It had to happen some time, the sooner the better so I’d know whether or not I had the job. My first interview in Australia. As always, I was pretty nervous. I mean, what do you say to an Australian farmer? Although my family boasts a proud agricultural history, I’d never really worked with many other farmers before.
During the Outbackpackers course, Mr. Pickett had given the group pointers on how to conduct the interview. The advice was pretty basic: listen, ask questions when appropriate, use proper language, and, overall, be honest. Don’t try to cover anything up because it’ll just make it worse once you get there.
In any event, the call came in Tuesday night. Mr. Pickett called me over and handed me the telephone. Deciding to get a little privacy for the interview I went behind the office out of ear shot of the rest of the group and thus began my first Australian interview.
Farmer: (Rustling) Hi, hiya? Hi. Hi there. Yeou there? (Away from the phone) Not sure if he can hear me. Yea yea yea, okay.
Me: Hello? Yea, I can hear you.
Farmer: (Into phone) Ah, hiya Steve, how yeou goin, mate?
Me: Good good, n’ you?
Farmer: So yeou say yeou’ve got some experience on a farm before?
Farmer: Yea yea yea, oroigh’, well, what we’ve got here is pretty similar to what yeou folks got in America.
Farmer: What’s that?
Me: I’m from Canada.
Farmer: Ah, yea yea yea, sorry bout that. Cenada. What didja drive over there?
Me: John Deere, 8500-series.
Farmer: Ah, yea yea yea, big tractor.
Me: Yea, one of those fancy articulated tractors.
Me: Articulated. Just curious, are you guys using GPS and auto-steer at all?
Farmer: Ah, yea yea yea, we’ve got that too. Ow’a tractors are pretty new seo they’re pretty easy to operate, I mean, as long as yeou use yeour head. Power steering and all the good stuff. Even has a cooler for yeour beea.
Me: Ah, ha, nice. Is that a requirement?
Farmer: No no, but in case it’s a long day y’neva kneow. Seo livin arrangements will be pretty basic. I hope it’s not a problem but we’ve got a nudist colony on the far side of the station.
Me: A nudist colony?
Farmer: Yea yea yea, a couple of ladies own it but they run a resort sorta thing.
Me: Ah, nice. I don’t think it should be a problem.
Farmer: Yea yea yea, the last guy here hit the fence and ripped the bloody thing out. Seo yeou gotta pay attention when yeou’re the far side of the paddick.
Me: Will do, no probs. My uncle told me that it’s important not to make work for the boss so I’ll try not to hit any fences.
Farmer: Yea yea yea, well, yeou’d be the one fixing it on yeour own time.
Me: Ah, gotcha, no hitting fences then.
Farmer: Righ’o. Anyway, about pay, we reckon we’d start yeou off on a pretty basic pay rate, about two thousand dollas a week.
Me: Two thousand?
Farmer: Yea yea yea, is thet okay?
Me: Yea, plenty. Sheei- Is that before or after tax?
Farmer: Oh, after tax I reckon.
Me: Ah, coolio, thanks. I’m guessing they’ll be a lot of work? I mean, lots of hours?
Farmer: Yea yea yea, when we get into it we’ll be working some pretty long hours seo yeou’ll probably make more than that. Thet’s not a problem, is it?
Me: Nah nah nah, should be pretty good. I’m looking forward to working. Tired of sitting around doing nuthin.
Farmer: Yea yea yea, I hear ya. Well, there’ll be lots of work here for ya when yeou come over.
Me: Good to hear. What sort of hours can I expect and what’s a typical day like?
Farmer: Ah, lots of hours once we get in’o'it. We usually get goin at around seven, smoko at ten, lunch at one, and then knock off around five or so. If you’re keen on it, we usually hava blow round the bonfia with a few beeas after work.
Farmer: Yea, a bit of a rest, I guess yeou’d say.
Me: Nice. Sound good. I’ve got just a few questions.
Farmer: Yea yea yea, go ahead.
Me: I don’t have a vehicle, is that a problem?
Farmer: Neo worries mate, we’ve got a ute yeou can drive around. Y’kneow how to drive stick?
Me: Uh, standard?
Farmer: Yea yea yea.
Me: Yea, I guess. Craig let us try out his bikes, I wouldn’t say I’m the best though.
Farmer: Neo worries, yeou’ll figure it out or yeou won’t go anywhere.
Me: Fair enough. What about accommodation?
Farmer: Well, as I said before, it’s pretty basic. Yeour own heouse but, uh, yeou’ll be sharing with another one of ow’a refo’s, I hope that’s okay. She usually makes dinner seo all yeou gotta do is be nice to her.
Me: It’s a woman?
Farmer: Yea yea yea, tweny-two or so? Nice looking lady, blonde. German, I reckon.
Me: Ha, yes, sir, gotcha.
Farmer: (Rustling) Ah, just a sec, Steve, m’pardna wants me to ask a few questions. The last guy was a bit dodgy, y’kneow, had a few kangaroos loose in the top paddick.
Farmer: Ah yea yea yea. Can yeou do math?
Me: Yea, I finished high school and all that.
Farmer: Can yeou count for me?
Me: Yea, sure, count what?
Farmer: Ah, just to ten.
Me: Sure, one two three four five six … seven eight nine ten.
Farmer: Ah good good good. Yea yea yea, good. Uh, can yeou sing?
Me: Yea, sure, not well, might not attract many folks but, yea, I can sing I guess.
Farmer: Yea yea yea, neo worries, just usually after a day’s work or seo we get togetha ’round the bonfia and sing a few tunes. Seo what can yeou sing for me?
Me: Uh, baa baa black sheep?
Farmer: Sure, yea yea yea, sure.
Me: Alright, well… Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir yes sir, three bags-
The moment of clarity should’ve hit me a little sooner. It was a unique interview, to say the least, and I wasn’t the least fazed by the nudist colony, the generous salary or the seemingly off-topic interview questions. But before I could finish my little song I spotted Mr. Pickett also on the phone. That was nothing unusual since he was running a business, but what got me was the look on his face.
Me: Craig, you’re an ass.
And so my first Australian job interview turned out to be a 10-minute prank call by none other than Mr. Pickett himself. Since I had decided to take the call out of view of everybody else, he had the perfect set up by which he could conduct the interview and let everybody else around the bonfire know that he was putting me on.
For the real interview I had to call my employer and it took no more than five minutes. I was set to go to Adelaide that weekend to work the Great Australian Grape Harvest.