TV blog: The Job Interview

Benjie Goodhart / 07 July 2016

A new series examines how job applicants perform in interviews, plus a look at RNLI volunteers and real-life rescues.

The Job Interview, Tuesday 12th July, 9pm, Channel 4

This is a lovely idea for a show, so absurdly simple it seems ridiculous we’ve not been watching it for the last 30 years. Five candidates are interviewed for real jobs by real employers, are then whittled down to a final two, before a decision is made. The whole thing is filmed in a generic office building by unobtrusive fixed rig cameras, a bit like First Dates only without the alcohol and people feeding each other.

Tonight’s interviews are for a job in customer services for Low Cost Vans in Neath, South Wales, and later for a role with a wedding and events planning company at a magnificent home in Berkshire.

Among the applicants are Roy, who’s recently lost a high profile job in sports management, and David, who resigned from his last job following a disagreement with senior management about the company’s international focus.

The interviewers are worried about Roy’s lack of organisation and seeming inability to overcome even the very simplest of tasks, while David seems rather posh for Low Cost Vans, and besides, he’s put something very odd under ‘Hobbies’ on his CV about pigs. 

Like other fixed rig shows such as 24 Hours in A&E, the show takes the opportunity to delve a little deeper into people’s lives. So we learn about the mother, raising her kids on her own, and going back to work after eight years of parenting (she could likely use the rest a job will offer her…) Or the unemployed 50-something who worked for the same company for 30 years and is bereft without work.

It’s funny, moving and utterly engrossing. More than that, though, it’s an eye-opener into how jaw-droppingly bad some people are at job interviews. For example, do not, under any circumstances, end an interview by saying “I’m going to go and find a pub now.” Of COURSE you’re going to, you’ve just been under the most stressful of experiences, but don’t sound the dipsomaniac klaxon right in their faces. Also, if someone asks you if you think you might not find the job stimulating enough, do not, under any circumstances, answer “Will I get bored? Who knows?” You’re unlikely to find out anytime soon.

Saving Lives at Sea, Wednesday 13th July, 9pm, BBC One

We are an island nation, separated from Europe by 20 miles of icy water. Famously, in the UK you are never more than 70 miles from the sea, so in essence, we’re all one really big wave away from drowning. Thank heavens, then, for the RNLI, whose 5,000 brave volunteers risk their lives on a regular basis to save those in peril on the sea. Now, this four-part series takes a look at these heroic and modest individuals, and (using interviews and rescue footage from helmet-mounted cameras) tells just a handful of the stories that emerge every day in the line of duty.

It is an interesting lesson in the strange variety of life that crosses the path of the lifeboat crews. At some point, all human life is likely to end up in the water – and some that isn’t human. One crewman says he’s been involved in rescuing dogs, sheep, cows, horses, deer, even a dolphin. A dolphin!! What kind of a dolphin needs rescuing at sea? “We do it because we like saving lives,” says the crewman. Fair play.

The programme goes on to tell the stories of several other rescues. Not all are dramatic. Indeed, most are of the “rescuing someone caught on a ledge who was cut off by the tide” variety. It’s not exactly the kind of stuff Ridley Scott will be turning into a movie starring Vin Diesel anytime soon. But even these more prosaic rescues are revealing of the character and heroic decency of the crews involved. And then the rescues start to get a little more dramatic…

The best… and the rest

Saturday 9th July

Wimbledon: Women’s Final, 1pm, BBC One: I’m writing this before the tournament has even begun, but my guess is that the finalists will be taken from two of the following four: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Elena Vesnina or Angelique Kerber. Just a hunch.

Sunday 10th July

Wimbledon: Men’s Final, 1pm, BBC One: I just have a sense, this year, that Djokovic is a bit off. I’m guessing the final will consist of two from Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic. COME ON ANDY!!!!!!

Euro 2016 Final, 7pm, BBC One and ITV: Since we’re in the business of making predictions, even though a ball has barely been kicked yet, I’ve got a strange suspicion that Portugal will make the final. Possibly by winning the semi-final 2-0 against (call me crazy) Wales. With goals in the 50th and 53rd minute. Who will they face? I can say with absolute confidence it’ll be Albania.

Paul O’Grady’s 100 Years of Movie Musicals, 6:30pm, Channel 4: Something for those of a less sport-inclined nature, featuring talking heads including Michael Ball, Sheila Hancock and Benny Andersson.

Monday 11th July

Dispatches, 8pm, Channel 4: Looking at the depressing rise of racist abuse in Britain. Sigh.

Wild France with Ray Mears, 8pm, ITV: The survival expert dons his sensible clothes and sturdy boots and sets out to explore the vast and hostile wilderness of, um, France, existing only on a diet of artisan cheeses and fine wine.

University Challenge, 8pm, BBC Two: People who don’t spend enough time in the pub answer questions on Wittgenstein and string theory while a nation sniggers at their knitwear.

Only Connect, 8:30pm, BBC Two: People answer incomprehensibly complex questions while a nation looks on, confused.

Exodus: Our Journey to Europe, 9pm, BBC Two: Showing over the next three nights, this series follows refugees seeking to make a new life in Europe, using footage they themselves have shot on camera-phones given to them to make this film.

Tuesday 12th July

Child Genius, 8pm, Channel 4: Small people who wear bow ties and spend their break time reading Dostoyevsky in his native Russian answer questions not out of place on University Challenge.

Wedding Surprises: Caught on Camera, 9pm, ITV: Surprises at weddings that, um, have been caught on camera. Presumably.

Wednesday 13th July

100 Year Old Drivers: Rebooted, 8pm, ITV: Following on from last year’s documentary, this two-part series meets some of the nation’s 200 drivers who are over 100. Inspiring stuff!

The Secret Life of Brothers and Sisters, 8pm, Channel 4: At the opposite end of the scale, we have the very young, in this sweet and informative new documentary following sibling relationships between the under-sixes. Thankfully, none of this lot can drive.

Long Lost Family, 9pm, ITV: Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell reunite families who have been apart for decades. Watch with an industrial quantity of tissues.

Thursday 14th July

Inside Out Homes, 8pm, Channel 4: Return of the series that shows how to marry up your interior with your garden to make the most of both.

The Investigator: A British Crime Story, 9pm, ITV: New four-part series, jumping on the current vogue for reality-murder-investigation entertainment. Investigator Mark Williams-Thomas examines the case of Carole Packman, murdered 30 years ago.

Friday 15th July

Tennis: Davis Cup, 2:45pm, BBC Two: Thank heavens, we’ve not had anything like enough tennis on telly lately. If someone could sort us out with a bit of football, too… Great Britain take on Serbia over the next three days, in a tie that may or may not feature the two best players in the world.


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