Tuesday, July 8, 2008


My interview flight was at 6.30am (urgh!) and I had to get up at 4.20am (triple urgh!). As I slept a lot the previous day I couldn't really sleep till 2.30am or so (insomnia sucks). So with less than 2 hours of shut-eye I started my day. Ision was trying to reduce my stress levels and told me whether I get this job or not is not really important to him as he knows that I will get another job easily. Well I didn't intepret him correctly and was a little upset as I found it hard to understand why something so important to me is not important to him. We cleared that up after a series of SMSes as I was rushing to the airport. There goes my starting-the-day-on-the-right-foot down the drain.

The end of that drama led to the start of another one. You see, domestic flights require passengers to check in at least 30 minutes in advance and I was there 45 minutes before so I thought I was in the green. Mind you, I took the wrong train earlier but luckily it still connects to the airport line via another train (another mini drama by itself). Then at the airport counter, I was rudely surprised that they have decided to reduce the size of the airplane and squeeze the not-so-early-birds to the next flight. Qantas is doing this more and more often because of the rising fuel costs and increasing workers' unrest (ie. impending strikes) but I never thought it would happen to me. It then went without saying that my requested aisle seat would escape their minds completely and as a result I was stuck with a 15-minute-later stuck-between-two-people seat that was way way back from the exit. Mental note to myself: always check in extra early for domestic flights so you can choose a seat that is as near the exit as possible. And yes, never choose Qantas for domestic flights again, not that I have a choice in this case (the company paid for the flight). Also, I took the earliest possible train to the airport so I tried my best. Another tip is to be one of the first to board so that you wouldn't be stuck behind a line of people trying to find whatever space in the overhead compartments there is to cram their luggages into.

So I got on the plane and thought I would only be 15 minutes late but it turned out to be double that. I then got into a cab and it sped off into a cold, gloomy and about-to-rain Melbourne morning. The last time I was there was in summer in the city and this time round I was back at the same place but had a totally different impression of it.

Next drama. Apparently there was a car accident in the city but the driver did not expect traffic to back up that much -- we were actually stuck in traffic 16km away from the accident!!! And I thought Singapore's post-accident CTE was bad. So I was already running late and now this happened. Luckily the cab fare is reimbursable otherwise the stationary vehicle's jumping meter would have added haste to the stress bomb timer that was ticking in the head.

We finally made it to our exit on the freeway after 20 minutes or so and reached the suburb called Altona pretty quickly. I managed to take a shot on the cab which said it all. Gloomy Altona to the right here I come.

The refinery soon popped into my vision and it flooded my brain with familiarity. I guess a boring job is infinitely better than no job at all. And talking about being off to a great start to my new job -- being 45 minutes late for its interview! I have never been this late before for any interview! But I guess this is Australia (Melbourne to be specific) and not Singapore where everyone seems to be time-poor and constantly rushing only to pursue some pre-packaged dream that everyone else is blindly chasing after as well (and the worst of all not realising that dream). The interviewers were cool about the lateness especially when the flight-change and traffic jam were totally beyond my control!

And so the first round of the interview started...

Sitting right in front of me were 2 women (that certainly went against all engineering-stereotypes huh) and they started asking me the more formal introductory and big-picture questions which were pretty easy to answer. I must say being interviewed by Aussies is a totally different experience compared to being interviewed by Singaporeans. Maybe it was all in my mind. Or maybe I am an Aussie trapped in a Singaporean body all along and my spirit finally found its true home.

I shall not get into the details of the questions because I have forgotten about them myself but suffice to say the first round went well except for the fact that when they asked me whether I had any questions for them, I said no. I explained that I was already familiar about the job scope and the company as I have been doing something very similar (in the same company) for the past two and a half years. However on hindsight I should have asked some questions so that they know that I am super-interested. See? This is why I hate interviews -- too much thinking and analysis involved.

The next round involved my future colleagues ie. one really experienced guy and another not-so-senior girl. They were very friendly and set the tone of the round as informal right from the start. I always like these chatty interviews -- people often tell me that if interviews were chatty it means that they like you. They started asking the more technical questions ie. questions that I have prepared for (yes yes, I am kiasu). So I presented them with the answers I have tucked in my mind in advance. The trick is to just roughly know what to say and then build on the skeleton as you go along. I am pretty happy with this round and when asked if I had any questions, I did not repeat my last mistake and followed up with a few. The senior guy's last question was about my musical interests (as stated in my resume) since he was a singer and musician himself. I told him that was my fall-back plan (plus the air quotes) and got a quick laugh out of them.

Time was running out since I arrived late and that took time out of the last round, which was a refinery tour led by another future colleague. Frankly towers, reactors and furnaces look similar all around the world so there actually wasn't much point in having this tour. But I was reminded by the recruitment agency before the interview not to be too relaxed during the tour as I was still being assessed then. By that time I was pretty saturated (not to mention cold) and really wanted to retreat back into my warm comfort zone. Fortunately it was a very rushed tour and that helped to mask my slowly-getting-indifferent attitude. Before I knew it I was back in the administrative building and in the cab that was waiting for me outside the refinery doors. A quick goodbye and I was off only to realise that I forgot to ask them for recommendations on good residential locations in Melbourne. Maybe it is better not to jump the gun and ask those questions only after they offer me the job.

Then I received a call on the cab and I figured it must be the same person who tried to call me twice during the first interview round. It turned out to be another recruitment agency wanting to know more about my background and arrange for an interview. I rescheduled the call till a few hours later when I will be back at home. By this time, the adrenaline has stopped flowing and my body and mind began to weaken and crash. I just wished a portal would open right in front of me like in the computer game I have been playing that would bring me home in an instant. But no, I had to suffer another crowded plane ride.

I managed to squeeze in some grocery-shopping and got home just in time for the call from the recruitment agency. We chatted for a while and set an interview date (which is tomorrow). Interestingly, ExxonMobil (as well as Shell) is one of their clients and they would pitch them my resume! In life I have found out very often that when things don't happen, they don't happen but when they do, they happen all at once. But I guess this is what I want and am hoping for so no complaints from me. All I have to do now with regards to the Melbourne interview is to wait by the phone for the news (which they said will come within this week or so, or so they say) ie. wait to get a mini heart-attack every time my phone rings. At least the worst is over now.

I then took a shower, made myself a quick sandwich dinner and curled up in bed watching movies. And right there, I was back in my comfort zone.


Sze Wei said...

v kancheong, your story. but what u said about things happening all at once when they do happen is v true. abit overwhelming but then u get to choose judiciously and in the process, learn more about what u really want and value. all the best!

Kim said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog and thanks too for your kind wishes!!

I will update as soon as I get some news.