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  • Writer's pictureNick Lansley

My London 2012 Olympic Games Maker Tech interview

Image: Sign pointing the way to the Games Maker Selction Event

Click on any image in this article for a much bigger version and, where applicable, read some of the detailed text on the boards shown in the photo. You can re-use any of these pictures without permission as long as you credit them to my name and this blog.

Yesterday (Sunday 17 April) I arrived to attend my scheduled interview to become one of the many thousands of Games Makers who will turn the London 2012 Olympics “from a good Games to a great Games” according to Lord (Sebastian) Coe.

The interview day had a technology twist to it, as everyone who attended yesterday had been invited because of IT skills and experience. So, at 11:30am I arrived at the LOCOG’s special interviewing centre set up in the ExCel conference center in east London’s Victoria Dock.

Image: Check-in area inside the Games Maker hall, showing “Your Route” to registration, exhibition, cinema and interview areas

I arrived at the ‘Check-in’ where my name was checked on a list, then offered a blue wristband, thereby joining the ‘blue interviewees’ team. We then sat on some London 2012 Olympic logo-shaped couches while eating handfuls of Cadbury’s chocolate from nearby bowls, and awaited registration.

A very jolly lady (considering she was inside working on a sunny Sunday morning) looked at my registered identity, checked my driving licence and passport to confirm I was who I said I was, then took a photo of me using a webcam. She then told me to “enjoy the experience!”.

The “experience” consisted of a 20 minute wait for the ‘cinema’ as indicated on a countdown screen, and the use of that time to talk to a Games Maker Technical Expert who described the various technical roles available to us.

The 20-odd roles were mostly about entering data or maintaining data flows between buildings and the various Olympic teams. For example I could be watching a tennis match and press the appropriate button whenever an event took place, such as “deuce”. Yes, a button marked “deuce” would have to be pressed there and then, thus building up stats about the game. I could do that!

I could also certainly do the “print run” which consisted of anything from running with printed results from one building / team / organisation to another, through to keeping the printers going. Maybe I would have to look after laser printers 20-39 in a series, keep them filled with A4, tend to paper jams and refill them with replacement ink cartridges as needed. I did wonder what paper was doing in the electronic age but it was pointed out that it was a backup to the electronic means in case electronic communications stuttered or broke for a while. Made sense I suppose!

Image: “Our vision” presentation unit with messages and a video showing just how nice hosting the Olympic Games is going to be for everyone.

Surrounding us in our wait for the cinema were presentation units showing a mix of video, audio and text about “our vision” and “our heritage” which contained inspirational messages about the games and the roles of Games Makers turning good into Great!

Image: The Games Maker presentation unit, inviting attendees to write an inspirational message about what they hoped to get out of being a Games Maker.

One unit invited attendees to write some words about why they had chosen to apply to be a Games Maker. Most were inspired by the games. I wrote that I wanted to give back something to London, my favourite world city (which really is true).

Image: The “teams and roles” presentation unit showed the various headline roles being offered to Games Makers

Finally the 20 minutes were up, and we entered the cinema, consisting of a 60″ plasma screen showing video from Lord Coe about how excited he was that we had applied, and an amusing message from Eddie Izzard about how we had to be “ourselves” in the interview that was to follow.

There was a slightly bizarre promotional message from sponsor Cadbury’s about how they were aiming to turn half of the people of Britain into “spots” and the other half into “stripes”, then get spots and stripes to compete with each other at various fun games throughout the country. The on-screen presenter, purple-clothed in Cadbury’s brand colour, then tried to make us play a game of scissors-paper-stone with him! We just sat there and looked at him on the screen, then each other, and just smiled at the bizarreness of at all without moving…!

Lord Coe came back on to wish us luck, the screen went blank, and we were ushered to one of about 40 interviewing cubicles, all made from ‘walls’ of triangles built at the slightly bizarre angles that make up the London 2010 logo.

The interview lasted about 30 minutes. My interviewer was a second-year graduate at a marketing organisation who was just as jolly as my registration lady. I did wonder how many hours they kept up being joyfully positive. Maybe every so often they the run off to a special room to curse and punch soft padded walls for a bit before returning to joy. Maybe I would have to learn to live this joy for the two weeks of being a Games Maker…

I digress. The reality was I was asked a series of fairly standard “We need skill X, give an example of demonstrating that skill recently in your work or personal life” questions. So, “We need someone who can keep their head under pressure, give an example of keeping yours under pressure at work”. Whereupon I pointed out that I still had my head, as could be plainly seen…. (no I didn’t but you get the point!).

The 30 minutes passed quickly and pleasantly, I was thanked very much and it was hoped I had enjoyed the experience. I was passed along a corridor to write something lovely on a white board. No doubt my interviewer went off to punch the soft room wall for a bit.

I’ll be told if I have made it through to the next stage – working as part of a “shadow” team at a real championships alongside the real admin team there – by the end of 2011. Actually I really can’t wait!

Image: A white board filled with messages from attendees who had completed their interview. Click this image for full size and you can read many of the messages on the closest white board.

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