Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Fun-employment 8 - The Interview

A couple of weeks ago I was called to interview for a job I had applied for. The key points to know for this post are that the role was in the financial sector and required someone who spoke Russian. My knowledge of the financial sector is average so I was fairly shocked when I was contacted. This interview can best be described as an 'experience' and at times felt like it was being filmed for some reality show I was unaware of.

I made sure to arrive and sign in for my interview in good time so that I had the chance to sit and mentally prepare myself for the interview, think over possible questions and answers, and do my best to make a great first impression.
While I was waiting for my interview another candidate walked in and sat down next to me, joined shortly afterwards by a third. After a few moments each asked me if I was here also for the interview to which I replied yes. It was at this point that the receptionist informed us that this would in fact be a group interview. Recovering slightly from this shock, I was under the impression that it would be a one-on-one type interview, I decided that the best possible action was to stick with my answers and not be swayed by anything that the other two said. After all you never know what an interviewer is looking for and I was not going to blow any potential chances by not being myself.
Several minutes passed and the interviewer appeared and took us down to the interview room and explained that this would be an informal 'get to know you' type interview. Once we were all seated and comfortable the interviewer asked us each to give a short presentation about ourselves including our education, work experience and reasons for wanting the role. Needless to say I was last. Below is the transcript of the interview that followed;

Interviewer (I): Welcome to you all! Thank you for coming, now I would like to each go round in turn and ask you to tell me a little about yourselves - education, work experience, how you know Russian etc etc. Let's start with you *looks at candidate 1*
Candidate 1: Hello, my name is Boris*, I am from Moscow and I am a native Russian speaker. I have previously worked at Bloomberg for ten years where I was head of my own team. I have an MA and an MBA. I would like this role (Boris then continued to outline all of his previous experience and reasons for wanting the role)
Me: (in my head) Oh balls! It's fine I can still claw this back, I just need to be better than the other candidate.
I: Oh wow! That's excellent Boris, and you *turning to candidate 2* what about you?
Candidate 2: My name is Olga* and I too am from Moscow too and am a native Russian speaker.
Me: (in my head) Shiiittttt! Well, that's me gone.
Olga: I also have ten years experience in the industry, have run my own team, have won awards in my company and have an MA in Economics from Oxford. 
Me: (in my head) Bloody hell! Seriously, is this some kind of joke? Am I being filmed by the Job Centre for some new TV show as punishment for my critical posts?!
I: Wow Olga that is also very impressive. Any finally what about you? *Turning and looking at me*
Me: (not in my head) Hi, my name is Laura and I have an MA and BA in Russian from UCL...
I: *interrupting me* Oh! I remember you from your CV! 
Me: (in my head) oh dear Lord this does not bode well! (not in my head) oh really?!
I: You're the non-Russian girl who speaks Russian! Please continue.
Me:(in my head) well that is better than I thought. (not in my head) ah, yes, well this is true. I do speak Russian but I am a native English speaker *pointed stare at the other two candidates* (I then go on to outline my previous work experience in the British Library, as a free lance translator, intern at Collection Red, Events Manager at WRF etc)
I: So, you have previous work experience but not in finance? 
Me: No... but I am a quick learner (continue with rambling spiel about working well as part of a team, quick learner etc etc)
I: But Laura, you're so young, why do you want to work in finance?
(Both of the other candidates also turn to look at me as if I am a child who has managed to dress themselves for the first time)
Me: (in my head) WTF?! Young?! I'm nearly 25! Since when has being young somehow excluded you from a job in finance?! Seriously, where are the cameras?!
(not in my head) well, I have an interest in the economy (more rambling about may be young but am competent, clean slate to be trained in the way the company wants etc)
I: Well, this is all very interesting. Any questions you would like to ask me?
Me: (in my head) Erm, why am I even here?!
(Boris and Olga then go on to spend the next ten minutes asking in depths financial questions to I each trying to out do each other)
I: Ah, well it looks like we are almost out of time, This has been very interesting. I have made sure to make notes, I have another interview tomorrow then I will be contacting people for the next round. I would like to say that if you are not contacted it's not because you're not a great candidate it's just that you're not right for the company or you lack something we're looking for.
Me: (in my head) why do I get the feeling this is directed at me......
I: (continues with speech about how there are a lot of strong candidates for the job *looks at Boris and Olga* and that it is an achievement to even be called as they had over 100 candidates and had to narrow it down to 10 etc)
Me: (in my head) wait, what? I beat off another 90 candidates for this interview?! Bloody hell!

The interview then ended and we were all free to leave. After wishing Olga and Boris luck for the next round and having a little chat to them in Russian, annoyingly they were both really nice people and complimented me on my Russian skills, I decided to retreat to my room and scratch 'financial sector' from my list of areas to job hunt it.

It will most likely come as no surprise to the reader that I did not get the job or make it through to the next round. I was however provided with ample material for a blog post and the feeling that any subsequent interview could literally not be as bad as that one.

The job hunt continues.

NB * real names have been changed in this text.

1 comment:

TrT said...

That sounds awful!
I've had interviews where its been clear that my CV mistakenly made its way in to the "to interview pile", but I've never faced a group during it.