Sunday, March 28, 2010


Jason bought me sunflowers! The day before we left to start our long drive to get to Cape Town, I got a call from the french NGO. I was really excited at first but then as the conversation progressed, I found out that I'm no longer the only candidate - not bad news just means I'm not a shoe in anymore. Anyway, part of the interview process requires the candidate to take a skills test. For an admin and logistics position, it's not that unusual but back in December when I interviewed, I couldn't take the test because they hadn't translated it to English yet. Earlier that day I sent an email letting my contact know that I would be traveling and how best to get in touch with me. Well he called to say that I would be missing the test while I was gone but I could come in that afternoon to take it. Of course I would.

I got to the office around 2:45pm - he had already told me it would take about 3 hours so I was prepared for it. But when I got there, he wanted to re-interview me (he wasn't the one that originally interviewed me in December), then there were technical difficulties with the test so by the time I got started, it was closer to 3:30pm.

The first test was in word, a bunch of questions about management, supply chain, purchase orders, stakeholders, etc and after getting into the groove, I felt very confident with most of my answers. At the end of the word document was a multiple choice section - when I started to read the questions, my jaw just dropped open. They wanted to know information about batteries and voltage, diesel engines, generators and how long they would operate, common cement mixture, what do inverters do, the diameter of pipes, there was even a drawing of some sort of amp reader and I had to figure out what it was displaying. Wow, talk about feeling out of my league. Lucky for me, all of the questions included a "I don't know" option, which I chose often. I'm sure it was just to test my knowledge base but I was convinced by the end of this section that I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't get the job.

The second section was in Excel. I LOVE excel so I was fine with it - basic accounting, cash flow, things I was mostly comfortable with although there was a lot of information to sift through. I forgot how to do a weighted mean and because we were working in 3 different currencies, I may have missed some valuable parts but overall, I was feeling good until the last question - Pivot Tables. I haven't created or worked with pivot tables since the computer class I took in college. My dad works with them daily and I was wishing that we could have had longer conversations about them! When I finally came to the end of the test, after waiting for clarification on a section I didn't understand, it was after 7pm and I was exhausted. I tried to use the Help option while I waited but it wasn't actually very helpful. So I at least wrote a few sentences stating that I am an quick learner and confident that I could figure Pivot Tables out with a little study.

Umph. I took notes on the multiple choice section because I HAD to be able to tell Jason what was included - and what I had no idea how to answer. It was crazy but I'm glad at least the process has moved forward. I will find out in just a few short weeks about the position but honestly, I won't be surprised if I don't get the job. Admin and Logistics positions are something that a lot of Zimbabweans are qualified to do so I shouldn't get the job if it's taking it away from one of them. So maybe it's time to rethink my approach to looking for work and find my niche somewhere else. And after that test, maybe I don't actually want that job...maybe figuring out how I can consult is a better option for me right now. A lot to mull over while we're traveling around South Africa.

After the test, Jason picked me up and when we got home I was greeted with the ever friendly and happy faces of a bouquet of beautiful sunflowers. There are beautiful flowers all around, but sunflowers will always be my favorite because no matter where I see them, they always make me smile.

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