Category Archives: Hired

Unsuitable attire

Because I’d been away working Africa, I hadn’t had any need for a suit for a very long time. I’d still kept my old one, however, hanging up in a closet back in England… just in case.

I had cause to use it almost as soon as I’d returned when I was lucky enough to be asked to an interview for what I regarded at the time as my dream job.

It was a first thing in the morning affair, and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself for my super-efficient waking and dressing. I’d moved so fast, indeed, that I’d managed to make an earlier train and was happily relaxed in my seat, contemplating a painless journey…

…Until I looked down at my trousers and noticed a few curious looking flecks of pale dust on them.

I flicked at the dust.

It didn’t disappear.

So I brushed at it – hard – with the flat of my hand.

It still didn’t disappear. Indeed, the brushing appeared to have made these curious flecks grow bigger.

Closer inspection revealed that it wasn’t dust on my precious and only suit. There were tiny holes in the material – and the pale patches were, in fact, my own legs. Perplexed, I looked closer and realised, in alarm, that moths had been eating at my trousers and that –to my horror – they’d found the region around the zip particularly tasty. To add to the unfortunate effect, my bright white boxers were shining through for all the world to see.

No matter how far down I pulled my jacket, I just couldn’t cover them.
I don’t know what it was that put the interviewers off. It could have been the fact that I was late, because, yes, in spite of my efforts, my train had conspired to deposit it me fifteen minutes after time. It could have been the fact that I was wearing crotch-less trousers. Or it could have been the nervousness that the knowledge of this fact caused in me.

Anyway, I didn’t get the job.


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Impossible is nothing

Getting your CV noticed is half the battle in today’s competitive job market. And so, to a certain extent, Yale student Aleksey Vayner’s decision to include a video presentation with his eleven page application to a New York bank could be seen as inspired. Unfortunately, however, the contents of the video proved him to have the tactical subtlety – not to mention hubris – of the World War one generals who told their men to walk slowly into machine gun fire.

Entitled “Impossible Is Nothing” the video is a seven-minute paean to the sheer awesomeness of Mr Vayner, together with his own philosophical musings on the theory of success – and how he is bound to achieve it.

Following on from a classic opening salvo where Aleksey appears to ask himself a question about how great he is (“Aleksey. You’re known as someone who has studied the principles of personal development for a long time. By allowing yourself to be guide by these principles, you’ve coincidentally become a model of personal development and an inspiration for many around you…”), we’re greeted with the inspiring sight of the young man lifting weights (495lbs if we believe the text on the screen!), serving a tennis ball (at 140mph!), performing a very difficult rotating jump while skiing, and – in an extended sequence – ballroom dancing with a skimpily clad lady, while himself wearing a tight black polo neck.

“‘If you’re going to work, work. If you’re going to train, train. If you’re going to dance, then dance, but do it with passion,” he proclaims before spinning the lucky girl around the room.

Elsewhere he advises his listeners to “Ignore the losers… When people tell you that you won’t be able to achieve something, cross them out of your life, because they’re directly interfering with your success.”

He also explains that “success is a mental phenomenon not a physical one. It must first be conceived internally before it manifests externally.”

So that’s clear.

Finally, wearing a white karate suit, he bows to camera, emits a piercing howl and smashes a pile of bricks with his bare hands. “Impossible is nothing,” he says again as the credits roll, naming him as “Aleksey Vayner, CEO and professional athlete.”

Sadly, for Aleksey, rather than gain him a job, when he submitted the video to financial services firm UBS AG, it instead won him international infamy.

The video quickly became an internet phenomenon as it was forwarded first around Wall Street (with helpful comments like ‘What NOT to do when looking for a banking job,’ ‘This is pure gold,’ and ‘Typical Yalie’) and then around the world.

His 11-page resume, meanwhile, added to his notoriety thanks to his claims that he was the CEO of his own investment firm, that he founded a charity helping young people, and that he could cure people using his knowledge of Chinese medicine.

Web cynics quickly began to claim that his ‘investment firm’ was a fake, and that it plagiarised its mission statement from another firm; that his ‘charity’ Youth Empowerment Strategies seemed strangely similar to an entirely unconnected charity – with exactly the same name; and that his self-published tome about the Holocaust (‘Women’s Silent Tears’) ‘borrowed’ entire sections from an online Holocaust Encyclopaedia.

Also disputed are Vayner’s assertions, printed in the college humour magazine Yale Rumpus, that he was once employed by the CIA and mafia and that he once gave tennis lessons to Harrison Ford.

Watch it on Youtube

And for those of you who weren’t fast enough, don’t have a high enough internet connection, here’s a complete transcript:

Impossible is Nothing


Impossible is nothing

[Voice off camera] Aleksey. You’re known as someone who has studied the principles of personal development for a long time. By allowing yourself to be guide by these principles, you’ve coincidentally become a model of personal development and an inspiration for many around you…

[Camera fades in, Aleksey is sitting, slicked black hair, pursing his lips thoughtfully]

AV: Although success is different to every individual, it’s generally accepted that people are much happier when they grow, develop and are good at what they do.

[Now his name is on the screen in shimmering silver letters]

Interviewer: How does someone like yourself become very proficient in the fields much faster than others?

[cut back to his pensive face]

AV: Well thank you… I guess the first thing that the person needs to understand is that success is a mental transformation. It’s not an external event. To…be successful… you must first…know… exactly what you want to achieve. Second, you need to commit to the sacrifices that it will take to achieve your goal. And third, you must believe beyond any reasonable doubt that you will achieve your goals.

[Cut to shot of AV powdering his hands… Then his face looking red, sweaty]

To be able to reach for your goals with such a level of certainty and determination you need to be able to take care of the base first…

[Camera pans out. We see that AV is on a bench. Lifting weights! A concerned looking trainer stands behind him. A message on the screen says 140 pounds each].

…which is your physical conditioning.

[He lies back, takes the strain – and lifts!]

Failure can not be considered an option.

[He lifts! Lifts! Lifts!]

It has been my personal experience that your physical fitness reflects directly in your mental sharpness. And in the energy level that you have to take care of your tasks.

[He drops the weights]

If you train to provide your body with the level of energy and intensity it needs to pursue your tasks, you inadvertently train your mind too.

[Now he’s bench pressing – writing on screen says 405 lbs]

Always push your limits. Always push your comfort zone. And as you train to expand and step outside your comfort zone you come to realise that the things that most people regard as impossible are actually completely within your grasp.

[495 lbs!]

Many people believe that successful people are lucky. I completely disagree with that notion. Successful people think in very specific values that create opportunities for them which they can seize. An average observer thinks that that’s luck.

[A new scene. He’s ski-ing down a mountain. Text on screen says Olympic valley National Qualifier]

Luck doesn’t jump into anyone’s lap!

[The skier performs a jump, twists in the air]

Success requires persistence and perseverance, attention to detail and, of course, patience.

[He lands! The scene moves back to the interview chair, where he is smiling benignly]

People around you may tell you that you will not succeed. Ignore them!

[He’s now on the tennis court]

When I was little, I couldn’t run. So many tennis coaches said that I couldn’t play tennis. When I mastered that, they said: “yeeeahh, but he’s a big guy…”

[On the screen he’s punching the air, having just won a point]

“… and his reactions are terrible so he will never be a real player because he can’t serve and volley.” Hmmm.

[We see him serving. Text on the screen says 140mph. Lots of shots of volleying]

When people tell you that you won’t be able to achieve something, cross them out of your life, because they’re directly interfering with your success. Ignore the losers. Bring you’re A-game, your determination and your drive to the field and success will follow.

There’s another peculiar thing about success. Everything you do, you must pursue with your entire heart…

[Cut to Aleksey in a tightblack outfit, in a dance studio, spinning a scantily clad beauty on his arm]

… Live your life openly. Go all out for what you want to achieve and believe in. If you’re going to work – work. If you’re going to train – train. If you’re going to dance – dance. But do it with passion!

[Cheesy music plays – and he’s dancing – glasses off!]

While physical training might make you stronger, and mentally sharper, things like dancing will teach you how to pursue your goals with your entire heart.

[Back to interview chair]

When all this is said and done, we come back to one fundamental truth: Success is a mental phenomenon not a physical one. It must first be conceived internally before it manifests externally.

[Cut to him standing in a white karate robe, glasses still on, behind a tower of bricks. He bows.]

Behind the clarity of your goals determination, persistence, passion patience – lies one main tenet. Napolean Hill said it best: “What you can conceive and believe, you can achieve. You must first believe beyond any reasonable doubt that success is possible. Remember to achieve success you must first conceive it and believe it. Impossibility is just another term, another opinion. It should have no bearing on your success whatsoever.

Remember, impossible…

[On screen, he shouts and raises his hand]

…is nothing!

[The bricks are split! He bows. Titles play to dramatic music. Titles read Aleksey Vayner CEO and professional athlete.]

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A load of bollocks

The fact that the office of the building firm I work for is completely open plan is annoying when I want to take a snooze, but does present some unique opportunities for amusement.

A few weeks ago for instance, we all witnessed a young man hurrying past our desks, looking harassed, and nervous and most definitely late for the interview he was due to attend in my boss’s cubicle.

My boss sat him down, quickly flicked through his CV, which he hadn’t bothered to read before and started off: “So then Harold…”

At this point I was a bit confused, because when I’d read through the CVs and help my boss decide on the candidates, I thought this guy was called John…

“How did you get here?” asked the boss, not the most welcoming of openings, considering the candidate’s clear anxiety about his lateness (and a bit harsh considering he was only actually five minutes past the due time).

“I got a lift.”

“Can’t you drive.”


At this point the boss flicked through the CV again, clearly seemed to spot something which contradicted this answer, frowned and said: “Well then, you’re wasting my time.”

The young man looked mortified at being humiliated in front of so many people like this, not to mention the man he had hoped would soon employ him.

Unsure of the correct etiquette and whether to stay or go (I later learned that this was his first ever interview), he just sat in stunned silence as my boss proceeded to phone the recruitment consultancy who had sent him their way – and inform them that they were all a bunch of “bollocking morons” for sending him such “a lying little bollock” with such a lot of bollocks on his CV that they really should have checked before sending him on to him. Not to mention the fact that he was clearly a “dweeb:” who would be entirely unsuited to manning diggers and building site work – even if he could drive.

It was at this point that I finally twigged. My boss had the CVs mixed up and thought he was supposed to be interviewing a site manager rather than a graduate office intern.

When I went and whispered the sorry truth to him he was so embarrassed that he offered to hire the by now utterly bemused graduate on the spot.

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Filed under badboss, Blogroll, Hired, office, swearing, You plonker

Hitting the wall

At the end of my interview for a very technical academic job at a well-respected UK university, I was feeling reasonably pleased with how things had gone. I said bye to the panel, turned round and walked into the wall (rather than through the door which had been helpfully opened for me). On hitting the wall I came into contact with the lightswitch, duly plunging the room into darkness.

They hired me.


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