Interviewing skills

5 March, in the year of our Lord 2022

After dinner, by coach to the Conservatoire, this being the day of my Interview, taking with me no belongings but my cudgel and a piece by Mr. Purcell, which together should be sufficient to dissuade any assailant, though the streets quiet, it being a Saturday. There found the door locked, so did knock against it, and there being no answer, shielded my eyes with a hand and pressed against the window glass, leaving a greasy nose mark upon it, and squinted in, whereupon in the gloom within saw approaching a scholar, all bewigged and in a great gown, who unlocked the door for me.
  ‘I am Professor Lewis,’ says he. In the poor light I am able to see that his black gown is covered in white dust. ‘You must be — ’
  ‘Samuel Pepys,’ say I. ‘I am pleased to meet you.’ And then to put him at ease, add brightly, ‘If you need something for the dandruff, I can recommend a good champu.’
  ‘Please be seated,’ says he, uncertainly, indicating a bench in the anteroom, where filters only a little sunlight light through a clearstory window. ‘We must await my colleague. I am sure he will be here shortly. I have a little work to which to attend in the meanwhile.’
  He gone, mysteriose as he came, I sat there, and after some minutes comes another, a Dr. Cunninghame, I think from Ireland, who sits beside me, and we discourse a little upon the generalitie of musique, with which he appears well acquainted, but I am not sure if he slyly essays to test me. Anon returns the first, who leads us into his sanctum, it being evident that it is a holy of Holys, for there is a great window of stayned glass, with St. Cecilia playing upon a Yamachord, and ch[e]rubs upon lutes, and blowing on great Trompettes, and even one upon an alto saxerphone, and therein all manner of symbols pertaneing to musique; and in the chamber is also a clavachord, and a black board with a great many staves and clefs and notes in chalk thereon, and all around covered in the white dust of chalk, and in the centre a great Round Table, at which we all sit, like Arthur, Lancelott and some aspirant knight. There are some pleasantrys, after which we pass to the main purpose.
  ‘If I may introduce myselfe, my name is Samuel Pepys,’ say I, to get the ball rolling, ‘and this interview hath to do with suitability for my enrolling in a course eventuating in the attainment of a Degree in the subject of Musique.
  ‘So, have you heard of the musique of Antiquitie?’ ask I, blithely, seeking to forge ahead. ‘For over Lockup I have made myself somewhat of an Expert in the subjeckt.’ It turns out they have, for they answer in the affirmative, though they seem a little uncertain as to the trajecktory of the conversation. To ease matters I change tack and myselfe ask a question which is more open, as I have been taught in an interview situacion.
  ‘What do you think you can teach me?’ say I, and sit back in my chair awaiting their response.
  ‘You have read the Prospectus?’ ventures one, hesitantly.
  ‘Yes,’ reply I, waving a hand, ‘it all looks fine to me. I am sure my time here will be well spent.’
  ‘In that case, you will have seen that the Conservatoire offers a wide range of tuition — in Composicion, the History of Musique, Performance, Analisys, Outreach…’ (whatever that is).
  ‘Indeed it does! Though perhaps I should say that at my age Performance is less a prioritie than, say, the intellectual pursuit of the subjeckt…the musickological study of, erm, Musicalology…-ness.’ At which point I feel we have reached the kernel of the Interview and there is little more to be gained, so seek to close with, ‘Now, if there are no more questions…’
  To my irritation, it appears they are.
  ‘Your applicacion seems all to do with the Naval Board,’ says one.
  ‘Ah,’ say I, remembering that an interchange between interviewee and interviewer is to be viewed favourably, ‘you have made a pertinent point. The reason for that is that the UCAS form doth not faciliate the presentation of accomplishments for one of my age and achievements. My musical successes are detailed under “Personal Statement”.’
  ‘In that regard,’ says the other, turning the pages of my Applicacion, ‘I see that as well as your talents on the clavachord, you profess a certain skill upon the hautbois.’ He regards me above his half moon specktacles, as if expecting an answer, but I had only put that bit in to demonstrate my aptitude for the course.
  ‘I would not call it skill,’ say I, hastily, remembering my battles with intonation and the double reed. ‘And anyway, it was many years ago — some forty-five, if my mathematick serves me well.’
  ‘Yet you realised Grade VIII,’ persues he, to my discomfit. ‘We could use such a one in our band.’
  ‘Barely,’ say I, disconcerted that the whole interview procedure hath swung in an unwonted direction — opposed, as it were, along its diameter, to that which I expected. ‘But as I no longer have an instrument, the matter is somewhat hypothetickal.’
  ‘Might this hautbois not be lurking in some dank and unexplored corner of the garage?’ persists he.
  ‘My garage is very dank,’ agree I, thinking quickly, ‘owing to flooding over the years, especially during the new season of monsunes associated with the Great Weather Change. It is regrettable, but I fear that the instrument hath succumbed to a fatal case of — ’ (I cast around, desperately) ‘ — shipworm. Anyway,’ add I, airily seeking to change the subjeckt, ‘my ability lies more in prowess at the keyboard.’
  ‘Well, I suppose you could play a figured bass,’ says the other, seeming doubtful — but not as doubtful as I, for whom a figured bass is as absurd an art as Astrologie; and of a sudden I feel the need to recoup ground, regain command of proceedings and bring matters to a close.
  ‘Well,’ say I, standing up, ‘this hath been a congenial and informative interview, and I am pleased to say that I think the Conservatoire will suit my requirements admirably. Congratulations, and I look forward to seeing you in September!’ I sense that they feel slightly wrong footed, but advantaging myself of their perplexion we shake hands nevertheless, and I place my hat upon my head in finality. ‘I thank you for your attendance. Good day.’
  And so swept I out, full of conviction that this exchange should have been recorded for posterity as a model of interviewing skill.
  Thence home, and after settling some matters of import in the office and brushing Banjo’s teeth, to supper and to bed, though with some degree of restlessness, for if there is one thing I do not wish to do it is to recapitulate the woodwind trials of my adolescence. 

By andywmacfarlane

I am a retired medic who likes messing around with a bit of writing, and friends seemed to like my social media postings of "Samuel Pepys: The Covid Diaries". So I'm having a go at blogging them.

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