One way not to get a job is if a job doesn’t exist in the first place. If there is no job, then there is nothing the job candidate can apply for and ergo no job can be allocated. The candidate therefore comes out of the process empty handed.

This is a particularly useful tactic the Interview Panel has to employ should it find itself having to protect the Firm from a range of threatening, unspecified forces which can come over the organisational horizon at any stage: a potential loss of income, a poor PR story, or rumours on the stock market about the CEO and a local donkey sanctuary can all contribute to the need to batten down the hatches and prevent any new blood from stirring up the status quo. Something the panel is highly adept at and contributes to very effectively. Where there were once jobs, now there are no jobs.

This strategy is deployed through various tactics occasionally referred to as things such as ‘the informal chat’ or ‘let’s have a cup of coffee’ or even ‘the getting to know you meeting’.

Whatever it’s called, the aim is the same: not to give the candidate a job whilst maintaining the illusion that a job exists.

This was exemplified perfectly in the case of our third candidate of the day. Instead of formally welcoming her, the Panel adopts several forms of informal behaviour which communicated clearly that this is an informal process. We take off our ties. We slouch. We open some bottles of ale. One or two us light a cigarette and stand by the window blowing smoke out of the room apologetically. The candidate enters and to all intents and purposes it looks as if we have forgotten our scripts. We get her name wrong. We bumble. We smile, joke and apologise profusely for being so incompetent.

But this all masks a thoroughly well defined plan which reflects that in this case, we have no desire to employ this candidate because… Well just because. Just because we can. Or rather, because we don’t have to. We can do what we like because we are the Interview Panel.