Tell me a bit about yourself

Today, I have an interview for a marketing job at a design company that works with arts organisations. I’m very excited about it, but nervous about totally messing it up. I have obviously done well in some interviews over the years, because I’ve had jobs, but I’ve equally come out with wildly inappropriate sentences that I would never advise anyone looking for a job to repeat. So, as a potential expert in the field, here are 5 things not to mention at a job interview:

  1. Periods

I once said in an interview something like ‘yes I would be able to handle this situation, unless maybe I was in a bad mood because I had PMT’. This was in my early 20s, it was an interview for a membership/ subscription assistant for some sort of book order magazine, and the company told my recruitment agency that they wouldn’t give me the job because I would ‘get bored too easily’. It was too late to say ‘I want to be bored’ a la Lee Holloway from Secretary. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. Menstruation is probably one of the worst things you can mention in an interview. Unless the job is for a tampon company, in which case, l say go with the flow (sorry).

  1. Castration

In another interview around a similar time for an admin job in a car garage, I mentioned that one of my favourite books from University was ‘The Passion of New Eve’ by Angela Carter. I can’t remember if I actually mentioned the graphic castration that occurs (spoiler alert), or just that the book was extremely feminist.  Either way, needless to say I didn’t get the job. Not saying that car garage companies and feminism are mutually exclusive, but I think 8 years’ ago, it was probably a bit more unexpected to bring up feminism in a job interview.

  1. Fame

Last year I went for a job for a part time assistant tour coordinator in a youth theatre. It started off awkwardly, as I had to do a role play of a phone conversation. I then had to enter the info from the ‘phone conversation’ into an Excel spreadsheet. However their version of Excel was so old that I couldn’t find the ‘wrap text’ button. I tried to explain this, but was told that my time for the task was nearly up. I then had the interview and a couple of questions in, I was asked ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?’ I said ‘Still doing comedy in the evenings and possibly doing a creative part time role somewhere creative like in a theatre …unless I get famous ha ha ha’. At this point the interviewer stood up and said ‘Well thanks for coming’, and ushered me out of the door quicker than an MC trying to get a comedian to get off stage who has overrun their time. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. (On a side note, I saw the same role advertised again about a month later, so either they couldn’t find anyone, or the person they hired left again pretty quickly).

  1. Flexible Working

I know someone who went to an interview for a telesales position and asked in the interview ‘Can I work from home?’ I was shocked that they had thought this was an acceptable interview question, but I was even more shocked that they were offered the job about a month later. Until I remembered how quickly telesales companies turnover staff, and this means they will usually take pretty much anyone. Asking for special working arrangements at interview stage is never a good idea though. It’s like questions about salary. Wait until you are offered the job, then you can negotiate on that sort of thing.

  1. Over-Confidence

I went to an employability course once and one of the course instructors told us that it’s good to ask at the end ‘So do you think I have the necessary skills and experience required for the role?’ which is basically like blatantly asking ‘So did I get the job?!’ I did use it once in the next interview I had, and I did get the job, but the manager that hired me teased me about how forthright I had been, even years afterwards. I stayed at the company almost 6 years in the end, so sometimes over-confidence can be a good thing, but it so easily could have gone the other way.

So there you are – 5 things not to say at a job interview. In retrospect, I didn’t really want any of the jobs (especially not the telesales job I didn’t even go for!) including the job I stayed at for a long time, as they were all admin roles. Maybe now I have the opportunity to do something creative that I am much more interested in, I won’t be as likely to say something ridiculous to my interviewer, I will just be myself and answer the questions as best I can. Even if I don’t get this particular role, the fact that I got an interview means I’m getting closer, which is good, because I don’t really want to be bored. I want to be inspired.

Part Time Blogger

I love blogging. I love writing. But you may not know, because I haven’t written on this blog since October. I say it’s because sometimes I find it hard to think of topics to write about, but I do have ideas and even start writing about them, then abandon them because they’re not ‘good enough’ or ‘not the right style’ or ‘not relevant anymore’ or…I don’t know WHAT’S THE POINT OF ANYTHING?!

I posted on Facebook last week asking for friends to suggest topics they would like to see me write about and received a few ideas, but there was one comment which said ‘My advice is to work out why you want to write a blog in the first place’.

My immediate reaction was ‘That’s not what I asked for!’ The comment was from my ex-best friend, (we’re still friends, but no longer best friends), with whom I have a wonderful yet tumultuous relationship with. I used to write poetry a lot, but since I started doing stand-up I don’t write poems as often. Then she started writing poetry a lot and set up a blog with poems on it, and there has been a bit of ‘It’s my thing!’ ‘No it’s my thing!’ between us in the past, so I initially reacted in a less than positive way.

Perhaps I envied her dedication and self-discipline. She gets up early, walks for hours and writes on her blog almost daily. Just to give you an idea – I have to start my alarms an hour before I actually want to get out of bed, and I’ve used forks as knives in the past because I can’t be bothered to wash up.

I thought about the comment some more and I realised that tone doesn’t come across well on social media, and that she was probably only trying to help. I decided to write on my blog about why I blog.

So why do I want to write a blog?

1. Love

As I said at the beginning of the post, I enjoy writing a lot. From a young age, I was interested in creative writing. I found it the best way to express myself and I even won two story writing competitions at primary school. As I got older, I became obsessed with the English Language and good grammar in particular. Reading or writing something with no mistakes makes me feel warm and happy inside.

2. Career

I would love to do more writing for other websites, and work in marketing/social media/editorial, so this blog is a great way to show off my writing skills and write articles on my own terms. Being able to direct people to a blog that you write on regularly (from now on!) is invaluable.

3. The desire to make my voice heard

As with stand-up, blogging is a great way to communicate your feelings about the world and attempt to bring about positive change. I can write posts about feminism or social injustice/inequality, which are topics I feel strongly about.

4. Validation

Honestly, it makes me happy when I get a lot of hits on a blog post or when people tell me that they appreciated something I wrote or found it amusing. It’s like doing a gig where the audience laugh at my jokes, I feel like maybe I haven’t failed at life after all. For a bit.

What is stopping me and how can I overcome this?

1. Confidence 

The confidence to go for an idea I have even if I’m not sure it will be good, or people will agree with me, or anyone will want to read it. Some blog posts are better than others. Like this one is probably a ‘7 out of 10’ at the most, but I needed to write it for me, and I can’t use self-doubt as an excuse not to at least try and write something amazing.

2. Time

A common reason I use is that I don’t have enough time to write on my blog. But this isn’t true. You make time for things that are really important. If I can spare 45 minutes to watch an episode of Vampire Diaries, then I can write a blog post once a week. My writing career is way more important than a show basically made for teenage girls that makes me cry every episode, right?

To be continued…