Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Job Search - Part III

A tiny speck of light then broke through the darkening clouds of uncertainty – I received another voicemail message from the Prilly guy, who invited me for an interview the next day. I called him back saying I was available, and we set a time.

Gutted about being turned down for one job, I tried to concentrate my thoughts on preparing for my next interview, and spent the rest of the day thoroughly researching everything I could about this company. I wanted to make sure I could calmly and confidently speak about their line of work during the interview, and show real motivation for the job.

Dressed up for my interview
The day of the interview came, and I headed to the company’s office to meet with the HR guy. He was really friendly and we chatted briefly before we went into the meeting, where we were joined by the manager of the team I could be working for. During the interview I spoke about myself and my experiences, listened intently to their descriptions of the role and the company, and then asked them questions that I had prepared prior to the interview.

I had a very good feeling after the interview, as I thought I had presented myself as honestly as possible, making sure to explain why I would be the perfect candidate for the job. Part of the interview was conducted in French, and I did not hesitate to tell them that, while I am by no means fluent in the language, I have a good understanding of it and am improving all the time.

At the end of the interview, the HR guy asked me to email him with my feedback, so they could compare my view of how the interview went with their own thoughts. I left the building in a far more confident mood than I had in Fribourg, and treated myself to a McDonalds. My positive thoughts were doing their best to push the negative ones out of my mind, and the large Big Mac meal gave them a helping hand.

That afternoon I spent some time writing the feedback email, and sent it to the HR guy. I didn’t know how long it would be before I heard something back, although I presumed it would be fairly quick as they had told me they need someone to start as soon as possible. Sure enough, he replied to my email saying their view was quite positive too, and that they would discuss this internally.

Just a couple of days later I received a call saying they wanted to see me for a second interview, allowing Christelle and I to raise our hopes that this might be the one that works for me. We were careful, however, to not put too much hope into this job, learning our lesson from the disappointment of Fribourg. After all, the second interview was arranged for the end of the next week, so perhaps they had a lot of other candidates to see in the meantime.

At the end of the week I received an email from a large private bank in Geneva asking me to come in for an interview regarding an IT project position that I had applied for. Suddenly it seemed like things were starting to move forward at the same time with my job search, as companies were starting to respond more positively to my applications.

I arranged an interview date for the Monday of the following week, and picked up a “carte journalière” (a travel card for trains, trams and boats that is valid for one day in the whole of Switzerland, for only 40 Swiss francs) for that day. I now had two interviews lined up for that week, so things were beginning to look up for me.

I wanted to do everything I could to land a job as soon as possible. I wanted to impress the Prilly company and the bank in Geneva and show them that I could be the right candidate for the role. So, that weekend, Christelle and I went shopping. We bought a brand new, Italian-made suit along with several new shirts and a pair of shiny shoes. “Dress to impress”, as they say.

It was a pretty expensive purchase too, making it all the more important that I find a job to be able to pay for it. Over a steak tartare lunch, we allowed ourselves to dream a little bit about what getting this job would mean, especially now that we were getting our own apartment together in February.
When Monday came, I dressed in my stylish suit and headed to Geneva. Having previously spent some time there exploring the city, getting there on the train was a piece of cake. I located the office building and went inside, where I eventually found the right floor for the company (after some confusion over how to get the elevator to work).

The interview was with the manager of the team I would be working for, and it seemed to go pretty well. The vast majority of the interview was in English, although by this point I was fairly well practiced at speaking about my working life and achievements in French. The job seemed very interesting, and would be drawing on my IT background as part of my project duties.

At the end of the interview, the manager told me that he had one or two other candidates to see and would then be inviting people back for a second meeting, which would be an informal discussion with the current members of his team – he would then get their feedback to help him choose the right candidate. I was confident that he would offer me a second interview, but would have to wait for his decision later in the week. I headed back to Lausanne – via McDonalds – and spent the next couple of days applying for more jobs on the Internet, just in case.

The day of the second interview for the job in Prilly came, and with it came an email from the Geneva bank inviting me for a second interview. I fixed a date for the Thursday of the following week, and then set about getting ready for the task at hand. After re-researching the Prilly company to keep everything fresh in my mind – I dressed in my new suit and headed to the company’s office building.

I was confident this time, undeterred by the fact that the interview was once again with two directors. The meeting began and I confidently spoke about my skills and experiences and how they related to the job in question. I also spoke French for around 15 minutes of the interview, and I think I did quite well – my level of French must have really improved by this point, as I found myself able to speak more fluidly and with less pauses for thought than I had previously.

At the end of the interview I was confident of my chances, however I didn’t want to get carried away as I might only be setting myself up for a fall. Another McDonalds treat for lunch was the only celebration I allowed myself.

About two hours after the interview, I received a call from the HR guy, who calmly stated that they were really interested in me and that they would like to offer me the job, after I go through the motions of an integrity test. I couldn’t contain my sheer joy after the phone call, as I strode into the living room and proudly told Christelle and her parents that I was 99% sure of having the job.

Even though I still had to go through the integrity test, the manner in which the HR guy had spoke to me really made me believe that my search was about to come to an end, with a very happy ending. We held off the official celebrations though, as we wanted to be sure that I would definitely had the job – meaning we would need to wait until the official word of “you’ve got the job” was spoken by the HR guy, and I had signed the contract.

The integrity test was arranged for the Tuesday of the following week. I did a little bit of research on the Internet to see what an integrity test actually was, and it turns out that it is basically a means of checking your character to see if you will fit into the company mentality. This meant that I would need to be someone honest and fair, who doesn’t steal or do drugs. In other words, unless I was a violent, thieving drug-addict, I should pass the test.

So, I took the integrity test in confident mood, calmly answering each question quickly and honestly. It only took about twenty minutes to complete the whole test, and after a quick chat with the HR guy I was back outside and headed home, where I would have to wait for the official decision of the company the next day.

I told Christelle how it went, and we allowed ourselves to dream of the finish line in my quest for a job. Dreaming aside, I still had to wait for the final word on whether it would be a glorious “yes” or a heart-breaking “no”...

As it turns out, this job was similar to the one in Fribourg, in that it was a project manager position that would also require frequent travel to other countries. The more I read about the company, the more I found myself interested in working for them. They seemed to be market leaders in what they do, have been around for a very long time, and have offices all over the world.

It sounded like the perfect environment to offer both an engaging line of work and the structure within which to further improve my skills. In other words, a company that would be just right for me.

Did I get the job? Read the final chapter - "The Job Search - Part IV" - to find out.

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