Thursday, May 24, 2007

You Got The Job!

I'm sitting on a bus on my way to Wan Chai, to meet with the editor of the Economist magazine. It's pretty exciting for me, Journalism being my absolute dream job. Not too many people get the opportunity to do what they love, day in and day out, for money – except perhaps the mafia, but that's never really taken my fancy. So I'm on my way to meet Tom Leander and, even though it's not, strictly speaking, an interview, it's got me thinking about them.

A good friend of mine was telling me today that he loves job interviews. He's been to a lot of them (that's not to say he makes a habit out of getting fired, I personally think he just has a short attention span), and he claims he has enjoyed most of them immensely. I don't really understand that concept at all. Job interviews, for me, have always come with matching anxiety attacks, and lists of things to worry about – what should I wear, how do I get there, am I wearing too much make up, does my hair look alright, does my voice sound okay?

Let me explain. The last interview I went to, at a children's language center in Admiralty, I had lost my voice the previous day and was only just getting it back. Ergo, my voice resembled that of a trailer trash Mom from Alabama – gravelly, hoarse and two octaves lower than it usually is. This is saying a lot, because I've always been acutely aware that my voice is quite deep for a girls' anyway.

And so this interview found me sitting, chugging peppermint tea from a bottle in between questions and trying to make my voice a little higher-pitched and smoother, which only resulted in me sounding like a cross between a Smurf and a hungry cat and, naturally, my interviewer noticed and asked if everything was okay. "Sure", I replied, and flashed him what I hoped was a winning smile. "Okay", he told me. "It's just that your voice sounds a little funny, and you're moving around a lot in your chair".

Here, I realized I had two options. I could tell him the truth, or I could tell him that this liquid I was practically inhaling was actually a mix of very strong spirits and I was off my face wasted. The truth, I thought. My mother would be so proud.

"I'm really sorry, Mr. Woo. I hope I haven't been behaving too oddly, but I lost my voice yesterday and I've been drinking herbal tea in an effort to try and help myself out, only I've drunk far too much of it and now I'm wondering if it would be okay to use your bathroom". My winning smile earlier must have hit the mark, because he laughed, showed me where the bathroom was and called me two days later to request another interview, this time with his manager.

That wasn't my worst interview, though, not by a long shot. My worst interview was, without a doubt, with an education center in Sha Tin. At the outset, it took me over thirty minutes, 4 phone calls and a couple of harassed-looking customer services people to find the center which was supposed to be located "right near the bank in the mall". I eventually found it two levels above the bank, hidden so far out of sight that I wondered how they ever got any business. My seventeen-year-old self walked into the center, waited a few minutes for the boss to finish his phone call, and was then led into what I had assumed to be a cupboard, where the interview was conducted. And so I found myself sitting in a 50 square foot, windowless room, in a piano bench with a large balding man who had bad breath and who spat when he talked. Nevertheless, I somehow managed to pretend that a) he was hilarious, and b) that I understood his English, and I got the job. I put up with bad pay, inconvenient hours and my boss asking me to lie about my age whilst making highly inappropriate comments during our monthly meetings in "The Cell", as I started to call it, and then I was out.

I have experienced other, less exciting, job interviews, including one where I was told, "We would love for you to come and work for us, but you need to cut your hair". What, I asked. "Long hair is not permitted here", I was told. Looking around, I realized that every single employee had identical boyish haircuts. I'm sorry, I thought. I didn't realize I was applying for a position in a state prison.

At another interview, I was asked if I could teach the violin until the English tutor left two months later. Nowhere on my contract did it even imply that I played violin, but obviously there was a need for me to make it clear, so I informed them, "I don't play". To which they appeared generally shocked and bewildered, as if they had never met anyone who didn't play the violin before.

I've been to my fair share of job interviews at nineteen years old, and whilst not all of them have been terrible, there have been more than enough odd, obscure ones to make up for it, in my opinion. And while they're not the worst things that could happen to a person – after all, you could get stabbed to death by the mafia – I definitely wouldn't put them on my list of Fun Things To Do.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow, ur english is so gddddd, keep up da gd work

Loisel said...

THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE AN 'ANONYMOUS' option ;(!
it's so annoying when you don't know who these comments are from :S it's so stalkerish :(

but yes... I think this was a bit long... and your stories were too divided. It was like.. "Then this happened, and then another time..." I think it needed more of a flow.Though I loved the mafia reference at the end :) clever ending ;)

Ling Fung said...

Quite good Hayley. I like your light-hearted tone. This time your aim seems to be describing your experience more, and you don't have much in-depth analysis. Perhaps instead of describing a few experiences, focus on just a couple and analyse in depth? Maybe one good interview then one bad interview, and compare and analysis what makes a good one?

PS on a personal level, I dun really think mafia enjoy their job that much. Also for me I love interviews, I love being put on the spot-light and utimately I love challenges.