Interview for a Ski Season


Seasonaire. Before working my first Season, it was a word that I had not heard before. Now, it is a life that sounds very appealing to me.

In Autumn of last year, I found my self Googling for a job that involved travelling and would only be for a few months over the Winter, (I had wanted to be an Elf in Lapland, but apparently that job was filled up from Summer!). The one that seemed to frequently come up: Chalet Host. I had seen half of the film Chalet Girl and thought that I had some idea of what they did and skiing everyday sounded fun so why not? I sent out C.V's and applications to various companies, with the ones who got back to me saying that they are already full up for Chalet Hosts for the Winter Season, except one. I called them back excitedly, only for them to then proceed to ask me for my cooking qualification and where I had trained. Cooking qualification..? But the role had said 'Host' not 'Chef'...? I thought to myself, okay, so maybe Chalet Hosts do a little bit more than just sweep an apartment and ski every day... (for the record, the do a Hell of a Lot More!)

Dismayed, I couldn't lie, I told them that I could barely boil pasta. Preparing myself for another rejection, they instead gave me an interview anyway for the role of being a Hotel Assistant - Boom. Yet once again, I was not entirely sure what this role really involved, so I decided to do some Proper research this time, not just rely on a Hollywood Perception before applying.  It turns out that I had again been naive, since I thought it would involve working on a reception of some kind and doing the odd hoovering. It actually involves deep cleaning bathrooms and making beds all day. I thank God that I did not get that job, because I would have been fired due to my hopeless inability to successfully do such things within a week.

At the interview, I seemed to be the only one who did not wear a suit. Great start. The first thing we had to do was give a 2 minute speech about us and our C.V, in front of our interviewers and all the other interviewees. I had prepared a PowerPoint full of prompts for myself, (and a Snowflake background - hey, I was going with the theme!) Except when I got there, their technology was not working, and I was up second. I tried desperately to remember my C.V and what I had written on the Power Point and scribbled it as fast as I could on the back of one of the forms that they had given to us to fill in. When it came to my turn, I thought screw it, I know me and what I can do, so just proceeded to ramble talk at them about the various roles in the customer service industry that I had done since the age of 13, the importance of customer service, my degree, my extra curricular, hobbies - to which at the end of my allocated time I was asked by one of the interviewers, "Is there anything that you Haven't done!?"

The Head of HR had also entered just in time to witness my speech and we had a quick break, where I was brought outside of the interview room, away from the other Winter Season hopefuls, by him and another interviewer. I was aware that people who they did not find suitable would be asked to leave throughout the day, and as the first person pulled out, after only doing my speech and nothing else, I could not helped but feel extremely nervous - could it have really gone that bad? "Its like being pulled out by the Headmaster isn't it?" The interviewer joked, and I could just about muster a nervous laugh.

Instead of sending me home on the long train ride back from London, I was asked a few questions about my experience in sales and was mock interviewed in the hallway. He then asked me to instead, change my application again and go for the role of Resort Representative - a Holiday Rep. I had never been on a Winter Holiday and had never really used a Rep in any of my Summer ones, so was a little bit unsure as to what they really did - but he seemed keen for me to go for it and the job already sounded much more fun, and to be honest much more suitable to my personality, than the one I had originally come to the interview for, so how could I refuse? The rest of the day consisted of creating a game for guests in teams, being brought through life as a Seasonaire in the Winter and, exams. The written one, problem solving and customer service ones were all fine, the maths one, well... meh. But then came the French exam. Dammit, my naivety had struck once again. Working for a British
company, with all of the application process being in the English Language and the guests being primarily British, it had not occurred to me that being able to speak French would be such a necessity. Lesson Learnt. My famous last words in French class in school were, "When am I ever going to need this? When am I going to live in France...?" Yeaaahh... Just proves, you never know which way life is going to take you! (Although maybe learning every language in the world, 'just in case', would be a bit excessive...)

I attempted to answer the questions to the best of my limited ability, having not being able to remember past "Hello, my name is Rachael, how are you?" And I didn't even know how to spell that. We had 15 minutes to complete it and after rushing to just scribble random words which I hoped were French in the last minute, I ended up writing at the bottom of my paper, "My apologies, my French is not the best, but I promise that I am a quick learner!" Yes. I wrote "I'm sorry" on my exam paper.

Eventually, half of the group did get sent home throughout the day until there was just a few of us left, and it was time for our individual interviews. Knowing that I had been asked to go for this role by the Head of HR, and that I had been put through to the final stage of the interview over people who had originally prepared for the role that I didn't, ( and despite my lack of maths and French skills), did put me at ease. Although I knew that the game wasn't over yet. I racked my brain through what we had been through throughout the day, what questions were on the exam papers, what sales and what problems had I solved at work when dealing with customers before, and decided to just go with that. Turns out it was not a bad plan, since, well, I got the job! My one downfall in this seemingly perfect job for me - I do not have a driving licence. So there was only one resort where they could send me, which he made me aware of when asking me to change my application - the beautiful town of Morzine. Everything happens for a reason, and I ended up having an Amazing Season there and falling in love with the town so much that I have come back in the Summer to work another Season, but more on all that in another blog.

When asked about why I wanted to work a ski Season, I replied with because I wish to travel, work in an industry which I have experience in and am successful in and barely touched on skiing. He seemed slightly surprised by this to which I replied, "Yes, I'd love to do some more skiing but that's not the only reason I would like to work for you", (or something along those lines). And to be honest, when on season you could make a clear distinction between the work ethic of those who wanted to get much more out of their Season than those who just wanted tired legs and a goggle tan. If I can pass on any advise for when applying for a job over ski season it would be this: It is still a job. You still have to put the work in just as you would any other job in any other working situation in the world. If you don't, you will find yourself at the hands of a rude awakening when you find out that maybe you won't have time to ski/snowboard all day everyday and wait, you have to get up early and go to work in the morning with that hangover, oh and Apres? Two words my friend - Split. Shifts. Have Fun...But more of that in another future blog post.

Over all I found the application process fairly easy - I already had several copies of my C.V and cover letters to hand. The interview process itself was the most intense interview process that I have ever had, lasting all day with plenty of unexpected turns, but I guess that is where the excitement was at. I had travelled all the way to London for it, (no expenses paid), so I guess the least they could do was keep me busy for the day! This was another reason why I felt bad for those who did not make the cut and got sent home half way through...

My advise for the interview? Be prepared for anything! Applying for a job in France? Learn French! Research the company, research your job role and just be you - they may find that you are much better suited to a different one to that you applied for. Turn up early, be prepared to work in a team, have your voice heard without being pushy, and smile!

And for the record - despite the stress, pressure, and continuously having to deal with customers with minor issues that I can only describe as 'Upper Class Problems', I did Love my job. And I Loved my Winter Season. It is definitely worth it, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Good Luck applying and Best of Luck in your Interview!

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