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May 16, 2014 / ldejong4

Some Low Hanging Fruit:

The Interview

“You look nervous. Don’t be nervous,” he said to me in his German accent and calm tone, opening the door of a small corner room overlooking the Dublin docklands.

That reminded me to practise my breathing, something my mother had taught me before my driving test years ago. In for four and out for eight. I smiled but could feel him seeing through me. Taking a seat, I tried my best to count out for eight. Then he was ready, and looking straight at me.

“Well you have a very interesting CV here, Joanne. Can you just talk me through it briefly?”

I hated this question. Just stay positive and smile, you’ll be grand. Stick to your golden rule I thought.

“Sure. I studied Arts with Spanish there in UCD and then I did a diploma course in Business. Now I’m working as a consultant in Barclay’s, London. I’ve spent some time travelling and done a bit of volunteering here and there. I’ve really enjoyed my career so far but it’s time for a change.”

I tried to sound enthusiastic hoping he couldn’t also sense how desperate I was. The more he looked at me, the more I could feel it. It was like a ball of fire within me I kept trying to blow out with every slow breath.

Please don’t ask me about the length of my current job.

“I imagine you’re not so happy at the moment in London then if you want a change after six months. In fact, the position you describe here doesn’t sound, well… you!” he said circling the dates in pencil on my CV before looking up.

Shit. Breathe! Don’t let on.

“Yeah I know,” I said smiling at him and pausing.

“I’m gonna be honest with you. I know it doesn’t look great. I wanted to get some IT experience, which I have but now the opportunity arises to combine that with Spanish and I don’t want to let that pass me by. I’ve had a love affair with Spanish since school and I can’t seem to let it go. I have learned so much about IT over the last few months but I’d just rather not work in a bank.”

If my instincts were right, these IT guys loved to hear people say that about the banks. These American firms considered themselves more liberal, flatter and superior perhaps.

He was a nice man, but hey, a tree is nice. I wasn’t sure what to make of him. He asked me a lot of ‘tell me about a time when’ and ‘what would you do if’ questions. This stuff I knew well. I knew myself. I’d spent hour the night before studying my own CV.

“So Joanne, I need you to think about this one,” he said pausing and looking to the corner of the room.

“If it is six thirty on an analogue watch, how many degrees are there between the hour hand and the minute hand? You can take some time to think.” He sat back in his chair and folded his arms.

Dear Lord!

“I suppose the answer isn’t zero right?” Why else would he ask that question?

He nodded, smiling.

“Can I just take out my notebook to draw this?”


I thought aloud and drew furiously, letting out my nervous energy – the clock, breaking it down into pizza slices like a child learning fractions.

“You need to remember that the hour hand will move but think about how much. What proportion on the half hour?”

He’d now become a cherry blossom. A really nice tree. He took a pencil, split the last thirty degrees and pointed at one half, tapping it.

“So it’s fifteen then?”

He threw me a confirming nod, grinning.

“Ok, another one for you so take your time.” He paused.

“I want you to tell me, how many petrol stations there are in Germany?”

Here we go again, more of these crazy questions.

I started to break it down. I threw in the word “bundesländern” thinking it might impress him and before I even got to a final figure he was moving on, happy I could communicate a logical thought process.

I’ve done well.

“Ok Joanne, we’ve come to the end of my part of the interview. There’s just one last question.” He paused.

“I want to know what you want to do?”

Sell yourself!

“Well I’d like to work here in this team and contribute where I possibly can. I think I would make a good team fit here.”

“No, what do you want to do?” he asked firmly.

Ok try harder.

“I am extremely diligent, and I know I don’t have much IT experience but what I do have is a great ability to learn. I also love working in Spanish and with people. I’m a team player. I would love to be given the opportunity to progress here in this firm.”

He sighed. “Ok I know that. I know you can do the job. That’s no problem. I just want you to tell me what you really want to do. With your life. You don’t know do you? You’re still young,” he said looking directly at me.

“Yes, and I’m therefore very flexible and willing to work and try my best in different areas,” I said smiling, making sure to hold the eye contact.

You’ll have Steve next, in ten minutes. Would you like a tea or coffee or can I show you where the ladies are?” he said standing and picking up my CV.

I came out of the toilets to the hall where he was waiting for me. I wondered if he knew the women got free tampons. What did the men get? Aftershave perhaps?

He led me through a door into the open office area. It was the brightest and most youthful looking office I’d ever seen. How could anyone concentrate here? Above each desk hung a flag. It looked like something you might see at the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Most desks were occupied but the people seemed relaxed and cheerful. They had a lot of space and everything was modern. Large white desks, laptops with an extra monitor beside it. There were even giant swiss balls and I caught sight of a small minature golf game in the back corner with a foot scooter resting next to it.

“So this is the team hard at work. Over here you have the French team”, he said pointing to three unoccupied desks, one sporting the French flag. “And there the Germans and here the Spanish. At the moment we don’t have any free desks because we’re hiring a lot but that’s where you’d be”.

I followed him through the office. I felt like an outsider in my office heels. I’d have to buy more casual work clothes if I got this job I thought.

Just keep smiling.

We walked past a very tall and handsome fair-haired man with a wireless headset wearing jeans and light blue stylish runners. He was speaking a language I didn’t recognise. He grinned at us. I thought he might be Danish.

We turned the corner to walk into an area what looked like a home kitchen. Smack bang in the middle of the office were kitchen cabinets, a shiny red table, bar stools, blue couches, a water cooler, a microwave and a large fridge with a transparent door. One you’d see in the local newsagents and stocked full of cans. This was ridiculous.

“Joanne?” he said, trying to get my attention

“Oh sorry!”

“So what will you have then?”

“I’m ok with water. Thanks”

He accompanied me through another door and back to the small corner office off the hall.

“Ok Steve will be into you shortly. Take a seat. He’s a techie so get ready to be quizzed on all your computer skills. Best of luck, Joanne.”

“Ok thanks very much. Lovely to meet you” I said smiling at him.




Leave a Comment
  1. allthingslizzie / May 24 2014 1:42 am

    I loved this Lisa. So much of your personality and influences have clearly gone into it.. Such a great read.

    Please tell me there will be a part 2?

    • ldejong4 / May 24 2014 10:37 am

      Awww thanks so much! Yes there is a lot more to the story. As you know. There probably won’t be a part 2 I’m afraid. But there might be something bigger… a lot bigger. Just give me some time.

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