In this week’s 6 Minute English – Odd job interviews with transcript video:
Job interviews are a part of modern life and sooner or later we all have to do them. They usually involve being asked a list of questions or doing a short presentation.
But some companies go a bit further and ask the interviewee to do embarrassing and humiliating things that are completely unrelated to the job.
Rob and Finn discuss ‘odd’ job interviews, and talk about one man who was asked to dance as part of his selection process.
What type of job has been named a ‘Field Nourishment Consultant’? Is it:
a) A waitress
b) A school dinner lady
c) A petrol station assistant
Rob: Welcome to 6 Minute English with me Rob.
Finn: And me, Finn.
Rob: Finn, I’d like to start by asking you: How many job interviews have you had?
Finn: That’s difficult. Maybe ten interviews in my life.
Rob: Ten. That’s quite a few – and do you enjoy going to job interviews?
Finn: I absolutely adore them! No, I’m joking! Who does? Nobody does.
Rob: Well, for me, they are torture! I hate being grilled by a panel – or group – of people. I know I can do the job but I hate having to convince them! Today, we’ll be discussing some odd job interviews and looking at some related vocabulary. So Finn, are you ready for your first interview question?
Finn: Yes Rob, I am raring to go!
Rob: Good to hear. Well, it’s important to know what type of job you are being interviewed for. Some job titles are a bit exaggerated. So, what type of job has been named a ‘Field Nourishment Consultant’? Is it:
a) A waitress
b) A school dinner lady
c) A petrol station assistant
Finn: I think that it’s b) a school dinner lady.
Rob: An interesting choice. I’ll let you know if you are wrong or right later on. Let’s talk more about job interviews. A traditional interview usually involves being asked a list of questions, and sometimes you have to give a short presentation.
Finn: Yes, questions like: “Why do you want this job?” or, “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”
Rob: Yeah, that’s a tricky one to answer! But some interviewers – the people who ask the questions – go a bit further and ask the interviewees – the people being interviewed – to do some inappropriate things.
Finn: You mean they are asked do things are not really relevant to the job. Such as Alan Bacon, a university graduate, who last year was asked to do a dance as part of his interview.
Rob: Well, maybe the position – or job – was for a dancer or a children’s entertainer?
Finn: No – it was actually for a job as a sales assistant in an electronics shop; so, someone who works on the shop floor, giving advice to customers about what to buy. There’s no dancing involved.
Rob: Let’s hear from him now. What did he do at the interview to look positive? And how did he really feel about doing a dance?
Alan Bacon, university graduate:
We all wanted the job, some of us are desperate, like myself, and the idea is just to keep smiling and go for it. On the surface I had to look positive, I was smiling, I was laughing along with it, but inside I felt degraded and humiliated especially.
Finn: Oh poor Alan. He felt degraded – so he lost respect from other people – and he felt humiliated – so he felt embarrassed and ashamed.
Rob: So that’s how he felt on the inside but he wanted the job so he put on a brave face – a positive attitude and a smile on his face; he even laughed.
Finn: Well, later on, he did complain and he got an apology.
Rob: But experts say there are now too many candidates chasing too few jobs so companies are trying unorthodox – non-traditional ways of recruiting people – to see who stands out.
Finn: Yes, well, in any job interview it’s good to leave a lasting impression – that means to get noticed and make people remember you. I suppose doing a dance is a good way of breaking the ice – making people feel relaxed – but being asked to do something outside your comfort zone also seems a bit unfair to me.
Rob: Yes, but I guess if you want that job, you’ll do anything.
Finn: Well, almost!
Rob: I’ve heard about people who have had to sing at an interview and also, role playing – pretending to be someone else and acting out a situation.
Finn: I find just being asked odd or random questions in an interview can make me feel uncomfortable. And a US employment website carried out a survey about this and discovered some strange questions…
Rob: Yes they did, such as: “How would you cure world hunger?” and: “If you were a computer programme, which one would you be?” Here’s one for you Finn: “If you were a word in the English language, which word would you be?”
Finn: Which word would you be? Oh, come on, that’s unfair. Just asking like that – that’s outside my comfort zone Rob!
Rob: Indeed, but I’m trying to break the ice here Finn! Never mind, I’ll give you the job anyway! Seriously, there’s no perfect way to interview someone for a job. If you are having a job interview, my advice would be to keep calm, think before you speak and if you are asked to do something inappropriate, tell them how you feel about it!
Finn: And if all else fails you could use a bribe? What do you think? No?!
Rob: Not recommended. However you can bribe me to get the answer to today’s question?
Finn: I don’t think I need to. I think I’ve got the answer right.
Rob: OK, let’s find out. Earlier I asked you if you knew what a ‘Field Nourishment Consultant’ really is.
Finn: I said b) a school dinner lady – but it could be a man. Is it right?
Rob: It has something to do with food but it’s not school dinners. It’s actually a waitress – or waiter. I wonder how we could describe our jobs – maybe we could be ‘Educational Dissemination Executives’?
Finn: Oh yes, very grand. I like that!
Rob: We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s 6 Minute English. Please join us again soon for another programme.
Vocabulary and definitions
grilled: (here) asked lots of difficult questions
interviewers: people who interview someone for a job
interviewees: people who are being interviewed
position: job in a company
degraded: feeling you have lost respect for yourself and from other people
humiliated: feeling embarrassed and ashamed
put on a brave face: hide your feelings of being upset or disappointed
unorthodox: different from what is usual or normally expected
recruiting: the process of finding and employing someone to work for a company
leave/ make a lasting impression: behave in a way that makes people remember good things about you for a long time
breaking the ice: making someone feel relaxed
role playing: pretending to be someone else to act out a pretend situation
bribe: money or gifts you give someone to try and make them do something
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