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The Job Interview confirms that everyone sucks at smooth-talking

Tara Ward watches The Job Interview, an awkward fly-on-the-wall series that goes inside one of life’s most hellish experiences. 

A new show began on TVNZ1 this week that confirmed several popular beliefs about job interviews: they suck, and nearly everyone sucks at them.

Filmed in a fly-on-the-wall style, The Job Interview promises to reveal what really goes on behind the closed doors of an interview room. The truth is out there, and it’s sitting in a swivel chair discussing its strengths and weaknesses.

Each episode features two interviews for real positions, with a diverse mix of candidates vying for each coveted role. “Lives are about to change,” promises the voiceover. God, I love television. I am all for life changing TV, especially when it’s someone else’s life. Let’s do this. Let’s employ someone.

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Meet Rod “Big Daddy” Lloyd, CEO of Low Cost Vans. “I’m looking for the human element,” says Rod, in his quest for the perfect Customer Services Advisor. Luckily for Rod and HR Manager Lorraine, Britain is filled with humans, all desperate to answer the phone for a van hire company in South Wales.

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Watching The Job Interview is as awkward and uncomfortable as the interview itself, which is the show’s curious appeal. Who hasn’t suffered a terrifying mind blank in an important meeting, or babbled nervously under pressure to impress? “I’ve got an interview with Low Cost Loans,” says Vicki, arriving for her interview with Low Cost Vans and trying not to fall over. I am Vicki. We are all Vicki.

But despite its array of quirky characters, The Job Interview stutters like a candidate whose tongue is swollen from nerves. It’s a wee bit boring. It lacks the emotional punch of similar observational style shows like One Born Every Minute. It also feels slightly exploitative; these people are genuine jobseekers, whose enthusiasm and desperation is as painfully obvious as a spelling mistake on a CV.

As the elevator doors slam shut on another unsuccessful candidate, it feels like The Job Interview is more about failure and rejection than triumph and success.

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Take Ian, for instance. Made redundant after nearly 30 years working for the same company, Ian impresses with his calm and kind manner, and kicks arse in Rod’s agonizingly awful role-play exercise. But he doesn’t get the job. Neither does Amy, a young mum returning to the workforce who delights the interviewer so much she gets a high five.

“You promised me lives would change!” I shout at the television. What cruel world do we live in where an interview high five counts for nothing?

New rule for interviewers: keep your hands by your sides, for all our sakes.

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Let’s admit that The Job Interview and I were not a great match. But in my commitment to changing lives, I’ve collected some  middling-to-fair advice on how not to behave in a job interview, based on the passionate candidates of The Job Interview. May their swivel chair eventually spin in the right direction, and may they be blessed with fruitful high fives of job offers, ASAP.

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1) Hang up on the CEO in a telephone based role play

Role plays suck. Next time, don’t even answer the call.

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2) Admit you don’t actually like the job

“It is boring,” Nicole admitted after being asked if she’d be happy in the role. Let’s hope she included ‘brutally honest’ in her CV.

3) Fail to work out what percentage 23 is of 57

Whatevs, let’s hear more of Stef‘s cracking stories about working the superyachts.

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4) Talk so much that the interviewer’s ears begin to bleed

“At what point did you feel like crying?” About 20 minutes into the show, thanks for asking.

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5) Social media stalk the boss

Some call it stalking, others call it research. Either way, recalling the CEO’s exact date of birth will always shock and amaze.

6) Admit you’ve been caught with your pants down

Relax, it’s just a metaphor. Seems fine.

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7) Leave important details out of your CV

Who cares about educational history? I’m all about the education of LIFE.

8) Fill awkward pauses with phrases like “I’m off to find a pub”

Take me with you, Nicole.

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The Job Interview airs on TVNZ1 at 8.30pm Tuesdays

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