A few days after the telephone interview, I composed an email to the recruitment team to pass on my thanks etc.
I had an almost immediate reply stating that one of the team would be in touch to make arrangements for a face to face interview in Qatar!
I was absolutely delighted, even if it didn't go past the face to face stage, the experience of whole process and the opportunity to spend even just a few brief hours over in a country I had never been to would have been worth it.
Things were moving and they were moving quick....
A few emails were exchanged to agree dates times, flights. Copies of Passports and qualifications were sent. And the flight bookings, travel visa, hotel booking and interview arrangement were received.
Trust me, I was now buzzing.......
I had spent the last couple of weeks going over all the company literature, researching the field, going over my own history and all the human resource type questions.
I arrived at Aberdeen Airport, caught a flight across to Frankfurt for the connection, changed some money to Qatar Riyals just in case and then jumped on the flight to Doha.
I arrived just after 8pm local time, and I will never forget that moment of stepping off the plane and feeling the warmth in the evening and the smell of sand dust in the air. Going into the airport and passing through the immigration and security, I was very nervous and not sure of what to expect at all. In the arrival hall, I got speaking to a couple of other British lads while waiting for the luggage and they had told me there was a strike from midnight by Lufthansa for 3 days. Great, guess who I was flying home on! Guess will have to sort that out tomorrow when I get to the interview.
Coming out of arrival hall I followed my instruction and went to the hotels arrival desk in the airport. There was a car waiting for me to whisk me off to the hotel.
Arriving at the hotel, I was checked in. The driver, the hotel staff were all friendly and no issues. Signed the usual check-in card and also a chit to authorise the company to pay the driver who took me over.
Went up to room and looked out the window over the city. I was staying at the Radison-Blu the room was as expected. Clean, fresh and perfectly adequate for a couple of nights.
By now, I was tired, thirsty and hungry. Before I did anything else, I unpacked my bag, hung up my suit and ironed my shirt. I then spent a hour just going over my notes, cv, letter, literature etc. I really should get some sleep, but the mind was racing. I looked at the hotel literature and there was a list of all the bars and restaurants in the hotel.
I decided that I would go down to the Sports bar and have a pint to relax myself and help get a good nights sleep. Down to the 1st floor i head, and round the corner to be met by a massive chap sat at a desk speaking to someone. Now, not knowing what is what, I walked past him towards the bar entrance. I then heard him calling/shouting at me, turns out I had to show me room number and sign the book to go in. Lesson learned!
Through into the bar I went and it was absolutely buzzing. Up to the bar I went and sat down, There were 3 large screens showing different football matches and the atmosphere was electric. I ordered a pint of beer and much to my surprise it wasn't really anymore expensive than a hotel price in the UK. The first pint went down too easy. It had been a long day and was very welcome. Ordering up a second it was now getting on, about 10.30pm or so. I took a bit more time over this one and just soaked up the atmosphere and did a lot of people watching round the room. Finished the pint and headed back to the room. I could have stayed till closing time easily, but not with an interview the next day/in about 10 hours!
I was surprised how easily I fell asleep and woke a couple of hours before the alarm. I got up, has a soak in the bath, started to get dressed etc. By now the realisation of what was away to happen was kicking in. I couldn't face breakfast and just wanted to sip water...nerves had started.
The interview was due to start at 11am and I was advised to allow 30-45 minutes to get to the companies office as traffic is horrendous. At 10am I went down to the reception and they organised the transport, headed over to the HQ. traffic was manic, but was moving freely, sitting in the back of the car there were a few breathe in moments and certainly the roundabouts featured a sort of 'ready, aim, fire' approach to getting out onto and around them!
April 1st 2014, yes, April Fools day - What a day to have an interview! What was even more coincidental was it was April 1st 2003 when I was last in the employment of BP before we were TUPE'd across to Apache when they acquired the Forties Field. Was this a sign?
Arriving at the office I was way too early. The traffic had been quicker than expected. I went to the reception desk, got a visitors pass and then said I would just wait as not in any rush. Sitting back and reading the various publications in the waiting area and helping myself to water. The buildings aircon was certainly working and it was starting to heat up outside. Watching the comings and goings of the staff, security and couriers etc. was interesting and seeing how they all interact gave a relaxed view of things.
My contact arrived about 10:50am and we headed up to the interview. She was most shocked when I had told her she need to arrange alternate flights due the strike. She wasn't aware of this and she was a little bit of a panic and said she would get straight onto it.
Now, I wasn't in too much of a hurry to leave the country, but I had a skiing holiday in a few days and needed to get home to catch that flights!
We get up to one of the higher floors in the building and the first part of the interview was due to start. It was an hour with the director. The view from his office was amazing, but that was not what i was there for, so time to focus! The hour flew in and was a solid back and forth chat for the full duration. This was followed by the repeat of the online assessments. I then had another hour with another manager and the HR business partner. Finally another session with the HR recruitment partner. All in all it was about 3.5 to 4 hrs of solid intense activity. My mind was scrambled. The HR administrator had arranged alternate flights that left that evening so my visit had been cut short, but meant I could get back to the UK in time to head out to France to go skiing.
Reception arranged a car back to the hotel and it duly arrived. Back at the hotel, I chilled out in the bath, the bar was calling my name, but wasn't open for a couple of hours, so flicked on the telly, looked at the Doha guide etc. then headed down to the bar. Sadly there wasn't enough time to go out and explore given the changes to the flights. I had a couple of pints and a cracking baskets of chicken goujons and fries. Picking up my bags I checked out, the hotel arranged a car back to the airport.
The airport was still the old one, the new one wasn't opening for a few months. On arrival had to wait about 1 hour for the checkin desk to open, then once checked in, headed to the security gates. It wasn't too busy and the queue steadily moved forward, then the first weird thing happened. I was standing about 5th or 6th in line and the guy in front of me suddenly put his bag down on the floor, ducked under the rope snake barriers and vanished off into the check-in hall. None of the security noticed this. A few of the other travellers did and started to have worried faces. What should I do? the queue shuffled forward and the bag was given a wide berth, all I wanted was for the queue to get a move on so I could get through the security check and into departure hall. I'm now just passed the bag, and suddenly the guy comes back, forces his way through the queue, picks up his bag then proceed to continue to barge past back into the position he was in before fleeing. I didn't care he was barge in, I'm just glad he returned and picked up his bag, gave me some comfort knowing it wasn't something dodgy if you know what I mean.
There were duty free areas in various places and I bought some small gifts for the kids. There were no issues getting through the airport, just a bit of time people watching waiting for the gate to open.
The flight stopped off at Bahrain to let some off and pick some up, and the local customs boarded for a passenger check then we were on our way again. The plane was pretty empty which surprised me considering there was the strike on by Lufthansa.
Arrived in Heathrow to catch the connection to Aberdeen and passing through the security check they didn't like the Qatar snow globes I had, because they had liquid in them, these then had to be checked into the hold, it was a pretty painless process and they had a dedicated desk that handled this use case so everything went smooth.
Caught the connection Aberdeen and I was home. The next day was packing for skiing and then off again.
Scotland, England, Germany, Qatar, Bahrain, Switzerland, France all in a few days!
The skiing certainly took my mind off things while once again waited for the next outcome.