Wednesday, 2 February 2011

many jilted suitors desperate for recognition

Feedback to an employment agency for a job I applied for at Carphone Warehouse; sent today.


I recently applied for a job advertised through your organisation and I am very happy to report that the potential employer appears to have very stringent standards for its staff!

I was asked to attend an assessment on 20th January, which while at short notice I was happy to go along to.  On my arrival, excited as I was at an opportunity at the employer, the receptionist was fabulously in character! She was somewhat dismissive in her approach to greeting guests - so much so, after buzzing the main entrance door, I needed to wait for a staff member to leave to access reception. Nothing like that to keep a candidate on their toes.

Approaching the desk, I informed her that I was there for an assessment and introduced myself, to receive a reply announcing I wasn't "on the list".  With resigned acceptance only a production line worker could muster, I was instructed to fill out the visitor's book.  Only a cursory indication of the book was offered, which to be honest is a great first test of an applicant's ability - after all, they should already be aware of internal policies of their possible future employer.  On completing the next blank line, I was in a wonderfully chastising tone told I'd "filled it out wrong".  Then told to fill it out again "on the correct line".

Then I was directed to have a seat around the corner with "the others".  The others, who I discovered were other candidates, were very keen to show their individual prowess - one was particularly sure of himself, on my arrival asking aloud to the group "what do you think, Chief Executive material or call centre position?".  Which made me aware of the fact I had a suit and tie on, while the others were a little more casually dressed.  What a stroke of luck for the company to have someone apply who is perfectly suited to the company's policy in greeting a potential member of staff.

An actual member of staff conducting the assessment appeared, who wore the the now seemingly obligatory company uniform of resigned acceptance.  No introduction was offered of his name, but told us "there is an internal candidate on his way down" so we'll be waiting for him; and with that announcement, disappeared.  That is a stroke of genius - now all of the candidates will be aware of a person with an advantage - someone who will, most likely, get the job.  I was very impressed at this, as it was a totally unexpected means to instil that very same corporate image of resigned acceptance on us, the new recruits!

We waited, with a reward of another update of "he's in work today so shouldn't be too long", before a final announcement after about 20 minutes that the assessment will go ahead, but there was an additional person to the expected number so there wasn't room for us all to be "done together".  It was explained that the assessment was in two parts: a written test and a practical test.  Most of us were to sit the written part first, then move on to the practical. The test was to take thirty minutes and another master stroke of the unprofessional image was the spelling, a company involved in the telecommunications industry shouldn't be able to spell their favourite word 'tariffs' wrong, surely?  But, "tarriff's" it was, with various other uses of apostrophes in plurals and entire questions written in such vague terms that philosophers might organise symposiums to discuss their intricate meaning.

When the half-hour was up, we were again led back out, so the practical test could be set up ready for the second batch of candidates.  The gentleman reappeared and informed us that a computer had given up and one of us in the group needed to wait until the end.  Every other candidate immediately announced they had something better and more fruitful to do straight after this, and perhaps with that over bearing sense of resigned acceptance surrounding me, I offered that I'd wait until last.

Another half-hour passed and eventually invited back into the test room, I was given a half-hour to demonstrate my practical skill.  It is to be noted that at no point had I given my name, save for the introduction at reception, so this was perplexing as to how I might be graded if my examiner doesn't know who I am.  After the allotted time, I was led out and informed I'd hear from them soon, "should be in a few days, but probably next week", "either way".

A week passed and no contact.  Another few days passed and I began to wonder.  So I emailed the lady I'd originally applied to, only to be seemingly ignored.  I called the number, but, as many jilted suitors desperate for recognition might have done before me, I was to leave message after message to no avail.

This is why, therefore, I write to thank you for the experience of attempting to apply for a job with an employer you advertised.  I also would like to ask if you would in the future consider Carphone Warehouse a suitable customer for your clients, given their brilliant disregard for common courtesy, the English language and basic organisational skills.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


Barry Crosby