Thursday, March 3, 2011

Things Left Unsaid

Things have been improving over the last few days.

Flora called, Pierro will stay with Natty in Canberra and she will go the the funeral alone, meaning I don't need to go up there. Pressure off there. It's been an incredibly emotional few days regardless. Monday was spent at home, in a mild version of shock. I wish, at times, I wasn't an emotional sponge. At least I've got ways of coping with this now - coping better than ever before. Exercise and a great support network make all the difference.

So now, with the Canberra trip abandoned I can get back to the joys of job hunting.

Yesterday's interview was at a top-flight consulting firm. For the first time in this job hunting period, I felt half excited. I felt that I'd actually like to work for this company. Not something I've been feeling for a while.

Strangely, it was one of the better interviews I've attended in years. I had no idea what to expect, but I fitted in well with the interviewer who seemed to get what I was about , just as I got where they were coming from.

It was a bit of a revelation of an interview. It also had me looking at the answers I was providing. What do information do you give? What do you leave out? What do you bury at the base of a sandpit encrusted with cat poo where you know nobody is going to go.

It was an interesting experience.

First up, I didn't look like me. Walk down the street and I was near unrecognisable. As I've lost 9 kgs this year all ready, my standby suit that I've used for interviews is now on the big side. Big enough to be swamping me and it is now sitting on the pile to be taken to St Vinnies. So the black jacket and skirt, in the wardrobe for when I got skinny again was donned. Hair in a bun, kitten heels, bespoke bracelet, red leather handbag, make up.

This is the result.

I look like Jessica Rabbit's scary accountant sister. Flora said I looked like and undertaker when she saw the photo. What Flora wasn't seeing was a really pretty cobalt blue top under the suit jacket that takes away a bit of the ferocity. Still, as most people are used to me in fisherman's pants, jeans, t-shirts or dresses, it's a bit out of the norm. As for make up - my normal eyeliner and mascara has been upped - but thank goodness for mineral foundation - it feels like you have nothing on your face.

As a rule, in interviews, you go back through you last few jobs. Rich, the guy interviewing me, wanted the full story. Oh, my.

For once, scraping around the truth wasn't going to cut it. I had to be as honest as I could.

He also started back at high school. He wanted the unadulterated story. Oh hell. Here goes nothing.

Rich: So tell me about high school.
Pand: Not what you expected. One of the worst high schools in South Australia at the time. Outer metropolitan hardnuts and country kids mixed in a school that didn't really cater for academics.
Rich: And you were dux of the school.
Pand: No, but in the top five.
Rich: With an Arts bent at high school?
Pand: No. I matriculated in English, Maths, Chemistry, French and Music. The marks were all were all in six marks of each other .

Well, this is the truth. Willunga High was not the paragon of educational virtues. There were four others who's grades were better than mine. Of a class of a a hundred only a handful went on to university. I'm also the only one in the state with a B plus in Math, Chemistry, French and Music.

Rich: What did your parents do?
Pand: Mum was a nurse, Dad ran the rubbish dump, among other things.

Truth as well. What else are you supposed to say? Can't mess with that history. Not so much educated at the University of Hard Knocks, but I've gone through life with the odd challenge. It's made me resiliant, hopeful and rather cunning. Hell, I come from a town called Myponga! That's a handicap in itself.

Rich: And what did you go into university wanting to do?
Pand: I wanted to be a French teacher.

Again, the truth. Thing is, as soon as I got to university, I hated the way they taught French. I wasn't that enamoured with university. I really had no idea what I wanted to do other than I didn't want to get married and have kids early.

Rich: And you went to London in 1991.
Pand: After university. I fell ill in my third year and repeated that final year part time. Glandular Fever wrecked me.
Rich: How did you support yourself at university?
Pand: I worked in a department store during that time, attending lectures at lunch time.

Mostly the truth. I did work in a department store, but in the sub-basement warehouse area, putting tickets on merchandise. The world's most soul-destroying job. You don't get much lower than roles in a sub-basement - the only way is up.

Rich: And you spent eight years in London. Did you have some kind of right to abode?
Pand: Yes. Grandparent entry.

Blatant lie. But who is going to check? He doesn't need to know about my furtive entry to the UK via Ireland or my six years as an alien. I paid my taxes and didn't get caught. We'll leave that alone.

Rich: And why did you return to Australia.
Pand: My grandmother was turning 100 and my sister was having a baby.

Again, truth. I left out the bit that my father had died and I felt I could come back. Employers don't need to know that bit.

We went through my more recent employment history.

Rich: And what do you do best in a role. What is your best fit job title?
Pand: Switzerland or Geek Liaison?
Rich: Explain.
Pand: Switzerland is the place you go to for refuge before getting things done. Don't ask how or why, but stuff gets done in Switzerland - a nice neutral place to go to for solace and regrouping. And Geek Liaison, because that's what I do. I can talk to geeks. I can also talk to engineers, the post room guys, the cleaners, the General Manager - you name it, I can talk to people and tend to get stuff  happening. I'm from the country. I have the charm and gormlessness to be able to do that.

Well, this is true too. I'm about as gormless as they come.

Rich: And you want to be a writer. So you want to write the great Australian novel?
Pand: Nah, I'd rather be the next JK Rowling.
Rich: Why her?
Pand: I like her imagination.

For once in my life, whether it be to my detriment or not, I got to be mainly honest. When asked why I left a job in a software company I answered, "Abject boredom. I can't sit in front of a computer all day - does my head in." Rich got told about my desire to run a marathon next year and my need for work life balance.

But for the stuff that's sitting under the cat poo in the sandpit.

The tarot cards. Prospective employers can have a look at them when they get moved into my desk drawer three months into the contract.
The fact I'm into Kabbalah, Wicca and other spiritual stuff. None of their beeswax frankly.
My reflexology practice can stay hidden for the while too. I'm not sure employers would relish somebody who plays with feet on their books. It's just a bit too strange for corporate Australia.
And yeah, they don't need to know about the three Mills and Boon Manuscripts in my bottom drawer or the fact that I was once a member of Young Labor, many, many, many moons ago.

For the moment, I'm just the well dressed, articulate, intelligent woman looking for a new role, somewhere where there are a few challenges and a lot of variety.

Part of me thinks its the stuff that I leave out which is more interesting.

I'm being recommended for a second interview. We'll see how it goes.



Kath Lockett said...

Fingers, toes and knees are crossed for you, Pand.

It sounds like a rather long and intense interview and by someone who is asking questions that go way beyond, 'Are you a good team player?'

You look marvellous!

The Elephant's Child said...

I'm with Kath. You looked amazing. And I am also with you - I suspect the things you left out are closer to the core of who you are - but are not an employers business. I am wishing success your way.

River said...

The first thought through my mind when I saw your photo was, gee, I haven't seen Men In Black for a while, think I'll watch it tonight.
That really is an in depth interview. I can imagine if it was me.
"How far did you get in High School?
Year nine.
Why did you quit?
I was 15 which was school leaving age then and my dad said I didn't have to go anymore."
*end of interview-right there* Ha Ha.
It does sound to me like Rich was very impressed with you and the second interview might be the one where he says you've got the job. Good Luck. I've got my fingers crossed for you.

Elisabeth said...

Good luck with this next interview. Given your honesty and appearance, it sounds as though there's a good chance of getting the job.

Jackie K said...

Excellent photo, and sounds like a good interview. Good luck