8 March 2016

enismirdal: (Bee!12)
So, the last two days have been interesting.

A local sixth form (16-18 year olds) college invited me along to help with some of their preparing-for-employment programmes. The initial e-mail was fairly vague, but as I corresponded, more details came through:
"Can you do some mock interviews with our students?"
OK.
"What dates would you prefer? And what types of students?"
Well, I'm a research scientist, so I'd prefer STEMM subjects, or Geography, or perhaps Animal Welfare at a pinch.
"Oh, we're doing the STEMM students on . If you come on the 7th and 8th we're doing the Business and Accountancy students."
Um...OK. Fine, let's go with that, as I'm given an interview script and all.

...and then the fake job description and interview script arrives for Day One, the Monday.

Childcare students.

Of all the topics under the sun, childcare probably ranks as the one I am least qualified for. I mean, I just about know what end of a toddler is the front, but it's hardly my natural inclination.

Still, I gamely went along with it, and got myself into character as the manager of a fictional new nursery. And interviewed 10 or so baby-loving young women about their fictional applications to be nursery nurses.

It was surprisingly good fun. Intense, as I actually had to listen, and I am not the best listener, but interesting. Some were confident, some were bubbly, some were nervous. One was so nervous she arrived in tears. I saw it as my job to give them the best chance to show what they were capable of, so tried to be a sympathetic interviewer who'd prompt them to try and coax out their skills and experience. Mostly it worked. One or two seemed to be quite underprepared and a bit apathetic but overall they came across as nice and passionate about childcare as a vocation. Good on them.

Day Two was the A-level students (mostly studying some combination of psychology/sociology/law/business studies/culture and communication). They'd apparently chosen the job advert for which they were fictionally applying by democratic vote, but were a bit confused about the specifics of the job description (it was oddly phrased: the advert was originally posted by a recruitment agency, who were recruiting for a headhunting firm, who specialised in recruiting legal professionals for FTSE 250 companies, and so the students hadn't quite deconstructed where the position in question fitted into all that). Still, I worked with what was there, and played along. This cohort were a year older - they'd done this before, last year, and weren't totally convinced they needed to do another interview this year. Nonetheless, all but one turned up. Most of them even dressed like they were attending an actual job interview. One, we suspect, might have forgotten the interviews were today, as she interviewed very well - enthusiastic, intelligent, animated, likeable - but was woefully, woefully underdressed (and vastly overperfumed). I felt fairly proud of myself for completing the interview with the hard-of-hearing student without him needing to ask for repeats or misunderstanding anything, so that was a communication win. Overall, you could tell today's cohort were older and more experienced, as they were more polished. But then, so was I, by that time, having interviewed around 20 people in 2 days. I got quite into the role - ambitious, dynamic headhunting firm, placing legal professionals in high profile clients' legal departments. High pressure environment, demanding clients, eye for talent, great promotion prospects. Probably a good thing it was only one morning or I'd have started to act like it was what I actually did!

I'm now in the odd position of having been in about twenty times more interviews as the interviewer than as the interviewee.

I'm glad it's over now, however, as wearing smart clothes for two days straight gets really tiresome. Though I'm going to the opera tomorrow night so should probably at least vaguely try to look respectable then too.

I really hope that none of them actually believed I was what I was pretending to be. It was too bad I couldn't do a big reveal each time. "Um, yeah, actually what I do is put tiny flies in a tube and see which way they crawl...and also chase butterflies and giant bees around bean fields in Africa*."

*Our current research project is simply way too much fun.

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