and: tell-tale signs of a good employer
Last week I applied for a part time job as interviewer for a research organisation. The 10 km long application form required several referees and had to be hand written and sent by post. Not because they haven’t transited to the computer age yet (I suppose) but because neat hand writing helps minimise mistakes during the data transfer from interviewer to researcher. I also attached the ‘optional’ photo*.
Two days later I had a missed called from them. I called back armed with high motivation, headset, a copy of my application and the informational document which I had read in details and had open on the screen. I was quite nervous because phone screening isn’t my strong side and I tend to stuff it up, be too honest, have hearing/processing issues on the phone and speak with my foreign accent.
Despite the headset, I had to concentrate hard to make sense of the lady’s questions and filter out a neighbour’s dog’s barking, our dogs dropping a bone (repeatedly) and walking on the floor and other distractions. The lady spoke too fast, too high pitched, to Australian-accented, so sorting the sounds kept me on edge. She first repeated questions I had already replied to in the application form, and then the conversation went somewhere along these lines**:
– Have you read the job information?
– How many hours would it suit you to work for us?
– Up to 20-25 hours would suit me perfectly, I would be able to combine that with what else I am doing.
– What if it is less than that?
– That would be fine too. Then I would probably combine it with more freelance work.
– Our information material says that a workload averages 6 – 10 hours per week.
– That is … fine too..
Who switched off my trap-detector?
– Thank you very much. We will call you back next week if we decide to call you in for an interview.
Blunder alarm! I knew the average hours to expect, and I even had precisely that page open right in front of me. Yet I answered as if I haven’t read it… Why do I always blow phone screenings… *sigh*
Did it kill my application? I guess I will have to wait and see.
What would be good about working as an interviewer:
1. I already know the job
The job involves to drive around to randomly selected households and interview each member of the household for a research survey about their usage habits of certain infrastructure.
I already know how to undertake the job because I was interviewed as a respondent in the survey. During the interview it occurred to me that I might like the interviewer’s job. The combination of rigid structure and meaningful purpose, social interaction and snapshots of different people’s life styles, driving in own car (paid), independence and absence of office politics appealed to me.
So I asked the interviewer out about her job: her routines, the pay, her employer, good and bad. Her replies sounded good to me. It turned out that the research organisation is currently looking for interviewers in my region – Yay! And the interviewer said that I could use her as a referee.
2. The purpose of the job is meaningful
This particular survey is undertaken to assist decision making about future infrastructure in the region. Previous survey topic example: the relationship between kids’ social inclusion and their families’ infrastructure access.
3. Attractive employer
The research organisation is a non-profit organisation specialised in social and economic research in Australia, and their clients comprise health services, government, business and universities.
Overall the organisation’s website conveys an impression of rigour, integrity and commitment to what they do. Research outputs are freely accessible, and I downloaded & skimmed some of their reports. I liked them – concise, well structured, methodological, transparent and easy to read.
Other signs that the organisation is an attractive employer:
- Low employee turnover
- High average years-of-employment. It looks good on an employer when staff likes to hang around year after year (except if it is due to some sort of science-fiction style entrapment like in Repo men***)
- Several research staffers started out as interviewers. I like organisations which develop their own people. I’ve taken tertiary subjects like Statistics, Sociology, Scientific Methods and Market Research, so maybe an interviewer job could lead to advancement into research/analysis in the future
- Employee reviews of the interviewer jobs’ good and bad sides published on the web page with job information indicates transparency
- The job information include downsides of the job, and each downside has to be ticked off in the applications form to indicate that it has been understood and accepted
- HEAPS of concise, well structured information available on the website. These people seem to LOVE clarity
- The interviewer said that the employer is good to work for; and that the staff she deals with are nice, fair and competent
4. People insights
The cultural and sociological snapshots gained from interviewing families in their homes could shed light on aspects of:
- Different family life styles
- Australian culture
- Insight into low socio-economic culture (prevalent in this region)
- Suburban culture of this geographical area to where we moved recently. That would make me feel more at home, aware of safety and capable of adapting to the new neighbourhood
Being a predominantly solitaire person in terms of how I spend my time and with a limited repetoir socially and culturally, such insights could give better understanding of people, society and Australian culture.
5. Paid training
Thorough paid training means that the ‘how to do it’ question will be clearly answered and insecurity minimised. It also shows that the employer cares about quality and takes low level employees seriously.
6. Not too overwhelming
The role is part time (not quite enough hours though), so I can combine it with freelance work. I can use it as a ‘soft’ start back into paid employment or a supplement while I try to become more busy as self-employed.
7. Freedom and independence on the road
Drive around in my own car according to a plan and a set of rules, free of office politics and gossip sounds good. Every stop is a new perspective; a new story.
*However, I didn’t really attach the below photo even though its placement there insinuates that
**This is just a snippet of the conversation
(and the profile photo is a joke too)