I REMEMBER my first interview, which on reflection was really a simple exercise. I was called to the school office; told I was one of four girls being put forward for an office junior’s position, the interview lasted 15 minutes and I started work the following Monday.

But today, things seem so much more complicated.

You see, my friend Fiona had been accepted for an online college course following a number of in-depth interviews via Zoom calls, and it was now time for her Zoom induction.

Excited and unsure what to expect, Fiona successfully managed to join the Zoom induction call along with 17 others and their tutor Marie.

“We’re still waiting on a few joining us,” Marie explained as face after face slowly appeared on the screen until eventually after a lengthy introduction Marie suggested.

“Let’s have a little ice-breaker.”

“More like a little timewaster,” Fiona mumbled to herself.

“This exercise will help us get to know each other a bit better,” Maria promised.

“Now let’s start with you Bobby,” she smiled at the screen.

“Tell us what your favourite food is and why?”

Quick as a flash.

“Chinese,” Bobby shouted enthusiastically and continued to rant on about every Chinese dish he’d ever consumed.

It was Tracey’s turn.

“Macaroni” was the deadpan reply as she took yet another long draw of her roll-up cigarette while propped up on her bed.

And after a long pause Maria prompted.

“So why is macaroni your favourite dish?”

Another long puff and…

“Well, you can have it on toast, for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a midnight snack.”

“Very good Tracey.”

Puff. Puff. Puff.

“And you can get it in those wee microwave pots now too” was the exciting news.

Fiona was bored beyond belief at the mundane chit chat, and while painting her nails kept her reply simple because this exercise had gone round 17 students, some of whom were now playing on their mobile or falling asleep.

“Prawns and tomatoes because I love them.”

Hoping to keep her student’s attention, Maria moved on.

“Now I want you all to go find an object which means something to you, and we’ll chat about it.”

Losing the will to live, Fiona dragged her dog on to her lap, but by the time it came to her turn there had been four other dogs, so decided to show her favourite book and waffled on about it when…..

“Right Sonya, your turn.”

A devastated Sonya held up a miniature coffin to her screen and began to take the coffin lid off, and suddenly students began to show an interest.

“My wee cat Chucky died,” her voice quivered.

“But I managed to salvage a whisker after her post-mortem.”

Sniff. Sniff. Sniff.

Students were straining and pressing their noses up near their screen to see the dead cats’ whisker inside the home-made coffin, which according to Fiona looked just like a fish bone.

With absolutely no retort, Maria moved quickly on to Danny who proudly held up a miniature of whisky. But this was no ordinary whisky. This was a bottle from a collection of Game of Thrones whiskies.

But when Danny stood up to hold the bottle to the screen, everyone could see that he was actually sitting on a throne which had a scull on top, and just within sight, his mum was sitting by his side wearing a matching Game of Thrones T-shirt as she assisted her son with his induction.

Soon it was Bobby the Chinese food expert’s turn again.

“She’s sleeping just now but my dog Tania means everything to me,” he enthused.

“I never really used to pay her much attention till lockdown,” he admitted.

“But now I just love her too bits.”

“What kind of dog is she?” Maria was attempting to keep everyone engaged.

“I don’t know,” was the answer.

“Well….. is she big or small?”

“Em…..well.” Bobby was finding it difficult to describe his beloved pet.

“Well….. when she’s in the house she seems really big.”

“Uh huh.”

“But when she’s out in the park, she seems really small.”

Maria had no answer to that so decided it best to end the icebreaker and indeed the whole induction.

“Thank you. Bye,” said one.

“Talk next week,” said another.

However, apparently a few students hadn’t realised that they were still logged on.

“Well, was that boring or what?”

“Did you see that weird bloke with his wee maw sitting next to him?”

“Who puts a whisker in a coffin?” Another commented assuming they were now out of earshot.

According to Fiona after the long two-hour session …..

“Janice, it was good to have a nosey inside people houses, but students were yawning, playing on their mobile, smoking, eating, drinking, playing with pets, tapping and singing.” She moaned.

“I’m not so sure this online course is for me.”

Of course it is Fiona. I encourage, because personally, I can’t wait till next week when the real lessons begin!