Category Archives: Workplaces

Goodbye face to face interviewer job

My face to face interviewer job ended last year. Rounding off the saga, I’d like to summarise what it was about, and speculate about why, overall, it worked well.

I was quite good at the job, and feel I’ve learned a lot, even though the work was quite repetitive. My boss was happy about my work and communication, and I had plenty of positive feedback from respondents both directly and through the quality control procedures. My response rates were also pretty good – not remarkable compared to the average, but good factoring in that my home range was supposedly hard to get decent results in. I was praised for the quality of my submitted work – data forms and weekly reports – for high accuracy, good order, and entertaining weekly reports.

 
Australian road from front window of car

 
The job ended because my employer had lost their tender for the project, so they had to close the whole project department down and sack everyone involved in the project… That’s all the interviewers, the office staff, and even my lovely boss.

If was a much bigger collapse for some of the other people, than it was for me. The staff turnover was notoriously low among both the office staff and the interviewer crew, and some had been working on the project for  well over a decade – almost since the beginning.

The organisation is the best employer I’ve had, and they handled the close-down well too. There was a proper explanation of what had happened (as much as they knew), scenario-thinking and instructions for what was and wasn’t allowed if moving to the competitor, and there was the usual supportive attitude underpinning the process. My boss also gave everybody her personal email and phone number, so future employers could still contact her for recommendations when she would no longer be working there.
Continue reading

An easy life

‘You are living an easy life, aren’t you? You ain’t doing nothing!’

the old man said. I pass his house every day when I walk or run* with my dogs. When he and his dog are out in his front yard, I stop and talk, so my dogs get this beautiful rare chance to hang out with another dog that, albeit a bit cranky, doesn’t behave like an erratic maniac like many other dogs around here.

 
Most of what the old man says is difficult to hear, because his voice is like a soft, mumbling creek of linked words strayed with Aussie idioms, and garden noises in the surroundings zap out some of them too. However, I usually manage to pick up enough key words here and there to estimate what we’re talking about, and make friendly expressions and statements (one syllable is sufficient) every now and again to prove my participation in the conversation.

I like him, and I like listening to him.  He is a bit like my grand mother (R.I.P), and I enjoy seeing his joy about having someone to talk to, while my dogs have a great time relaxing in the grass and pestering their ‘friend’.

The above quote is one of the sentences that I did hear in full, and I’m pretty sure that’s what he said. Slightly insulted, I told him that I work as a research interviewer with variable hours, I ain’t ‘ain’t doing nothing’. ‘OK’, he said, and maybe something along the lines of ‘that sounds like a great job’.
Continue reading

The bush neighbourhood and the dog pound

The neighbourhood I currently drive in for the interviewer job is down a long no-through road that branches into a network of curvy, secluded no-through roads on the edge of bushland. The suburb is semi-rural with paddocks with grazing horses, cattle and sheep as well as stretches with bush and forest, and no street lights after a certain point. Evenings are dark and quiet apart from the sounds of birds and insects in the forest alongside the road, and the air smells dry and fore-sty.

 

 
When I drive out there after dark I actually keep my car doors locked*. I have a strong LED torch handy and have finally unpacked the pocket alarm I got from my employer to carry it with the work equipment. What do a female Scandinavian like me know about Australian stranger danger…  The bush is a deep unknown space where people can disappear without a trace**.

The houses sit on large blocks of land behind long driveways and large rugged front lawns; often fully fenced. It doesn’t look like a rich suburb despite the large properties; many houses look old and wooden with DIY extensions, and some have caravans and rusty cars huddling around them.

 
Neighbourhood assumptions

Here are my assumptions about people who have chosen to settle in this type of neighbourhood:

  • They like nature and serenity
  • They prefer to be left alone by people
  • They have big guard dogs to protect against intruders

Guard dogs is the real potential danger; a highly unpredictable variable. Here are my strategies  for minimising dog risks:

 
Dog Danger Avoidance Strategies

From the perspective of a resident dog, everything is wrong with the presence and behaviour of me entering its territory. Trespassing, snooping around, being a stranger, even nervous (although I try to hide it)… It is its job to keep me out.

For that reason, I’m armed with dog treats when I enter an unknown property (hoping that all dogs take bribes). Before I enter the gate of a fenced property, I whistle and call to lure potential dogs out in the open, and if I see any, talk to them with my most friendly, light-pitched, gentle voice.  I continue to whistle and call calmly as I walk up the driveway to show potentials dogs that I am unworried and not trying to sneak up on anyone.

So far it works, but I haven’t yet had to enter a property with rottweilers or one of the humongous sized Neapoletan Mastiff-type dogs I have seen.

 

neapolitan mastiff

 
 
Stray dog dramas

On the first few days driving in the area a different type of dog drama came up:

On the second day a couple of stray dobermann crosses appeared from the bush and followed my car. I was driving slowly, looking for addresses with open windows, music in the radio and dog treats in the driver’s door. They disappeared into the bush again after a while.

The next day, when I stopped the car to write an address in Google Maps, a Staffy X-like little dog came over. It had severe Mange with almost half of the fur missing on it back and was underweight, shy and very hungry. I gave it some treats and tried to grab the collar so I could see if there was a name tag (there wasn’t), but it was scared and bolted when I reached out***.
Continue reading