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Failing site

Things haven't changed much for candidates since the 1970s with regards to engineers' site experience.

My county surveyor believed you had to have a structure project and six months on site.

But my little bridge design could be built in less than that, so I fudged the timescale in the account of my experience, avoided saying that the budget didn't run to site huts and hoped for the best.

My interviewers were thrilled that I'd had full control, subject to a daily drive-by on the part of the county bridge engineer. I admitted to making daft mistakes, like ordering 'dense bit - deferred set' and not realising that a 50t crane couldn't work under 400V overhead wires, but the interviewers clearly took the view that He Won't Do That Again! I passed.

A colleague failed on the site experience criterion and spent much time trying to get onto another construction job. But one day his friends pointed out that (as now) the rejection letter said 'failed to learn sufficiently from your site experience'. So he had another go and was successful, having thought up a whole string of lessons that he might have learned.

Chris May (M) Woodbine Farm, High Street, Chew Magna, Bristol

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