I wrote a post recently about why job portals suck, and so, a natural progression would be to tell you why job interviews suck :p ……. Let me at the outset tell you that whatever I’m going to write in this article is 100% true, and experienced by me. No hearsay over here. Apologies if this one gets too long, grab some coffee and snacks before you proceed reading this. Some background information first so you can acclimatize yourself to the interview culture here. In India, (or at least in the companies I’ve been to), an interview candidate is considered insignificant, somewhat bothersome, someone who the company employees are condescending to tolerate and generally an unwelcome person who is disrupting more important things the employees have to do….. as a result, he is made to wait, and I mean a minimum of 45 minutes. Not always is there someone who is being interviewed before you, to explain the wait. If you’re lucky, you wait in a waiting room where there are other faces to see, and if unlucky, called in a small 5 x 5 cabin, door closed behind you, and you wait. I wonder if they’re watching from behind the mirror, or they have a camera somewhere…. I NEED MY LAWYER! Why this mind-breaking technique is used is unclear. Maybe they want employees to know how many cracks there are in the paint on the wall? These interviews span from over a year and are samples from all the interviews I’ve attended, and while I obviously cannot name the companies here, if you REALLY want to know, I will definitely tell them privately. Corporates suck! (That’s a post probably coming up soon 😀 )
I was the only candidate here. After a 1.5 hour wait, I’m directed to a room where there are 2 uninterested women, about my age, in front of me. Talking to ONE woman is difficult, and here there are TWO! Companies should be more careful. They could lose good candidates just because they were shy to talk to the interviewers. Here, all the talking was done by the first woman, and the second one kept sizing me up and taking notes…. I think I now understand what women mean by “uncomfortable gaze”.
Interviewer: “Tell me something about yourself”
Okay… MORE psychological torture. You already have my resume! What else do you want to know? Whether I like bhindi or gobi? Stop being such a bully just coz you’re interviewing me for a job. Every candidate has ever the years made a monologue for this question, and I parrot out mine. I could tell they weren’t listening, or interested.
Interviewer: “How did you hear about this job opening?”
What is this? The secret service? Have I hacked some sort of confidential chatter in your corporate network and landed here for the interview? You guys called me here yourself!
Me: “I got a call from your company telling me of the vacancy”.
Interviewer: “What skills do you have that will be beneficial for the job?”
Now I think this is a good time to tell you, the person who called me didn’t tell me what the profile was…. and I’m far too chicken to ASK anything to anyone, it’s just my personality flaw. I probably have telephone anxiety. So basically, I’m clueless about the profile, let alone what skills I have to justify them hiring me. So I answered with as generic skills as I could think of.
Interviewer suddenly looking up: “You’re aware of the profile, aren’t you?”
Me: “I just have an overview, I was told the profile will be explained in detail during the interview”… Whew! Bullet dodged!
So then she explains me the profile, asks me a couple more questions and tells me the infamous, “We’ll get back to you”.
This “We’ll get back to you” warrants a blog post of its own! It’s such a bad line! Both parties know the candidate is rejected, why can’t you just SAY it? Initially I believed they would really be getting back. I was so innocent back then. Now I just smile and leave, thinking of the money, time and effort wasted in reaching this place. Imagine if women used this line when a man proposed to her. Would go something like this….
Man: “I love you with all my heart and I know I will love only you for the rest of my life! Will you marry me?”………… Girl: “I’ll get back to you about this” Can you imagine it?! The guy will probably kill himself!
Solitary confinement for 40 minutes.
Interviewer obviously in a bit of a hurry: “Tell me something about yourself”
Me: (My usual answer)
Interviewer: “We’ll get back to you about this”
Me obviously shocked: “Huh?!”
Interviewer, even more perturbed: “I said we’ll get back to you if we need you!”
(Should I have asked for compensation for wasting my time?)
This company had a walk-in interview which my neighbour had already attended two days ago, and she was the one who recommended it to me. I reached the place, told the receptionist why I was there. She took my resume and gave it to someone who went inside. An hour later, I’m informed there’s no walk-in interview at this place! I protested saying my neighbour attended the interview just two days ago, but no effect. I took the remaining bits and pieces of my pride and left. 😐
Now, I landed an interview at this small-scale company because of an acquaintance of my father’s. I went at the date and time I was asked to, and waited for about half an hour… I’m starting to think I should carry prayer beads and meditate during these long waits. I’m sure they might hire me looking at how I’m productively using time :p. So, after half an hour, a man comes from the inside and tells me the boss isn’t coming today, and has rescheduled my interview two days later. OK. I leave the building thinking nothing much about it. It’s after all not the first time something like this has happened.
Two days later, fresh clothes, fresh smile, I walk back in there. An hour’s wait later, I’m informed the same thing. What?! Twice in a row?! I leave the building, look up at God and say, “Are you serious?! Are you laughing up there at my expense?”… I was determined not to go back there, but curiosity got the better of me. I hadn’t yet been informed what the profile would be. (yeah, it was THAT bad).
Interview visit number 3, and I’ve let go of all attempt at showing myself as a good employee. The hour’s wait was well spent defeating baddies in Contra. The peon comes outside and tells me the boss hasn’t come today either (how does he run this place?). The poor guy was looking so embarrassed and sorry for telling me the same thing 3 times in a row. I left and never returned for a fourth attempt.
This one is a big name in the banking industry. I was called for an interview for the customer relations profile, along with 2 others. The venue was quite far away so, I’m sure the other two had, just like me, started from their homes quite early to report at 10. At 12, we are informed by a genial senior lady that the person who was to take our interview had taken an off for the day. She had probably forgotten about the interviews. Forgot?… FORGOT?! Now that’s a first! I was too busy laughing to be angry at anyone. Can’t you just FEEL the love when people FORGET that you’ve been called for an interview? I didn’t go back there again either.
Company 6 (It’s the last one, relax!)
This company is a relatively new entrant, and rapidly making progress in the online retail space. The interview was scheduled for 9.30 am, and the venue was on the busy MV Road in Andheri (East). For those of you familiar with this area, you know its chaotic day in and day out. Add to the trouble is finding the exact venue, because Google maps can only be so helpful. I reach the venue at 9.45, and realise I have been given the wrong address! :o. No such company existed at the address I was given. I asked around, and after a mad rush, manage to reach the correct place, 4 buildings away, but at 10.20 am… The interviewer looks at me with a scorn and says she won’t hire someone who can’t respect punctuality. I told her I had been given the wrong address, even showed her the SMS, to which she replies, “You should have checked the venue one day in advance if you weren’t clear on directions”….. Sure! Why not. While I’m at it, I’ll also study the entry and exit routes, the time with the least security, and any structural weaknesses. Am I applying for a job or planning to infiltrate MI6?!
The humour in the situation has only come to me after the sting has subsided. I wonder why many employers treat interview candidates like dirt. We are asking for a job. An honourable way of earning our livelihood. We aren’t begging you for one, but agreeing to go through a fair interview. Hope employers realise soon that the candidate is also judging the company and its culture. I’m glad to not be a part of any of those companies that don’t treat job seekers as human beings with self-respect.
My job hunt is still going on. Hope I land a nice job soon