SMOKE: Worst Job Questions

Originally published: 7 January 2004

My best ever job interview came at one of the lowest points in my life - I'd been out of work for many months, had no specialised skills, and was absolutely desperate for money.

My contacts in Hanover, Germany and Des Moines, Iowa were all underground following a series of intense police raids across Europe and the Americas, and what with that unfortunate business with Jimmy The Snoot on the Zuiderzee in Holland, and the bust on The Greek - ironically in Turkey - a few months before, my shadow was getting ever thinner.

So I had to resort to the Job Finder in the Cape Argus and the Career Times in the Cape Times, with the occasional dabble into the CapeAds, which was always a fruitless and often frightening exercise.

I was trying to flog my abilities as a "people's person" and "team player", having absolutely no skill in anything other than silencing informants in all sorts of unique ways, and the pickings in the papers were especially thin.

In desperation I answered an advertisement for an assistant at a sex shop in Claremont, Cape Town. The pay wasn't stated so it was obviously low, but I wasn't looking for a three-figure salary or anything - not by a long shot.

I put on my finest shirt and tie, buffed up my shoes and had a good shave, and bathed in Old Spice I wafted my way into the interview room which was also the front counter and ended up next to the fat, wheezing bloke paying for his copy of Vampire Sluts II: The She-Bitch Returns.

I prudently asked the manager - who was also the assistant behind the counter, and obviously the only employee in the place - if we could go somewhere more private, and he led me into a dingy back room with a filthy sofa stained with ... well ... let's just say the mind boggled slightly at the thought.

I didn't have to suffer long though - the guy had my number from the start.

He asked me why I wanted the job and I started on about advancing my career, stepping stones and the like, and he told me straight out that I wouldn't last a month in his place.

He told me I was overqualified for the job and overdressed for the interview, and despite my protestations to the contrary he had me out of there in two minutes flat.

I was initially really pissed off, because I desperately needed the money, but I later realised he was right - he knew perfectly well that as soon as another job came up I would leave him in a flash, and it's the truth - I would have.

The reason it was my best job interview ever? I didn't have to spend hours trying to convince the guy what a great person I was and what I could offer to his business and how I intended to climb the corporate ladder starting with him.

His honesty saved me face, and picking up my copy of Blonde Bombshells Banging On The Bus, I trudged home to wash the filth out of my clothing.

But job interviews usually follow a similar format, and there's a list of horrible questions that always accompany them for which no answer other than a lie will suffice. Truthful answers will ensure you never get employment again.

Q: Why do you want to work for us?
A: Why the hell do you think, you twat? I'm desperate for money. Please don't be getting airs and graces about it - if I had a choice I wouldn't have been seen dead within a thousand miles of your stupid company, but I don't have a choice, so here I am.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
A: Five years? Dude - I'm just trying to work out how to survive the next five days. Let's see ... five years ... on stage at Wembley in front of 50,000 girlies throwing their undies at me? Sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic with my feet in a bucket of cement? Lying in opulence on the deck of my million-dollar yacht? How the hell should I know? Do you have a job for me or not?

Q: Why should we employ you?
A: If you had any sense you wouldn't - I'll use you until I can't use you no more and then I'll be off before you can blink an eye. But since you're asking - isn't this very large gun I am pointing at your head a convincing enough answer?

Q: What salary are you asking?
A: Jesus Christ, man - haven't you been listening? I'll take two rand ten a tit and a fiver for my arse, you bastard - I'm desperate here. You've put me in a real bind with this question - how do I answer it?

I'd love to say ten grand but then you'll tell me I'm asking way too much and will never be satisfied with what you are offering. If I ask for six grand you'll tell me the job pays more and won't give me the job because I'm selling myself short. It's an impossible question to answer.

Q: What are your weaknesses?
A: I lie, I cheat, I steal, I'm an inveterate porn downloader, I open attachments from unknown senders, I murdered my mother and danced around at night in her skin under the ghostly moon in the graveyard, I'm always late, I have no respect for authority, I don't get on with people, I have strong ties to the Neo-Nazi Party, I rape, pillage and plunder.

Oh - and I have an incurable craving for cocaine and young Moroccan boys, the sweetest little buggers in all of Africa. I'm available to start work on Monday.

You get the idea. Maybe your truths aren't necessarily as extreme as mine, but you can't tell me those questions can be answered honestly.

Our "weaknesses" are always things like: "I work too hard - man - I just don't know when to quit", or "I sometimes get to work a little late, because I spend all night doing extra work at home", and so on.

How I ever got a job with answers like those is completely beyond me - don't personnel people hear the same lies day in and day out?

So if you're going to a job interview this year be sure to prepare your lies well in advance, or alternatively have some fun with the interviewer and give it to them straight.

And if it's a job at a sex shop you're after, consider the fat guy in the greasy overcoat first, then make your decision. I know you'll make the right one.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

Look at me now - all the way from Uitenhage to the bright lights of the big internet.

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Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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