Autumn leaves and interviews – first published 25 October 2013

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October 2013, a little over a year after I thought my days of preparing for interviews were over, there I was again putting on my best black jacket, polishing the skechers (yes, even for interviews I wear sketchers, but smart black ones) and feeling a little nervous. The agency had recommended me for a job but the job spec was fairly nonspecific. All I could really gather was that it would involve a lot of data entry (oh wonderful!) and spreasheets (there is no getting away from spreadsheets). The main thing was it was for another cruise company, and a very big one this time…

25 October 2013

Even if it hadn’t been raining I’d have got the bus today because it never looks good to turn up at an interview all hot and flustered. Of course, the one morning I wanted the bus to turn up on time it didn’t and I had a little bit of feeling panicked about being late before one finally sailed down the hill. Originally I’d planned to treat myself to a skinny latte in Costa before the interview, a proper sit down one, but with the bus being late, I gave it a miss and set off towards the office which is a fairly prominent building, almost on the waterfront.

Taking a shortcut was probably not my best ever idea but, in fairness, I was very early despite the bus debacle. When I saw a narrow footpath between buildings that seemed to be leading in the right direction and would cut quite a chunk off my walk I couldn’t really resist, even though I knew it might not turn out well. At the end of the footpath I found myself on a very busy intersection, having lost my bearings a little. Being rush hour there was a steady stream of traffic and it took me quite some time to cross, first to the central island, then the second side of the road. Almost straight away there was another road to cross and this was, if anything, even busier but I wasn’t too worried as I still had plenty of time and I knew I was pretty close to the building where my interview was being held.

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It was only when I finally reached the other side and stopped to take stock of exactly where I was and where I had to go that I realsied my mistake. What I had actually done was get so caught up in the whole road crossing thing that I totally failed to notice I had been standing outside the back of the cruise company offices when I crossed the first road. Doh! Still, if I do get the job, I have found a very useful short cut that gets me there even quicker than I’d expected. If…

The offices seemed nice, what I saw of them and there is a big canteen in the atrium that probably has a coffee machine, not that that is the only thing I worry about you understand. The people who interviewed me seemd nice and welcoming and I feel like I gave a fairly good account of myself. The one stumbling block, it turns out the job is about organising the ‘oily end of things’ as my interviewer put it, rather than all the pretty, carpets and cushions side of ship refurbishment and maintenance. He seemed to think that might not be my kind of thing and I did my best to assure him organising was my thing no matter what it was I was organising.

Whenever you have an interview the first thing anyone asks is, “How did it go?” Coincidentally this is always the very thing you are wondering yourself. Selling myself as a prospective employee and telling people how wonderful I am has never come naturally to me, it always feels a bit like boasting. Humility is a trait I value in others and try hard to have myself but it isn’t much use in an interview situation which means the whole thing never really sits comfortably with me. Typically, as soon as I was out of the building, I thought of lots of wonderful things to say and many better answers to all the things they’d asked me. Isn’t that always the way? Still, what’s done is done and I shall just have to wait and see what transipres. At least they said they’d let me know on Monday or Tuesday so there won’t be weeks and weeks of waiting to hear wondering if I’ve been consigned to the ‘no’ pile.

So now all I have to do is wait and remind myself that some of my worst interview nightmares have actually turned into jobs despite what I may have felt as I walked away from them. As I may have mentioned before, I made a terrible hash of working out a payment plan during the horrible role play part of the Mad House interview. Worst still, I realised as soon as I’d done it and so did the interviewer but there was nothing for it but to carry on as if it hadn’t happened. Leaving the building I was convinced I’d blown it.

Another memorable interview gaffe happened when I went for the Dream Factory job. Near the end of the interview I was given some information and a dummy customer complaint and asked to type a reply. The letter I came up with was not the best I’ve ever written and, as I handed it over to Pam, the woman who was interviewing me, I was pretty convinced it was the worst. The real palm slapping forehead moment came as I walked down the street away from the office though. It suddenly occured to me that I hadn’t spellchecked the letter. By some miracle I’d either written a perfectly spelled letter with not even a typing error or Pam hadn’t noticed. Whichever it was I ended up getting the job.

Today there were no major mess ups but I still walked away with the feeling that it hadn’t gone all that well, as you do. On the way to my first, post Lanzarote, day at work I did stop off to get myself a take away skinny latte as a reward for getting through the ordeal. You knew I was going to all along didn’t you? I also strolled slowly through town and the parks, probably trying to put off the enevitable going back to an office full of depressed, soon to be redundant, people.
The red maples in Above Bar look stunning, even with a brooding sky behind them and the enchanted park may be more or less devoid of flowers but the scattered leaves on the grass and paths are doing a pretty good job of making up for it. The grass was awash with splashes of gold and red and, of course, I had to stoop down to take a few photos.

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Sometimes I feel a little self conscious taking photos in such a public place. People walk past and I’m sure they’re looking at me wondering what on earth I’m up to. Mind you it doesn’t stop me doing it, I may have mentioned that I have no shame before. So there I was, crouched on the path, hanging over a low railing with my phone outstretched trying to get a picture of the leaves from a squirrels eye persepctive. Probably not the prettiest sight with my bum sticking up in the air but needs must. When I straightened up a man passing by said, “I know exactly what youre doing.” For a moment I wondered what he meant. Did he think I was up to no good and, if so, what? “My girlfriend hates that I’m always stopping to take photos but I just can’t help myself. This time of year is amazing.” There you are then, I’m not alone.

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Further on I was vindicated again when I saw a young woman crouched amongst the leaves with a rather flashy looking camera. Not wishing to catch her in the act or put her off I waited until she’d finished before I took my own photo of the dark red leaves of the maple she was crouched beneath. Just to show her I was taking a picture of the tree and not her I did a bit more crouching myself. Each leaf is a unique work of art the parks like some massive art installation far better than anything you see at the Tate Modern. Who needs an unmade, messy bed or a pile of bricks?

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Then it was back to the office to tackle the email mountain. Actually there wasn’t much of a mountain at all, emails were pretty thin on the ground. This is a sign of the times, so many of the things I should be doing now can’t be done because of the redundancy. I spent most of the day working on handover notes which is fairly soul destroying. There was a fair bit of coffee making and looking out the window at the progress on the demolition below. They’ve made quite some progress in the last week or so. At this rate the building will be gone before we are.

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Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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