Matt Canty's Writing Place

First Month in London / Job Interview Tips

September 05, 2011

Thought I’d better get this down in blog town, as its been a tad fun.

Saturday day and night was an epic leaving do with everyone who needed to be there. Including Mr Andrew Paylor making an unexpected appearance. We ate a lot of BBQ food and drank a lot – I’m still supping my bottle of Drambuie. Have a look at the album on my Facebook if you can. Otherwise here is a few good ones.

PHOTO Banging Bangers

PHOTO Jack, Tom, Claire, Christina, Harrydog, Kerri, Chris & Paylor

PHOTO Golden Lion with Lucy, Mum, Claire, Harrydog, Paylor, Nick, Christina, Chris, Me & Tom.

Yeah it was a class night, well and proper steaming. Sunday held very little as I packed on the Saturday. Monday had coffee with Kerri and Paylor, followed by a pint in The Borough – Golden Lion was closed… Then I headed for the train and the off. First class all the way, out of the clouds and towards sunny London.

Waited around 20 minutes in Euston for Jane, I knew where I was going but there was something momentous about the occasion. It seems strange that Lancaster will now only be a place I visit for a fortnight tops – lookout Christmas. But 23 years is a long time – I’d make a cracking taxi driver.

Jane bought me some bacon to make me feel at home and it was probably a very happy occasion but I can’t remember any details now. We’re living in a house just off Brixton Hill in the top bedroom. Our fellow residents are Caroline (her house) and her daughter Maisie. Everyone is a musician here so there is a lot in common.

Coming soon in this post, getting a job, doing stuff and being lazy!

Getting a Job – my guide based on my experience

Heck, this is a process I’d rather not repeat, although think I may have found it easier than many. It seems like an endless struggle, and there is never a feeling that you can relax during the week – I tended to switch off at the weekends. I’m going to list the things I think helped me throughout finding a job.

  • Be yourself, simple and annoying but obvious and essential. I found this is something I am all the time, so in preparation I would make sure that I was myself – that’s really easy, you can use a mirror, camera or ask a close friend; or just look down. You may be a nervous wreck, but “shit son you can program all that off the top of your head!?” – not an example of me. If you find you are not yourself, then this guide may not be for you – try this.
  • No lies, and careful with exaggerations. Interviewer: “You say you have made a ‘few’ mobile apps”, “Yes, I have.”, “How many is a few?”, “Err… Two.” They pick up on everything, and have every right to. Feel free to say “I’m sorry but I haven’t had time to look at your website, but I’m aware from over the phone you produce Content Management Systems and various web tools and products…”.
  • Read your interviewer. This will help ask questions, and will look like you are engaging with them more. Also just check what you think of them as people: Are they nice, do they know what they are talking about, do you feel like you are wasting their time, is the office nice? If there is silence for a while I would mention a project that they have not yet picked up on from my CV, or mention you have interests.
  • Dress smart, well smart. I had a red tie on for all interviews, I think that probably helped.
  • Do as many interviews as possible – accept all.
  • If you have an offer on the table, feel free to press for speed. I received an offer on a Tuesday Afternoon, I asked for a day to think. Wednesday morning I had another interview and after it I asked “when will I know?” They said by tomorrow, and I asked “is it possible a decision can be made sooner?” They said we’ll try our best then, an hour later I had the job. I think in this instance, having an offer in the bank elevated my position and gave me good reason to request speed from the company, it also undoubtedly projected a strong and keen attraction to the job in question when I pressed them!

That was interview technique. Now for hunting/choosing/you.

  • Go to relevant recruitment sites. The job I acquired came through Hyperion Gaming. There are many others, just check you”re in the right sector. Sign on to them all, make applications for everything you think could be relevant. If it is a job straight out of uni, affix words like Junior, Entry Level, Graduate – you’re unlikely to go any higher if you have no relevant work experience. Once you have done this you may find your phone rings every few hours depending on how well your CV is received, don’t sucker for recruitments asking you if you’re interested in a different sector to what you want – say “no” for example.
  • When it comes to chose, have a think. Commuting costs and time, I nearly ended up with a £4k yearly commute, which would have probably made me quite depressed. So if you are getting at interviews and are offered a job, can you deal with the commute now you have been for the interview and tried it? Is it too long/expensive and do you like the place. If there are any no’s it will seem ridiculous but you can turn the offer down. More interviews will come and you can take that confidence that you were offered a job with you – even use it as a talking point in the future.
  • The YOU bit. Degree is not really enough which is a shame. We all knew that though. But also you can get experience on your own. Alongside uni clubs, societies and awards, there is working at home and engaging with the subject you enjoy – even alone. The first section of my CV was all information regarding projects I had undertaken and taught myself at home, I included this with all cover letters and utilised it in interviews. I joined no clubs, societies and have no awards other than my degree. This extra work undoubtedly got me more interviews and ultimately a job.
  • I went to some really interesting places, some far away, and some in the financial centre of London. I can’t go about naming names in this blog, but it’s fair to say I think I’m going to be happy in the job I have accepted. Also be prepared to be stung. One interview reeled off a list of computer jargon to which I knew little about, they then informed me of how little my degree is worth, how ludicrously high my salary request was (£19k) and that based on my experience no one in central London would want me to work for them. Needless to say I didn’t like them much, I didn’t like the location or the office, when they said “Thank you, we’ll be in touch” I should have said “No need, please don’t waste your precious time” – They never got in touch. Don’t let this phase you, it’s just an anecdote after it happens.
  • So that is my guide, I don’t think I did anything outside what I have written. Just remember to be punctual, ring recruiters back all the time and answer every call. I had a great recruiter who initially rang me, I could ring with any questions about the company I now have a job with, and be able to speak in a less formal way so he could then contact them in the appropriate manner.

Stuff I Done and That / Lazyness

Well I have done some stuff and that. Been to many shows: Batman Live, Napoletango, Billy Elliot, Rock of Ages, BBC Proms at The Albert Hall, The Inbetweeners at The Ritzy in Brixton, Brixton Splash, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and tonight going to see The Kitchen in the National Theatre – may have missed some. Been to the British Museum, Transport Museum, Tate Modern, Science Museum, National Portrait Gallery, South Bank, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Press Photographer Exhibition 2011, Hampstead Heath, The Gherkin, Canary Wharf, Royal Observatory Greenwich and Spitalfield’s Market (not open Saturdays).


Yeah so I don’t want to bore with all that in detail, and I’m sure there is more. Jane and I have found some fine places to dine in Brixton and in the centre. So when someone visits we can show the best places. Shortly I’m going to catch the 159 from Brixton which crosses the river at the Houses of Parliament and turns up towards Trafalgar Square to meet her for lunch at a good food place we like near Covent Garden – vegan but good.

I don’t start work till the 21st September, so I have had quite a bit of time to experience having nothing to do whilst not looking for a job – you cannot enjoy fully any free time when job hunting. I have found all the side streets of Brixton and spent sunny days in Brockwell park over looking London. It seems to be sunny hot here all the time. New cooking skills include hummus and a strange potato tortilla thing. Also it looks like I have started blogging, in fact this blog is being written in this lazy time between breakfast and lunch where there is next to sod all happening.

A good old friend from university has also left his sunny home of Madrid to live here so its great to see him again. Been to the science museum and took him to the Rock of Ages musical – did I mention its CLASS!


I’m sure many other things have happened, I’ve been to the pub a few times for example and visited Spann down in South Wimbledon. But I can’t be bothered getting it all chronological or being accurate. Its pretty fun here – come and visit soon.

Coming soon – My Desert Island Discs and The National Archives

I am Matt Canty, an engineer of varying titles who helps tech companies run reliable and fault-tolerant software platforms. Just send me an email:

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