Waving not drowning. That’s how a candidate might like to approach the Interview Panel, especially if they’re of the bright eyed, bushy tailed and bubblingly sort of enthusiastic individual for whom ‘no’ never means ‘no ‘ but is just a delayed way of hearing ‘yes’.
The bubblehead (as they are referred to the trade) invariably bounces into the interview room, shakes everyone vigorously by both hands and beams. In fact, they don’t stop beaming. Ever. They’re like a lighthouse whose light has stopped revolving but just keeps shining out to sea, irrespective of the weather conditions or the temper of the Interview Panel.
Our job in these cases is to convert the waving into drowning and a very simple process it is too. You just ask an impossibly open question, sit back, watch, enjoy the scenery and offer the odd word of encouragement once in a while.
“So, tell me about your experience of something or another that may or may not have anything to do with this job.”
Bubblehead beams. There’s nothing more they like than the opportunity to enthuse endlessly about anything and everything. And off they trot, bumping into the furniture as they proceed to wax lyrical about Themselves, the Job, the Interview Panel, the Firm, the World, the Solar System, the Galaxy, the Universe. And when they stop, in a moment of self doubt that they may have said too much, you just raise a quizzical eyebrow or look over your spectacles down your nose at them and say ‘and?’ in a gentle tone which suggests you’re interested in their answer.
And off they go again, bubbling back from the outer reaches of their Universe through neighbouring star systems on their way to Planet Earth when all at once the fateful moment happens. They dry up. They’re lost for words. They’ve lost the plot and the beaming freezes into a panic stricken smile. The hands – which once gesticulated with the vim, vigour and conviction of a Pentecostal priest – are suspended momentarily mid-air. Their arms are held aloft and then the moment comes when they realise they are drowning and they start to thrash.
It’s not a pretty sight, seeing a candidate drown in their own enthusiasms but it does fill one with a sobering humility.
“There but for the grace of God,” my colleague mutters to me once the remains of the candidate has been washed out of the Interview Room. I concur, grateful that I shall never have to suffer the indignation of being an unbridled enthusiast looking for a job.