Jobhunt: Final

I promised I’d tell you a little about my job interview last wednesday, so here goes. I do have to warn you, it’s going to be a long post!

I had the appointment at 9:30am, and since it was close to where I used to live, finding the place wasn’t hard at all – think that’s worth some bonus points. Since I was early, I had to wait at the reception for a little bit. They had a couch there, so I took a seat… And almost immediately regretted it. The couch was so soft that I felt like my butt had hit the floor, and despite my lack of height, my legs were hovering above the floor. I felt a panic coming up; how the hell was I supposed to get up without looking like a turtle on its back?

After a little while, a tall, older-looking man came up to me (we’ll call him W. for now), and I tried to get up as elegantly as possible and hopelessly failed. He led me into a small, dark-ish meeting room, and left again to get us something to drink. The wallpaper in the room immediately caught my eye, it was a dusty rose colour and it looked velvety, and it took me all my willpower to stop myself from getting up and touching it. It was sheer torture!

I was obviously glad when W. finally came back with our drinks, and after he put them on the table he said “You’re probably wondering where I got this tan?”. In all honesty, I hadn’t really thought about his tan (else I’d described him as tall, tanned older-looking man), but now that he pointed it out, well, he did have a nice tan! “I’ve spent the weekend sailing. Look, this is my boat!”, and he pointed to one of the boats on a company poster. I knew from my “research” that they were involved in sailing, but I didn’t expect that employees would be on the boats too!

He talked a little more about the sailing, then sat down, gave me his card and said “I’m not from Human Resources, I have no idea how a job interview is supposed to go, so let’s just exchange some info”. I glanced at the card, and saw that he was the vice president of the company, so I decided to share my opinion with him and said “Well, HR people usually don’t have any clue on what the job is and which requirements are really needed, so I guess you’ll do a better job at it anyway”. This could’ve gone completely wrong, I know, but I had decided to just be myself all the way and luckily he could appreciate my way of thinking.

W. started off by drawing an organization chart for me, after which he told me a little bit about every department. The “big boss” P. was 67 years old, and owned two villas. The next “layer” were three main departments; Administration, Realization and Sales. W. himself was in charge of the Sales department, R. was the main man in Administration, and I’d fall under Realization, led by G. The organization isn’t too hierarchic, which I liked a lot.

Of course, since I came on interview for the Purchase Department, the rest of the story mostly focussed on that. W. told me that they used to have a real Purchase Department, but it had “fallen apart” and basically, the Sales people were just ordering things with the suppliers. I could hardly believe it! Don’t get me wrong here, Sales people are fun. But they just have very different skills from Purchase folk. So the whole administration part of the Purchase Department was a shitmess, and that’s where R. comes into the picture. R., being Main Admin Man and accountant, doesn’t like administrational mess at all. And I can’t blame him; everything has to be right before he can and will pay the bills. Inconsistencies are a huge no-no, and have to be solved. Which is not a forte of Sales Departments, obviously.

I told W. how I always worked very closely to the accountant in my previous job, just to show that I knew the importance of “check, check, triple check” and proper agreements with the suppliers. He seemed to be very impressed, and started telling me a little about R. You see, R. is a little… Special. He’s very sceptical about everybody, and thinks he knows everything better. Some might call him an asshole (pardon my French), but I decided to call him a challenge instead. Especially after W. told me that their previous Purchase guy left after 8 years because of R., and the replacement they had left after one day with R..

W. thought I might have some trouble with R. too, because I came across very confident of my skills, and R. doesn’t like know-it-alls, despite being the king of them. I was actually very pleased he said that, because I’m usually not that confident at all. It’s just that I know the job, and I figured that there’s a snowball’s chance in hell I’d make their non-existent department even worse. Add to that that R. has been working there for approximately 25 years (which is all my life!), and I have next to no knowledge of their company and the products, and voilà; I have no reason at all to be arrogant. Plus, my parents have raised me very well; I wouldn’t dare disrespect an elder, no matter what. I am, however, confident enough to think that I might even be able to impress R. at some point in time.

There was another problem W. predicted I’d have: the Front Desk girls. Every time there’s a job opening “upstairs”, they want to apply, so they probably won’t be all too pleased with me. That actually scared me more than R.’s attitude; I really don’t like mean girls, that’s a huge weak spot for me. I do understand why they’d dislike me; I’m around their age and they get surpassed despite doing a great job downstairs (although there was one ramming on her iPhone and sighing really hard whenever the office phone rang, I’d surpass that unmotivated mess too). I really hope I’ll be able to make them see that it’s just my experience with the work, and that I didn’t mean to screw anybody over.

After an hour or so of talking and laughing a lot, W. asked me if I maybe had the time to stay a little longer because he wanted me to meet R. and G. too. I told him I had all the time in the world, so he went to get them and… Left me alone with ’em! That scared the shit out of me, because I’d had to win them over now, too, and knowing R.’s problem with people… I lost all the confidence I had. Luckily, they were just asking a lot of questions, on how I got to my previous job, and why I’d left, and why I didn’t end up working in the field of Psychology and all that. I did have the idea they were more sceptical, but I made them laugh a few times so I figured maybe I had a chance anyway.

R.’s main concern was that I might be too “commercial”, and easily bored with the job there because it’s not as dynamic as my previous one. Personally, I liked that “boring” aspect because that would mean it’s less easy to make a huge mess, especially when there’s a lot of cleaning up to do in the first place. There are a lot of things that I wouldn’t have to do any more, but I don’t mind that at all. And it doesn’t have to be boring; I know I’ll have a blast learning about all their stuff, and since they have over 20.000 products that should keep me busy for a while :) In a way, a job is not unlike life; it’s just what you make of it.

Another hour later, we were finished. W. came over, and I asked if they’d maybe have an indication on when they’ll know if it’s yes or no. G. answered: “Well, it’s Wednesday today, so you’ll know by Friday”, and I told them that I was impressed because some companies need 2 weeks to figure that stuff out, which made them laugh again. I thanked R. and G. for their time, and said something silly like “maybe until next time”. W. said he’d walk me out, and on our way downstairs he mentioned that he’d heard us laugh a lot. I figured that was a good thing, and decided to tell him that this was the longest, but by far most fun job interview I’ve ever had. I thanked him for his time as well, and went on my way.

When I finally got home (after taking a little detour through town), I called my mom to tell her about the interview. I had the feeling it had gone very well, but of course you never know. So I guess you can imagine my surprise when I got the phone call the same day! I went to sign the contract on Thursday, and I’m still super excited, and really looking forward to Monday. Let the games begin!

I hope I haven’t bored y’all too much with this lengthy post ;) Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend! -I know I will :)



I Don’t Do “80%”!

Yesterday was “D-Day” part II; I had the aforementioned job interview at that big company. I’ve spent quite a few days doing “homework” on them, and studying Google Maps to make sure I wouldn’t get lost on my way there (I have a special talent for getting lost), so I felt really prepared. Yay me! So yesterday, I got up, had my coffee, got suited up, slapped on some make-up, put on a pair of heels and off I went. I had to take a train to a station nearby them, and from there it would be a 13 minute walk, which I had not only memorized, but drawn and written down as well. Just in case.

Everything went perfectly according to plan, until the walking part. According to Google Maps I’d have to take a right on a certain road, but that road was never found. Nevertheless, I found the place, although the walk took me 25 minutes. I was 30 minutes early, which I figured would look nice because they all love punctuality. So I entered the lion’s den, received a “visitor” pass from one of the ladies at the front desk, and waited. Unfortunately, punctuality was not the strongest suit of the two I had the appointment with, so I had to wait a bit longer than expected. No big deal, I wasn’t really nervous anyway, and there was enough to do with all the people walking by.

Ten minutes later, a woman walks up to me, leads me into a sort of glass box that’s supposed to be the interview room, and tells me to stay put until she gets her colleague. A few moments later, the party is complete, and we can get started. She tells a little bit about the company structure, and how it’s still a bit of a chaotic company. I reply by telling her that chaos is my favourite work environment – not a lie by the way. Then she asks me to tell something about myself, and I start blabbing, about where I live and my current job (didn’t quite mention that I’m not working any more), and that I love challenges and learning new skills. And then the questioning begins.

“What do you think you can learn here?”

“Well, I think I can learn… Uhm…” *blabs something about how it’s a different branch so I must be able to learn how this branch works or something*

Oh shit. Then they disagree with me that it’s really different, and I’m thinking, “you have no idea what you’re talking about”. But okay. Whatever. More questions:

“If we talk to your colleagues, what will they tell us were your strongest points?”

“Hmm, I have to say I’m not really good at talking about my strong points. But I think they’ll tell you I’m very driven, and very thorough.”

“Okay. So what are your weak points? Points that you need to work on? That must be easier.”

“Well… I’m a little impatient, I don’t like it if I need somebody to do something for me and they’re really slow.”

“Oh really? And what do you do when that happens?”

“I tell them nicely that this is important and it needs to be done within a certain time limit. The trick here is to let them think they’re doing something really, really important. Then they’ll do everything you say.”

True story, I promise. I expected them to be totally wowed by this insight, but they just stare at me like I’m some kind of lunatic. But then the best part starts; the “what ifs”:

“So what do you do when you have, let’s say, a deadline on Friday, and you need somebody to do something for you, but they don’t have the time for it? Because everybody has their own priorities.”

“Well, I try to get them to do it anyway. And if not, there’s always a Plan B, another way to get the results you want or need.”

“Okay, but what if you have 80% finished?”

“I don’t do 80%.”

“Fine, but what if you have 80% and you need to hand it in?”

“Then I give 120% next time.”

“But you can’t always give 100%. It’s a hectic, dynamic environment here. We’re satisfied with 80%.”

“Well, then I guess giving 80% is what I can learn here.”

People, believe it or not, but I was totally flabbergasted. One of the biggest Dutch companies is living off 80% of work, commitment and whatnot. For a moment, I thought I was stuck in some kind of Twilight Zone or something like that. Then the guy asks me the following:

“So what would you do if you’re organising a huge discount campaign, which will be in the newsletter, and in the end it turns out that your supplier didn’t send the goods yet so they won’t be there in time for the campaign?”

“Like I said, I always have a Plan B. We take it out of the newsletter, replace it with Plan B, and then I’ll contact the supplier to see what the hell he’s doing. I’ll probably get away with an extra discount, because we had an agreement here, and he didn’t hold up his end. At least, that’s how it usually goes when something like this happens. I can be very convincing.”

Again, they’re staring at me like I said that I will go out and murder the supplier or something. But in my experience, if you’re a good client, the supplier will do everything to keep you as a client. And I can be very persuasive; I guess in a way I’m a professional bitch.

They rushed through a few more questions because it was almost lunchtime (very professional, huh?), and then I was free to go. They said that they’d discuss the interview, and they’ll call me next week. I politely thanked both of them for their time, and got the fuck out of there. I’ve had a few job interviews before, I swear to god, these were the most boring, arrogant and humorless people I’ve ever met. I’m somebody who likes to brighten up the mood by being funny. They didn’t even smile. They do know how to market themselves though; if you read the “working with us” page on their website, you’d almost think working there is like working at a Dutch version of Google. Newsflash: they lie.

All in all, I don’t think it was a big success. But to be really honest; I couldn’t care less. I can hardly remember the last time somebody made me feel so small, and I’m an ass for letting “80% people” make me feel like that. I don’t need to learn from them; they need to learn from me how to give everything.

Thanks for reading, I hope I’ve managed to make some of you laugh. And if not, I know the perfect work spot for you! ;)