Thursday, February 02, 2006

Interview Experiences: Right On Target

How was today a perfect contrast to yesterday? I got a job! A great job! Things were right on target.

I woke up at seven o clock sharp and had my clothes ironed and hanging on the door like an inviting extra layer of skin. There was a little frazzle dazzle as I matched colors and made sure my tie was straight, but that's the fun of it all. Got to school and handed in an assignment feature story about a trainer who teaches first aid and coordinates volunteers for the Canadian Red Cross an organization that's important during emergencies and calm periods, internationally.

The lecture was about management types, and we got our assignments back about resolving conflict. As a facilitator you must get to the root of problems by dealing with feelings and issues, not people, so that you can deal with them before they fester. Yay! A good mark. No problems there, although the case study did make me a little nervous. It can be difficult eradicating bickering within the workplace.

Our teacher talked about the merit of 360 degree feedback, that when organizations want to learn how each position can perform most effectively, they have to ask everyone who is affected by their position from the janitor right through to the CEO. She pointed out though, that this is costly and time-consuming for organizations to actually do. Ideally, they would also need to ask the customer.

I deked out of class early to print off some last minute things for my second interview that was itself scheduled last minute. I had already composed and selected and hummed and hawed about the portfolio for the first interview. I primped and primed it with colour ink from my favorite new printer, and a CD to throw into the kit. I had prepared this all for the first interview that I was about to have, but not for the second, which came later in the afternoon. So I rushed off to the first interview and got there with a comfortable cushion of time before it started.

I arrived in just enough time to marvel at the building I would have the possible opportunity of working in for six weeks! My interviewer was in another interview, so I took the liberty to hang my coat and take a little tour up the steps that wound around the building. My shoes were noisy on the wood steps, so I treaded cautiously and sneaked around, even though I was within earshot of the interview, which I could hear going on over the partial windows in the centre conference room.

It was a glorious sight, the building! Ceilings high and arching, skylights, Italian architecture, historic museum relics everywhere, multi-levels of glass offices equiped with the finest of technology, furnished with a cork floor. The building is a historic site, protected and preserved by our city. It used to be a gin distillery. There were displays of coopers tools, hand-crafted barrels, and brass distillers from the early 20th C.

Once I got in the interview, I was kindly offered tea or coffee. I don't remember how it happened, but I followed my interviewer into the kitchen. It seemed like the right thing to do, although these things are often ambiguous to me. Connotations of "professionalism" sometimes seem like they are anyone's guess. I took tea and we chatted lightly before getting down to the meat and potatoes. (No, it wasn't a potluck) Then upon leaving the kitchen I got myself flustered and felt the need to get rid of my spoon. There was a bit of a dance that I did with another employee at the sink, not sure how to insert myself spatially, then he put his hands up in the "I surrender the sink" gesture, and I shot my spoon into the sink. Once I was out of the kitchen, I no longer felt like the outside intruder.

I forgot to bring my resume with me, doh! so my interviewer had to fetch it upstairs and I felt like a silly man. She came back in record time beginning with a question about my background. After the initial question or two, we fell away from the script and she informed me of the many interesting projects and functions of the organization, events they throw, issues they cover, giving me ideas as to how I could contribute. It had to be one of my best interviews. She had a lot to say, which for me is good. I like lots of info. The interview was relaxed but motivating, professional but quite delightful and not nerve-wracking at all.

After I left, I still felt good about it, but I knew I was up against some other pretty competitive students. So far we've all acted civil to each other in class. There haven't been any cases of missing students and no brawls to date over job opportunity turf. If I didn't get this job I'd be disappointed, but not heartbroken. Oh well, I thought, I still have two more interviews to do: one today, one Monday. So, I walked around and ate some lunch outside, noticing the beauty of the weather for the first time in awhile.

Five minutes later, I got a call offering me the position.

Ok, now today is officially good. I still had another interview to go to but I accepted. To have my first choice of a work experience was elation! And no waiting around or anxiety about just finding somewhere to work for our school placement.

Wearing a suit on the street for the first time in awhile can play psychological games with you. Suddenly you'll be surprised how much more attention and respect you may get from certain people (aka the general public) simply because you look nice. Not being as casual can make you less approachable in some cases but I had people holding doors for me, offering me positions in line, and backing their cars up so that I had adequate space to walk on the sidewalk. It was amazing how much power a shirt, tie and polished shoes did!

Now I didn't have any pressure. I had a placement. However, I thought I'd still go to the second interview, just to keep my appointment and possibly find out some neat stuff.

I had some time to kill so I went to Chapters and read excerpts from The Book of Answers. From it I learned where the rude gesture of the Anglo-Saxon middle finger came from: Apparently during the war between the French and the English at Agincourt, the French were so amused by the English archers, that they vowed to cut the middle fingers off of their enemies. When the English were victorious and the French were retreating, the English apparently showed their middle digit as to say "in your face." The gesture has lived on with us.

The second interview was for a technical products corporation. They were hiring for a media monitor for their fast-paced industry. Duties included reading up on the competitor, some data entry, building contact lists, that kind of thing. The office vibe was nice, and the interviewer seemed very easy to get along with but I told her up front that I had already accepted another position. I'm not sure if she felt I was wasting her time or not but she was still nice enough to tell me about her business anyway, give me water, and take me on a tour. In some of the labs they were doing experiments on the technology to see if it could withstand extreme conditions like heat. The staff room had fussball tables, ping pong, and beer on tap. She showed me a map with flags on it showing their offices around the world, and we related travel experiences. She talked about the exciting opportunities to arrange press tours in Europe etc, which made me interested about the job, but I was happy to leave the position to another student when a bunch of them were fighting for it, and when the other option that I had just accepted suited my interests more. She complimented me on the design of my contact card before bidding me adieu. She told me to keep my portfolio, but accepted the pieces in it "in case" she wanted something to refer to in the future. She commented that its presentation was a "nice touch" which is something I found nice to hear.

So then my old man and I went out to get some new dress pants to celebrate the success. I discovered my new waist size when I was trying on pants, and a tailor pinned the leg at the right length. She looked quite smart in her own pants and business jacket. I was a bit tight for time since my band rescheduled practice early, so I went off without changing.

Anyway, so then it was funny when I was no longer in a place where people dressed like Donald Trump. Instead, I was in a foam-lined room playing away on my electric guitar, rocking out, with a suit and a tie on.

My band practice was good. Skull yanked the cord out of the wall and we played in the dark again, which heightens your sense of hearing. BFG is off to Cuba this week so it is our last practice for awhile, making it special.

After it was over I grabbed some succulent pizza and went for a walk in the rain with my guitar and all my travel necessities that I'd been carrying all day, including my CD player and some Franz Ferdinand. My feet were sore from the shoes, and my tie was loosened by time. I felt worn out but yet full of lucky charms. That was a perfect way to come home at night: feeling successful.

"Come on home
So come on home
So come on home
But don't forget to leave
" -Franz Ferdinand


Blogger Maddy said...

for Barrett. Razzle Dazzle!

Smiles! Happy for you!!

12:37 a.m.  
Blogger Chloe said...

"See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out
It was a beautiful day
Don't let it get away"

U2 - beautiful day

Well done! congratulations xx

1:06 a.m.  
Blogger Internet Street Philosopher said...

Congrats to you on your new job! Also my mom has told me that a suit makes people look at you differently for some reason because they think you are somebody.

5:25 a.m.  
Blogger Carrie said...

SO happy for you...must be a relief to know you have something lined up. I wish you'd have posted a pic of your "professional" attire..that would be so cool to see.
i love the middle finger story...bloody FRENCH!
you should post some mp3's of your tunes cool to hear.
all the best....if you ever come to T.O. I'll buy you a beer! :) xo

9:01 a.m.  
Blogger Captain Bee said...

Hey, good work!

You know, the best part of an interview is when they fall from the 'script' and talk about the ORGANIZATION rather than you. That precise moment when the interviewer switches the focus is when you can be like "fuck yeah, I'm in on this shit" (not out loud!)

10:46 a.m.  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Ooh, congrats!

10:51 a.m.  
Blogger Lorena said...

congratulations Barrett!! i'm happy for you!! so what will you be doing in this new career??

1:05 p.m.  
Blogger Carrie said...

i left a bunch of messages today.
but alas blogger is fried and it deleted everything i left.

all in all CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

they've definitely found themselves the BEST candidate and man....all the best xo

3:49 p.m.  

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