Being prepared

Today, we were interviewing again, for an admin job.  There was a skillz test to start with, which only one person passed and so, since we need someone who doesn’t need a lot of training, that was the only person we interviewed.

I wonder why people turn up for an interview, thinking they can wing it?  Or not having read the job description?  I remember one time, it was a teaching job but there was a really vital additional role and that was what the questions focussed on.  Only one person expected that and the others floundered.  I don’t know a lot about it from that end, I must admit, having only had one job interview in my life, but I’ve been at the other end on very many occasions.   I particularly have liked taking part in interviews for teaching assistants, because we don’t feel constrained by past experience or qualifications.  It’s the person who feels right for the job.  I remember one young woman who cried when she was offered the job, because it was the first time in her life she’d been chosen.  When she thanked us, I told her that she had won it on merit, we weren’t being kind.

In today’s instance, the task wasn’t so very hard, though easy to get wrong or miss a stage – I know how to do the job on my computer and I’m entirely self-taught, nearly always by trial and a whole lot of error.  I’d not be confident on a modern version of Excel though – however, since it was specified, I’d have asked a friend to talk me through it and done some practice.  And that was the advice we gave in the debrief.  Our office jobs only come up occasionally and, though they’re not particularly well paid because the pay is pro rata*, we have a lot of applicants.

Yesterday, when there was quite a gale, I noticed Russell carrying a ladder.  I sped out to see what was going on, and saw what he’d already spotted: the roof of the summerhouse flapping. No question of doing a proper job at that time, it had to be weighted down with bricks.  And do I look the sort of Z who would let an elderly man shin up a ladder while I faffed about?  If you’re hesitating, darlings, the correct answer is no.  He passed the bricks while I clung on to the ladder and placed them.  Yes, this is the summerhouse that is to be dismantled and repaired, except we ran out of time during the summer.

Today, it’s been calm and sunny.  It isn’t a cold winter at all, few frosts and no snow here.  The west of the country had had awful gales and the south west has been badly flooded.  Here, less standing water than in a normal winter – the river is supposed to overflow, that’s what the flood plains are there for.  But it’s nowhere near the worst that I’ve known in a mere 27 years of living here.  Russell remembers the winter of 1944 – we’ve a picture somewhere of him standing in his wellies by floodwater to the garages – I’ve known this house since 1970 and that’s never happened since.  Mind you, the River Authorities are pretty good on dredging and maintenance.

*That is, schools have long holidays and, if you’re paid by the hour, you just get statutory holiday pay.  That effectively wipes out August.  The pay is equalled out so that you get an income every month, but it is not a full time job for support staff.  On the other hand, if you have young children, you can spend the holidays with them and not pay for childcare, which can pretty well wipe out a moderate salary.  Since we have high standards and very good training, there’s excellent opportunity for promotion, so we’re a popular place to work, despite the disadvantage of pro rata pay.

3 comments on “Being prepared

  1. allotmentqueen

    It’s also a good way of getting back into work if you’ve stopped to look after your children. You still get holidays, you can usually work school hours and when the children are older you have recent work experience. And you also get to know what goes on in schools. In my experience (and I think it’s got worse since then) – in the infants you can go into the classroom (not sure you still can), in the juniors you can get as far as the playground, by the time they go to secondary school you’re lucky if you know where the school is, you’ll be invited in twice a year for “parents’ evenings” and you’ll have to dig around the school website to get much other information.

  2. Z Post author

    You’ve had higher winds than we have, Scarlet. I wouldn’t have done anything stupid – though it could have been quite dangerous if bits of summerhouse started flying about, so better mended before it broke in this instance.

    You’re right, AQ, and I know a number of people who’ve started as a teaching assistant and ended up as qualified teachers – in fact, one of them is now a Headteacher. The person we appointed yesterday asked for slight adjustment of hours, to allow for getting her child to breakfast club at school and we were able to oblige. We have a wonderful office manager, who has very high standards and gives excellent training, but is very understanding of family commitments. There’s always a lovely friendly atmosphere in the office.

    The parents of one pupil arrived hoping to speak to a senior teacher just as I was leaving this morning. He happened to be about, so they were ushered straight in. But normally we’d expect an appointment to be made. A school can’t have people just walking in nowadays – it would instantly fail Ofsted on safeguarding grounds – though some primary schools let parent bring their children into the classroom and usually the teacher is happy to have a word with the parents at the end of the day. Of course, the other way to find out what’s going on is to be a school governor 🙂


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