Interview questions

A row of people on chairs waiting for an interview


Some days have more life interruptions than most. Monday was Ancient Egyptians Day. I had managed to keep only son away from the parents whatsapp group so he had no idea that most of the boys were not dressing up at all. We had made a cobra crown at the weekend which I was overly proud of [it was made of tinfoil, had button eyes and a ribbon mouth…] and daughter three put some kohl round only son’s eyes. He was wearing all white and one of daughter one’s hippy scarves round his middle. We ran out of ideas on shoes so he went in his Nike trainers. “I’m not sure the ancient Egyptians had trainers, mum,” said only son tentatively. “You never know,” said I [we were in a rush]. “They were very, very advanced.”

I got a call mid-morning from daughter three’s school. She had period pain. Could I bring in some paracetamol and sign a form? I headed in. A photo popped up on Class Dojo of only son smiling in the cobra crown. Success.

Daughter one had an interview in the early afternoon. “I feel so nervous I could throw up,” she said. I asked her some test questions eg what is your life plan. I was never very good at that one. Daughter one is one of life’s philosophers. She considers every question deeply. She did some research and felt a bit less worried. I regaled her with some interview tales from my past. Unfortunately, I could only remember the absolute disasters, but many of these were fun, sometimes only in retrospect, though. I was asked why my family moved around by one magazine. “My stepfather was a conman,” I replied. It was the honest answer, but probably not the one they were anticipating.

I went for one role where I only realised halfway through that the job description in my head had not much in common with the actual job being offered. It was at a point when I was so desperate to escape from the organisation I was in that I may have not read the fine print too closely. The good thing, I told daughter one, was that the bad ones were really not jobs I would have liked to do. The interviews for the best jobs I’ve had have been really stimulating and fun, more like a conversation than a grilling.

I dropped daughter one at the station. Daughter one is the most serene person I know, but even so, she looked a little bit anxious. Half an hour later I got a text. “What is that business social responsibility thing you were on about?” it asked. I think I may have given her a bit too much information.

I opened my notebook to start writing an article. I noticed that only son had been using it to write his first novel. “Chapter one. I hate myself,” it said. Oh dear. He is eight. He should not be hating himself, I thought. Bad parent. Underneath there was some more writing from daughter three. “Chapter one. I hate myself too,” it stated. Double whammy. Below that was a question: “What is the best way of addressing poor statistics on the gender pay audits due to a legacy issue?” It was the work life merge in text form.

I have since spoken to both parties and we have agreed that only son will lead a life-enhancing family PE session on Thursday. He reckons daughter three – who he shares a room with – is lazy, very unfit and in need of his PE expertise. Daughter one has volunteered to take part, buoyed by her interview success. Apparently, she was told her deep consideration of the questions was viewed as “authentic” and “honest”…

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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