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Monday, October 24, 2011

A Spanish Job Interview

A Spanish Job Interview
Well this has been an interesting week in an interview learning curve kind of way.  

This is how it all happened:

I recently saw a job advertised teaching English in a Spanish school.  As the paper I read it in was a couple of weeks old, I sent a text asking if the vacancy was still open.  I did get a reply saying they had filled the position.

A few days later on a Sunday evening, I received a message asking me to ring the school about a vacancy.  I phoned and was told a vacancy was coming up and could I send in my cv – I duly did.  Having received the said CV, the lady phoned and asked if I could call in for an interview at 9.45am the following morning.  Not convenient at all as we had a couple of things to do, but the chance of paid work with a contract is so slim for  English people in Spain I duly juggled everything around for the next day.

She was very precise about the time so I arrived nice and early and sat waiting in the main office reception.  Ten minutes passed and I still sat waiting, knowing it was now 9.45. 

Now in my usual fashion, although I had asked the lady her name and she had repeated it a few times, I simply could not remember it.  Blank.  Luckily I have a phone with internet so I phoned her mobile, sent a text and an email explaining that I was in the building and waiting in reception.

There are five offices leading off the main reception, all with people working in them.  I’d done my best asking for directions as to where exactly I should be at 9.45 and thought by saying Ingles a few times plus a bit of translating on google, they’d get the message. 

I’ve discovered  a typical Spanish trait seems to be a shrugging of shoulders, holding arms out and kind of emitting a sigh whilst shaking head.  

So I gave up and thought the lady would turn up when she was ready - surely a lost looking person sitting in reception in view of these offices would eventually get someone to notice me and do something or at least ask why I was loitering.

So – best course of action – sit down, get the novel out that I don’t seem to have time to read at the moment and get on with it.  Just wait.

At 10.15 I was starting to get a bit annoyed that I was still sitting there, not angry, just peed off that I was still waiting and my husband and 5 year old twins were sitting outside in the car. My lovely husband isn’t known for his patience.

10.20am and in comes a very severe looking Spanish lady of about 25, kind of gothic looking.  She introduced herself and I said ‘did I get the time wrong’, to which she replied No.

We went through the interview routine and she said that she wanted to put me on the supply teacher list and that she’d contact me at the end of the week as the vacancy she needed filling was very soon.  She wouldn’t be drawn into how much per hour or exactly how many hours but did say it would be part time.  So I left, feeling a bit cheated because the interview was something and nothing, the organisation seemed to be completely lacking and she seemed so vague.

By Friday I’d heard nothing so just put it out of my mind.

On Sunday evening I got a message asking me to attend at 9.30am the following morning for another interview and could I start at 1pm on the same day.  Again, we reorganised the next day and set off through the freak rain storm that had arrived.  I waited for only twenty minutes this time, then we had another chat and she showed me the staff room, was given all the teacher books and class lists and finally got down to discussing a contract. 

I asked how many hours she wanted me for, part time to me being about 16 hours a week minimum.  She then explained that due to a big reorganisation in the school over the last few weeks, four teachers had walked out and left them in the lurch.  She then said that she wanted me for two hours a day for four days.  Eight hours.  She’d pay 10 euros per hour cash for the first two weeks, then go on to contract where I would receive a take home pay of 6.33 per hour.  Oh and that the contract would run from November to May. Oh and she expected me to sign to say I would stay for five years.  And would I like the job?  Now my gut instincts were ‘no thanks, it will actually cost me money to run back and forward to the school – more than I would be earning’, but I said  Yes, though today would be a tricky day for me to start.  She said she’d already got cover for today if need be.

I left the school, got back in the car and relayed the conversation to my husband.  We both instantly agreed that it was absolutely not worth doing the job and if four people had just walked out there was probably good reason. 

As soon as I got home – about twenty minutes later, i sent a message saying that thanks but no thanks and I’d drop the books back into the school.

Quarter past one and  I get a very angry Spanish lady saying I had said yes to the job and I should be there and she would now have to take the lessons.

As we had to go back out to pick up the finally repaired gearbox for our nightmare cheap runaround, we decided to drop the books straight back over to the school, another twenty minute drive.  I felt a bit horrid as she’d been rude but thought that if I took the books up to the main office area, I could do a quick dump and run then text her in her lesson that she had to cover and she could go down and collect them.

No such luck.  

I arrived in the main office to find her sitting in one of the rooms.  Now as she had made such a fuss about having to cover the lessons I was rather surprised to see her right in front of me.  

Wow, can Spanish people go for it!  I felt about ten years old with her ranting and raving. She said that people in Spain would die to have a job like this.   I  tried to explain my reasoning and that maybe English people wouldn’t die for earning virtually zero, but she was having none of it so I  said sorry a few times and then walked out whilst she was still in mid-flow. 

Maybe I was wrong and maybe I was right.  For me the thought of two hours four days a week is not really earning a living.  It would barely cover the fuel to get there each day. 

What has shocked me so much about this whole episode is the fact that although this is meant to be a Private school with a glowing reputation, at not one point was I asked whether I had a CRB check or any criminal record.  Nor was I asked for any accreditation or proof of certification of anything whatsoever.  The gates that appear to be for security were wide open and there is no visitors book or actual reception.  Anyone can just stroll in and around the school and this shocked me quite a lot. Children are wandering around on their own – maybe on a loo trip or something but still alone in a big school with no security. This was a school that I was hoping to put my children into, but having seen how they seem to operate I can honestly say that they will not be attending.

It’s made me more determined to get our own business plans up and running.   
It’s also made me understand even more why the majority of Spaniards seem to work ‘on the black’ and why the economy is failing so miserably.  Cleaning jobs offer more money than teaching – nothing against cleaning jobs but this is ridiculous.

I am putting it down to another Spanish experience.  Unless I’d gone I wouldn’t have realised how completely slack this school is, whether others are the same I don’t know, but its making a strong case in my brain for continuing teaching my two little ones at home.

I won’t give up on gaining lawful part time employment.  Every simple thing we do in Spain is a fascinating insight into the way everything works.  Not a particularly inspiring insight but makes me more aware and as I said before, another Spanish experience!

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