The Job Interview

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The suburb of Melbourne you find yourself in, with its emphasis on concrete, fast food outlets and bedding stores, is depressing and like a hundred others.  You can't pretend that it doesn't depress you, even though you know some other people for whom it doesn't clam them up in that way, and so who would therefore call you too sensitive, or snobby, because you are not like them and ergo there must be something wrong with you.  But all you know is that that environment makes your guts sag.  Whatever weather there is to be had in this place feels flat and breathless.  Even at the end of winter, the sun is beating down too harsh without trees to soften it.  You cannot hear any sound of animal life.

The office where you are going for a job interview faces out onto the McDonald's next door.  You have to press a bell to be buzzed in, and once you get upstairs to the first floor the overhead panel of fluorescent lights hits you like a moving morgue.  The air feels lifeless here;  partitions separate you from the unsighted workers who are going about their business with a low hum.  The atmosphere here makes you realise again why you are interested in doing a building biology course.

The woman who welcomes you directs you over towards the sign-in register.  You begin to feel as if you are going into a top-secret government laboratory facility, rather than a service agency.  After you sign in, the woman instructs, could you please go and sit in that chair over there, and wait for the interviewer to come and get you.  After signing in you notice a sign pointing towards the loo.  You think that you will just duck there quickly before taking your seat.  You only take one step in that general direction before the woman who greeted you rushes towards you saying, "No, no, no.  This way."

You tell her that you just want to go to the loo, and she shows you the way, and as you walk past more partitions and offices you have an olfactory hallucination where this space begins to smell to you the way the nursing home did when you went and visited your grandmother.

After your ablutions and your waiting in the chair reading Woman's Day and Reader's Digest, you are directed into the interview room where three people wait with pens and papers poised to inspect you like a stick insect.  Their questions are designed to assess your personality and aptitude a little further, to see how you would fit into their organisation.  After all, you don't have the requisite experience in dealing with volunteers, which is a large component of what this job entails, along with some desktop publishing.  The actual job itself sounds pretty good, to be honest.  They haven't had a lot of applicants because the agency deals with an area that is very unsexy.  The actual job is 32 hours a week, which makes you gulp, because you haven't worked 32 hours a week for a long time.

They continue asking their questions for what feels like 14 hours or so.  You have no idea if you are making a complete dick of yourself, realising a previously unknown psychiatric illness to everybody except you.  You think that you give an answer which pleases them sometimes because they say, "Mmm" with a bit of an upward inflection.  But you have no idea.  You bumble a lot and nervously drink from the glass of water they have offered you.

You are already thinking with longing of your home office.  It looks out on trees and trees.  The rosella has begun coming to visit outside the window on occasion.  You have your ioniser there, so the air always feels fresh.  You do not have to sign in and out.  Sure, the work you do is boring, which is why you are here.  But the work gives you the flexibility to have your mornings free to write and meditate (or at least this is the plan - you are struggling to get back into those regular habits lately).  You do not know how you would fit everything in with this job, and this makes you feel like a loser as well because so many other people you know work 32 hours a week or 52 hours a week and they don't complain about it.  You, you're feeling your throat tighten just at the thought of it.

You are, to all intents and purposes, far too sensitive to your environment.  And so this becomes the weighing factor - if you are offered the job, a job which you could quite like and could even see yourself losing track of time in occasionally, would that balance out the fact that the thought of coming here every single workday every week every month is already making your chest constrict?

You wonder - perhaps, to keep you motivated working in your home office, if you shouldn't just simply go to job interviews every week.  See what you're not missing.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. when i read this post, the question that comes to mind is "so what is missing, in your home office?"
    and how could you re-create some of that so you get to keep your home office job where the rosella sits on the windowsill and the ioniser keeps the air fresh
    or could you take the ioniser to the office - and i'll buy you a stuffed parrot to sit on the back of your chair :-)

  3. Sue, your writing sparkles even, or maybe especially, when you write about things that confuse and depress you. Should you be offered the job, I hope it inspires the rest of your life in ways you can't even imagine now:)

  4. Kel - the only thing missing in my home office is work that isn't as boring as batshit. I would love to stay working on my own terms. Who knows what's around the corner - perhaps I will be able to continue doing that. If not I'll let you know when I need the parrot 

  5. Harry - thank you very much. Writing about confusing things makes them less confusing. I can't remember who it was who describes writing as "living twice". It's certainly true 

  6. hmm..... i don't get to work from home, so i have to get up early, put on full office armour (respectable clothes and makeup) and after a commute, i get to do a job that is boring as batshit......

  7. Well, comparisons are oderous really, Kel, aren't they, because I might feel better now, but you probably feel worse :[

  8. Oh, and anyway, as it goes, I just got a phone call earlier telling me thanks for my application and that she hopes I find something that suits me very quickly :)

    I felt relieved ... and then I felt a bit disappointed! It's funny when you are ambivalent about something :) I had actually geared myself up last night to take it if she offered it, because of the experience, and because it would be good to do a job that I could forget myself in from time to time, but now I guess I don't have to worry :)

  9. Thanks for this, Erin. It's really hard to say "No, THIS is important to me and THIS and THIS but not that" and stand by those things.

    That's a really hard thing to know in advance, isn't it - will I want to actually do the job when I'm out doing it? It's a hard enough one to get right that so many people find they DON'T do what they were trained for. I think with your area though it's a pretty broad kind of scope so there must be the right fit for you out there somewhere.

  10. ah the tension of holding disappointment in one hand and relief in the other
    may this be a stepping stone to something more, something better, something that makes you say "yes, this is what I was looking for"

  11. Yep. I love how aware you are of how things affect you. That is really going to be important in the job search. They say we shouldn't do a job that we wouldn't do for other words, LOVE it. And on the one hand your existing arrangement seems pretty good, but there obviously is a reason you are seeking elsewhere. Who knows?

    I worry that this education I've been working on...will I really want to actually DO the job when I get to the end of my education? What if I hate it? What if I'm wasting my time?


Newer Older