Of Interviews and Tests

I interviewed at the iPod support company this week. It was like going on a first date again. It’s only been 22 years since I’ve done that.

I showed up on time, which means a few minutes early, and had to sit and wait. Again, like a date. Then I met “Lucy” who invited me into her office for the interview. It was slightly surreal.

We ran over some of the basics and then I got this question, “How would you describe yourself?”

For me, this is an impossible question. She might as well have asked me to calculate Pi. I actually laughed out loud and said, “Well, I can give you a 30 second answer or a 30 minute answer but I’m guessing you want the 30 second answer.” This, of course, is a bluff, the truth is it will take me 30 minutes just to come up with an answer that makes sense. I’m stalling.

“Well, I like sunsets and walks on the beach, I love big sweaters on cold days and long chats by the fire on dark, wet days.”

That’s what I wished I’d said afterwards but instead I mumbled through something about being a dad, a husband, a friend, creativity, people, blah, blah, blah. 30 seconds or less.

I would say that I’m probably my least favourite subject to talk about if I wasn’t writing a blog about, well, me.

A few more Oprahesque questions before we got to that part of the process when they ask if you have any questions for them. “Is there anyone as old as me that works here?” “Oh, you’re not old.” She said, as she quickly looked back down at the application form and my resume. “There’s a mix here.” She said. Not that I’ve seen on any of my visits but o.k., I’ll take her word for it. I really don’t want to work somewhere I get nicknamed, “Gramps”.

At the end I’m invited to set an appointment to come in and take another test: a computer simulated call centre ‘experience’. I also need to take a typing test. So I see the receptionist Rhonda and set up a time for the next day.

So I show up the following day. Rhonda takes me in to the computer, gets a chair for me, explains everything very well and then gets me started on my simulation.
I was hoping for a holo-deck or at least some funky glasses with earphones that puts you in a 3D world. But no.

Just a program that is supposed to last 45 minutes once I click ‘begin’. The simulation asks me about me, including whether I’m male or female. Later, when the simulations begins, I realize “my” voice in the sim is decidedly feminine and I freak for a second that I indicated I was a female on the ‘about me section’ which could lead to LOTS of confusion later on.

Once the program is running it amounts to, mostly, irate callers who are at various levels of pissiness about something wrong with their bill or a delivery or something. And then am given four possible responses that I have to rate each response on a scale from Very Ineffective, Ineffective, Somewhat Ineffective, Somewhat Effective, Effective, to Very Effective. This, again, is completely not me. It works or it doesn’t work. Once something sucks who cares if it sucks less than the other thing? Just don’t do it.

Some of these are really great and I laugh out loud, scaring the people in the cubicle farm around me because they can’t hear what I hear and I can only imagine that if the simulation is accurate, most of the people working here are living on the borderline of phone rage.

“My credit card interest rate is too high (don’t ask why they use this sim for iPod support please) you guys are ripping me off and you better transfer me to someone intelligent so I can get this fixed you pimple faces moron.” Was roughly how the sim went. My choices ranged from, “Listen butt face, I’ve got all your personal info here so unless you want me to destroy your credit rating after I shop on-line for some very expensive gifts for myself and then come around your place at 38 Winchester Ave. and kick your dog “Tiger” and slash you’re the tires on your ’05 BMW, you better change your tone with me real fast!”


“I understand you’re upset sir, let me see how I can help you with that.”

They were looking for “ineffective” and “effective” not “satisfying”.

The worst was the sim call form a lady that wanted to increase the limit on her credit card from $5,000 to $10,000 for her trip to New York where she wanted to ‘see everything’. There was no response option for, “Save your money for a year and then you won’t have to pay our extortionist interests rates that will make you wish you’d never heard of New York.”

On the other hand, I did 57 wpm on my typing test and Rhonda the receptionist said I could become a secretary with that. So, I’ve got that going for me.

Now I wait to hear back and see if my SIM marks were good enough to get the job.

Off to another interview now…


About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in job search, Life, Rambling. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Of Interviews and Tests

  1. On-Line Support is so hilarious. When I applied they never had the whole simulation thing. They basically took me in off the street and put me into a training group.

    As for the age, the majority of the people are young but there are a lot of people working there who are in their late 30’s, 40’s, and even a couple who are in their 50’s or 60’s. If you do get the job, you will have no problem fitting in at OLS because they have such a great crew of people working there. The job sucks, the pay is decent, but the people sitting around you are great. I’m thinking that I’ll be ending back up at OLS for the summer once I finish school. I’m thinking about sending them in an email sometime soon. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, so I’m told.

  2. Shelley says:

    you need to stop thinking that being in your early 40s makes you “old” and comparing yourself to a grandpa! that’s just going to make your life miserable and it’s unnecessary. Remember…you’re the same age a Brad Pitt.

  3. brianmpei says:

    Andrew: I really like everyone I’ve met at OLS so far but I haven’t seen much white/grey hair. It would be cool if I end up there if you were there too.

    Shelley: Thanks but I don’t have Brad’s personal trainer or personal chef. But I do surprisingly look a lot like him.

  4. That would be neat. You could bless all of my calls for me, help send the bad callers to another line. Melissa still works at OLS, but she’s in a higher tier of support. You’d no doubt bump into her a lot though if you end up working there.

  5. Melissa says:

    I like that “cubicle farm”. I never thought of it that way before but thats exactly what it is.

  6. brianmpei says:

    Melissa! Thanks for stopping by! I haven’t heard back from the ‘farm’ yet so it may not be good!

  7. Melissa says:

    Well i know they’re starting a training group next week and then another one in a few weeks. They hired 40 people but they’re only expecting 20 of them to stay. I’m sure you’ll definitely get hired. I know they were calling people who went in for interviews back in November because they haven’t hired for a few months. If you don’t hear anything in a week or so I would give them a call because they tend to forget to do that. You should of put my name on your resume. If you got hired I would have gotten 200 bucks. I know you’ve probably heard horror stories about the place but I like it. The people are good and they have pretty good incentives and benefits.

  8. brianmpei says:

    Melissa, I didn’t even realize you worked there ’til after when Andrew told me. Sorry about that! If I get called back I’ll mention your name!

    I haven’t heard any bad stories yet. Now you’ve got me curious…

  9. Brian, I think I have told you some horror stories, haven’t I? If not, we’ll do coffee sometime this week and I’ll share with you my experience at OLS. I warn you though, and Melissa can back me up because she saw me at my worst, my stories will make you think twice about working at a “cubicle farm.”

    I’ll no doubt be returning to work there in a couple of weeks. All in all, the place is not that bad. If it wasn’t for the odd miserable person whose mission in life is to make others miserable, the job would be great. I got to talk with some really interesting people about some interesting things while working there. One time I talked to a woman from Australia who was experiencing insomnia and wanted someone to talk to. We talked for two hours.

  10. brianmpei says:

    Andrew: that is exactly the kind of story that would make me work there. Otherwise, if you’ve told me some bad ones I’ve forgotten. Let’s do coffee, I’m buying.

  11. Brian, I’m up for going for coffee. Apparently this week is suppose to be full of good weather. Would you want to grab coffees and walk down to Confederation Landing? Sitting on the rocks is the best place in Charlottetown to drink coffee and chat.

  12. brianmpei says:

    I’m in. Give me a call on Tuesday.

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