In the days when I used to work for a living, interviewing youngsters keen to embrace journalism as a career was part of the job.
It became a rather tedious exercise for all concerned because it usually descended into a stilted fandango of role-playing, in which they attempted to convey boundless enthusiasm and I countered with my cynical editor routine.
Then one day a colleague from another newspaper came up with the solution.
‘I never interview would-be trainees,’ he said. ‘I get them to interview me.’
It was an inspired concept, because it tested an interviewee’s nerve, initiative and ability to perform under pressure – all qualities essential to anyone hoping to enter the Fourth Estate.
I adopted that approach from then on and everyone seemed invigorated by the process because it was not only different, it also had a clear purpose.
However, no matter how gruelling and predictable these encounters had become previously, I would never have resorted to the technique which has apparently become fashionable and is referred to as ‘extreme interviewing.’
This involves peppering candidates with bizarre questions then employing pseudo-psychology to interpret the answers.
It is the most frightful drivel which is intended to make interviewers look smart and trendy. It actually makes them appear cocky and pretentious.
Apparently, one of the favourite questions from this form of interrogation is: ‘If you were a dinosaur, what would you be?’
The obvious reply is ‘extinct,’ though there should be bonus marks on offer for ‘slightly wary of asteroids.’
Here are my suggested replies to some of the other daft questions.
Q: ‘Name five uses for a stapler which has no staples.’
A: ‘It can be sung to, prayed with, sworn at, gossiped about – then thrown in the waste-paper bin.’
Q: ‘With a four-minute hour-glass and a seven-minute hour-glass, how can you measure exactly nine minutes without taking longer than nine minutes?’
A: ‘By looking at my watch.’
Q: ‘Does life fascinate you?’
A: ‘Yours certainly does.’