5: The Job Interview

Having been working for a Warehousing Company for over thirty years the thought of having to move on isn’t all that an inviting prospect.

There was, however, recently, a bloke I worked with who seemed to relish the prospect of moving Company to Company and increasing not only his skills base (buzz words) but his salary. I have to admit I’ve done a variety of jobs over the thirty odd years with the Company and this has been central to my not needing to move on. I’ve handled Stock Control, Publicity Material, Buying of Motor Vehicle parts, then Buying of Print & Stationery, Database Maintenance, Key Performance Indicators…I could go on, (and Frequently do). But to do what he does, from Company to Company every couple of years isn’t my thing.

However, the need to move on has become pressing of late and so job applications have been flying off my work PC at a hell of a rate.. one, two, three or more every six months, my productivity knows no bounds.

During this period all sorts of ideas came to the fore from my employer. One was a Networking Course. This was something I was sceptical about. The idea of using friends and family to tout for job opportunities didn’t appeal, it seemed like an abuse of friendship. Besides, constant mutterings of ‘Give us a job, I can do that,’ would, after a while, strain the friendship, and constant enquiries about whether they had heard of any jobs, or were there jobs coming up would really niggle!

Of course, when I went on the actual Course with Miss Penguin, who is also seeking a job elsewhere, we found the Networking idea wasn’t as bad as we thought; although getting to the course was!

It was in London and started at 9.30am. Miss Penguin who quickly grasped the nettle of organising passage, suggested we get a train at about 7.05am, which would mean getting up around 6am.

“There is no such time!” I exclaimed; I’m not much of an early riser, you see.

Miss Penguin was unmoved. She just gave me a frown. Miss Penguin is good with frowns, they can convey a lot. There’s the stop being stupid frown. You’re going to get a clout frown. Stop talking like a prat frown. The latter being the frown she was currently giving. Besides, she knew she was right and therefore would truck no objections from me…

“It’s the only way to get there on time,” Miss Penguin insisted.

Of course, I gave in, even tried to pretend I was only joking. I’m unsure whether Miss Penguin was so easily fooled, she never has been in the past despite my best efforts. I think Miss Penguin asked me a couple of times over the next few weeks whether I could make it in time for that particular train; I suppose the prospect of being stuck on a dark, cold station so early on a Monday morning didn’t appeal. So much so that even my company was acceptable.

Well, it’s so easy to agree to anything when it’s so far away, and it was a couple of weeks away, so I told Miss Penguin it definitely wouldn’t be a problem.

Despite my doubts, I set my alarm to 6am – surprised such a numeric existed on my alarm clock and got to sleep just after 11.30pm.

I got up the next morning at about 6.10am, it would have been earlier but I wasted my time arguing with the alarm clock about whether it might be mistaken about this being the correct time to get up. I lost.

Once at the station (and on time) I met Miss Penguin and we had time to get coffee. Which was nice as it was cold and it kept the old digits warm while we waited on the station platform, that dark and chilly morn.

The train arrives, leaves and we get to the course about fifteen minutes late.

Ah, the joys of public transport, now owned by the private sector who are more efficient at making it inefficient!

One thing distracted me straight away was the course tutor. He looked and sounded rather like Norris from Coronation Street. It took me a little less than twenty minutes to get that out of my head. Be fair, it’s one hell of a distraction but he knew his subject.

Networking is about chatting to people a lot (I can do that) and through them, particularly at work they get to know you and your circumstances and are often able to give you job leads without going on and on at them…Hm, ok. Loved the chatting bit. The art, so I was told, was not to go all out with asking for a job or job lead, cultivate them and really become friends first with as many people as possible, particularly in other firms. Not being the most social of people – it’s my shy nature, you see – I didn’t feel too at home with that last bit. But I could see where it was all going.

It’s not long after this, through a contact Miss Penguin and I made (Mrs Rusharound) that I managed to get myself seconded to a Project. We talked to Mrs Rusharound for quite a few weeks until the project came into being on and she suggested I go on it with her. Miss Penguin, by this time, was unavailable as she was on her own project for another part of the Company.

I wasn’t sure I really wanted to do it but I felt the experience would do me good; something new. I think it basically came down to the fact I didn’t have any good reasons not to do it. Besides, it was just a step into the unknown which was really putting me off!

I decide to give it a go and got the blessing of my boss.

Oddly enough, despite the several telephone calls, the e-mails and many promises to meet up for coffee, I didn’t get to meet Mrs Rusharound until the day we began the journey out of Swindon to the Workshop. On one of the conference calls, which was my only involvement in the project until then, I did meet Mr Motorcross, but not Mrs Rusharound. It was suggested I speak to Mr Motorcross as he and Mrs Rusharound would be driving up together, so there was room for one more.

Over the next eight weeks get to know those two better and it was Mrs Rusharound who pointed out the possible vacancies in a department who were linked to our current project and for me to look out for them.

So look out I did. But they were well hidden on the Company job site and basically the result of a job review. This meant they were initially going to be dealing with the people either in post or who worked for that part of the business. In other words outsiders – which meant me – need not apply.

But apply I did (devil that I am) and it was pointed out again during the application process it was unlikely I’d be selected unless I was one of them. I don’t think I’ve ever been ‘one of them’. I’ve been one of us…

But I applied using the lottery principle. If I didn’t apply then the answer would be no. If I did, it might be the remotest chance, million to one, say, that I’d get an interview…hey ho!

Now here’s the thing. On 30th June I got a text asking me to check my e-mails because I was to be invited to an interview. Although I’d applied for the 9 jobs available at the Company, I wasn’t expecting a response as several other applications elsewhere have gone the same way.

What pleased me all the more once I’d booked my interview was there was no mention of the assessment prior to the interview, the bit of the recruiting process I really hated. So, for some reason I’d got out of that part.

Yahoo!

So a couple of pints in the evening with Neatentidy ensued and I told him about the interview and I’d got away without having to do the test!

The next morning at work I’ve another e-mail from the Company. Could I log on to a site a prepared for the assessment part of the recruitment process!

Chin hits deck!!!

I remembered yesterday’s smugness and felt rather silly. Of course I wouldn’t get away without the assessment/test. I’ve never got away with anything. I had until the 7th July to complete it; two days before my interview.

Fortunately, I was able to work it so I got to do a couple of practise tests along the lines of the one I’d have to do for real. Seeing what I had to do didn’t make me feel any better, in fact it made me feel quite depressed – a “I didn’t want the job anyhow” mood. (As you may tell, I’m not easily discouraged.)

After the test, test, so to speak, especially the verbal reasoning where I got 77% I felt a little better. Not so the numeric reasoning. 30%; not good (and a wonky calculator didn’t help). I did get a second bite at both, on the latter with a calculator that worked (and yes, calculators were permitted). Verbal reasoning this time was 81% and Numeric Reasoning 51%. An improvement. But I couldn’t find anything on the checking test. What the hell did that involve?

By Wednesday I knew the office would be empty so I got on with the tests, feeling a lot better than I had but still dreading it.

Yes, I know I’m dumb but being forced to prove it to people…well, it’s a bit much, isn’t it.

With the test over I started working on the interview which was down as being a Competency Based Interview. I studied the questions involved, linked them to life experiences and then tried to drum it into my nut for regurgitation at the appropriate moment…

Some people tell me I lack confidence. Well, here’s the thing, you always seemed to be knocked down when you reach a state of high Confidence! You feel so good and consider nothing can possibly go wrong so when you’re smacked down it’s more painful to deal with! (Fitrambler, Chapter 1, point 3.)

And as if to prove the point…I got someone to fire some of the Competency Based questions at me, feeling Confident about my studying and frozen on the first three, needing to be prompted to give something that vaguely resembled the answer. My confidence destroyed!

QED?

So I went away, thinking I’d work really hard in the evening on the questions, with thoughts of “did I really want the job” and “is it the end of the world if I fail”…etc.

By the next day I felt better but was determined not to travel to the Confidence Zone. (Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, or something like that, however the Twilight Zone tune goes!) The freezing on the questions still niggled but what could I do?

I carried on working through the questions throughout Friday. I didn’t ride the bike. It was a particularly hot day and I was hot enough as it was without riding into work, by then wearing what would have been a sodden mess of clothes.

Anyway, time ticked away and for some reason I couldn’t get the High Noon soundtrack out of my head. A final check at quarter past one, suited up, tie, even proper shoes – now there’s a novelty – all in place; after all it’d be pretty silly to wear the shoes as gloves… (It’s ok, I didn’t laugh at that one at the time, either.)

Come the time, I was summoned to the top floor. I was feeling rather hot after a couple of flights of stairs. Not the weather for suit and tie, really.

Once there, Topman, whom I’ve met before, greeted me and then said: “Ah, take that jacket off!”

I frowned, slightly, a little unsure, after all this wasn’t the interview I’d studied for. Then came: “And the tie!”

Now I was really getting worried. Well, you hear rumours about how people get their jobs and I was a little wary about what I was going to be asked to do to get this one. I’m mean, I like to think I’m broad-minded but…

“That’s better,” he said, “you were beginning to make me feel even hotter than I am. Fair play, we can cut the formalities on a day like today.”

I relaxed again, but only for a short time.

“We’ll have to wait a few minutes because the room’s being used and your assessor is on a conference call with his boss!”

Assessor? Assessor? I did the test Wednesday? What was going on? I hadn’t prepared for an assessment. What type would it be?

Oh hell! Well, “did I really want this job?”

Anyway, as it turned out it was just a matter of semantics. It was an interview in the manner I was expecting. There would be one other in the interview besides Topman, and that was Otherjob.

It was explained to me there would be four competency based questions by Otherjob and then Topman would be asking me a few afterwards.

The first question came, there was only a fraction of a second’s hesitation from me and I launched into my answer. I didn’t exactly go by the script I’d written and studied, the questions seeming to have more depth. However I was pleased the answers I gave not only to that one but second and third were even better, more structured answers than I’d rehearsed. I felt a little less happy with the fourth but there were supplementary questions by Topman, a prompt or two on that fourth question, which seemed to knowing help me with my answer, which was somewhat unexpected.

Then afterwards, Topman asked me about my Microsoft Office skills. I felt when I was honest about not having used PowerPoint for about 5 years and would probably need to refresh myself, that he wanted me to say I was okay with it. I stuck to honesty but told him I was – which is true – working my way through on a “Step By Step Guide to Microsoft Office 2003”. If PowerPoint was important I was sure it wouldn’t take me long to learn it. (No, it wouldn’t honest, I can be quite dogged when I want to be!)

I also mentioned I’d worked with the old version of Visio and had a newer version on my computer, which I’d done family trees and charted processes on. Done some work on WYSIWYG software for both Apple Mac and PC operating systems. That also went down well. (old Fitrambler was in his stride now!)

Once it was all over I felt I’d given an extremely good account of myself to both Topman and Otherjob. But of course, only time will tell…

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74 comments on “5: The Job Interview

  1. I think the driving will be more than enough to contend with, let alone The Fal. Besides, such a pastoral outing requires Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending.

  2. Why not bring along the latest Fall CD; we could sing along in the car on the way back. I’ll check the bus times for Tuesday morning-aahhh.

  3. Blameworthy, you left a loophole in your list of things we should not do in the pubs of Aldbourne. Mark E Smith impersonations are allowed. Yes-ah!

  4. I would like to request of Mrs. Gowithit that she resist the temptation to make any comments linking the Hereford Beer Festival with ornothological twitching and what lovely sunny weather we’ve been having lately. The Carry On style jokes are best left to me. It does not become you to sink so low.

  5. Beware Mrs. Gowithit. This is only a taste of what you may have to put up with on Monday. Pull out now while there’s still time.

  6. If a homophobic deaf bloke loudly speechifies in the forest, surrounded only by other deaf blokes, does he make a sound? Is there a word for discrimination against homophobic deaf blokes?

  7. We haven’t yet. That was just in case you were thinking about starting. They get a more sensitive and refined sort of customer in these rural hostelries. They’ll have little patience with the likes of us. Do you think we ought to go to the Duke of Wellington instead, where we can shout to our hearts content without fear of retribution.

  8. A Different Deaf Bloke writes:
    Just because the Deaf Bloke is a homophobe, we do not all share his views. We would never have heard then – have still not done, really – had he not put them into print.

  9. The Deaf Bloke writes:
    I quite like the sound of loud homophobic speechifying. Or I would if I could hear it. Perhaps if it is loud enough, I will hear it. But not if it happens in a forest where nobody hears even the fall of a tree.

  10. Apparently the choice of where to go is being left to me. I thought we could head out in the direction of Aldbourne, but you never know, I may take it into my head to suggest somewhere a little more adventurous as the evening wears on. We have to be on our best behaviour mind. Mrs. Gowithit is more than capable of getting in a strop and dumping us somewhere out there over the county border, leaving us to wait for the first bus back in the morning. So no senseless shouting, lewd comments, farting and belching or throwing up. And definitely no cider. Or anti-religious ranting, racist bigotry and criticism of foreign holiday destinations; cruelty to dogs, small animals and particularly small brownish birds. No slagging off Lord of the Rings and saying it’s not even worth reading it once, let alone every year. No extreme right-wing hysterical union bashing or unnecessarily loud homophobic speechyfying. Look, just drink your beer and keep quiet, alright. Don’t go getting us into trouble or we’ll never get anyone to take us anywhere ever again.

  11. Since there do not seem to be any ravines, 200ft scree slopes, cliffs, or other non man made hazards – I’ve checked the map -Wanborough and Aldbourne sound ideal destinations for a jaunt, even in a Mercury Scenic (puts on Jeremy Clarkson voice) whatever that is.

  12. It’s a promise. Have I not always been on my best behaviour in your car though?

  13. Stay off the Cider and Perry and you should be alright, that does seem to be the down fall.

  14. You brought it up!

    I would never have said anything because I am a gentleman. No need to apologise though, it was probably my fault. Let’s just put the whole thing to bed now and say no more about it.

  15. I don’t remember having puked in about 25 years and I don’t intend to start again now. Or am I tempting fate by saying that?

  16. Although it is 20 years to late, can I say I am really sorry for being ill in your car all those years ago. I promise I will not do it again.

  17. Can I ask that on Monday that I have warning and able to get the bucket and towel before my dashboard is re-decorated as the car is only 2 years old and too young for such behaviour.

  18. I’m usually OK unless my passenger suggests a change of direction at short notice. Like just coming up to a roundabout. Or throws up all over my dashboard. They ought to add that one into the driving test to see how the provisional driver reacts. The correct response is an emergency stop and the appearance of a bucket and towel from out of nowhere. Like a rabbit out of a hat… or somewhere.

  19. Most of the time I have no memory of your driving, as you are not able to drink I always seem to drink you share as well as mine.

  20. Yes there was a night at Rudis in the 1980’s no my mistake I wasn’t that well that night either. No can’t remember a time when I have not drunk to much with you.

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