Monday, December 5, 2011

When I Was 25, It Was A Very Good Year

What’s on an interviewer’s scoreboard? I couldn’t tell from looking at his face. I was interviewing for my dream position and had been ‘marking’ this firm for two years. I was finally ready with the required background/work experience and sent in my resume. That got me on the longest interview chain with hurdles and hurdles of never-ending nerve-wracking tests and interview stages. Apparently, the unit I was applying to was a male-dominated one, or headed by males only. My first interviewer was a senior, as they are called. He started off easy, made small talk before picking his notepad and then he put on some sort of game face, probing and penning as I supplied answers to his missiles. The interview lasted exactly forty-five minutes, we exchanged pleasantries and I took my leave and called up a friend in the area to rid the tension over drinks and a movie. The next time I would receive an email from this firm would be seventy-two hours later, informing me of my success at the second tier and inviting me to a third - an interview with a senior manager. This would be my most unnerving interview ever, and it did not help that his facial features were quite unfriendly. Going by the look on his face gave me the feeling my scores were not doing too well on his board. I risked all and broke the ice with a joke attempt. It worked, he laughed and I regained confidence until the interview delved into unfamiliar territories where I struggled to stay afloat without upsetting my external temperament. I walked out at the end feeling somewhat unsure about my performance. The waiting interval was again the usual seventy two hours, but even the Good Book states that ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick.’ 

The email finally came and yes, it was a success once again. The final hurdle would be with the firm’s senior partner. I had subscribed to newsgroups and newsletters around the Internet, had printed and copied pages of researched information I deemed relevant and gradually made a pastime of watching segments with related content on CNN, CNBC etc,. I mean, I’d been doing that for two years and this was my chance.
I arrived at the venue three hours early and got lost in some literature placed at the reception until it was time and I was called in. The interview was as basic as ABC, there were no outlandish questions, and in fifteen minutes it was over. He closed with a brain teaser which caught me off guard. Then he explained the solution to me and I replied, “Could you give me another one? I need to redeem my image here.” He laughed and said, “Oh yeah?” and pulled out another brain teaser. His facial expression read ‘pleasantly surprised’ when I gave him the correct answer and then the interview was over. I left satisfied, pleased and confident. Surely, the next incoming email would be an offer.

When that email finally came in seventy two hours, it read:

“Thank you for taking the time to discuss employment opportunities with us ... However, we will not be continuing this interviewing process with you ...”
That was what the abrupt end of six months of tests and interviews looked like. I accepted a pending job offer from a different company, lost a healthy chunk of optimism (which I thankfully did not find in appetite), kicked into quarter-life crises and numbed out for the next four months, which finally ended three days ago. It still was a very good year, regardless, even though Sinatra missed out recording his highlights at that age ... if they were any. But he ended his like vintage wine. Mazel Tov!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

There was nothing to write about London

The week was crammed with too many things to do, people to see. The high point however, was meeting up with best friends from high school who now had businesses and families of their own and of course, running and getting around with a 'partner in crime' from undergrad days. Manchester, Peckham, Lancaster, London in seven days, no small feat.
There was barely time to sit and enjoy any scenery but I must add that the coffee on Starbucks, 19 Market Street, Lancaster was heavenly. The barista called it Creme Brulee Macchiato, nothing like anything in my entire coffee drinking experience. The ambience was just perfect - the wallpaper, the interior decor interwove beautifully with Marvin Gaye's 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' softly playing in the background. So was clubbing at Elements on Friday night and Saturday singing Madonna's hits at the pub/karaoke spot on King's Street.

And by the way, Americans are way friendlier than the Brits.

Maybe on the next trip. Maybe.