The perils of the real-life job interview are to be laid bare in a new Channel 4 series airing next month.
The Job Interview will run across five episodes with each programme featuring two sets of job interviews for a real job.
Described by insiders as a cross between The Apprentice and First Dates, it is thought to be the first time that the producers of a ‘fixed-rig’ documentary show like this have been unable to cast the main players.
Other so-called fixed-rig shows include One Born Every Minute and The Hotel and they use carefully concealed cameras to catch people in the raw. They are also formats which allow the producers to hand pick at least some of their ‘cast’ of people who they think are best suited for TV.
In The Job Interview, the applicants were recruited through real advertisements, with employment law preventing the production company from weeding out the candidates they preferred.
Each edition of the five-part series explores two different companies filling two separate posts. The candidates are interviewed in an office building in Westminster in front of hidden cameras, before having a debrief with the show’s producers. The reactions of the interviewers to their performance are also filmed.
The Job Interview’s co-executive producer Simon Dickson, who has overseen shows including First Dates, One Born Every Minute and The Hotel, said: “This programme is the first documentary series of its type that has not been cast. People are frequently accused of casting people who work well on television.
“We realised before making this series that we couldn’t do anything with that. We had to completely relinquish control over the bit of the process that we are good at doing which is picking individual stories. It was a massive leap of faith not to do that.”
In episode one, five candidates are interviewed for an admin job at a Welsh van hire company, Neath-based Low Cost Vans. In the same opening instalment an events job at luxury weddings venue Wickham House is up for grabs, with the interviews overseen by the hotel’s owner Phillipa D’Arcy and her daughter Roberta, AKA Bertie.
Across the hour the pitfalls, errors and high emotion of a real interview situation are shown, with the winning candidates unveiled at the close.
The stakes are high and Dickson told RadioTimes.com that a “couple” of candidates from the series have expressed unease with how they appear on television, adding that the producers would be “discussing” their appearance with them.
“A couple of people have said they wish they had done better and we are going to discuss with them what their contribution looks and feels like. No one has an automatic right to withdraw consent from a programme of this type. But at the same time if we felt it was going to be prejudicial to someone’s well-being we would consider not broadcasting them.
“Everybody will get a phone call before their episode airs. I think they are very brave letting us film the process. They are stressful. Putting cameras on that process will, I am sure, have done nothing to put the candidate at ease. But at the same time this method of filming, once the process is underway, people tend to forget that the cameras are there.”
Rod Lloyd, Low Cost Vans’ managing director who is one of two interviewers in episode one, told a press screening on Tuesday that he has enjoyed many bizarre experiences in his many years of interviewing candidates for jobs.
These include people who have turned up drunk and a man who appeared with a suit and tie but no socks on because he couldn’t find the sole pair he owned.
“I am still freaked out by the no socks,” said Lloyd (pictured below with HR Manager Lorraine Kitchin). “He said he couldn’t find his socks. He only had one pair of socks.”
The five people interviewed by Lloyd and Kitchin in the first episode, we would like to stress, are all sober – and all appear to be wearing appropriate footwear…
The Job Interview is on tonight