Monday, 18 April 2011

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.


  1. I must admit I'm a little saddened to hear that potential Games Makers - even in the tech space - couldn't manage to have a go at rock-paper-scissors! Where is your playfulness and sense of fun, and how would you make the Games great without it?

  2. Hi Laura - I think it's because there wasn't much energy in the room on this Sunday morning, and it was a long wait for the 'cinema'. Staring at a man on a TV screen calling us to action was more a source of amusement. Or...perhaps this is a cunning psychological plan to filter out those who under-react! Only those who get stimulated into action by anything will make it through...!

  3. isn't it a bit odd that they think you need IT skills to press a button when someone scores? can't they make use of your IT skills somehow?

  4. I really hope you get to where you want to be :)

  5. do you know if you will get told what role you will be doing before the go to the training??

  6. Thanks for the info, My Interview is later this Month and I am trawling through google to find as much info as I can, yours was the first with photos!

  7. Hi Nick,
    Thanks for this insight. Which station did you use to get there please?

  8. Thanks! Any further news on your application then?

  9. I'm sorry you couldn't be more positive about your experience - I got a buzz just being there. You may be trying to be humorous but it's coming over to me as a lack of enthusiasm. I hope you didn't convey that in your interview. Good luck anyway.

  10. I had an interview there too and we reacted in much the same way to the Cadbury's guy. Chocolate sponsoring the greatest sporting event in the world? And then stirring up the passions for a nonsensical 'stars vs stripes' rivalry and getting people to play a playground game with a virtual competitor?? That was probably the first test. Anyone who participated may have been considered too 'simple' for the task ahead.

    Looks like the marketing budget for the 5-a-day brigade just couldn't match the might of the multinational tax-dodging conglomerate. Bill Hicks was right. I do feel like the Olympics have sold some of their soul to the highest bidder. They might subsidise costs which would otherwise have had to be met from the public purse, but there should have been strict guidelines about what is acceptable and what is not. We'd still not accept tobacco advertising even if they offered more than anyone else, so why pander to the purveyors of obesity?

    And if you'll allow me my moment of digression too - Boris bikes are banned from the site as they carry Barclays advertising. We've finally got a public bike system in place and red tape is blocking it at a time when it is most needed. No non-official sponsorship is allowed on site. It has gone so far as preventing condoms with the Kitemark being distributed in the Olympic Village. Maybe the real Mad Men are the ones who draw up the restrictive rules to protect the advertiser's pound.

  11. Hi,
    Thanks for your input - my interview is this Thursday! I was searching for any information on what to expect. Your blog has been helpful!

  12. Hi

    Thanks for your post, particularly the questions - came in very handy for preparing for my interview. Annoyingly I only found out in the interview that I hadn't been placed in any of the teams I volunteered for! So that made things a bit tricky having to reorientate all my examples.

  13. Hi, I have an interview too soon, I just wondered what the dress code is? I'm guessing formal because it's an interview, but how formal is formal?

    - Many Thanks

  14. I had an interview in December for the Technology Team - not heard if successful as yet. Has anyone been offered a Technology Team role yet? Just wondering if I had missed out? Thanks

    1. I had an interview for the Tech Team on 8th Dec and I haven't heard back yet, except for an email sent out on the 31st Dec saying that I'm still in the recruitment process. I emailed them to ask what's going on and I was told that offers are being made on an ongoing basis until April. So no, you might not have missed out, there's still time.

  15. To anon,

    Dress code is pretty casual. I went casual and have been made an offer.

    But this defo helped prepare

  16. Thanks for the blog.. very interesting. Quick question though, what did you and everyone else wear?

  17. @Brandon - I was also interviewed in December for the Technology Team and I haven't heard back yet either. I've been on the Games Maker Facebook page and it doesn't seem like there are many people who have been made offers for Technology so maybe it's one of the last teams to give out offers. Fingers crossed we both make it!

  18. I attended my Selection Event for the Technology team way back in April 2011, as of this morning my Games Maker status page reads "Application is under review"

  19. Hi,

    I've got an telephone interview on 24 March for the Tech team, what questions did they ask you Brendon?


  20. Thank you for your sharing. I went to the interview yestersay and didnt feel unfamiliar because of your photos

  21. had an interview in over 1 year ago for the Technology Team & still not heard anything....?

  22. Hi Brendon. I had my interview for technology back in May last year and am still waiting to hear!

  23. I had my interview about 9 months ago for a Scoreboard Operation and my status is still "application under review". I want to plan things for the summer, holiday leave from work etc, getting a bit frustrated by it all now!

  24. Has anyone heard anything yet? My application is still under review!

  25. im fedup of waiting for result of interview i had back in feb 2011, probably refuse offer if i get one now because i also have a life to plan and i cant wait forever


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