant’s degree. She said, “Now, this psychology then, what’s all that about?”

The applicant looked nonplussed by the question and I then made sure that Sue did not get to interview for any more posts.

(For those of you who love a twist, Sue Beard became the first Mrs Stainforth.)

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