Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Psychiatrists (Part2)

It's September now, I kind of got waylaid, but it's time for the second psychiatrist story.  Nothing to do with ME - in fact nothing to do with illness.

I'm self-employed and have been for about 17 years.  It stops people sacking me when I'm off sick.  When I first went self-employed I was living in Guildford and doing part-time temping through an agency.  The agency had the Health Service contract and I often stood in for someone who worked part-time in one of the mental health units.  They were all lovely people and I got to know them.

The time came whe the Trust that ran the mental health units decided to set up its own bank of temps and it was suggested that I should apply.  My interview was at 9am in Farnham - about half an hour's drive away.

I was interviewed by - yes, you guessed it - a psychiatrist.  Clearly interview technique isn't on their curriculum at psychiatrist school.

He started by telling me that the job would entail starting at 9am - "would that be a problem".  I resisted the temptation to point out that it WAS 9am and I was there.  I solemnly replied that no, it wouldn't be a problem.

Then he explained that the job would entail working in different locations, "would that be a problem".  I resisted another temptation to point out that I was in Farnham - half an hour from home, and solemnly replied again that "no, it wouldn't be a problem".

Ok - so we've got the not allowed, sexist questions out of the way. So onward.

His next question almost defied belief and to this day I don't know how I didn't laugh in his face.

"How do you feel about working with mentally ill people?"  He asked.  I just about managed not to say "oh my goodness is that what you do at a mental health unit?".  No, I remained cool and explained that I'd worked for several of the mental health units.

Going well - not.

Then he fixed me with the sort of pitying gaze that only a psychiatrist can muster and asked me "if I were to ask your colleagues about your ability to work as a team secretary, what do you think they would say to me?"

He had my CV.  I'd had a brief job as a secretary working on my own in an office, then I'd done non-secretarial work, then I'd been temping.  I explained to him that when I'd been doing secretarial work I had always worked on my own or just with one or two other people.

Looking at me pityingly he solemnly repeated the whole question " "if I were to ask your colleagues about your ability to work as a team secretary, what do you think they would say to me?"

I'm afraid I cracked.  I looked straight back at him and said "I don't know, you'd have to ask them".

Surprisingly, I didn't get the job.

I did have a session of work at my local mental health unit the next day.  They knew exactly who'd interviewed me and fell about laughing.

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