Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Quiksilver Interview

Way back when I was 13 and in school, I had a bit of a passion for Craft, Design and Realisation. For the very few of you reading this that are older than me, that was the fancy new name for woodwork, metalwork, that kind of thing. My passion was unbridled. Almost.
I could think of nothing I enjoyed more than designing something I neither really wanted nor needed, drawing up plans, measuring, gathering the materials, getting halfway through before deciding there was something more important I could be designing that I neither really wanted nor needed, drawing up plans, etc etc. Ad infinitum. 0.3 recurring.
The passion was still there to create though, so much so that I gave up quite a few lunchtimes in a teacher supervised workshop to create on my own time. And, of course, avoid any playground taunts for being a fat gobshite with a squeaky voice. It was during one of these sessions that I found I needed to trim down a small, probably 2 inch long at the most, piece of wooden dowelling. Off to the bandsaw I went to cut it down to make it fit into whatever bonfire fuel I was making that week. Now, the thing about dowelling, it's very essence, is that it is cylindrical. And if you apply downward pressure to one side of a cylindrical object, it spins. And feeds your thumb straight into the bandsaw blade. It didn't feel too bad right then, and the teacher at the time told me to run it under the cold tap and it would be fine, but the pool of blood forming in my hand did not inspire me with confidence.
My 13 year old sorry sobbing frame was driven to the hospital by my wonderful mother, and fortunately I was seen quite quickly from what I remember. The blade had cut around about 2/3rd's of my thumb, but missed the bone, so after a quick check by the nurse (involving peeling the end of it away to check), I was prepared to get it numbed and stitched up. The anaesthetic needle was driven multiple times into the fleshy base of my thumb. It was agony. I am not ashamed to say I screamed the hospital down. If I was my grown-up, quick-witted smart-ass self by that point I would have asked for an anaesthetic for the anaesthetic. 5 stitches later, I was whole again, with a week off school to look forward to. Happy days. Aside from the obvious general heartbreak, and the loss of loved ones, this incident was by far the most painful experience of my life.

Until now.

I donned my finest O'Neill t-shirt, dropped my jeans to just-below-butt level, and got to the "group interview" just before 3 today to find a sign on the door with the schedule of events. Photograph, Questionnaire, Intro, Game - The Bus Stop, Game - The Spoon, Q&A. As we filed in one by one, in what felt like the queue for the shower at Auschwitz, we were given name badges and had the photo taken. Name badges in this situation have one use and one use only. It gives the perfect excuse to look at some of the pendulous breasts on display. "Suzanne, is that Suzanne?? Is that a Z?? Sorry, my eyes aren't that good, I may need to get closer. Do you mind if I touch each letter as I read it?".
Onto the questionnaire then. Which didn't bode well. First question - Why do you want to work for Quiksilver? The answer I didn't put was "because like everyone else here I am in a foreign country, with no job, and no income, and I have applied at every place in Queenstown, and you are one of the only ones to respond". Do they honestly expect that each and every person there has had aspirations to work for them since they were toddlers, and by happy coincidence they may now get the chance due to a new store opening up?
Second question - What do you know about Quiksilver boardriders? I knew, I knew I should have done some research. I was in Starbucks earlier drinking the equivalent of the English Channel in Latte thinking that I needed to. I planned to stop off at the internet cafe on the way down but misjudged the time. Historically, my brutal honesty in this situation got me a 10 year career with B.T. but I have a feeling it may not do me any favours this time round. The guy next to me kept looking at his mobile phone. I think the smart-arse may have texted himself some company history. Tosser.
The other questions were relatively easy, customer service related generally. The last one however, slightly different kettle of fish - Describe in your own words, the qualities that define a team player. After the first two questions didn't go too well, I didn't really take the rest too seriously. This is how, after a little babble about various things, I ended up writing something of David Brent-esque cringe-worthy proportions - "There is no 'I' in team". Yes, I actually wrote that. Mainly tongue in cheek, but looking back on it I may have to nip off for 5 minutes to repeatedly headbutt a bed of nails tipped with arsenic.
On to the games. The Bus Stop game consisted of getting into groups and having to decide which one of 3 people to save from certain death - a 90 year old woman with wads of cash (that you don't know about), your soulmate (who you don't know, so don't know that she is your soulmate), or your best friend who has saved your life a few times before. And in The Spoon Game, we were given a fork(?) and had to come up with as many different uses no matter how bizarre. Essentially it just seemed like we had to write down any objects, in the world ever, that weren't forks. Which is how we came up with Virgin Atlantic Space Station. And then had to sell it to the Quiksilver guys via jingles, skits, adverts etc. I spent most of my time next to the door, hoping to get out as soon as possible. There were 38 people in this interview. I counted them, twice. Although it was a necessary evil, I think I would rather have had a urethral swab with a cactus. A really wide one too.
Apparently they will call the successful people halfway through next week. To be honest, the mobile reception where I am is quite poor so I don't expect my phone to ring.

It's not all horrific car-crash news though. I moved into my new place yesterday. It's nice here, but a little cold in the bedroom. I like a cold room, in fact sometimes there is nothing nicer than waking in the morning in a chilled room, where it is nice and warm under the duvet. But I can see my breath, which is never good. I have been all round town looking for a heater today, but for some reason nowhere sells them. Which in a town that's not quite as cold as Siberia where none of the properties seem to have insulation or heating, it seems odd that no-one has cornered the niche in this market.
I also have work lined up for later this month. I have been taken on for a few days a week delivering rental equipment to hotels, which may lead to more hours. The benefits are awesome too as far as lift passes and rides to the mountains go. I go in on Friday for training.
And I bought gummi bears, and chocolate covered raisins.
But the best news ever, for today at least, I walked past a liquor store called "Beaver Liquor". Honestly.



  1. Loving your work John boy. That is an insane interview process. I remember working in that DX store in the belfry and it involved a brief chat to make sure that I didnt have tourettes and would scare of any potential customers, a maths test to make sure that said customers didnt get so much change that I bankrupted the store and then, it being Redhill and therefore quite likely that 99% of people would have failed one or in most cases both of those challenging trials, I was offered the job.
    Wasn't it CDT (technology) not CDR? I only remember those workshops as it was where you would drill a hole in VW or Jaguar badges to make key rings, such a fine educational establishment we attended
    Good luck in the search for employment, if not then search out that old lady with pots of cash, after your recent experiences then becoming a plaything for a geriatric!

  2. Thanks man, feedback always appreciated. As I remember, in our school at least, they split CDT into 3 different sections - CDT, CDR and CDC (Technology, Realisation, and Communication respectively). Although the only achievement there was it created two extra subjects for all the pre-criminals we went to school with to fail.
    VW and Jag badges. I have a feeling there wasn't a single car in Redhill around that time that had either. Damn those Beastie Boys!

  3. I love the way retail takes interviews so seriously. I had a similar experience with Asda - a three stage, THREE STAGE - interview process to sit on a checkout!! There was a point where we had to act out adverts for products from the store and one group had a can of dog food as their product. I should have run for the door when I saw a grown man pretending to be a dog (on all fours, barking). I hate to think of the depths people will go to during the recession to work there. Grim.