A long long time ago a friend of mine went into the Army recruiting office in Inverness and inquired about joining the Queen's Own Highlanders as an officer. He'd a few Highers under his belt and felt he could serve Queen and Country best as an officer.
The Colonel Blimp character who was wheeled out to chat with him suggested that he lacked “life experience” and perhaps he might be better to come back when he'd served a couple of years with the police in Hong Kong. It sounded like fair comment. But then my friend learned that two private schoolboys from Ampleforth in Yorkshire had just been taken on as officers. He couldn't help feeling that the Sixth Form Dorm at Ampleforth hardly compared with the slums of Kowloon when it came to teaching life lessons. One would almost think that kids from comprehensive schools were not welcome to be officers. There may be a case for saying that a kid from pretty much the same background as the rank-and-file Jocks might prove a liability, especially when it came to ordering men to almost certain death. But I think I'd rather base my confidence in an officer on him knowing what he was doing, rather than his parents being able to afford to have him privately educated.
Of course, it's not just the Army that had some odd ideas when it comes to recruiting people. Another friend of mine went for an interview with the Scottish Office. This was in the days before the creation of the Scottish Parliament, when Scotland was still ruled by a colonial administration split between London and Edinburgh. In the latter days of Thatcher Rule there were not enough elected Tories in Scotland to hold all the ministerial posts available in administration. Anyway, my friend was shocked to be asked at the interview who she would invite to a dinner party. She'd had never been to a dinner party in his life and felt the interviewers might as well have asked what he felt were the qualities required of a good fox hunting horse. She didn't get the job. Although one of the key qualifications was a sound knowledge of Scotland the job went to an English woman who'd been in the country three weeks. Her hobby was hosting dinner parties. And although she'd been told not to discuss her interview she blabbed to all the other candidates about the dinner party question. The interviewers knew she'd ignored the instruction, my friend somehow managed to let that slip to them, but that didn't prevent them appointing her.
There are days when I'm very glad I live in Canada.