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! ;)



Crazy Dutchies: Part II

Our politicians have lost their minds. Supposedly, we need to cut back approximately 10 billion euros this year, on top of the cutbacks we’re already got. I guess that makes sense, if you (as a country) spend more than you actually have. I mean, just look at Greece and the shit they’re in these days. So fine, let’s cut back on a few things. Our politicians have already made a list of stuff to cut back on or make more money from:

1. Health Care
We used to have a really good health care system. Everybody over 18 used to pay an x-amount monthly, and in return, when they get ill, a lot of the expenses were covered. This system changed a little bit when I turned 18, with the main change being the monthly rate; it went up from around €40,- a month, to €100,- a month. On top of that, they decided that the “base insurance” was mandatory; everybody who didn’t have one, would get a fine. You did get to choose if you wanted any extra insurances, because the base one didn’t quite cover everything. You could also get some money back after a year if your expenses stayed under €250,- that year. In the years after that, the monthly rate went up and up and up while the base insurance covered less and less, and they even had a new idea: a mandatory “own risk” thing. The “own risk” was a kind of threshold; if you stayed under an x amount (it started around €120, and this year it’s €220), you had to pay most of your medical expenses yourself. Everything above that amount would be covered IF it was in your insurance kit. I guess this is “good” when your expenses are way over that threshold all the time, but I, for instance, spend maybe €60,- a year, if anything. So I pay €130 a month for a year, only to pay all my expenses myself anyway. Where’s the point in that? But it gets better: To make their cutbacks possible, they want to raise the “own risk” policy with another 25% next year. All in all, the mandatory insurances get more expensive, cover less, and when you’re not terminally ill you’re screwed. Way to go!

2. VAT (taxes)
Almost every country has a certain rate of VAT you pay over everything you buy. Here in the Netherlands, it’s either 6% (on food) or 19% (“luxury goods” like clothes and everything that’s not food). As if it’s not bad enough that 33%-52% of your well-earned salary goes to the tax administration office! And now they’re even thinking of raising the VAT rates! But wait, it gets even better…

3. Salaries
They want to freeze salaries! So combined with point #2 here, we’ll earn the same money, give the same amount to the tax administrations, and then give some more to them through VAT. What the fuck? Please do note that these ideas come from people who earn what, 300K yearly. If I had that amount of money, I wouldn’t mind freezing it either. The average yearly income for the rest of us is around €33.000 this year.

4. Mortgage
They’re bitching that the economy is so bad, that people hardly buy houses/apartments any more, but they want to skip the Mortgage Interest Deduction for everybody. The MID is a small amount (approximately €180 a month) you can get back from the tax administration office when you own a house/apartment. Despite being a small amount, it helps a lot of us; without it I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills, and a lot of people with me. And now they want to quit it. How can they expect that the rate of home sales can ever rise again? Sure, for people who have 50K houses it doesn’t matter, but again, what about the rest of us?

5. Education
The Netherlands were a pretty good country, educationwise. The government would cover an x amount of schooling money, leaving us with “only” a yearly fee of between €800 and €1700. This way, everybody who wanted to go to college, could do just that. Imagine all the possible benefits coming from us being super educated! But noooo… They’re cutting back on that as well. Partly, I understand: If you seriously need 5+ years to finish a 4-year college program, you’re stupid and wasting money anyway. But if you’re smart and super motivated and want to do another college course, you shouldn’t get screwed by having to pay €10.000 yearly to do that.

Days like this, I wish I was a politician. What I would do?

1. Cut back on politicians’ salaries. They don’t need 300K if the rest of us can manage with a lot less.
2. Take away the MID for houses over 4K. Again, a lot of us don’t even own a house that expensive.
3. Don’t buy the Joint Strike Fighter. We don’t need it. Hell, we don’t even have room for it.
4. Invest less in warfare.
5. Encourage education (within limits). Knowledge is power for a reason.

Anyway… Enough for today. Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed part II of this series.