Ambassador Theatre GroupBristol Hippodrome Interview

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I applied for a job as Front of House Assistant at the Bristol Hippodrome, a part of the Ambassador Theatre Group. I was delighted when I received a phone call from Ben Manning at the Hippodrome letting me know I had an interview at 6pm on a Thursday evening. The only information that he gave me was that I needed to turn up at the stage door for an interview at 6pm that evening.

On arrival, I was surprised to find that the process was in fact a group interview, with approx. 25 other candidates there for the same purpose. After we were lead to the bar area, we were all informed that we would be having a “get to know each other” session, a maths test, and then individual interviews. The Hippodrome staff informed the group that the whole process should take “just over an hour”. Upon speaking to the other candidates present, I learned that they were just as surprised about this as I was – we had all turned up expecting a (standard) individual interview.

To secure any job, employees should of course be prepared to be put through their paces in these types of situations, but some pre-warning would have been courteous, if not necessary, to help us prepare. At no stage in my correspondence with The Hippodrome was I lead to believe it would entail a group session / maths test.

My real issue though comes with what happened next. After the introductory period and maths test, the time was 7.15pm (already 75 mins into the evening). We were then informed that the staff would exit to mark the maths tests, and then the individual interviews would commence on a one-by-one basis. At this point there was some concern between candidates at the length of time involved with this process.

We sat in the lobby/bar area whilst candidates were called one at a time by the Hippodrome staff. Obviously the staff are obliged to conduct interviews at their own pace, but meanwhile this left the remaining candidates sat waiting and, in the knowledge that there were 25 candidates to get though, the time was becoming a real worry. Some of the people around me were missing appointments, their dinner, surpassing their car parking allowance, and even worse – missing their buses and trains home. One girl even left in quite a frustrated state. Some people around me had travelled considerable lengths to this interview (from across the country) and were very anxious about getting back home at all, some started asking for nearby hotels (obviously at great expense to them).

It was eventually 9pm that I was called for my interview, and I left the Hippodrome at 9.20pm after this had finished.

I was, at the time, angry to have been held at the venue for so long without prior warning – and I know I was not alone. If it had been explained beforehand that the interview could reach 9pm (or later), then the candidates could have made alternative travel/dinner/parking/evening plans. When I was called for interview at 9pm, there were still 9-10 candidates in the waiting area, so I can only assume that they were kept at the Hippodrome until even later on that night (10pm or later at the rate of interviews).

At no point during the whole evening was there any reference by the Hippodrome staff that we had all been in the building for so long, and unexpectedly so.

I really think there needs to be some kind of review of this interview process as this is a really inconsiderate way of treating potential future staff. Considering I was informed that the interview was at 6pm, I certainly did not to expect to arrive home three-and-a-half hours later. It was only a desire to work for the company that kept the candidates in the building for so long without warning, and I think this treatment by the Hippodrome really took advantage of the candidates’ need for work and interest in the Hippodrome.

I would never, ever apply for a job with Ambassador Theatre Company again.

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