Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the CBC technical skills exam.

I have been trying to get my little media savvy self hired on to the venerable Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

I wouldn’t call it a ‘dream’ as such. More of a desire for a job in a mostly non-profit corporation with generally good intentions. Not quite the same as working for Amnesty International, but at least I wouldn’t be actively doing things to wreck havoc on the environment and civilization. I also like the idea of a steady paycheck, union regulated coffee breaks, and, possibly, interesting co-workers.

Oh, how I would love to have co-workers again! I can almost hear you office drones groan. I’ve read (okay, heard of) the studies indicating how little work gets done in the average office due to interruptions by said co-workers. I still remember how the old, evil boss would phone in 5 minute intervals not allowing me the chance to finish any of the work in question.

However, work at home is no picnic.

First off, there is the television. Then all the books and magazines. Then the internet. And finally a pleasant kitchen were I can drink endless espressos. Sounds nice, right?

This merely extends the work day far into the night. The guilt is what drives me to stay up. A sterile office would leave me with nothing but work to do. It would possibly leave me annoyed and tired, but it would be over for the day at 5pm.

So imagine my joy at finally getting an invitation to an entrance exam at the CBC that I thought would never ever come.

The 4 hour exam is only to put me in the running for a temporary position during the summer... maybe. It also put me in a very bad mood. I had to force myself to smile when I handed in the exam.

One has to score at least 60% on the entire exam, which would be fair, I suppose, if all of the exam had something to do with my expertise. There was a first section to the exam which had a French grammar question first thing. This is remarkably ignorant, as I won't be writing material for the CBC and I wouldn't be able to read the exam at all without an appropriate level of French. That is the state of affairs regarding language around here. If I took the same exam in Toronto or Vancouver, there wouldn't be an English grammar question.

The French are so touchy. You'd think General Wolfe was still marching across the Plains of Abraham the way they go on.

Following that were a bunch of questions on general knowledge that included such gems as 'when did the CBC start colour broadcast television?' and 'Match the faces with the show on which these people are on.' and my favorite 'Pick out which photos are of labour leaders'. I tend to listen to the news on the radio, so that wasn't much help.

My chances of success were saved by the fact that I happen to have had a job in a very small and ridiculous newsroom where I watched and encoded news videos for 8 hours nearly every day for nearly a year. I can match up world leaders with the flags of their countries, no problem. I’ll be able to ace any exam involving world current affairs for at least the next 6 months without any effort. The newsroom in question didn't cover local labour leaders or Québec talk show hosts.

The problem was really the second section which was all technical, but covered 11 different technical jobs, none of which are related. So I found myself trying to answer questions regarding electrical wiring, set design, and computer programming. I know nothing about these skill sets, except that you should never, never put your tongue on a nail or an electrical outlet or a hard drive. None of the questions covered those safety aspects.

If I score less than 60%, then I cannot apply for a position at the CBC for a year.

So I figured that at least now they have a paper file on me. It contains all of the information I give to them each and every time I apply to the CBC, but it at least feels like a step towards employment. I was reasonably confident on over 60% of the questions, but multiple choice is not a good way to evaluate people, and I have always feared the silly trickery which examiners are so proud of. Such a cruel game.

I'm not sure I understand the modern hiring practices. Do these people honestly think that I'm sitting at home by the phone waiting for the temporary offer? What happened to the old fashioned job interview?

The happy news is that this is all moot. Back in November, in a fit of panic at not being gainfully employed, I decided to return to my old job forest fire fighting with the small twist of filming a documentary at the same time.

I’m about to leave this snowbound city for the entire spring and summer seasons. There will be bugs and annoying work related politics, but in exchange, I get adventure and pay. It’s like the army minus the guns (and hopefully getting shot at).

CBC will just have to wait on me. I know they’ll be upset, but there is the chance that I failed their exam anyhow. I’m not good at multiple guess.

1 comment:

french panic said...

what? you're leaving? no more meals waiting for me when I get home from work? I will have to clean my own floors and make my own coffee?

I'm sure you just made the hearts of Montreal men beat a little faster now that my firefighter boyfriend won't be around to glower at them as they shamelessly flirt with me. Right? Right?