Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Interview at the IIO and a brief look around Brussels

Decided I had better blog the rest of my Brussels trip, because if I hear back that I didn't get the job, I won't want to do it! Obviously, between the four hours of tests, one hour panel interview, travelling about, preparation etc., I didn't really end up with a lot of time to see the city. I have been before, and I would have really liked to go back to the art museum, since I remember it fondly, but there didn't end up being enough time. I was also gutted that they opened up a new museum on the history of the book since my last trip, but when I visited it was closed just for the afternoon to change the displays :( This only gets done once every three months, but typically it was just at the only free moment I had to pop in.

Something I did make time for: eating chocolate and reading a book while soaking in the jacuzzi tub in my hotel room. Oh yes! I would have liked to add "drinking a glass of wine" to that mix, but I was being very well-behaved. I do love a good bath, even if the jets on this one were out of control - not that they were all that hard, but they created an almighty splash all over the bathroom! Oh well! It was, in fact, hard to leave my posh "luxury suite" in a chic but quiet central Brussels neighbourhood. I'm not accustomed to travelling in luxury (my next stop was a dingy dorm room in Bruges), but the IIO were picking up the tab :D

I also made it down to the Grande Place three times - not hard, since it was close by and it is just stunningly beautiful. My night photos didn't come out very well, but I was lucky to be able to swing by to take some snaps in the some late-afternoon sunshine after the test day. The city in general looked very nice with the snow, especially when it was sunny, although it was quite treacherous to walk on the icy pavements.

As for the interview, it was pretty much your standard 5-person panel affair. I felt like I talked a bit too much and said things I didn't mean to, especially about my last job (I didn't slag anyone off or anything like that, but I didn't mean to say anything about how we all got let go, and it just came out somehow). I was glad that I'd studied up on the history of the IIO and so forth, as they did ask, and I was also able to slip in a couple of questions of my own which showed I'd done my homework. I just wish people would actually ask about your skills and why you'd be good for the job instead of all of those "what would you do if this happened" or "tell me a time when you had this problem", because no matter how many interview guides I read or times I practice, I seem to either get stuck for an answer or feel I'm coming across as insincere, or say something I didn't mean to. I suppose from their point of view that's the idea, but it is frustrating.

So anyway, I suppose it was pretty average across the two days, apart from the good result on the French test, so I don't really have high hopes, especially since a couple of the candidates already had some sort of IIO connections. Still, it was a nice free trip and an interesting experience, and as I said last time, I think I did well to get down to the final 5. I got an email from another Brussels-based international organisation recently, saying that it would take them longer to draw up a shortlist because they got almost 300 applications. The IIO is way bigger, more important, and better-known than that place, so I can only imagine they got hundreds of applicants too!

This creeps me out, because I could have sworn this was a real woman, but she seems to have morphed into a lace-making soul-sucking demon mannequin while I wasn't watching

The very beautiful Grande Place - third time was the charm for photos with blue skies




video

Staute of King Somebody (I think). Informative stuff, as usual

My cushy hotel room

An amusing chip shop sign
I actually took this photo of the Mannekin Pis on my last trip to Brussels in 2007. This time, he was just in boring undressed mode
 
A pretty shopping arcade near the Grande Place

The pretty Notre Dame du Sablon church, as viewed from my hotel room windows

12 comments:

  1. It sounds to me like the interview went well! I'm currently freaking out about any potential interviews I'm about to have (if I don't have any, that's more worrisome). And you're right, being one of the top 5 out of hundreds (maybe thousands) of applications is pretty damn awesome!

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    1. Maybe, after all I was sure I didn't get through the online test and there we go.. Good luck for your internship search!

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  2. Yes, I think it went well, too - better to say a bit too much than be tongue-tied. Sorry about the history of the book museum; I know how you would have adored that! Another time! M xxx

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    1. Mmm not sure, would rather set expectations low anyway!

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  3. Was it the "History of the Book" museum or the history of "the Book Museum"?

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    1. Looks like we'll never know...

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  4. Here's hoping that you get the job at the IIO! I'm sure that you impressed the 5 person panel (is that standard - really?!) with your knowledge, skill set and wit!

    We wanted to take the train to Brussels while Sara was here but had to save it for another time. What's the name of the book museum? Not having your super-sleuth internet skills, I just googled it and only came up with The Belgian Comic Strip Center.

    Congratulations for making it to the final 5 and for being invited to Brussels for an interview!

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    1. Thanks! It's called the Librarium, in the Royal Library of Belgium http://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museum/109-librarium-royal-library-of-belgium

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  5. I so know what you mean by regretting a response in an interview! Sometimes right the comment comes out! The biggest blunders I thought I made were always with the jobs I ended up getting. Sometimes a little honesty is appreciated, so I'm sure whatever you said was fine. Don't worry about it.

    And like MK commented, 5 is standard? Wow, you go! That's impressive altogether! You never cease to amaze me, Gwan. :)

    Now about that bath...why wasn't there wine again? The situation so called for it!!

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    1. Well, not standard for every job, but more or less what I expected. I had one where I had three interviews in a row - first with one person, then two, then five!

      I would have loved some wine, but unfortunately I thought I'd better make extra-sure I was fresh and alert for the job stuff. Obviously normally a cheeky wine doesn't hurt, but you never know!

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  6. Just re-read this now that I have visited Brussels myself and that made it extra interesting. Great to see places I recognise, and glad you ended up going to the book museum (with me!). xx

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