‘What is the minimum amount of money you would be willing to work for in this position?’ That was a question I was unprepared for. I had no idea.
I was unemployed in the spring of 2018 and this was the first ‘in person’ interview I had been to in years. It was to be the activities manager at a beautiful resort beside a loch in rural Scotland and was one of those processes where the candidates spend the day together doing activities. I had imagined these would be problem-solving exercises or some kind of role play where there would be a awkward customer to deal with. Instead it was archery.
The only other time I have done archery, I missed so spectacularly that my arrow went over the fence and narrowly missed an innocent cow. That must have been twenty years earlier and still gives me nightmares. On this occasion, the court was completely netted so at least the nearby wildlife would be safe. Instead my problem was my appalling upper body strength, it took everything I had to pull the string back far enough and then when the arrow flew off accidentally, I squealed. The day was not going well.
Due to a series of rail disruptions, it took most of the prior day to get there (including by foot, changing train stations in Glasgow). Eventually I arrived at a rural location in the dark where it was raining. I was the only person who got off the train and the conductor asked me ‘are you sure this is where you want to get off?’ To be honest, I wasn’t.
I was met in the carpark by a grumpy man in a van. He had a sign with my name on it. He didn’t want to be there and he didn’t want to talk to me. At first I wasn’t sure he spoke English but if that was true, LBC would be a odd radio choice. I found out later the road had been closed due to a landslide and because of this, we went through a 60 mile diversion in silence. It wasn’t until I saw the entrance to the resort that I relaxed in the knowledge I was not going to be killed and would live to see another day.
I hardly slept that night but a large cooked breakfast was looming large. This was a delightful thought and I wolfed it down. What I hadn’t planned for was that the interview wasn’t being held on the resort and the 60 mile diversion was coming my way again. How anyone confidently drives so quickly in the rain, round blind corners and swerving pot holes I will never understand but none of this helped my nerves.
My fellow interviewees were a fairly typical lot. I have found people applying to work in resort entertainment generally fall into one of three groups.
- People who think they on their way up who are doing this as a step up to something more exciting.
- People who talk about their ‘friends in the business’ (usually TV stars from the 1980s/90s) whose wildly extravagant stories rarely ring true.
- People who are hopelessly unqualified and are only here because they are related to somebody on the committee.
The audition stage wasn’t ideal for me either. Everyone else had brought a song. I hadn’t got that email. Instead (for reasons that escape me), I announced I was going to do some comedy. I would be third meaning I had about ten minutes to think of some jokes to perform to the other candidates. Against all the odds, I remembered enough of somebody else’s cruise ship act that I could parrot it off while the others laughed along. This is an odd thing, there is a great pressure to be ‘a good audience’ at auditions. Even though they are the competition, the pressure to laugh/clap is immense, and the forced jollity is unbearable. At this point, I had excused myself and a mix of the nerves & travel meant I was reacquainted with the large breakfast.
I was utterly ready for the day to end but there was still the interview. I lied and said my train was two hours earlier just so I could go first and get out of there. The expected questions arrived on cue ‘tell me about an achievement you are proud of’, ‘what do you know about the resort’, ‘how are you working in a team’ and then ‘what is the minimum amount of money you would be willing to work for in this position?’
I had no idea and would have taken whatever I was offered. Perhaps that should have been my answer. Instead I said ‘two, three’. I was not sure what I meant by that and since the panel just stared in silence at my answer, I guess they were all baffled too.
About two weeks later, I got a message telling me I was unsuccessful. The only surprizing this about this, was that they made the effort to email at all.