<%-- Page Title--%> Musings <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 113 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

July 11, 2003

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What Not To Do In An Interview
Nadia Kabir Barb

First jobs and job interviews what a nerve-racking experience it is for some of us. On the other hand there are many people, who just seem to take it in their stride. You never see them biting their nails or having a panic attack before a major interview. They are calm, cool and collected. I, however, belong to the former category. Seeing some of my younger cousins choosing their career or deciding which profession to follow, takes me back a few years to the time when I had my first job interview. It also makes me very aware of the fact that I was totally unprepared for the rigours of entering into the real world. When you are a student I don't think you quite appreciate the responsibilities that come attached to being part of the working community.

I was in the final term of my post graduate degree, when I received a call from an acquaintance, asking if I would like to apply for a position in an organisation working as a Medical Audit Analyst. All I had to do was send in my curriculum vitae (CV) and he seemed to be confident that I would at least be asked for an interview, as my Masters degree was relevant to this job. Without even thinking twice I agreed to send in my CV. I actually did post it as promised and promptly forgot about it until I received an appointment for an interview. By this stage some of my other friends had also applied for jobs and were extremely diligent about reading up about the company, getting their annual reports, finding out names of people who were important within the organisation etc. Every time they asked me if I had done the same, my answer would be a rather pathetic “Well, not yet”. I did tell myself that I would look into it as soon as I had the time but I became more preoccupied with my impending finals and with the fact that I was getting married within a week of finishing!

As the day drew nearer, I became more and more concerned about my lack of preparation. The day before the interview I just decided to run off to my khala's house for some moral support and of course some home cooked “deshi” food. I needed no coercion to stay over but in the morning I realised it was a fatal mistake. Although I had some clothes at my aunt's place, nothing came close to being smart enough for an interview. So finally I just had to borrow some of her clothes. Saved in the nick of time you may think but you think wrong. I happen to be a few inches taller than my Khala so her trousers ended just above my ankle (it would be considered fashionable now) and the sleeves of the shirt were a tiny bit short for me. But as they say beggars can't be choosers. But the worst of it was that no amount of trying would allow me to get my feet into any of her fashionably smart shoes. I felt like Cinderella's ugly sister trying to shove my foot into those dainty little shoes. So I gave up and just wore my trainers! Oh yes, there was also a rucksack with me that I couldn't leave behind as I had to go straight to lectures from the interview. Picture this, Candidate for a job wearing ill fitting clothes (however smart they might be), trainers and a rucksack.

I am sure you can imagine the sinking feeling in my stomach as I got to the interview. But I just told myself that I had absolutely nothing to lose (positive self hypnosis works wonders at times) and walked into the lion's den. The “lion” happened to be a very dapper young gentleman wearing a lovely tailored suit and a suitably matching tie. I think after his initial shock at seeing my rather unorthodox appearance, he started asking me about myself and my opinion on issues relating to the job in question. I have no idea what I said but one thing I do recall is he mentioned something about some of my views being quite “idealistic” I think he wanted to say “unrealistic” and “you have your head in the clouds” but was much too polite to do so. As the interview progressed he offered me some coffee (I am not a coffee drinker) and I thought it would be rude to refuse so I said yes. The coffee had sweeteners in it (yes you may have guessed I hate sweeteners, they leave a horrible after taste). At one point I almost wasn't listening to him as I was concentrating on sipping this revolting cup of coffee without grimacing. Ill fitting clothes, vacant look while being spoken to and makes strange faces while drinking, what else did I need! But after what seemed like an eternity I was shaking hands and saying goodbye. I had mentally accepted that I would not be hearing from them again unless it was to give me tips on interview techniques.

The funny thing is that I did hear from him and not only did he offer me the job but he wanted me to start as soon as possible. That was the drawback I had to tell him I could not accept the job as my finals were imminent and I also had my wedding to attend. To my amazement he said I could join ten days after my wedding to which I agreed. So I guess some clouds do have a silver lining. What I realised was that sometimes trying too hard might not be the best way to approach the whole job hunting scene, although I would not recommend going in blind either. Perhaps the most important thing is just to be yourself.


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