A room in the Legal Aid Agency. It is in the early summer months. A long serving civil servant, Bryan Loyal, sits behind a desk. Sitting opposite him is a nervous looking man in a slightly ill-fitting suit. He is Jobe Seeker and has been sent for this interview by an employment agency.
B LOYAL: Thank you very much for coming in today. My name is Bryan Loyal, I’ll be interviewing you for a role within a very important Governmemt procurement process which is all a bit hush-hush at the moment. Now, first of all, please do not be put off by Gonzo here (Bryan Loyal points to a flame haired Gonk on his desk) I took him to my Civil Service exam with me for luck and he has been with me ever since whenever I’m doing something important….which is probably why I never got the Foreign Office gig….can’t have Foreign Heads of State seeing a 70s plastic toy “apparently”. So here I am, interviewing you for this hush-hush job. Not that I was meant to be interviewing you of course. Mrs Jones was meant to be interviewing you, but she is poorly today. So, to be honest, the job isn’t that hush-hush, it’s just that I don’t know much about it. Something to do with Legal Aid and some contracts. But we are not going to let that hold us back, are we?
JOBE SEEKER: I guess not.
BL: That’s the spirit. You’ll go far in the LAA with an attitude like that. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, better to have none at all!
JS: If you say so…..
BL: Not only do I say so, but Gonzo says so too, don’t you Gonzo?…. (Bryan picks up the strange troll-like figure and mimics a nodding movement)…. Right, first question. (Bryan reads from a sheet of paper in front of him) Do you have any experience in the Legal Sector?
JS: Not really.
BL: Anything will do…..
JS: Nope. Sorry.
BL: Come, on! You seem like a nice fellow. Gonzo likes you. Give us something to work with!
JS: Well I did watch that Silk thing on the telly….
BL: That’ll do!
JS: I was joking!
BL: There are marks available on the form for “having observed the working of a legal practice” so you are off and running on the score sheet. Next question. Do you have any experience of procurement?
JS: Well, my dad reckoned he procured his flat screen telly from Dodgy Dave down the pub….
BL: Not sure that’s what we have in mind.
JS: To be honest I am not sure what procurement actually is….
BL: Basically it is all about comparing the available service providers in an area and then choosing which best meets the needs of the Government.
JS: I did help my gran switch her gas supplier through that website …..
BL: Wonderful! Top marks!
JS: And I once had a job with those meerkats who sell car insurance to Arnie.
BL: Might leave that one out. Don’t want you to seem over qualified.
JS: I was only packing cuddly meerkat dolls and sending them out to customers….
BL: We’ll definitely give that one a miss. Delivery is strictly a different department. Now – do you have any experience of marking against a set criteria?
JS: Errr…well I did draw up a pros and cons list as to whether I should ask my girlfriend to marry me. The cons came out way ahead.
BL: That’s good practical experience. And it helped you come to the right decision.
JS: We got married six months later.
BL: Oh. Right. Well, congratulations……
JS: We got divorced within 18 months……
BL: There we go then. Your rigorous marking system was proved right in the long run. She was a nightmare. Should have trusted your list.
JS: But then I realised we couldn’t live without each other so we get remarried next month…..
BL: BrillIant. Flexibility is key. Well done. Now we move to the quick fire round.
JS: I am sorry, can you just expl……
BL: No time! The clock has started. What’s the capital of Italy?
JS: Sorry, what’s this got to do with the job….
BL: No time for explanations. Just answer the question. Italy….?
BL: ABBA won the Eurovision with which song?
JS: Really?!?……errr, I don’t know… Dancing Queen?
BL: Who is Winston Churchill?
JS: He was Prime Minister.
BL: Who scored in Coventry City’s only FA Cup Final win?
JS: Look, I can’t possibly need to know that…….
BL: Just give me an answer!
JS: Oh I don’t know. Kevin Keegan.
BL: And finally what is otherwise known as the Central Criminal Court?
JS: I haven’t the foggiest.
(Bryan sits bolt up right in his seat. His arm mimics the second hand of a clock as he imitates the music from Countdown)
BL: Derr-derr-da-derr-derrrrr. Derr-derr-da-derr-derrrrr. Derr-derr-da-derr-derrrrr. Derr-der, derr-der, biddly boo…….(as Bryan’s arm reaches the desk he rounds off with a crescendo of an explosion sound. Both men stare at each other in silence) ……..I am not going to lie, there is some room for improvement there.
JS: I know. I’d be surprised if I got more than two right…….
BL: Oh, don’t worry about getting them right or not. It was your timing. Five questions in 42 seconds. You’ll need to pick up the pace a bit if you want to win the Mars Bar.
JS: The Mars Bar?
BL: Yes, a Mars Bar. Helps you work, rest and shape the future of the criminal justice system. And now, the final question of the round – do you know the difference between Sussex and Cheshire?
JS: Errrr, I think so.
BL: Briiliant. That seals it for me. I don’t mind telling you that, if it were just up to me, you’ve got the job….
BL: …….BUT……. It isn’t just up to me. Your scores from this interview have to go through moderation before any formal offer can be made.
JS: Oh. Ok.
(Bryan picks Gonzo the Gonk from the table and holds him to his ear. Several times he takes the Gonk from his ear and holds it as if the lucky charm is reading the piece of paper on the table. All the time Bryan is whispering both sides of the conversation with the Gonk)
BL: Congratulations Jobe, I am delighted to inform you that you’ve passed our rigorous moderation process and you’ve got the job!
JS: Oh. Thanks. I think.
BL: There is just one final formality to go through. This is serious Government business.
JS: I totally understand. Do I need to sign the Official Secrets Act?
BL: No. I just have one final question for you……..have you ever contemplated blowing a whistle……..