Friday, April 4, 2008

Of Interviews, Head Cracking and Xena

Have you ever felt like you were shot and survived it?

Well, I know exactly how it felt like.

There was a career fair in uni on Tuesday and Wednesday and I took advantage of the fair to start applying for jobs. Lots of companies set up booths and a number conducted interviews or screenings. I handed in my resumes and awaited their response.

My friends and I applied for company S, we went for the first round. You pick a topic from the folded pieces of paper and talk on the topic for 3 minutes, that’s it. At 5pm, results were out, those shortlisted will be going for the 2nd round, the group dynamics, the next morning. So on wed, we were there up and early.

My group consists of 6 members from various backgrounds. 3 of us were final semester students and the other 3 were applying for internship placing. So we got down to the project. The most interesting part was the presentation. Here, the assessors will be asking lots of questions on our designs etc etc. My group, unfortunately, did rather poorly. We did not meet the minimum requirements despite working really hard and putting in lots of effort. Defending our quality of work was challenging. In the midst of defending, we were asked if everyone in the group was agreeable to the design we came up with. Everyone mumbled yes in agreement.




The guy next to me said no! He said he wanted it designed differently and we shoved his idea aside. OMG! You don’t turn your back against your own freaking group. Who does that? And this is group dynamics test. Yes, it was true we were not agreeable on his design. Everyone (except him) felt the design was not going to work out. Hence we stuck by the design everyone (he claims the majority, but not him) agreed upon. Things went from bad to an immediate plunge for the worse.

We were then asked to draw out the design of the item we built. The assessor, let’s call her Xena, wanted to see if everyone had the same picture in mind. 6 people, 6 different drawings. The problem was this; 5 drawings were pretty similar but one particular drawing looked completely different from the rest. Gosh, another bomb landed on us. How are we going to explain that one member in the team understood the design differently from the rest? Was it a communication break down? Poor explanation? Terrible coordination? Sigh…

I came out of the interview feeling completely down. No matter what we said or explained came out satisfactory. The feeling of being a complete failure is overwhelming. So when the results were to be released at 5pm, I went there half heartedly reflecting on the poor performance from earlier.

I scanned the list very quickly. 16 names were there, so few… sigh. I looked, and I took a second look. My name was in the list!!! I blinked, I stared, I looked in utter disbelieve, my eyes squinted. My name is there! Holy cow.

So on Thursday morning, I had 2 interviews. Pet’s interview was alright. The second interview was hhmmm.

I was bombared with questions and remarks and comments from the moment I got in the room till I got out. Xena was my interviewer and it was one on one. In a fictional world, the pic below describes the manner in which she questioned me:


I did my best answering her questions. I couldn’t answer 2 technical questions. I did not want to waste Xena’s time coming up with some mumbo jumbo about something I didn’t know, so I immediately admitted I didn’t know. To which she responded, “I can’t hire you, you are technically incompetent”.

I apparently have never gotten my hands dirty hence I don’t have what it takes to work for S. I was asked to prove that I am capable of working with the same capacity as the male species, both physically and mentally. And I had to repeatedly convince her I could do this and that and this and that and a whole bunch of things. Despite my best efforts, she wanted more. No matter what I said, nothing I said was right. She had a retort or a remark to my every response. How am I going to crack my head telling her in many different ways that I want this and I’ll work for it? She did not look impressed. And I couldn’t do anything about it.

I get the idea why Xena asked me the questions she did. It was totally relevant to the job applied. It is high pressure working for S and she have to make sure a person who gets in is not the kind that cracks in the interview. The real world is going to be much harsher. I came out not knowing how well or badly I did. But for the grueling experience, I am glad I went through it. It was tough, it pushed me to my limits, made me break boundaries of what I’m currently capable of doing, and it forced me to think quickly and sharply. She is doing her job and she’s executing it by going 10 miles out of her way to do it better. And who am I to blame her for wanting to do a great job?

So after feeling like a target of a shooting range practice, I came out mentally drained. The 20 minute interview with S was way more draining than my one hour interview with Pet. I have absolutely no idea what will come out of the interview. All I know is I tried my best and I couldn’t have done it any better than I did. If I do make it through the final round, I am grateful. If I don’t, I have no regrets. I tried and gave my best. So yesterday, I survived being “shot” and lived to tell about it.

Today, I declare it my chill out day. I’m taking a break after 3 days of interviews and completing the compiling of my final year group project. So far, I have watched 3 movies already, Bourne Identity, Just Follow Law and Pulp Fiction. Right after posting this, I’m going to catch my fourth movie. I have yet to decide what it will be. Oh well, its not head cracking matter. Ill just do the Eenie Meenie Minie Mo.


Sanjeev said...

chill la...
thats how interviews are conducted in that company. they will ask u questions til u cant answer them...just to see the extend of ur knowledge.

mebe this will make u feel better
Company S local salary is not that lucrative, but u have to work really hard.
why dun u work in petronas, wif ~60% of Company S's salary, and 30% of their workload...
at least u have a life :)

Queer Ranter said...


You even posted a photo of XENA!


Ohkulala said...

Sanjeev: I know you know S and Xena. Heard you met them about a year ago. Hehe... And you turned them down for 60% less salary and to have a life.

QR: I did, it gives more ooppmmhh to the whole post when you can see exactly how excruciating it was to be questioned without mercy. Lol