Tuesday, November 22, 2005

How Did You Do?

My interview was yesterday. Home was warm-ish and sunny when we left, but as the train rolled northwards we watched a mist descend and deepen to cover both empty fields and clusters of shoulder-to-shoulder homes.

The mist in the town itself was somewhat lighter, with a gauzy sheen of sunshine filtering through the very old yet ornately designed buildings. Main street is wide, flanked by pretty shop windows, historic lampposts and benches under trees. I thought how much I would enjoy working in and exploring this gorgeous town.

Optimistic and fortified with a small cappuccino used to pass the remaining 20 minutes before the interview, I left Lynne's two sisters and the baby and made my way to the bank. No receptionist in sight, I approached a cashier and asked her to pass on notice of my arrival to my interviewer. (No it didn't happen as clinically as that.. I was sweet and polite.. but I am feeling kind of detatched right now.)

Debbie came to meet me and introduced me to John who was also be be an examiner. Both were very friendly, around my age and together we climbed several sets of stairs past warrens of rooms to reach a small office for the interview.

We made small talk and I tried to relax. I passed them all my papers.. including the one from Home Office that specifically states I am here in partnership to Lynne. We chatted a bit about my moving here and gaining further education for a better career. Then the interview was outlined; four 'competencies' would be covered with two questions for each, followed by a role play exercise.

Two of the questions were really hard for me. I KNOW they are looking at how you handle yourself under stress in addition to the actual answers received... and THINK I did well in that I didn't leave anything unanswered. But I found myself wondering this morning if perhaps John, who sat opposite me, knows anything of which way our eyes tend to point (right vs. left) when we're lying? Think there's a direction for stretching the truth too?

Still, I tried to feel confident. Further I was encouraged! When asked to specifically relate an instance of determination and steps taken to conclusion of a difficult project (... something like that, details disappeared from memory as soon as I left the building) , Debbie suggested that I might have found such a situation working towards my degree. I could have kissed her feet for the nudge! So I spoke of my desire and motivation for returning to school, recounted how hard I studied and the grades that resulted. Most all of my work was graded with commendation, a few with distinction and my degree itself comes with commendation. I was grateful for the opportunity to tell them this!

The role play was harder. This is a targeted sales position.. the one thing about which I had stretched the truth on my app. Sure I've sold bank instruments and services over my teller counter. But targeted? No. None of this happened in a 'push for sales' atmosphere. There was no specific training or sales manager.. though we did once have a contest for selling certificates of deposit.

I'm given one sheet on the role play itself, two covering services offered and promotional items and a pretend (nearly-blank) form I can use , sort of a referral sheet. John is my customer and Debbie sits behind me to observe and take notes. I'm friendly and outgoing, rise to meet him, shake his hand, introduce myself and invite him to sit. He rattles off this huge list of things he's going to be doing along with a few specific items he knows we can help with.

I scribble as he goes, so as not to forget. Almost EVERYTHING on the services and promotion sheets have been covered! When he finishes, I simply began at the top of my scribbled list and began to address each one individually. On reflection, I would probably have begun with his specific items, to give him ease of mind and then hit the ones where I knew we had an offering but that might be new to him.

At one point he mentioned money going to a building society. I didn't know what one was and asked for clarification. When I heard their deposits gain them shares, I equated them to what I know as a credit union.. and offered mortgage and interest comparison services. We continued on till I'd hit the end of my list. I didn't know how to finish but John helped me.

In the followup, Debbie asked if there was anything I'd have done differently. I said I would have asked more about the customer's trip to Spain, that I was sure I'd missed something there. (Later it came to me, insurance) . She told me my building society stumble hadn't hurt me.. that I admitted a need for information and continued on well after.

Asked about the position opened, she explained it's more of a training pool they're trying to establish.. and that might mean working at a different branch. We spoke about their training/career opportunities, about which I am very enthusiastic. Debbie told me that she'd just received her masters degree with the help of the bank's training scheme.

She said she'd call me today. I explained that I'd never had such a 'formal' interview as this and that even if my application was unsuccessful, I would really appreciate any feedback she'd be willing to offer. They were both incredibly nice, the sort of people who make you feel they like you almost immediately.

I felt bouyant for the longest time afterwards. By bedtime though, doubts were creeping, gnawing at my confidence. I got a bit emotional, poor Lynne she must be sick of me crying over my job. I'm going to keep looking for another job.. even if it's not a dream job, just to get my ass out of the Kwikie. Guess we'll just see what Debbie says later this afternoon.


NursePam said...

It sounds like you did very well under difficult circumstances. How scary to face your first formal interview in a culture you haven't yet fully come to know. That in itself is a huge achievement. Bravo! And great big hugs :o)

~ nellenelle said...

Ya did fine! Thank you for sharing your experience, it was a wonderful read, and hope good things come of it for you. If not this time, the experience you've been through will help next time.

Sleep well.


Kim said...

Thank you both for the pats on the back and many words of support! You know I love you both, right??

~ nellenelle said...

I'm sure Pammie is a blushin' right along with me, but hey... both of us love you and Lynne as well...

care for a piece of this chocolate bar? I've only eaten 4 ounces worth. ;-)