Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I hired a receptionist today. It’s not been easy making a selection. We’re in a high unemployment period so it’s a job seeker’s market and they can pretty much call the shots. The mature applicants wanted too much money and the juniors are thin on the ground.

I’ve only ever interviewed for two jobs ;

The first was when I was 21, fresh out of Uni, decided that I wasn’t mature enough to teach high school so I dipped out (big mistake that was!)and backed up with a crash secretarial course. Humbling to say the least as the only 21 year old in a class full of 17 year olds! Being taught by the troll bitch from hell who was about my age . . .needless to say, the motivation to absolutely BLITZ the course was compelling! I practised my typing till my pinkies hurt!

That behind me, I needed a job.

I had an interview with the Marketing Manager of an American Direct Selling company. I’d never heard of them but my fiancee worked for a bureau that processed their payroll and so reassured me that they were a big outfit who paid well.

The job – Girl Friday . . can’t call ‘em that any more! Basically an office gofer required to do everything from making tea to typing. I guess I intervewied well and despite the nerves, I felt pretty good at the end until my would be boss announced that he’d love to put me on but I was overqualified and would probably do a runner within months as soon as something better came along! My response simply was “Overqualified be buggered, I need the job!” I guess he liked the up-front attitude that usually terrifies most men and I was put on the payroll. I worked with them for 15 years and had roles from Girl Friday through to Marketing Communications before having a falling out with a pretentious little prick who magically machinated redundancies for the entire creative team.

My second interview was in the public sector, working in the IT department that managed the mainframe for a national fingerprint identification system, national names index, AVO index, persons of interest . . .you get the gist. If someone had something to hide, they were probably on our database. Alternatively, if they’d left fingerprints behind – they too were on our database waiting to be matched with their owners.

I secured this little gem as a long term temp assignment after being made redundant from my previous position in 1995. Apparently, it’s CIO was so difficult to work with that his PA had taken 12 months stress leave! By this stage, I’m older, wiser, desperately in need of a job (despite the pay being paltry) and probably a good choice for a petulant boss.

After 6 months I couldn’t handle the hourly rate any more (administrative jobs pay absolute shit and $22 an hour was bollix for the responsibility I was shouldering plus no holiday or sick pay). I started looking around but fortunately, they decided to keep me and pay out the agency fee. However, being the public service and an Equal Opportunity Employer, the position was advertised and I had to interview for my own job! It was close, there were some good candidates but I muddled through. I had another five fantastic years there and an opportunity to grow, get paid well and enjoy the people with whom I worked. I still lunch with a crowd from this organisation even though it is now defunct and has relocated in another form to the nation’s capital.

So whilst I’ve had more than two jobs, I’ve only ever interviewed for two in over 30 years of being in the workforce. I've been lucky, agency work between jobs or opportunities that have just presented themselves. My current job was offered to me and whilst it’s not that satisfying, it pays well, is close to home and I like almost all the people I work with . . not a bad trade off!

So apologies to the young lady that missed out on the position today. She will have a few more interviews to master, nervy moments to deal with and articulation stumbles to work through. I don’t envy her at all, if only she knew that interviewing and rejecting applicants is almost as nervewracking!


Nick said...

"Interviewing and rejecting applicants is almost as nervewracking!" That's what I always tell myself when I go for interviews, it makes me less nervous to know they're feeling the same. You're lucky to have had so few interviews, it's always hard to do yourself justice and get an edge over the other equally eligible applicants. And the results are so mystifying. I had an interview last week, thought it went really well, and then no response whatever. Bizarre.

Thriftcriminal said...

I've had many interviews, in fact I now have a reputation for job hopping, which isn't fully deserved (partially maybe). I take the attitude that I am interviewing them just as much as they are me, the only thing that pisses me off is when I don't even get a shot at that and my application is dismissed out of hand with no reasonable explanation (at least give me a clue as to how to tune my sales material).

steph said...

I like your style! Baino

No blokes applying to be receptionists? :-(

Baino said...

Nick this is one of the reasons I haven't chased another job. At my age it's not easy.On the other side of the fence I would have been happy to put a more reliable older person on but would they be prepared to do the shit work . .shopping, hospitality, sucking up? Plus they want more money. I have vowed to respond to all applicants which will take me the best part of tomorrow. I think it only fair.

Thrifty: Quite so but we need a junior for this posi. You're still of marketable age so keep shifting if it feels right. My problem is that the more debt you carry the less willing you are to take risks. Especially if you're a single income. I did a lot of that in my 30's but now . .not so prepared to take the plunge. But you're right, it's rude not to let you know why you weren't short listed.

Actually Steph, two or three blokes, from India with Engineering degrees! It's a receptionist position, I need someone who can enunciate English but can't advertise to that fact (racial discrimination) Even had an application from France! Gotta love the net! We had a male receptionist three years ago but he was far too bright to stay in the position. He's now earning six figures on a helpdesk for a big fund manager. Bless his bones! And we're still friends despite me having to ring him frequently to get his 21 year old ass out of bed and turn up at work.

Grannymar said...

Those were the days. I hated going for interviews when I was young. Later on I decided that if I made the interview stage I had as much chance as anyone else and all I had to do was sell myself.

Anonymous said...

I prefer to bribe the fuckers. A Rolex does nicely ...

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness those days are long gone for me! Once, in one of my first interviews the prospective boss made me stick my tongue out to be inspected! I got the job. HAHA

Paddy Bloggit said...

Was interviewed once where they had an egg timer on the table .... when it buzzed they said thanks and goodbye.

I also got a rejection for a job that went as follows:

'sorry post filled'

I've interviewed a few in my time .... found it ok once the marking criteria used was set properly and used fairly ..... it has always produced dividends.

So .... a big no to egg timers! :smile:

Baino said...

Grannymar during one of my 'in between' job phases, I had a small copywriting business. Interviews are a doddle compared to canvassing clients I can tell you. Needless to say, I became disenchanted and went back into the PAYG system. Sometimes I think I should have persevered and been my own boss.

Anonymous: Is that how you got your current selubrious position?

Anony: Who on earth would want to check you're tongue? What was the job stamp licker?

Aww Paddy. Egg timers? The two minute interview you'd have to dress to impress! One thing about the public service is they have specific selection criteria and a rigorous process which I've tried to imbue here so I can be fair. I can't not hire someone by virtue of their age or race but I can if they don't meet specific criteria. Works so far. And I ALWAYS send out polite rejection letters and let people know why they missed out.

Kath Lockett said...

You're right - it's very intimidating being the interviewer, especially if it's a 'panel' and you're chairing - done my fair share of those in over fifteen years of public service type roles.

Also applied for and been interviewed for my own job more than once.

Still have my fingers crossed that 2009 will generate some form of income from this working from home/freelance malarkey so that I no longer have to read annoying 'please wash your own cups and place face down on the draining board' signs in the staff kitchen or read any more 'selection criteria'.

Quickroute said...

I hate interiews! - so hard to sell yourself properly or get a real feel for the job in 30 minutes

Baino said...

Kath, I wish you luck. I didn't have the stamina to hold out but I think the business I was offering wasn't viable. I should have been a spark!

Quicky: True that. I'd rather do a weeks trial and win them over. It's a bit of an old fashioned concept really.