I think the whole problem is aggravated by the extremely low staff turnover in our particular branch of Food Place. If I had to deal with recruitment week in, week out - like many stores do - it would just become part of the daily routine. If we were such a horrid place to work that we went through 20 till assistants per week, reputation would spread and nobody would bother applying. But as it stands, our store is the only major employer on our side of town. If local residents secure a job, they don't bloody well let go of it. A bit like me really. As a result, a vacancy in Food Place is a minor media event.
The fun starts the second you place the advert in the window. You get a rush of people asking for application forms. But they don't just want one. They'll also take one for their son who, they explain, is so lazy he sits down to take a pee. Yes, you really skyrocketed his employment prospects by telling me that didn't you? And then they remember, they should take one for their neighbour, Joyce, who's been very depressed lately and needs something to take her mind off things.
Give me strength.
But some people can't even be bothered to visit us in the flesh to seek an application form. Whenever we advertise vacancies, you always get people ringing up and asking for one to be posted to them:
"Hello, Food Place how can I help you?"
"Could you post me an application form?"
Could you post me an application form WHAT? But you have to be nice, so you get a pen ready and say "Yes, certainly, can I take your name and address please?"
"It's 11 Peel Green Road, Natasha Bedford."
WHAT?! You want me to post an application form to PEEL GREEN ROAD? It's practically in the car park! Jesus Christ I'd have to walk past your house to get to the post box! You lazy great heifer! As if we'd even contemplate employing somebody who can't be bothered to walk five yards!
When the closing date arrives, we remove the notice and start vetting the application forms. Here are just a few observations that have arisen from this arduous process:
- "I want to work this day, those hours!" Why do people respond to an advert for an "evenings and weekends" checkout assistant and fill in the grid saying they can only work 8am-10am every fourth Saturday and 10.00am - 2.30pm Monday to Friday except every fifth Tuesday? Do you really think employers will take on anybody who dictates their working hours like that?
- "I don't want 2 work on da tillz!" Well tough madam! You applied for a 'tillz' vacancy! And please at least attempt to use English when writing an application form.
- "I want to work 'behind the scenes' as I'm not good with people!" Oh good! You're exactly what we're looking for! NOT. There is no behind the scenes in a supermarket. Most people are crap at dealing with the public, but you've got to do it sonny. Sorry. I work in the cash office and you still get customers popping out of the safe to ask where the pasta is! (slight exaggeration)
- "I be cleaner as I speak no English at all!" Well you're not much use to us then are you.
- "I've had 15 jobs in the past two days!" How can people honestly expect to get anywhere in finding a job when their track record proves they can't hold a job longer than 20 seconds? Well, when you think about it, some morons must be hiring them.
So, having waded through all that nonsense, you end up with four very good application forms. Two of them are from recent school-leavers with good grades who are currently doing part-time further education courses. Two of them are from mature applicants who have very good previous employment records that prove they can hold down jobs for years on end.
And then it comes to the interviews. Sadly, two of the applicants looked much better on paper. One of the school-leavers clearly got somebody with nice handwriting to write their application form for them and one of the mature candidates has obviously held their previous job so long because their employer couldn't find an excuse to get shot of them.
I mean, they just showed no spark of life at all. It went something like this:
"So, tell me about your last job."
"It was in a pub" ...
"OK...and...what were your day-to-day duties?"
"I served drinks" ...
Oh for CHRIST'S SAKE! Do you want this job or don't you?!
But the other two pose a dilemma for us. What do you do when you have two applicants who are both as suitable as each other competing for one post? All there is to do is let one of them down gently. We send them a letter which says how impressed we were with their interview, but due to overwhelming response to the advertisement, we cannot offer them the job on this occasion but will contact them as soon as something suitable arises.
I felt like such a bastard for having to do that. It broke my heart! And here's me trying to be tough.
However, the next step is the one I'm dreading the most. The induction. Kill me now.