Back Buzz - May 1, 2016
Costa Coffee, 2-3 Orchard Square, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Very recently a new Costa Coffee opened in Sheffield. This one is in Orchard Square in the former location of the Blue Banana street-fashion boutique and tattoo parlour. Relatively small and square, this Costa looks pretty much like every other Costa around the UK that I've visited, as one will find visiting any Caffe Nero or Starbucks in the country.
As I'm currently working extra hours in the morning, my dash from the bus to work is inconveniently out of the way from my usual stop-for-coffee-to-get-caffeinated-enough-for-my-boring-job spots. But this brand new Costa happens to lie just a few footsteps from where I get off the bus, making it extremely convenient.
The barista serving me was obviously brand new and still learning. Although she was very friendly and enthusiastic, she still has a lot to learn. When she was making my drink I was happy to see she was using a proper sized takeaway cup for a double macchiato. But when she handed me my drink I was shocked to discover it was as heavy as a latte. As I was in a hurry, with approximately minus five minutes to get to work, I didn't complain as I jetted off at the speed of light. When I got to work and took my first sip, my cup of hot milk tasted nice and fresh, but I really had trouble trying to detect any coffee taste. I couldn't actually decide if it was a case of her making the espresso shots way too big or filling the cup with steamed, as opposed to foamed, milk. I have a feeling it was probably a bit of both.
Needless to say, I managed to drink it without getting too stuffed for my lunch; and later in the day I thankfully realised I had indeed had a double shot earlier.
For a change this isn't really a complaint, as I almost feel like it may have been her very first day working as a barista, and she seemed eager to please. So I will definitely stop back for a pre-work-rush coffee. I might try to allow a tiny bit more time, just in case I need to offer any constructive criticism, as I often do. Actually, I will try to allow a tiny bit more time, as I don't really think this running at the speed of light through a crowded leisurely shopping mall dodging much slower bodies just to get to my lowly job is doing my body, or my public image, any good..
Speaking of lowly jobs reminds me of my recent attempt to get a better job:
This week I submitted myself to yet another "job interview" where I work. I use the term loosely, as today's psychological analyses bear no resemblance to the interviews you and I used to go to, where the employer actually wanted to know about our experience and skills and why we wanted the job and pretty obvious things like that.
The post was for a newly-created position. It sounded like a pretty basic clerical type of job, but it was a full-time secondment for a year that paid a grade higher than I currently make, so I was willing to do it. The interview panel of three people included my supervisor, which made things a bit awkward. I was asked ten questions, none of which had anything to do with the details of the job or of my own job. The questions were so obscure and irrelevant I can't even remember most of them, but they were on the order of "Can you describe an occasion when you demonstrated a proactive approach to teamwork?" or "What would you say is the biggest challenge you face on a daily basis in your current position?" As I sat and thought and attempted to completely make up something that would serve as an answer to each question, another question would be asked that was even more obscure and irrelevant.
The final question was "Can you describe an occasion when you had to help a work colleague who was having trouble with their job?" At this point I was completely fed up. I gave it a bit of thought and finally said, "Well, in my current position, our job is so simple and unchallenging that nobody has a problem with the actual work." And then I was asked, "Well, what about in previous employment where you've worked with colleagues?" And after a moment I said, "Well, the only other employment I can think of like that was when I was a programmer. And programmers never have any problems with their work." (Later, when I told a couple of programmer friends about my answer, they heartily agreed with me.) At the end I was asked if I had any questions. And I did: so what will this job involve, exactly? What will I be doing on a daily basis? You know, what the hell will you be hiring me to do?
Most of my friends who have been on recent interviews say that they are always asked, "If you could be an animal, what would you be?" I would love to be asked something like that. I mean, if they aren't going to ask me if I can even do the job, I'd rather the questions would be creative. How about, "If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?" "If you were having your last meal tonight, what would it be?" "When you were in your twenties and thirties, did you care for dessert?"
Needless to say I didn't get the job. Do you know if American job interviews have become this absurd?
Sadly, this sounds exactly like what I think American job interviews are like. Interviews always seem to be about personality assessment, never about qualifications. The only one I remember that they tried to measure my ability was at Mattel, where I interviewed just before joining Northrop.
Looking online at interview prep questions I do see "what animal would you be?" The only one that surprised me was "How many tennis balls can you fit in a limousine? " (which they probably wouldn't ask if your job involved anything like chauffeuring or tennis.)
"Tell me about a challenge or conflict you've faced at work, and how you dealt with it."
"What's a time you exercised leadership?"
That's why I've always dreaded the thought of having to look for another job. My technology experience is rather outdated, but I have some marketable skills. But I've never been able to sell myself in the kind of marketing interviews that seem to be the norm.
With all the technology developments, you'd think there would be a way to match people with jobs without having to stoop to answer irrelevant questions. Why? Why isn't there?