Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Job Search - Part II

At the start of January I waited for a call from the Fribourg HR lady to arrange a date for my interview. A couple of working days had passed, and I had heard nothing back. Once again anxious, I told myself that maybe they were still struggling to arrange the date with the directors, especially coming so close after the holiday period.

A couple more days passed with no news, and the anxiety level began to grow (the old adage, “no news is good news”, does not apply to job hunting). I made another call to the company and found out that the HR lady was not due to return from holiday for another couple of days – this helped me to relax a bit, and calmed our fears that the company had decided to reject me over Christmas (images of a director shouting “no” into his mobile phone whilst skiing down a Swiss mountainside flash through the mind).

Finally, the HR lady called. She was a very friendly person, and we happily chatted about our respective Christmas holidays before we set a date for the second interview, which would be in two parts – one meeting with the director of the area of the company I would be working in, and a second meeting with the director of the entire company.

No pressure there then. Delighted to have a second interview date, but incredibly nervous about presenting myself to company directors, I finished the day with a happy heart and an upset stomach.

An update followed from Adecco lady who said that they were still waiting to hear back from the company in Montreux about the temporary job (the one that would involve getting students set up to surf the Web). I wasn’t too concerned about the lack of urgency with this job, as I had my mind set on the Fribourg gig. It was a job that would require a lot of travelling, to various countries in Europe and Africa, something that I thought would be a fantastic experience.

The day of the second interview arrived, and Christelle, Nelly and Bernard all accompanied me on the drive to Fribourg (which is about 45 minutes from Lausanne, so not that close). While they went shopping at the nearby mall, I strode into the company building and announced my arrival to the receptionist as confidently as I could, trying to look the part of a successful project manager.

The HR lady came down to meet me, and we chatted as she led me into the meeting room. This helped to calm my nerves a little, but only for a brief moment as the area director then arrived to start the interview.

I tried my best to confidently answer all the questions he threw at me, and I think I did a pretty good job. The interview was held entirely in English, so I think that helped my confidence a little. Then came the interview with the director of the company, whose first question was to ask me to describe the area of business that the company does, specifically relating to two key words that he gave me.

This threw me off balance, as I had not expected to be asked this question – I researched the company on the Internet prior to the interview to learn as much as I could about them and their operations, but still struggled to think of a good answer. I knew that this bad start would be difficult to recover from, but I tried as best as I could to sound motivated, enthusiastic, and qualified.

The majority of the interview was in English, but we also spoke in French for part of it – a brief chat about my level of French and how I had adapted to Swiss life since moving to the country.

At the end of the interview, I had mixed feelings. I felt the meeting with the area director had gone reasonably well, but was less sure about the company director. Just as I was preparing to leave, the manager of the team I would potentially be working for (who had interviewed me in December) popped into the room looking far more casual and relaxed than during our previous encounter.

After exchanging pleasantries, he surprised me by saying that he wanted to offer me the job, as he believed it would be worth taking a chance on me. The inner joy I felt at that moment was fantastic, I thought I had finally achieved my goal of finding employment. Then the manager continued by saying that the decision was down to the company director, who he would speak with once I had left.

“D’oh”, pretty much sums up what I thought about that, and the inner joy became tainted with doubts and insecurities. Had I done enough with the director, or had I blown my chances? The manager said he would give me a call at the start of the next week with the decision.

On the way back from Fribourg, I had a voicemail message from a guy who worked for a company in Prilly (right next to Lausanne), saying that he had received my application through JobUP and was interested in organizing an interview. I tried calling him back, but ended up leaving a message on his voicemail too, saying that I was interested in meeting with them and could be available any day next week.

When searching for a job it is always better to keep looking and applying for vacancies right up until the moment you sign the contract, just in case things don’t work out, so I wanted to keep all my options open.

The weekend was another couple of days of nervous waiting. Part of me was hopeful that the combined positive views of the manager and the HR lady (plus possibly the area director) would be enough to sway the decision, and that I would soon find myself making the return trip to Fribourg everyday, but the other part of me focused on the negative feeling I had from the second interview.

Monday arrived, and I got the call from the manager – he came straight out with it and said that it was bad news; the company director thought I was too inexperienced for the role, and preferred to go with someone else. I was shattered, my thoughts immediately darkening under the growing realization that I might never find a job in Switzerland, and would have to return to England (and face whatever consequences that would mean for my marriage with Christelle).

Finding a job in another country, where the language spoken is not your own, was turning into a harder task than I had imagined.

The story continues in "The Job Search - Part III"...

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