I didn’t really know how to prepare so I thought up some examples for the skills I knew they would be interested in: languages, team working, customer service experience and being adaptable to any situation you may end up in during a gigantic event like the Olympics. I also thought about my motivation to be there and how I wanted to be in the Olympics when I was little. I never made it as an athlete, but being involved as a volunteer would make up for it.
My interview was at the Excel Centre and I wondered whether the atmosphere might be similar to that at a talent show audition. Luckily I was wrong. Everything was really calm and well organised. At the beginning I went to a registration desk where they took my basic details and gave me a name sticker and an interview pod number (at this stage I had no idea what that might mean). Some more people arrived whilst I was at the desk, but in the end there were only about 20 candidates in total. We moved to another desk where our ID was checked and they took a photo which would be used for our access passes next year. The next area was bigger and was set out as an exhibition of different aspects of the Olympics and Paralympics: a bit of history, some information on the venues, more information on the different roles volunteers will be involved in and a large wall where you were asked to write down why you want to be a Games Maker. I found it very moving to see hundreds of little pieces of paper that said “I want to be part of the biggest show on Earth”, “I want to give London back what it has given me”, “I just want to help make it a great experience for athletes and spectators” or “I want to drive Usain Bolt around”. The one new piece of information that I picked up was where the names of the mascots originate from. They are called Wenlock and Mandeville, both places connected to the history of the events, and I had a bit of trouble memorising these beforehand.
Eventually all candidates were called into a little cinema room where we were welcomed again. Following a short film (in which Eddie Izzard welcomed us on a space programme and Cadbury got some good product placement in) we were directed to a map which would tell us where our interview pod was. I ended up in my pod, a small room without a door, with a lovely lady called Lucienne. Until this moment I didn’t actually know anything about the interview setting so it was quite a relief to realise that it was just a chat with one person. Lucienne pronounced my name correctly straight away (which doesn’t happen often in this country) and made me feel really relaxed. I talked about early memories of the Olympics (my earliest memory of our first colour TV is seeing the Olympic swimming pool at the Seoul Olympics in 1988), used my library experience to demonstrate dealing with a wide range of people, recalled being my football team’s treasurer for several years and mentioned the challenge of spending two years studying part time for my MA whilst working full time.
The interview took about half an hour. I could have talked longer, but I feel that I did well, used good examples, came across as friendly and open for challenges and presented myself in the best possible way. Everything else is now in the hands of the selectors. All I know is that I really enjoyed the experience and look forward to hearing back from them in the autumn. I would be sad if I did not get selected, but I have done my best to take part. For me London 2012 can’t come soon enough!