Personality and games

Warning: this is going to be a long one and all views are my own.

It is prime application season for Graduate Programmes. Knee deep in reading lists, cover letters, CV’s and psychometric tests.

I would just like to share my experience with the Unilever Future Leaders Programme, more specifically for their Marketing stream. For those that don’t know, Unilever is the group that makes iconic brands like Dove, Marmite, Knorr amongst dozens of other household names so it is no surprise that their graduate schemes prove extremely popular to graduates and students alike.

This is not the first time that I have applied for Unilever or many of the countless grad schemes that I will be hitting the submit button for this winter.

Graduate schemes in the UK are like gold dust. Why? Working for a household name, getting a 30k salary, support, rotations between business units and sometimes international travel. The average application process for graduate schemes are pretty similar usually starting with online application – online tests – interview – assessment centre. I usually strike out right about the online tests because my numerical testing ability is almost non-existant. Therefore, this year I was happy to see that Unilever had uncovered a new and streamlined approach to their recruitment process (I seem to remember in the previous years, there was a lot of competency based questions i.e. tell me about a time you showed leadership etc.)

This year, the online application was super quick and you can even just import your LinkedIn details – no questions on why Unilever? What can you bring to the table? I think anyone that meets their 2:1 requirement in any discipline will be invited to the online tests.

So getting to the meaty part of this post – how were these online tests different this year. Well, throw your psychometric test practice books out of the window. This is a PERSONALITY test! The test or online games consist of 12 different mini games that are played on this website: http://www.pymetrics.com

Here is a screenshot of the required games:

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The games last from about 1-5 minutes and are actually surprisingly fun and are supposedly useful in determining your character traits such as “Attention Duration”, “Planning speed” and “memory span”.

Although, I think that it is a innovative and re-invigorating way to recruit, I don’t believe that the pace at which I can press my spacebar is an appropriate measure into whether or not I would make a good marketer.

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Here are the results: On the left is the official report for the account I used to apply for the Unilever Graduate scheme which shows my top traits

 

 

 

below is a report of another trial that I did as a practice which is pretty consistent so far:

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However, as we move down the report….

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It turns out that I am 100% distracted and slow downed by distractions! Thanks Pymetrics

The discrepancy is seen further in the suggestions of Career paths:

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Law? Front-end Engineer? I don’t know, I’ve always thought that we should really take personality tests with a pinch of salt. We can have bad days and good days – as in days where we can press the spacebar ferociously and days where we might just lag behind and become distracted…

Either way, the 12 games are very fun, don’t take to much time and is definitely a refreshing new experience to the numerical, verbal, logical tests that most companies are still relying on.

I’d say give it a go and please let me know what your career path will be and if you have been successful with Unilever, what did you score?

 

 

A day in the life of a poor ESL teacher

8.00am I woke up in my freezing flat to sound of people pounding down the stairs. Yup my thin wall is adjacent to the staircase of an old Parisian building in the 11th arrondissement. I got up to make a cup of tea and saw that my flatmate’s cat had left its usual piss puddle in the middle of the floor so I proceeded to clean that up.

8.30am All dressed and ready to go after a quick tea and 2 sad little knacki sausages for breakfast. I headed to my metro “Charonne”. I headed on to line 9 in the direction of “Pont de Sevres”. I got on to the metro forcing my way in between all the other poor souls heading to work and crushed by the invasive piles of Spring tourists heading to Trocadero to see the “magnificent” Eiffel Tower.

9.15am I arrive at Franklin Roosevelt to pick up my day sheet and get the teacher’s manuel from the staffroom.

9.30am My first lesson was with a shy lady who I had never met before because this isn’t my usual school. The lesson did not get off to good start. She told me that she felt ill today and was not in a particularly good mood. I thought to myself me neither but let’s just get on with it. The topic of conversation today: The Environment. Absolute torture – an hour and half of

Student: “What does it mean “living things?”

Me: “Urghhh.. things that are living… to live… alive.. you.. me.. animals..”

Student: “What does it mean “heat”?

Me: “Urghhh.. Hot: the adjective, heat: the noun. You know the opposite of cold”

11.00am The bell rings, and I breathe a sign of relief.. First torture over, time to head to my next lesson. I sign the sheet and leave the Champs Elysées heading back on to line 9. BOOM.. I’ve gone on the wrong direction of course, I jump off and walk up the stairs and over to the opposite platform feeling like a complete idiot.

11.35am I arrive at my school in Porte de Saint Cloud. Pick up my day sheet. Ok I have 2 more lessons.

12.30pm My student arrives, I’m wondering why the hell do I always end up teaching at lunchtimes don’t these people eat. The topic: “Making new business contacts”. This student a little more happy to share than the last and we spend a pleasant hour and half speaking her job as an accountant at Canalplus.

2pm Finally.. lunchtime. Awkward time. I need to print off the exercises for my private student after my day at xxxx. One of the other teachers has already arrived at the school even though his shift begins at 5pm – I wonder to myself if I am really that hopeless and its not the job but me or he is just overly enthusiastic- who knows.

2.45pm My final student arrives – it is a 14 year old boy. I wonder to myself why I always end up being lumped with teaching the kids when I never signed up for this. We spend an hour and half practising the present perfect. It was almost mechanical.

3.30pm I’m done for the day, at least for my day job. Off I head on the metro again, this time I’m going to Guy Moquet in the north of Paris. I arrive at Moromesnil to change for the line 13 – my most despised line on the Paris metro system. I attempted to push onto the metro but it was impossible. I waited for 5 minutes and was finally allowed on. I got on and ended up squished against a man holding a pizza box and I thought to myself that pizza must be damn good if he is willing to go into paris just to buy one.

4.05pm I finally arrive at Guy Moquet and get up my student’s apartment. She looks stunning today but extremely bored as usual. A 20 year old business student from La Reunion that needs to pass the BULAT test to get to 3rd year in her course. We have a light banter about last week as it was the school holidays and then went straight on to the past paper. I realise that I didn’t actually print off the answers so I ended up doing the test with her. The 2hrs was surprisingly pleasant and I was pleased as I would finally have some cash.

7pm She pays me and I leave her flat thinking my god I haven’t had money since last week, I’m definitely going to treat myself to a kebab, a can of coke and a packet of marlboro lights. And that’s what I did.

All this to say that life in Paris truly is what the French say “Metro, Boulot, Dodo”

 

Francophone errors

Education is the most powerful weaponwhich you can use to change the world. In my almost two years of teaching in Paris, I have found that French people continually make the same mistakes in English. This has annoyed me so much I’ve decided to start writing about it.

One of the biggest errors that Frenchies make is to take words that they read and hear in English that semi-sound like French words but have a totally different meaning and without looking it up or trying to understand from the context, they just take it and try to use it in a total senseless manner.

Today, one of my students was trying to explain to me what he had to done this morning and it ended up with him explaining in a long winded manner that he had taken his son to playgroup and that his son really enjoyed it there – well at least that’s what I managed to decipher from the broken English. What came next was the weird thing, my student was trying to tell me that his son’s play school was between his apartment and his office but he somehow came out with “my son play school enter apartment and work”. Come again ? “my so play school enter apartment and work?” Heureusement, je parle le français !

My second pet peeve is when Frenchies mistake “actually” with “at the moment” and this Education is the most powerful weaponwhich you can use to change the world. (1)is an extremely common mistake. “My actual job”, “I watched the actualites”. No no no no no! Actual = is in fact not at the moment “my current job”, “I watched the news” grrrrr. Connected to that is when people say the new – its always plural! It even is so in French!

And one last one for the road that is rather fitting I think considering this blog post.

Student: “Oups… I do a mizzzztake!”

Me: URGHHHH.. you MADE a mistake.

Bon courage à tous !

 

 

Hannover

Before I get into the order of the day, a quick update on Interview #5, the IP services coordinator role – as I expected I didn’t get the job. The recruitment agency called on Monday when I was on my way coincidentally to Interview #6. Apparently, there was a really strong candidate in the mix that got the job so voilà that’s the end of my adventures in Buckinghamshire.

So moving on, I haven’t updated for six days, I hope you haven’t missed me too much. I’m not going to go into my trip to Hannover too much because this isn’t a travel blog and Hannover isn’t terribly exciting – lots of business men in suits carrying briefcases. But just a quick summary of my trip before going into the details of the interview – I went to the zoo, visited Herrenhaus gardens, ate currywurst and did the Red thread tour of the city. Voilà. As aforementioned from my previous posts I went to Hannover for an interview with an outsourcing company – which I cannot provide the name of because I signed a disclaimer that basically tells me to shut the fuck up and what the company does and where it is and how their recruitment process works so I’m technically not even allowed to write about the interview OOPS. I’m doing it anyway because I can and I’m not disclosing who it is or where but you are of course welcome to guess. So the company provides outsourcing services and their headquarters are in the middle of nowhere in centre part of Germany where I had to travel to (expenses reimbursed.) I had already previously had a phone interview with the HR officer who spoke very good English – to be honest, it wasn’t much of an interview she basically asked some questions about my customer service experience, when I could start and what did I know about IT (This is an IT customer service rep role) and then she asked me to complete some online language tests in French and English. The tests were pretty easy – reading and listening, I don’t think I could go too wrong with those. The reading was basically a sentence with a gap and a choice of 4 verbs or whatever – so a light grammar test. And the listening was also multiple choice. Anyway, after that, it seemed that I had passed these tests and was invited to the interview on site in Germany. The town really was in the middle of nowhere – I was basically told that I would need to fly to Düsseldorf, Hannover, Münster, Paderborn, Dortmund and then hop on the train and then get a taxi. A pretty hefty journey – I ended up going on Saturday morning and coming back yesterday, making my overall stay of 4 days. I thought I might as well take a look around Germany if it was going to be a possible new home for me. The day of my interview I got the train to the town from Hannover – it took about one hour and half, I then got in a taxi which took about 10 minutes, the idiot taxi driver took me somewhere else and I ended up walking, when I finally got there, the instructions that the HR woman gave me were wrong, I couldn’t get into the building – luckily there were some lovely smokers outside who helped me find my way. I was led upstairs to get a visitors pass and then taken to another HR woman (not the one that did the telephone interview). This woman didn’t really speak English so the interview was completely awkward. There was also a line manager there watching but it was the HR lady that asked all the questions. From what I remember she asked:

Had you heard of our company before previous to your application? What do you think it would be like working for us? When would you be able to start? Where would you like to be in 3 years? How long do you plan to stay in Germany? What is your earliest start date?

Well, at least that’s what I think she asked – all the questions were really badly phrased and I’m not sure she even understand my answers. But the interview section ended pretty quickly and led on to lots of questions from my part but she didn’t quite understand some of those because the answers I got were pretty random. I was then led downstairs to another room where I was informed that I was going to take a number of tests. The test was again in 4 parts: PART 1: 2 emails I was given 2 emails, one in French and one in English. The emails were basically from an annoying customer having some issues and I had to reply to them as if I was working as a customer representative. So the email in French was a customer that had purchased a printer but had not received it and apparently had sent a couple emails previously as well as calling the service hotline and getting hung up on. The English email was a lot longer – a woman who had bought some phones but the switch kept breaking and they wanted to know about warranties, when the new smartphones were coming out and in this email, the woman had also been hung up on by the customer service hotline. I think in this test, they basically wanted to see if I had basic grammar and then how I would handle a semi-difficult customer. PART 2: An internet search on Bing I’m not really sure why I had to do an internet search – maybe they wanted to know that I wasn’t technologically retarded so I had to search for their company mission statement, look for pictures of Bill Gates, look for Bill Gate’s mission statement and then take screenshots and paste the URL’s. PART 3: A 30-question multiple choice quiz on Microsoft and IT stuff The test wasn’t too hard except that I own a macbook, so I’m very iffy on Microsoft – I remember that the first question was

What is the newest version of Internet explorer?

10, 8, 15. I definitely got that question wrong and then some questions about Microsoft office which I also think I got wrong but the mistakes I make always stick inside my head for much longer. PART 4: Typing test The typing test was pretty straight forward and I’m a pretty quick typer so I wasn’t fazed BUT the keyboard was German so I think there were a lot of mistakes with the punctuation and crap. All-in-all the entire process took about 2 and a half hours. And I ended up waiting for the bus to get back to the train station. I waited 15 minutes in cold, I definitely should have asked for them to call me a taxi. Nevermind. I’m not sure if I got the job because the interview was just so weird – there was a serious language barrier between the HR lady and I and then the tests went a bit wrong I think because I didn’t realise that I’d need Microsoft knowledge. But unlike some of the other jobs I’ve been applying to I actually would be really disappointed if I didn’t get this job because it’s for a good company and I really like the idea of a new start in Germany. Well… she said that I would hear by next week and that the next training session begins in May. So fingers crossed for this one.

Interview #5

Yesterday I went to another interview in Buckinghamshire – I got my sister to drive me there and then hang around in the small town for 2 hours while I was interviewing. Haha. I am mean.

The position was for an Intellectual Property Services Coordinator – so basically an administrative assistant in a translation company. The job doesn’t sound terrible exciting but it is 9-5.30 with an hr for lunch, well paid and very close to London; all-in-all, a very cushy job. However, I hated the interview in itself, not because I was nervous. I never get nervous in interviews but because the interviewers had no idea what they were doing. I hate people who don’t have any interview technique whatsoever and just read of the sheet – it was terribly distracting seeing the woman read and check off her piece of paper.

The interview was basically split into 3 parts:

PART 1. 3 exercises

The first exercise was to test how well I could prioritize or manage my time so the personnel woman who was pretty old and spoke extremely quietly lead me to an empty office and spread out 10 documents with an instruction sheet and answer sheet. The instructions told me that I was the Operations Manager of ABC industries – my major clients are Grouchy Enterprises and something else that I can’t remember the name off. I have been off for a week and need to deal with all the emails, messages and voice mails left for me on the Monday morning of my return. So, the documents included – my assistant who has called in sick and has a project that needs to be finished and sent to a client by 11am. A staff meeting at 9.30 with the MD, a new supplier meeting at 11am, a report to deliver to Grouchy Entreprises by 10am and several other issues to do with invoices that were URGENT. I was also given a chart of the company with names of who I worked with so that I could rather – delegate the task and to who, and which order etc. All in all, the exercise took about 20 minutes, and was pretty fun.

The second exercise was a basic filing test matching letters to numbers, a spelling test and a visual accuracy test.

Lastly, I was given an email from a client that required a translation except in the body of the email, the client asked for a translation by the 5th May and into German but in the subject of her email it was a translation into French and the deadline stated 27th June so I was supposed to write a response to the email which took me quite a while because at first I hadn’t noticed the discrepancies between the subject and the body of the email but I figured it out in the end!

PART 2. Interview with Personnel officer – this interview was ridiculously boring. I hate boring interviews, she basically just asked me a couple of questions about my CV off a sheet – “What attracted you to this position?”, “What do you think about our company?”, “When’s the earliest you could start?”, “Where else are you having interviews?”

PART 3. Interview with the managers of the department, two really quite young girls, one of them was German. I think this interview went a little better than the first, it was a lot more relaxed and I had a laugh with the girls because I think they weren’t much older than me but again, they were reading off a sheet of paper and worse making notes of my answers. I don’t mind when people take notes during interviews but I find it so much more interesting when the interview just flows easily and the interviewer seems to know what he/she is doing. All that scribbling just distracted and the questions they asked were the same as the personnel woman except they wanted to know an example of “How I was organised?”  I just made up a load of crap because I didn’t know what to say and probably because I’m not a particularly organised person but I can do admin.

I think things are not looking too positive for this interview as some of more answers weren’t particularly engaging I was too distracted by their crappy interview technique and the manic scribbling. NEXT.

Ups and downs

Back to unemployment.

I’m not feeling too badly about that – I’m mainly quite irritated or confused because I broke up with my boyfriend. I suppose it was expected – long distance relationships cannot work without communication and he wasn’t willing to put in the effort in the end. So we broke up and I honestly haven’t even cried which is kind of strange and unexpected. I suppose we didn’t go out for that long and it was a long distance relationship so I didn’t have time to get so attached. I actually feel kind of relieved and like a weight has lifted but my thoughts do drift towards him.

However, I’m glad that I’m not doing the temporary position anymore because I’d be thinking about him even more. Today, was actually a pretty good day. Since my sister has come back from New York to prepare for her wedding, I’m feeling less bored at home and we actually went swimming today. And then, I came home to the surprise of an email confirmation of an interview in Germany – I’m off to Germany in 2 weeks! I’m excited and kind of afraid as it’s in the middle of nowhere – well, the city is called Gütersloh. I will have to fly to a larger city like Dusseldorf and then find my way there by train. I’m pretty excited, not really about the job because it’s an English speaking customer services position and that’s not exactly what I aspire to become, however, the chance to live in Germany is something that I cannot really turn down right now. I really want to learn German again and I think that the best way is to live in the country and immerse myself in the culture.

On top of the interview in Germany, I was informed that I have also a second interview for a translation company but in Buckinghamshire. This one could be interesting because it is in the translation field which is definitely what I want to get into but this is a customer services position but at least its a start. I originally found the position on a multilingual job board and applied – the agency immediately got back to me and sent my CV over to the company but it turns out that I had already applied to the same company back in January for another position so the company contacted the first recruitment agency and they started calling me non-stop today even though I hadn’t heard anything from them last few months but the last conversation I had with her – she had said that she would keep in touch. Recruitment consultants call and hound when they need you and then they drop off the face of the earth – not exactly the “rapport building” that they are always talking about.

I’m feeling pretty optimistic now about work life, it’s a shame that my personal life has gone down the pan but I guess that relationship would have never worked out anyway – we never discussed the future, or even when we would possibly live in the same city… And I think the saying is right that even the busiest person always has time for you, if they really care. And he clearly didn’t so good riddance…

I’m so done

This is officially the worst weekend ever. Ok, a huge exaggeration but still I’m fed up. On Friday night, I got an urgent call from my recruitment consultant who told me that the company no longer needed me. FINE. At first, I was relieved – the long drive to work and the fact that I have nothing to do but now I am seriously pissed off. I don’t know how people handle temporary work, its so ridiculous – just going into a new place and being expected to pick up where the last person left off and doing a good job without receiving any training or help. Anyway, I was only there for an exact 6 days so I can’t even put that on my CV I guess. I really hate this weekend because I’m back at home – but this time it is not just my parent’s it is my whole entire family. My sister is back from New York this month to prepare for her wedding and there is also of course my brother. All five of us in this house again, except now it’s five grown ups instead of two parents and their three kids.

My mum keeps going on still about what am I going to do, I should just work at a call centre or accept old job. My dad said that I should cut my hair short because people aren’t taking me seriously with my long hair as I look too young. So yeh, great, now it has moved on to actually criticizing my physical appearance – apart from the fact that surely it shouldn’t matter. Having worked in recruitment I remember the employments laws – we cannot discriminate in the work place for age, gender, sexuality, physical appearance etc. etc. It’s not like in France or I think other European countries where there CV has their date of birth and age clearly stated with their sex and passport photo and the ads can clearly require a native speaker of yada yada rather than in the UK where they have to write “native speaker level”.

To be honest, if it’s not sales, I really don’t care what job it is. I’m bored of speaking to recruiters about my “job search”, I’m fed up with my family criticising my physical appearance to suggest that my “immature” appearance means that I can’t be taken seriously which I honestly doubt is the case. Why does everyone have an opinion about everything that they know nothing about? My self-esteem is seriously taking a bashing. I just want this over and done with!