The Phone Interview

It’s been a couple weeks since I took a day off work to do the phone interview for IceCube.  Just finally getting motivated to jot down some notes…

The morning of the call had a bumpy start.  I didn’t sleep well with noise from repair work going on in the street outside, compounded with nervous anticipation after it became clear that I’d be doing this call drowsy.  No fun.  I adjusted the alarm to allow for sleeping in a little, hopefully still with time to have a good breakfast and get freshened up for the interview.

Our arrangement was for everyone to call in to a teleconference center via a local toll-free number, but since I was calling in with skype there were a few different phone numbers to chose from.  A few minutes before the start, I went ahead and dialed up one of the conference numbers to make sure things were working alright – no worries, the conference call robot prompted me for the conference pass code just fine, and I hung up on it.

As the time to call in got a little closer, I gave the number another ring.  This time, the robot-operator informed me that the number was no longer active or some such error.  Strange, as it was “redial”.  Second try also failed.  Third try went through though, so I punched in the conference call code and was connected in…

There’s a strange dynamic with conference calls that doesn’t exist in face-to-face meetings.  Some conference calls are like a chat among friends, where there’s no clear leader, and that’s just fine most of the time.  Others have a distinct leader, like the boss sitting at the head of a table steering a meeting agenda, also fine.  Unfortunately, in my experience, it’s not usually clear which type of call you’re in until there’s been some conversation.  On top of that, there’s often a considerable lag, so the first few minutes can be a bit awkward as people drop in if it’s a “chat among peers” style call.

I could hear from the first couple seconds that some people were already talking when I was connected in, idle chatting I assumed, then there was silence as they heard the “ding” to announce a new participant.  That’s normal, since the “ding” is the same for everyone, nobody knows who’s called in until they speak up.  After a quick “hi everyone, Ian here”, still silence.  Awkward or Awkward?

What quickly became clear was that I had called in halfway through someone else’s interview.  One of the interviewers kindly suggested that I had been asked to call in at 9am Tuesday, my time.  It was 9am Tuesday, my time, so there had obviously been a mix-up involving the date line.  I let them know that it was 9am Tuesday for me, and that I’d be in touch via email to reschedule.  Dammit!

So, another lesson for conference calls:  Sometimes skype doesn’t disconnect immediately, so keep your dirty mouth shut for a minute after hanging up.  If you don’t, you’ll be second-guessing what the other end heard for days…

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About ianrrees

Nerdy guy.
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