Bite Size Memoir: Interviews

© irene waters 2014

© irene waters 2014

The funny thing about interviews is that you don’t really remember them. I have had oodles of interviews throughout my life as no doubt most of us had. The first interviews were with the headmistress always as a result of either our playing up in French lessons or for refusing to do as told in our gym lessons. I can remember the fear as we waited for the summons but have absolutely no recollection of what went on in the room when the call finally arrived.

Then there was the interview for my first job as a potato peeler. Again no recollection. I do recall the interview I had with Sister Capell after I had dyed the scrambled eggs green. I was lucky not to lose my job.

Following that was the interview which must have gone with my acceptance to the first hospital I applied to do my nursing. Again no recollection.  My next interview at Royal North Shore I do have some memory of.

I couldn’t wait. I was accepted to start my nurse training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in January. Then, I visited a patient in the Royal North Shore Hospital. The nurses there wore traditional uniforms with white aprons and looked like nurses. I decided I would apply there instead. 

All the application forms and medical, psychological and vocational testing were completed and I had been granted an interview. My nerves were strung tight as I had heard that the Royal North Shore rejected more girls than they took. I entered to face the severe, non-smiling matron. 

“What is your father’s occupation?” 

“A minister of the church.” I answered.

“What did your brother achieve in the higher school certificate?” 

“All high distinctions.”

” What is he studying?”

“I don’t see the relevance what my brother is doing. It’s me applying for the job.”

I started in March.

My interviews continued in this vein. Most I can remember before the event, and even after the event but except for a couple of notable interviews such as when I told the interviewer when asked why did I want to do midwifery  I replied “because I want your job”. Another interview the panel of four sat in four different corners of the room making it impossible to be inclusive when answering questions. Definitely a tactic to put the poor applicant at a disadvantage. Most I have no recollection of the interview itself at all.

Why is this so? Is it the effect of the adrenaline in a fear riddled body and like childbirth the pain of it is forgotten soon after?

This is in response to Lisa’s Bite Size memoir

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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21 Responses to Bite Size Memoir: Interviews

  1. Goodness, you’ve had some tough interviews! The worst one I ever had was for an asst professorship at U of Wisconsin. The guy showed me an underground room that he thought could be my lab and office – it was a black hole without even a sink and totally unworkable – then asked me how I would get myself named to the National Academy of Sciences in five years (this takes decades normally!). I didn’t get that job and was glad of it.
    Loved the nurses’ outfits!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some jobs you are lucky not to get. I applied for one as a genetics counsellor when I was majoring in genetics for my degree. I made it to the short list but didn’t get the full way but boy was I glad I didn’t. As a result I changed my major ( I guess you could say I was a little upset) to earth sciences, found out about the volcano on Tanna which led to a massive life change. It wouldn’t have happened had I got the job.
      The aprons came when we finished preliminary training school.


  2. Charli Mills says:

    That is such an excellent point about forgetting the interviews. I can only recall two crisply in my mind–one was an unexpected boon and the other an unexpected disaster. The rest are an discrepant blur. It’s easier remembering the details of being an interviewer! I’d love to read more about Sister Capell and the green scrambled eggs. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. TanGental says:

    I was constantly terrified of going into interviews so they are seared on my consciousness. Mentioning headmasters reminds me of the call to his office when I was 11 or 12. I joined 3 other boys all notorious troublemakers – I was a geek back then. They looked at me and I them. Some sort of mutual admiration that I’d done something wrong like them. I was called in first. I was congratulated on my efforts. I left trying to look mortified. The others appeared half an hour later. ‘how many did you get, Le Pard?’ I just looked pained. ‘What did you do?’ I walked off. Somehow I was never Found out.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. bkpyett says:

    Very brave standing up for yourself in those days in an interview, well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Norah says:

    Interesting the ridiculous, inappropriate and off-topic questions you get asked in interviews. Good for you for pointing that out. In one interview I was asked how I had arranged to have the day off work to attend the interview; in another I was asked how easily I had found a park. What?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The photos of the nurses in the old uniforms brings back memories for me. One memorable interview I had was over the phone. A university Latin and Classics professor was asking me what qualifications do I have in order to take his class ( I had none) and why did I want to do it – my reply was that I wanted to learn Latin to help me with my crosswords. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. LOVE the photo! Also, the last line of your Bite Size is fantastic. (Last two lines, rather.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sarah. As you probably read earlier in the comments I was really annoyed by this stage. Perhaps also I had the courage to do it at that age as I already had a place at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital to start so I wasn’t going to lose a lot other than getting the apron which would make me feel like a real nurse.


  8. Sherri says:

    Oh I remember the green scrambled eggs incident so well Irene! Like Sarah, I love your photo too, so atmospheric and evocative. You have certainly had your fair share of difficult interviews. but I love how you answered the matron. Good on you! Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to have seen the expression on her face, haha 😀 I also love your response, “Because I want your job” in the other. Love your true grit, really do… 😛


  9. colinmathers says:

    I remember you telling me about a psychological test you did at North Shore to assess your fitness for nursing. Not sure if it was the entrance test or later. Can’t remember exactly what you said, but apparently it was full of difficult questions, like: What would you do with a difficult patient: hit them or try to calm them down. Maybe you remember a bit more about the actual questions.


    • I’d forgotten that but you are right. There was some psychological test which must have been before we started or possibly much later when I was doing psychology at Macquarie where the multiple choice questions were so obvious it verged on the ridiculous. Throughout the paper the same question would be asked with slight variations as though trying to catch you up on one or perhaps just trying to frustrate you so that you would say bugger it I’ll murder this one. The actual questions though I can’t remember. 🙂


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