As another weekend draws to an untimely end, 35 hours of soul destroying tedium circles through your conscious like a corporate feathered vulture. Sunday's television schedule does little to distract you from the thoughts of a job that you once donned your finest suit to secure, and here, in a moment of depressing clarity is the realisation that, "this is your life." Instead of a red book filled with your greatest feats and wittiest one-liners, the best that you can achieve is two pages of Arial 11 point detailing your employment history and one or two hobbies that you added in a desperate attempt to make it sound as though you were a true team player and not the mis-anthropic, work-hating malcontent that you actually are.

If this sounds familiar then fear not, you are not alone. The Daily Grindstone is here to help you through the perils of employment and give weight to your long held belief that, despite the hype, work just isn't that great. So... make another cup of tea (remember that a full kettle takes longer to boil and can add minutes to your break), get comfortable, and prepare to adjust the scales of the work-life balance a little more in your favour.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Job Interview mating dance

Whilst we may all talk of "sticking it to the man" and spending our days looking for the meaning of life in a hammock, with the advent of landlords, credit cards, sports cars, and the QVC shopping channel, we all need a little money to oil the cogs of capitalism. However, before setting sail and embarking on your journey through employment, you must first navigate your way through the troubled waters of, ‘The Job Interview.’ Given the necessity of such a ritual, it is surprising and refreshing to learn that the ‘The Job Interview’ is as inefficient and incompetent as the potential employees it hopes to wean out.

The reasons behind ‘The Job Interviews’ shortcomings can be traced back to simple economics. You see, in a perfect world, each player (the potential employer and the nervous, sweating, employee) would have full knowledge of the other's potential moves (in a game of poker, this would be equivalent of each player laying their cards down on the table). However, in this gloriously imperfect world, both parties can chose which information to surrender, which information to fabricate, and which information to hide. With this is mind, you need to abandon your 'nice-guy' persona and play the job interview like a snake-eyed outlaw - as Kenny Rogers put it, "You gotta know when to hold 'em [and] know when to fold 'em." Over the next few paragraphs I will explain why you should always lie at job interviews.

Job interviews can best be thought of as a courting dance. You wish to attract your employer and, believe it or not, they wish to attract you. Now imagine the same situation in a sweaty nightclub. You have just met the girl of your dreams and amazingly, through her vodka induced delusion, she wants to take you home and 'make you a man.' Now in this situation, would you voluntarily surrender the fact that your last girlfriend had dumped you because you were an incompetent, moaning, train-wreck of a man? No of course you wouldn't, you would tell her that you were a retired astronaut who had recently given up a career as a racing driver because you had torn a muscle saving a family of kittens from a burning office block. So why oh why would you ever consider telling the truth at a job interview?

Now let us turn the tables and imagine that we are said dream girl. You've just met Mr Right, whose charm and intellect effortlessly distract you from the beer and curry stains with which he has thoughtfully decorated his new white shirt. Despite his chiselled jaw and chocolate brown eyes, you can't help but feel a little underwhelmed by the fantastic joke he has just shared with you. At this point do you a) laugh like a punch-drunk hyena or b) roll your eyes and inform him that actually, his rather sexist joke wasn't that funny? Did we all go for option a? Of course we did and whilst we are at it, it is probably best if we gloss over our tendency to be a little needy and turn up at people's doors threatening to swallow broken glass because they didn't return our text message.

When you enter a job interview, you are taking part in exactly the same ritual. Like a twisted version of the 'Prisoners Dilemma,' the best possible strategy for winning this game is to ensure that you lie just as much (and preferably more) than your employer does. For each time they tell you that the office is a "laid back environment where everybody know...gets on really well," add another fictional talent to your repertoire. Make up funny anecdotes that 'happened to you,' tell them that you were a professional darts player that gave it all up to work as an office clerk, tell them whatever the hell you want but just make sure that you go the distance with each and every lie. Finally, when you come out of the interview having secured the new job, don't feel guilty, feel proud. You won the game, not because you cheated, but because you knew the rules better than anybody else.

[This article is meant for entertainment purposes only. I do not condone the fabrication of qualifications, past work experience, referees, or key skills that may wrongfully prevent other applicants from securing a position. I do condone small ‘white lies’ and imaginary anecdotes that can help to improve your chances]

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