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The Interview

May 22, 2010
I managed to complete 1 more year as a sales person. Looking back, there are innumerable interesting people and incidences on my way here. Let me start at the very beginning. My interview.
On the appointed day, dressed in my best clothes which I was hoping would pass off as formals, my uncle’s army tie and my cousin’s borrowed shoes I waddled to the interview. Yes waddled. The shoes were one size too big and walking with them was like plodding with your feet in a couple of small suitcases. My days of leather shoes went with completing school. Even to school we went wearing shoes only in the mornings. In the evenings, too tired to wear them back after a vigorous game of football which will end only when it becomes really dark that we can no longer spot the ball, my friends and I would trudge back the 2 or 3 km to our homes, shoes dangling from our forearms, laces tying the left and right shoes in holy matrimony. In college it used to be a pair of dirty sneakers or a pair of Quo vadis. Quo Vadis-‘where are you going?’ in Latin – What an excellent name for a footwear! Quo vadis used to be our favourite sandals those days. Thin strips of dark tan leather criss-crossing each other. Pity I can’t find them nowadays.
I reached the office 10 minutes ahead of time. The previous day I had timed the distance and the time it would take to reach there from my uncle’s house where I was staying. I was made to wait in the lobby. I was distinctly uncomfortable with the new makeover. The necktie was strangling my neck like a boa constrictor. I was sweating profusely in spite of the air-conditioning. I was in half a mind to turn back, but I didn’t know what excuse I would give my folks. They would strangle me with the tie if I told them that I had developed cold feet. So I stayed put.

I was to be interviewed by SG (names/initials have been preserved to retain the authenticity). SG was the Deputy Sales Manager at the time. In time he went on to become the Divisional Sales manager and then the National Sales manager. He was a workaholic and was a terror among the cadres. I will be eternally grateful to him for teaching me the basics and for inculcating in me that if the basics are strong it is possible to wriggle out of any sticky situation. This belief has stood me in good stead many a times.

After 10 minutes, on the dot, he called me inside. After the initial pleasantries, he asked me about my background to put me at ease. Next, he asked me to read a passage from the day’s newspaper. I read out the passage with adequate care on the diction and pronunciation. After all , communication is the most important aspect of the job I had applied for.After I read out, he asked me what it meant. Back then I had a photographic memory (not any longer, my memory fails me most times than not. Is it the onset of Alzheimer’s? I don’t know) and I almost reproduced the passage verbatim. Then he asked me why I wanted to be a medical representative. To this day this is a stock question in such interviews. Could I tell him that I have tried everything else and couldn’t manage to get a job? So I gave him my stock answers: that I was interested in traveling; that I wanted to meet new people; that this job offered tremendous career enhancing opportunities; that I wanted to work with a boss like him. He guffawed. Was he pleased? Or had he seen through my amateur attempt at trying to sound sincere? He must have seen many green-horns, to know better. Then he asked me why I was fit for the job. I told him that I was good communicator, perseverant, would not take the first no as the final one and few other things just short of telling him that the whole purpose of my birth was to work for this company. I don’t know if he was impressed with my answers but he selected me as a medical representative for Bellary. But there was a change in plans and I landed in Madurai, but only after passing scrutiny from the regional manager IM, who was away on tour on the day of my interview.
10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 23, 2010 22:40

    Well, my dear PRG, I have never faced an interview in my life. Perhaps the interviewers had a look at my face through the one-way mirror window and decided that I was not the stuff they wanted. They would politely postpone the interview to a later date and I never went back there.Now I am sure you have become a globe-hopping marketing executive. Congratulations!

  2. May 24, 2010 18:25

    Your article has reminded me of our "C", SG & IM.

  3. May 29, 2010 22:26

    Recently I attended an interview session for selection to the IIMs – part of the CAT Test. I went there just to observe how these things are carried on. I am not interested in joining an IIM course. I am happy to be a college lecturer with enough time to pursue my own interests. What I found during that interview is that many of the interviewers were of mediocre ability and knowledge.Still, the IIMs are considered to be some of the best in the world. How strange!

  4. May 30, 2010 07:37

    Interesting. I have never attended an interview….errr… except this one: that is, if you can call that an interview! 😉

  5. May 30, 2010 16:41

    @ Babuman, I can't think of anyone who is worthy of interviewing you. I have attended 3 or 4 interviews and have never been rejected.@ Charusree, I can't remember any 'C' other than you.@Sneha, very true.I have had some chance to interview people. I have strayed from the mundane questions. I remember once asking a candidate how to make 'Sambar' to very funny consequences.Thanks, maybe you have given me a lead for a blog.@Shail.I remmeber reading that.Is that the interview the L & M passed ? Or did he fail? Have to ask him one of these days.

  6. June 1, 2010 15:27

    I am honoured to know that you remember only one "C" and that's me. All said and done, none of us can forget the other "C". I cannot forget it for several reasons. Most importantly, that's the place where I met all my best friends in life. Some intellectuals like you too..

  7. June 7, 2010 21:19

    He he, VERY interesting post. I don't even want to remember the interviews I've attended. Some were good, others were disasters!!! Your post however, made a very interesting read 🙂 Is there a sequel?

  8. June 15, 2010 22:36

    Hai KB, always, you share your experience allowing others to learn something. From your "interview", now I know how to waddle,plod and wriggle.

  9. June 17, 2010 21:13

    names/initials have been preserved to retain the authenticity Trust u to write this, and only u can get away with it too, Govind..One of the worst interviews I had, I literally flared, they could see fire in my eyes, in my entire being and later to be briefed that it was a temperament interview, to test my nerves, the interviewer and I became friendly colleagues once we met up at the cafetaria 😉

  10. June 17, 2010 21:58

    @Pal, Thanks. I have planned a sequel. It has to wait.Currently too engrossedin the WC.@ Sujatha,glad to be of some use@PNA,Honestly I can't picture you as a dragon breathing fire.

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