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  • Observations on Work, Employment & Education

    Reinhold Gaubitsch

    Train­spot­ters’ job interviews

    Job interviews in feature films are rare. Nevertheless, film history has some special treats in store. From the point of view of public employment services, the interview scene from Trainspotting (1996) by Danny Boyle cannot be surpassed.

    Recruit­ment scenes or the depiction of job inter­views in feature films often serve to continue the plot (“The Shining”), can occur as a main theme in short films (“The Inter­view­er”) or can be mea­ning­ful indi­vi­du­al scenes (“Step Brothers”). Since there is always ine­vi­ta­b­ly an unequal power balance in the recruit­ment process, films that show the inter­view­er in a less favoura­ble light or that pro­ble­ma­tise the recrui­t­ing process pre­do­mi­na­te. Sympathy for the side of power seems ques­tion­ab­le or immoral. “Train­spot­ting” (1996) by Danny Boyle based on a novel by David Welsh probably has one of the most fasci­na­ting scenes in this regard. It is complex and may lead to mis­in­ter­pre­ta­ti­on ─ a reason to take a closer look.

    The job interview with Spud accu­rate­ly and yet con­fu­sin­gly exposes his cir­cum­s­tan­ces. Spud lives in Leith, an eco­no­mi­c­al­ly and socially mar­gi­na­li­sed suburb of Edinburgh in the 1980s. He belongs to a group of young people who, as part of the punk culture, reject bourgeois existence and the cor­re­spon­ding values. Other cir­cum­s­tan­ces of signi­fi­can­ce are the drug milieu, lower class living con­di­ti­ons and lin­gu­is­tic idio­syn­cra­sies. Spud’s lin­gu­is­tic ability is reduced to the excessive use of his regional dialect, his indi­vi­du­al mode of expres­si­on and an ine­s­ca­pa­ble milieu-related lin­gu­is­tic pecu­lia­ri­ty. This is espe­cial­ly true of the novel ─ in order to remain com­pre­hen­si­ble, the indi­vi­du­al idiom as well as other lin­gu­is­tic varieties that occur, have been somehow polished up into “RP English” in the movie.

    Spud, pressured by the “dole office”, presents himself for an interview. Since he wants to continue living on unem­ploy­ment benefits, he must not be suc­cess­ful under any cir­cum­s­tan­ces. And so, we see Spud “on speed” hastily answering rehearsed recruit­ment questions, which in their pre­dic­ta­bi­li­ty add to the satirical character of the scene.

    Spud is alone at one end of a large room, and the com­po­si­ti­on of the scene makes him appear trapped, at the other end three recrui­ters. The spatial distance also suggests social distance. The scene is remi­nis­cent of a tribunal, the question of guilt seems to be settled: the applicant is obviously a member of the lower class. Spud gives the impres­si­on of being a very confused person, but in a certain way he seems sovereign and also amiable, and one can also laugh at him in (hopefully) soli­da­ri­ty. The most striking feature is the language in his responses, there are clear echoes of so-called nonsense lite­ra­tu­re, a genre cha­rac­te­ri­sed by its potential to trans­gress norms, as well as sur­rea­list comedy. An example of this kind, and at the same time a humorous highlight, shall be quoted here:

    Inter­view­er: “Mr. Murphy [Spud], …, do you see yourself as having any weaknesses?
    Spud: No. Well, yes. I have to admit it: I’m a per­fec­tio­n­ist. For me, it’s the best or nothing at all. If things go badly, I can’t be bothered, but I have a good feeling about this interview. Seems to me like it’s gone pretty well. We’ve touched on a lot of subjects, a lot of things to think about, for all of us.

    This is followed by the farewell. The other side ─ the side of power ─ is at a loss. The personnel officer in charge closes with the usual words: “Thank you. We’ll let you know!”, you can see their contempt dripping from their cynical smiles. Spud, for his part, abandons the interview almost enthu­si­asti­cal­ly; he is obviously satisfied with his per­for­mance. Those who don’t know him might take this for another pro­vo­ca­ti­on ─ it remains ambiguous in any case, and it is precisely this ambiguity that impresses.

    Feature films with recruit­ment scenes often offer inte­res­ting approa­ches to unsettle the respon­si­ble HR managers.

    Dr. Reinhold Gaubitsch is a political scientist and was, until his reti­re­ment, project manager in the Depart­ment of Labor Market and Career Infor­ma­ti­on of the Public Employ­ment Service Austria and respon­si­ble, among other things, for voca­tio­nal guidance films.

     

     

     

    Trainspotting (1996), Danny Boyle, job interview scene with Spud (Ewen Bremner) 

    Shining (1980), Stanley Kubrick, The Interview with Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson)  

    The Interviewer (2015), Bus Stop Films 

    Step Brothers (2008), Adam McKay, Interview scene with Brennan (Will Ferrell) and Dale (John C. Reilly),  

    Filmstill, The Interviewer (2015)

    Fimstill, Trainspotting (1996), Danny Boyle

    Tags

    Train­spot­ters’ job interviews

    Reinhold Gaubitsch

    Job interviews in feature films are rare. Nevertheless, film history has some special treats in store. From the point of view of public employment services, the interview scene from Trainspotting (1996) by Danny Boyle cannot be surpassed.

    Recruit­ment scenes or the depiction of job inter­views in feature films often serve to continue the plot (“The Shining”), can occur as a main theme in short films (“The Inter­view­er”) or can be mea­ning­ful indi­vi­du­al scenes (“Step Brothers”). Since there is always ine­vi­ta­b­ly an unequal power balance in the recruit­ment process, films that show the inter­view­er in a less favoura­ble light or that pro­ble­ma­tise the recrui­t­ing process pre­do­mi­na­te. Sympathy for the side of power seems ques­tion­ab­le or immoral. “Train­spot­ting” (1996) by Danny Boyle based on a novel by David Welsh probably has one of the most fasci­na­ting scenes in this regard. It is complex and may lead to mis­in­ter­pre­ta­ti­on ─ a reason to take a closer look.

    The job interview with Spud accu­rate­ly and yet con­fu­sin­gly exposes his cir­cum­s­tan­ces. Spud lives in Leith, an eco­no­mi­c­al­ly and socially mar­gi­na­li­sed suburb of Edinburgh in the 1980s. He belongs to a group of young people who, as part of the punk culture, reject bourgeois existence and the cor­re­spon­ding values. Other cir­cum­s­tan­ces of signi­fi­can­ce are the drug milieu, lower class living con­di­ti­ons and lin­gu­is­tic idio­syn­cra­sies. Spud’s lin­gu­is­tic ability is reduced to the excessive use of his regional dialect, his indi­vi­du­al mode of expres­si­on and an ine­s­ca­pa­ble milieu-related lin­gu­is­tic pecu­lia­ri­ty. This is espe­cial­ly true of the novel ─ in order to remain com­pre­hen­si­ble, the indi­vi­du­al idiom as well as other lin­gu­is­tic varieties that occur, have been somehow polished up into “RP English” in the movie.

    Spud, pressured by the “dole office”, presents himself for an interview. Since he wants to continue living on unem­ploy­ment benefits, he must not be suc­cess­ful under any cir­cum­s­tan­ces. And so, we see Spud “on speed” hastily answering rehearsed recruit­ment questions, which in their pre­dic­ta­bi­li­ty add to the satirical character of the scene.

    Spud is alone at one end of a large room, and the com­po­si­ti­on of the scene makes him appear trapped, at the other end three recrui­ters. The spatial distance also suggests social distance. The scene is remi­nis­cent of a tribunal, the question of guilt seems to be settled: the applicant is obviously a member of the lower class. Spud gives the impres­si­on of being a very confused person, but in a certain way he seems sovereign and also amiable, and one can also laugh at him in (hopefully) soli­da­ri­ty. The most striking feature is the language in his responses, there are clear echoes of so-called nonsense lite­ra­tu­re, a genre cha­rac­te­ri­sed by its potential to trans­gress norms, as well as sur­rea­list comedy. An example of this kind, and at the same time a humorous highlight, shall be quoted here:

    Inter­view­er: “Mr. Murphy [Spud], …, do you see yourself as having any weaknesses?
    Spud: No. Well, yes. I have to admit it: I’m a per­fec­tio­n­ist. For me, it’s the best or nothing at all. If things go badly, I can’t be bothered, but I have a good feeling about this interview. Seems to me like it’s gone pretty well. We’ve touched on a lot of subjects, a lot of things to think about, for all of us.

    This is followed by the farewell. The other side ─ the side of power ─ is at a loss. The personnel officer in charge closes with the usual words: “Thank you. We’ll let you know!”, you can see their contempt dripping from their cynical smiles. Spud, for his part, abandons the interview almost enthu­si­asti­cal­ly; he is obviously satisfied with his per­for­mance. Those who don’t know him might take this for another pro­vo­ca­ti­on ─ it remains ambiguous in any case, and it is precisely this ambiguity that impresses.

    Feature films with recruit­ment scenes often offer inte­res­ting approa­ches to unsettle the respon­si­ble HR managers.

    Dr. Reinhold Gaubitsch is a political scientist and was, until his reti­re­ment, project manager in the Depart­ment of Labor Market and Career Infor­ma­ti­on of the Public Employ­ment Service Austria and respon­si­ble, among other things, for voca­tio­nal guidance films.

     

     

     

    Trainspotting (1996), Danny Boyle, job interview scene with Spud (Ewen Bremner)

    Shining (1980), Stanley Kubrick, The Interview with Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson)

    The Interviewer (2015), Bus Stop Films

    Step Brothers (2008), Adam McKay, Interview scene with Brennan (Will Ferrell) and Dale (John C. Reilly),

    Filmstill, The Interviewer (2015)

    Fimstill, Trainspotting (1996), Danny Boyle

    Tags


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    About this blog

    By selecting a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. They are both based in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their cor­re­spon­ding articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.

    About this blog

    With picking a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. We both work in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their respec­ti­ve articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.