Thursday, June 17, 2004 ______________________________________________________________________________

Job Search 

So I went for an interview to work as a Customer Support Representative at eBay's call centre. The pay is insanely good, the only catch that it's 40hr/week unpredictable schedule. My plan is to tough it out for the summer and then "decide" that I want to go back to school in the fall and take the risk that they fire me or reduce my hours. Either way I would be getting a ludicrous hourly wage to support a community that I already am very, very active in.

The interview was nothing like I expected. I was told that I would have to undergo some testing to prove my typing speed and accuracy (59wpm at 93% accuracy on the first try...and this was one of those snarky ones that don't let you backspace after you press the spacebar). They used the linked website to test me. Some of the more astute among you might read the small print that: "This test is not to be used for recruitment purposes". That's just because they design custom typing tests for a fee fo recruitment purposes. The passage that eBay chose was reasonable, in other words, it was not chock full of words that no one ever has to type in their lives (except for on a typing test). But I digress.

When I spoke to the lady on the phone who was calling me in for the interview, she said that the testing will take about three hours. I thought she was joking because she said that the tests I would sit for were for typing and internet proficiency. She wasn't joking. It takes the average person three hours to get through it all, if they get through it at all. I feel rather flattered that I finished within two hours with higher than average scores on each individual test.

There are eight (maybe nine) tests in total. If you happen to fail one, you are not allowed to progress to the next. (Pass is not 50%, it's usually 80%) After you have completed the tests are you then given an interview. You are not even considered for the position if you fail a test. I will list the tests as I remember them. There was the typing test, internet proficiency (which included questions about the eBay website as well as some tricky questions), spelling test (you have a list of words and you have to pick out the misspelt ones and correct them, the worst part being not all of them were wrong), a writing test (1-2 paragraphs on why you will be a successful Customer Support Representative, graded on spelling, grammar and punctuation), a punctuation test, a business language test, a basic math test (that was easy for me, but I'm sure the average Canadian would have to wrestle a little to get the answers. This is evidenced by the lady's surprise at my perfect score...look lady, I'm Asian, what were you expecting?) and a personality test. I'm sure that there was one or two more but my brain was so addled at the end of it that I really was no longer keeping count.

The interview went well, with the interviewer making positive comments throughout my responses. That's usually a good sign, I take it. During the part where she asks if I've got any questions I asked the standard "So what would you say is the most challenging part of this position?" and also "When will I be notified?". The answer to the first is pretty standard, and it demonstrates an interest in the position, it's really good people, take the tip and use it at your next interview. Having a few well-researched questions doesn't hurt either. I didn't want to break out my heavy duty impressive questions until the second-interview round (would you believe that after all that I have to go through another interview?!) because this lady wasn't working for eBay per se. All this testing et al is conducted by a staffing company. Again I digress.

I was told that they practice continual staffing and that they are not sure of when eBay's call centre will need more people. This is due to the fact that eBay has not told them much yet. All they know is that the next training class is on July the 5th, she is not sure for which department (phone, live chat, email) and how many people they need. As it stands, there are 20 people to whom she is ready to send job offers. In all likelihood, even if I am a well-qualified candidate, I will not be included in the upcoming class. Class frequency is dubious, sometimes classes are held fortnightly, sometimes monthly, and on occasion bi-monthly. All that testing for this. Riiiight. After that two hours of trying to prove that I am not the average product of the Canadian school system I might not even get my SECOND INTERVIEW (let alone job offer) for a month, maybe more. She also mentioned that she will be checking my references and that if those are not to her satisfaction (I am assuming that she will be asking rather specific questions in order to determine my skill set) I will not be called back. *insert swear*

Either way, now that I know the nature of the position, it is unlikely that it will allow me to return to school in the fall if I haven't been working there long enough. It's one thing to start now and then ask for concessions in September. It's another thing to possibly get a job offer mid-August and be asking for concessions in two weeks.


posted by Joie! at 5:26 PM

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