Something for the Weekend: The Virtual Interview (My Pets Took Over)

This week Ian Morris describes his first virtual interview for a job, but it doesn’t go quite to plan when his pets get involved.

‘Can you tell us about a time…’ the classic opener to so many interview questions.

This week saw another new experience for me during lockdown, my first virtual interview. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was told my current position was at risk of redundancy. It was all rather unsettling but as the words were only ‘at risk’ I was in much better shape than many who have suffered during this pandemic. I took a look at the jobs board at work and had a bit of a smile. There were two good-looking roles that I thought I was in with a shout of getting.

First challenge, why do organisations want forms filled in? I have a nice looking CV I have polished and sprinkled a little glitter on – why must I now copy and paste it into a bloody form?

I guess it is the modern way. 

My interview was confirmed for Tuesday via MS Teams; my first virtual interview. Dilemma: what to wear?

I haven’t sported anything but shorts and a T-shirt since March. My matching outfit of Puma shorts, gym shirt and hoody drew an insulting epiphet from my co-worker, beginning with ‘full kit’ and ending with an expletive. So I selected a rather natty tweed suit from the wardrobe and was delighted when the trousers did up – lockdown hasn’t completely ruined me. I went for a shirt with a collar; not a polo shirt, an actual shirt with buttons. No tie though –  does anyone still wear a tie? – I  always thought them a touch stupid. As a man with a generous neck they often saw me looking like Oliver Hardy so I am declaring them obsolete now, no tie for me. 

The personal beauty regime had seen me shave my own head with the lockdown clippers, have an actual face-polishing shave and then a dab of aftershave – God knows why, it was a virtual interview, but felt I had to ‘get into character. 

Headset on, deep breath and away we go…

The first advantage of the virtual interview was that I have to present, which for me usually involves having to memorise the presentation before taking to the stage, but this time as someone else was sharing I could have my notes on screen and listen to them with my screen reader. It was all going swimmingly until suddenly my screen reader went beserk.

‘Space! Space! Space!’ it was screaming in its electronic voice.

No, this was not some new frenzied message from the Government on Covid, but our tiny cat Enid Blyton trampling all over the keyboard. I wrestled her off to the floor – twice – apologised to the interviewers and re-centred my now rather misaligned Zen. 

The presentation finished and we went into questions. The first couple are nice easy ones to get me going, then it starts to get a bit tougher, and then she reappears again. The interviewers can now see me and Enid and are making ‘Ah what a sweet cat’ noises, and this seems to work as a distraction.

Finally, we settle back in only for me to get a snout in the armpit and a percussive ‘WOOOOOFFFFF!!!!’

Millsey had decided he needed a wee, despite the fact that 40 minutes earlier he had considered this a preposterous idea as I offered him a spin around the garden. Luckily one of the interviewers is also a Guide Dog owner so was happy to cut me some slack. 

What are the chances in any normal interview setting that you are going to end up with three animal-based distractions? It would have been four had I not bottled it, thrown the French doors open and done the second half of the interview in the very, very fresh air. I was rather glad of the long trousers and jacket…

Now we just have to wait and see if the animal antics have swung the job my way. Or will my rejection of the traditional throat-based fabric adornment have marked me out as a rebel?

Keep your fingers crossed for me, the animals have done their bit.


Something for the Weekend will be back next Friday, tackling national issues from a local perspective. In the meantime, you can check out all of Ian’s writing for S&C, here, along with past editions of the Pompey Politics Podcast.

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