Graduate careers: The Interview: the view from the other side of the desk

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The Independent Culture
The interviewer: John Lederer, Group Operations Director at Chez Gerard

The job: waitress at the Alexandra Hotel in Hove, near Brighton

I HAD only been working at Chez Gerard for a week when I had to conduct my first ever interview. I had advertised the job in the local newspaper and the first candidate had been sent by the Job Centre.

The receptionist ushered two ladies into the office. One was in her forties and one was about 20. I assumed they were mother and daughter. The older lady motioned the younger girl to take the chair at the side of the room, while she took the chair in front of me. I thought it strange, but assumed she had asked her daughter along for support.

Fifteen minutes into the interview, the question about `hobbies' came up. The younger woman said she liked "clubbing and going out with friends". I then realised that I was interviewing the mother, when it was the daughter who wanted the job. I asked if I could speak to her daughter and she said: "oh, no, no, no... she's terribly shy."

I was astonished, as being a waitress would obviously involve talking to customers. I didn't really know what to do, so I just bumbled my way through the rest of the interview. It was very strange. I felt really sorry for the daughter. I almost felt like asking, "Well, if I do hire you, do I get your mother as part of the package?"

I couldn't work out which was more sad, mother for doing the interview or daughter for letting her. I would never let my mother come on an interview with me, and I wouldn't advise anyone else to either.

Another time a senior colleague and I interviewed a lady for a hotel vacancy. I thought she was far too bossy and didn't want to hire her. My colleague thought she was perfect and insisted we give her the job.

That lady is now my wife. If I'd had my way and given the job to someone else, I wouldn't now be in the position to confirm my suspicions - she most certainly is bossy.

Daisy Price