Friday, 4 April 2014
My First Interview was a Disaster!
One day the coordinator called to inform us about the internship offer from an International company. Teachers and the whole university were excited with great expectations where I and Saba were so calm and cool-headed.
I and Saba were the perfect partners in fact we redefine partnership into a success story. Saba was the computer genius and I was the amusing presenter who would attract the audience, hold their attention and convince them. Whenever we were together in projects everyone knew they were no match for us sharks. Every presentation would end with a proud teacher encouraging applause and many standing ovations. We were the stars, the leaders, the champions well you get the point.
The big day came I dressed my best looking confident and stunning, ready to add another achievement in our history. When we entered the company my heart skipped a beat. It was huge and fascinating with great glass walls, plants and luxurious furniture. ‘This is it. The place where I actually belong.’ was the first thought that came to me. The air was friendly and very businesslike I already felt connected. There were people smiling and greeting us everywhere.
When my name was called I picked my bag with attitude as this girl is a ten out of ten. All eyes were on the confident, fabulous celebrity who walks her way to her destination. I entered the room and found four gentlemen well dressed appearing professional. The room was bright and fascinating, sunlight passing through the huge glass windows on my left.
In the center sat the guy who politely asked me to take the seat. I figured he was the Human Resource Manager. Mr. HR was only there to offer me water, be nice and keep the environment friendly. The second to his right was a sweet guy obviously the Marketing manager, to the left was an unfriendly Finance manager and the forth I have no idea what he was there for. He didn't say a thing at all so I couldn't guess his department. Could be a Sales person? Well I doubt that as sales people cannot be that quiet.
For a while these guys said nothing but stare at me making me feel a little nervous. It felt awkward sitting in front of four straight faced strangers. The white bearded Finance guy turned out to be very rigid and inconvincible just as I guessed. He asked me about my major and mocked me when I replied that it’s marketing with a relieved smile. I was delighted when marketing questions started to shoot. ‘This is easy’, I thought to myself.
The only problem was I forgot how to speak. I had every detail in my mind so perfect but couldn't encode this information into understandable words. Questions were simple basics of marketing. Like what is a Brand?
“Brand is a promise you make to your customer. Brand creates a positive sentiment among its target audience. A symbol used by companies to distinguish their product from others in the market." This is what I wanted to say but what came out was, “Brand… like I’m wearing Gucci glasses and this is my Coach bag” and that was all.
Before I could gather myself another question was asked. It became a game whenever I started to answer Mr. Finance would either change a part of the question, or an entirely a different question was thrown in my face. I realized I had only seconds to answer I started to provide examples only. Well I was doing the same in the first place so it didn't show-off my crisis management.
I was a dumb child sitting there staring at huge monsters who looked mad. A toddler could speak better than me at that time. I knew no language. My mind went blank like a computer screen. The answers were right there in my mind and this good sweet marketing manager was nice enough to understand my ‘sign language’. He kept encouraging me all through the interview. In that room he was the only person on my side even when I wasn't on my own side.
After a few minutes I was exhausted. The picture I gave was of a weary huffing pray and they were the relaxed tigers enjoying the game. At this point I started to lose my temper my smile was gone. I knew the answers and I badly wanted them to know it, only if I could figure out how. The HR Mr. Nice offered me water while I was talking. I shouted back, “NO!” I didn't mean to sound defensive but couldn't help it. The silence that followed almost killed me. Few seconds later they thanked me and told me they would give a call.
Disheartened I picked my ‘Coach bag’ and slowly started to walk out of the room. I desperately wanted to turn around and show them who I am. Just to prove that I can do a lot better than that but I was more shocked than embarrassed.
When I came out of the room it was a different place. It had become darker and scarier. I desperately wanted to run away from. And I actually did run. Well almost as I could hardly walk with the shock so great. I am so good with the presentation with halls packed with huge audiences and I couldn't happen to talk to these four guys. We failed but bigger shock was our juniors passed! Two nameless timid introvert guys got the internship and we didn't?! Oh well instead of a success we ended up adding a little humor to our history.
The biggest mistake was losing my temper. Mr. Finance was only trying to see my anger management. The pressure is bad but the only thing I missed was a smile. Lesson learned is playing cool even if the interviewers play you like a hockey ball and keep smiling.