Monday, 28 February 2011

Virgin on the ridiculous... again

So here I am blogging about my Internet service when I was going to blog all about my interview from Friday.

I was going to tell you all about the amazing struggle I had preparing a presentation in PowerPoint even though I had over a week’s notice to prepare and two clear days to write. I was going to mention how at one point I feared for my sanity when, as expected, my head went in to such a mad scramble on the morning of the interview that I was virtually in tears through the inability to think straight.

I could have told you all about how a very good friend of mine watched me plummet from confidence on the subject to an uncontrollable panic attack when the slides wouldn’t come together. And how he smiled when returning to the house on the day of the interview to find a half eaten bread roll sitting on the table, which, he said, put how my stomach was feeling in to a nutshell.

And I was going to mention my outfit nightmares – from the dress that was way too tight (partly because the flap on the skirt was still sown shut at the back and partly because it was a size too small but the only smart thing I had in my wardrobe), to the heels that were too high, and combined with the tight skirt made the journey to the train station feel like I was on some kind of bad trip where the pavements were getting longer.

I might have even mentioned how, just before leaving the house and already running slightly late, I got the loop of my jacket caught in the top of my dress, and nearly passed out trying to free it.

Or how I was in such a desperate state that I begged the Angels to help me to think straight. And how oddly enough, on the train it seemed to work (with adverts for Aussie hair products reminding me of LIGHT-headedness)

And at some point I might have mentioned that on several occasions before the interview I had been visualising sitting with my sister having a drink afterwards, and receiving a call to say that I had got the job. And how, even though I interviewed on the closing date for applications, that is exactly what happened.

It was going to be the show stopper at the end of my piece.

Except that my bloody internet is down.

So after a lot of turning things off and on, rebooting the computer, unplugging the router, I gave Virgin a call and went through their automated menu.

I was initially impressed, because the automated menu does everything to confirm who you are, check your account details and record exactly what part of their service you are having an issue with. I pressed various buttons to confirm that, yes, it was a problem accessing wireless internet, and that yes, I had already unplugged the hub and rebooted my computer. I even pressed numbers on the phone corresponding to my password to confirm my authenticity.

So at this point I kind of expected to go straight through to someone who a) knew who I was and b) was aware of what problem I was experiencing with their service.

Yeah, right.

Hello can I help you?”

“Yes, I have problems connecting to my Internet”

Is this a wireless or wired connection, ma’am?”

“Errm…. Wireless, like the button I just pressed in your menu system”

And what is your account number?”

WTF?? “I would give you my account number if I had access to the Internet, but I don’t. And your menu system has just spent ten minutes confirming who I am, so I was hoping that you would have some information there?”

Can you then give me your phone number, ma’am?”


The call took a long time. The analyst insisted that I switch off the hub all over again, and reboot my computer (which took forever).

Then he deduced it must be a problem with the hub and asked me if this was the first time I had used the service.

Do they not give their Help Desk staff any information to work with???

Eventually after a series of long pauses which told me that he was completely out of his depth in resolving the issue, he deduced that there was an outage in the area.

No, really? I swear, watching the little globe on my network flash on and off like a f**king Christmas tree light had never given me that impression.

It will be fixed by 8pm tonight” he said confidently. I will give you a call to confirm when the service is fixed”. It was ten to eight. First rule of thumb when working on a help desk: don’t make promises that you cannot keep. I thought that it was more likely that he was knocking off work at eight and that therefore he wouldn’t have to deal with the aftermath.

Anyhow, at this time of writing (8am), the internet is still down and after another call to Virgin it is confirmed that it will be out for the rest of the day.

I can’t wait for the service to be back up again so that I can start responding to all of my emails – specifically that one from Virgin, entitled “We’d love to hear from you!!”

Oh no you wouldn’t. Truly. But you’re going to anyway.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A little bit of history repeating...

Oo, I've never liked interviews.

Don't get me wrong - I fully understand the purpose of interviews. The company wants to find the right person for the job. I get that. But can't we all just be a little more friendly about it? I mean, do I have to prove that I am capable as well as funny, chatty and friendly?

It doesn't matter how much I prepare, I never get asked the darned competency-based questions that I was prepared for, and for the life of me I cannot think on the spot. Instead of pausing for a second to find the right answer, or stalling for time by saying "I'm sorry, could you clarify what you mean?" (at which point they say "Yes, Ms Rookie, are you thirsty and would you like some water?") I go completely blank and start talking at the same time. I open my mouth at the start of what I think might be a really good example, and then I keep talking until I make my point or can see the whites of their eyes. Whichever comes sooner.

Anyhow. A few months ago I was contacted - nay - Head Hunted - by a chapI had interviewed with six months before. "It's a much higher level role" he said, "I think it's far more suited to your skills - no technical requirements this time"

I felt excited. And very flattered. "We want to fill the role very quickly" he said, "Can you call me asap for a chat?" I rang. We chatted. It was all very relaxed.
"I haven't "managed" people before" I said, "but I've lead a team"
"Well, we all have to start somewhere" he replied. It all sounded rather promising. And the salary was to die for. I started to daydream about the flat I would rent and the clothes I would buy. And having a fully paid off credit card.

The interview was arranged for the following Monday. "Less of an interview, more of a chat, probably" was the promise "And you haven't met Mark either, and he might have a couple of questions"

I turned up at 5:30 after a full day at work, feeling very ropey. I'd been trying to shake off a rather nasty bug for a couple of weeks and had spent most of the day wanting to sleep under my desk. But that's okay, because this is going to be more of a chat. They've met me already, and I am being Head Hunted. I was relaxed.

Too relaxed, as it turned out. It was the most gruelling interview of my entire life. Mark didn't want to ask a couple of questions. Oh no. Mark wanted to put me through the wringer. After half an hour I wanted the ground to swallow me up as I clawed my way through each unprepared rambling answer. After an hour I wanted to stop the questions and say "You know what, guys, I think that you and I both know that I'm not who you are looking for".

Perhaps they were just giving me 'another chance' to demonstrate my skills. And instead I just dug myself deeper and deeper, finally nailing the lid on the coffin with the answer that I could be available within a week. Like, hello? Yes, they were looking for the role to be filled very soon, but were expecting people to provide at least one month's notice...


I consoled myself with the knowledge that there has to be a reason for this event in my life. Nothing happens without a reason.

The reason has just arrived.

A few weeks ago I was kind of Head Hunted for a role with a company I interviewed for last summer. This role is much more aligned to your skills, my former interviewer said, no technical stuff this time. If you're interested we'd love to see you again.

Yeah, yeah. Thought you would catch me all relaxed, did you?