‘Please sit down,’ I said to the young, fair-haired girl.

‘Thank you.’ She had a pleasant, soft voice. I took to her at once.

As she settled, I busied myself with the tools of my trade. The job description, her CV and the summary evaluation card were laid out in front of me. I checked the details.

‘Right, Miss Johnson. Welcome to R and M Products.’ I smiled. ‘My name is Mrs Wetherby and I’m going to have an informal chat with you prior to a possible formal interview.’

‘So you’ll decide if I go forward?’

‘No, Miss Johnson, I will make a standardised report for the selectors. Part of this is a basic personality test. You see, here at R and M we try to balance personality types in the workplace and suit them to jobs which will satisfy them – and encourage productivity of course.’ I gave a small laugh. She smiled.

‘So, if by any chance you are not called for a formal interview, in all likelihood it will be about quotas and not any deficiency on your part, you understand.’

She nodded.

‘Right, Miss Johnson, let us begin.’

‘You can call me by my first name.’ She grinned.

I ticked another box on the card. Good social skills – what a pleasant young lady!

‘Thankyou, we approve of a less formal atmosphere here.’ I consulted the record form with her CV.

‘Well Tina, what makes you want to work here?’

‘T'nah,’ she said.

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘My name – it’s T'nah.’ Her expression was not so pleasant now, almost aggressive.

I consulted the sheet again. ‘T. I . N. A?’

She nodded.

‘Tina?’ I tried saying it a bit differently, but to me ‘Tina’ was ‘Tina’.

This time she did look annoyed. She spoke slowly as if I was retarded. ‘It is spelt T. I. N. A. but it is pronounced T'nah. Surely that’s obvious?’

I tried again and eventually I got close enough for her to nod approval.

‘So, T'nah, I’m glad we sorted that out. Sorry I was a rather slow.’

‘Oh, you weren’t so bad. I’m always amazed how stupid people are, though. Some of them don’t even get it right when I explain, keep calling me Tina. Tina indeed – how dumb can some people get?’

‘That must be most annoying, er, T'nah.’

‘It’s disrespectful. Most people can’t even bother. They just read it off a sheet or something and make stupid assumptions. I get really mad sometimes.’

‘I’ll bet you do.’

I marked her card.

We continued the interview. She did quite well in some areas.

I rounded off with the final question. She thought for a minute, then replied, a pleasant smile on her face.

‘Well, what I would bring to the company is a sensitive understanding of people tempered by patience and tolerance.’

What a good answer! I shook her hand, gave her the usual information about when she would hear from us, and showed her out.

As I tidied up the documentation and wrote my short additional comments on the card, Jane poked her head round the door.

‘She any good?’

‘I don’t think so, not for a customer service position, Jane.’

‘Oh, shame. Better luck with the next one then, eh, Tina?’

‘Indeed,’ I said, and smiled.


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