Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Yesterday was a Big Day ...

For a start, I had to drive myself to Warwick University. Now, I can drive. I’ve been driving since I was 20. But I've not driven much recently. I’ve always been a cautious driver, very much aware of how a car can be a lethal weapon in careless hands. I’d driven around the block a couple of weeks ago, and that gave me some confidence, but the thought of the drive to Warwick was causing me almost as much anxiety as the interview.

So, at 1.20 – allowing myself an extra hour – I packed my interview survival kit into the car. Jacket, still in its dry-cleaning cover, hung at the back. Briefcase, smart shoes, emergency packet of nuts, bottle of water stashed on the back seat. And finally, I got into the driver’s seat.

I was fine until I got onto the M1. Then I started to feel quite nervous, as many drivers zipped about, seemingly just avoiding each other. I kept repeating to myself “I am a good driver, I can do this,” and telling myself that I just needed to take it steady and get myself there.

Which I did! I was so relieved as I pulled into the car park that I almost forgot I had an interview to go to.

However, I was about 50 minutes early. It was far too cold to sit in the car, so I made my way to reception. The receptionist was ever so kind; she could obviously tell I was nervous. (Although my excuse is that I was shaking from the cold.) She directed me to the atrium, an open area adjacent to the café, with tables and chairs. I sat down and ran through my presentation, which suddenly seemed like it had been written by someone else, in Dutch, about quantum mechanics. I put it back in my briefcase in disgust.

At 3.15, I reported to the career services reception and was directed to a squashy sofa. There was a careers supplement on the table, which I scanned, amused to read an article about people taking their dogs to work. Apparently this is becoming normal practice in some companies, including Amazon. A quote from someone said, “Sometimes you hear a bark, but this is very rare!”

3.30 came and went. I suddenly decided I hated my suit, which is several years old, and now hopelessly out of fashion.

After what seemed like a lifetime (but was only ten minutes beyond my scheduled time of 3.30), Gill, the recruiting manager, appeared. She whispered something to the receptionist (I’m still dying to know what!) then came over to say hello before leading me into a huge room towards the rear of the building. My back was to the presentation screen as I went to greet the interview panel. Meanwhile, Gill took my disk with the presentation on, and disappeared behind me to set it up while the panel introduced themselves.

Introductions made, they invited me to get my presentation out of the way. I turned around and just laughed. The screen was the size of a small cinema screen, and towered over us all. “Wow! All that, just for the four of you!” I exclaimed. Which at least broke the ice.

I ran through the presentation pretty smoothly, encountering lots of nods, especially from Gill, which boosted my confidence. Thereafter, I relaxed and enjoyed myself. There was an odd mix of questions, some that I had already been asked in the first interview, all of which I answered easily. I stood by my principles to be myself, and be honest, sharing my concerns and things I had found difficult as well as successes and so on. I wanted to be sure that they knew what they’d be getting, and that I would be supported in the areas where I would need it. I was reassured on that point.

We over-ran slightly, and Kate who I think was in the chair, suddenly concluded with a brisk “Anyway!” which made all of us jump. “Well,” she said, “this is all getting very operational, and time’s getting on.” We had been enjoying a chat about whether I wanted the job, when I could start, what days I’d like to work, how the post holder would be measured, and so on. All purely hypothetical, of course.

I walked out into the dark, not really knowing what the outcome would be, and not wanting to think about it, as I now had the drive home to concentrate on. Strangely, although I hate driving in the dark, the drive home was easier. I tucked in behind a nice slow lorry, and took my time. And soon I was home, and very pleased with myself for having made it there and back.

But then, of course, came the big wait for the Phone Call. I’d been told that Gill would phone in the evening, but part of me couldn’t quite believe that she would. I’ve been let down so many times in the past by such promises. Seven o’clock came and went. Rick poured me a gin and tonic and we sat and talked about other things. I drained my glass. Rick poured me another. The phone watched silently.

Halfway down my second G&T, it finally rang. Gill’s voice sounded tired on the other end, and quite low as she apologised for phoning so late, “domestics and all that,” she said. I had thought this might be the case, as I know she has a young child. But her subdued tone of voice didn’t quite prepare me for when she then said, “we were really impressed … like to offer you the job … really hope you’ll accept.”

“Yes, please!” I didn’t hesitate.


Blogger Carole said...

Just posting a comment to myself to see if I get it on email.

1:40 pm  
Blogger Stream-Maker said...

Hey Carole

Well done you. I'm very pleased for you getting the job. Have a smashing Xmas. Will

9:11 pm  

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