Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Interview issues

In early 1998, I went for my second interview with [insert company name] for their IT department's Graduate Development Programme. I had already passed the assessment day where we did a series of aptitute tests and team games.

I didn't know Southampton very well, and found myself in the car park of a retail development, just to the rear of [insert company name]'s imposing building. It was a drizzly day and I hadn't brought an umbrella or raincoat. I was wearing a pinstripe trouser suit. (I think someone we know might even have that jacket now... )

As I opened my car door to commence the walk up the steps at the side of the building to the front, the heavens opened. It absolutely hammered down. In the time it took me to make that short walk, I was soaked to the skin to the extent that my clothes felt uncomfortably heavy. Luckily, being stiflingly reliable (as I was then), I had arrived with plenty of time to spare, so I entered the building and asked at reception if I could use the toilets. There was a warm air hand-dryer, of which I availed myself to dry my sopping hair. But there wasn't a great deal I could do about my clothes. I just had to sit there in the interview and hope that they didn't notice, whilst I shivered away in my soaking garments. A wet patch on the chair might have given the wrong impression...

I never found out if they did notice, but it didn't seem to matter. I got the job.

I've had a number of interviews recently where I've turned up bone dry and have been consistently rejected.

So, I'm thinking that turning up to an interview with an "issue", might be the way forward - for me, at least.

Yesterday's "issue" was (forgive me for the frank portrayal, but there aren't many ways of putting this) a headful of snot. Yes, my annual pre-Christmas cold arrived on Monday, heralded by my waking up with a sore throat and struggling through the day with an increasing amount of liquid exuding from my nostrils. By Tuesday, the liquid was... well, less liquid and seemed to be filling my whole head and clouding my already addled brain. Addled, that is, by the fact that:
  1. I had to go and pick up a hire car after not having driven for over 3 months
  2. I had to go to an interview at 4.30pm, leaving plenty of time during both the morning and afternoon to work myself up into a veritable fricassée of nerves with a healthy drizzle of worry on top

So, not the ideal circumstances for an interview. However, it was the best interview I've had in a long time. Rather than a box-ticking affair (Does candidate mention the following buzzwords: "proactive", "comfort zone", "window of opportunity"? Has candidate used Shite-cro-soft Access regardless of the fact that they've been developing databases for nearly 6 years?), it was a conversation. She asked me how I'd got where I was today and I just told her my story. Okay, I left out the bit about "I want to do something worthwhile, in the not-for-profit sector"... but hey... I didn't struggle with any questions, my mind didn't go blank, I just talked naturally. Ultimately, I think I did myself justice. I was given the impression (though not officially) that I'd been successful in getting through to the next stage. And there's the sticking point. Yesterday's interview was with a recruitment consultant employed by the company to carry out the shortlisting. So if I'm successful, I'll have another interview to look forward to... and I'll have to hope that another "issue" comes my way!

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