Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Say it right!

How I miss the good ole days of Interviews when you could lie through your teeth and get the job. Nowadays Interviews have been replaced by coffee and pastry chats in five star coffee shops.

Interviewer: Would you like some coffee or tea?
Interviewee: A glass of water please!
Interviewer: You are not very ambitious are you?
Interviewee: err Coffee please.
Interviewer: ...and rather indecisive too!
Interviewee (sweating): Can I have some juice instead?
Interviewer: *sneer* What a loser!
( you can never win I tell you)

During first year college when we English Interns were quite in demand to do the menial work of Communication people in IT companies, Interviews were 'Interviews'. Good ole "Tell me something about yourself" kinda Interviews.

My first Interview for a summer interns job was a couple of years ago. We had numerous Corporate Communication Managers and executives (mostly ex students) making a beeline to our college armed with HR executives who were in turn armed with an attitude fortified with really bad English, to shortlist potential candidates. Now the term 'potential candidates' had a lot of connotations. Potential could mean, the person with the highest marks in communicative English who got surpassed for the person who had spent the whole day at the beauty parlour prior to the Interview or it could mean someone who was on Sister Principals hit list for writing a blasphemous but highly popular article in the college newsletter titled "Dress Codes are for Nuns and Losers!" (now don’t be judgmental folks. I spent a good one week researching and writing that article. It was supported by solid facts and figures from the college canteen).

Now coming back to my narrative, I had checked the credentials of most of the companies coming for campus interviews that summer and found them lacking on many fronts. Number one – they were too far away from the nearest mall, Number two – they were too far away from the nearest movie theatre and Number three – they were too far away from anywhere.In short...I didn't want to work that summer :(

I had many plans that summer like going to Ooty and bird watching and taking part in the protest by Environmentalists in the Nilgiri's. Now these protests are very important social movements that teach you to walk in single file on Nilgiri roads without getting crushed by speeding tourist buses. (You also learn a very important lesson from peaceful protests... that no one cares till you turn violent. )

Once we even had a top forest official come out and address our rally. A very stupid move indeed he realised later on. I mean here we are standing outside the collectorate surrounded by some exotic fauna when we espy some exotic birds decorating the trees. As we were happily snapping pictures the forest official booms on the mike "Ladies and Gentlemen!!" If looks were darts, the forest official would have been a very highly populated pin cushion indeed!

The birds flew away with a squawk and the official had to face the wrath of the teeming multitudes!! That is 5 pair of very angry eyes indeed!! (err...Well 4 pairs to be precise as I was halfway up a tree chasing a Verditer Flycatcher). We were later told that the official meant no harm and all that he wanted to say was "Ladies and Gentlemen, please get off the lawn!!" ( in our defence I have to say we cannot read sign boards in Tamil especially when we are standing on it.)

Anyways I am deviating...again! Back to our narrative... one fine day I was handed a notice signed by Sister Principal that said that I had to attend an Interview for an Internship under Ms Hotair, the Corporate Communication Manager of Dotbust Corporation and before I could say "but I didn’t apply for this Internship” I found myself standing in the cold Reception of Dotbust Corporation. (it is here I learnt the origin of the term “Cold Reception”).

The cold reception was manned by a cold Receptionist with a smile so frosty that it would have Father Frost very hot under the collar indeed. College girls are dime a dozen besides they ask silly questions like “Can I come tomorrow? I have something urgent to take care of today”. So it was no wonder I was treated like a disease vermin. Soon I was called for my very first Interview.

Interviewer (absent mindedly): Tell me something about yourself.
Me: Hi! My name is Silverine. I am 19 years old, AB very +ve *wink* Cancerian …but I can be a Taurean or a Gemini or an Arian if you want me to be baby *slow wink *. I love life in the fast lane …hire me and watch me burn your Exit door. And *purrrr* do you know how to apply suntan lotion? *suggestive look*

Well…I didn’t say all that but I don’t think he would have blinked an eyelid or stopped snoring if I had. I gave him the usual ‘Introduction’ a.k.a. “tell me something about yourself” that the college counsellor had made all of us Xerox. During those days the interviewers could guess the educational institution by the ‘Introduction’.

HR Exec: How many of you here are from MCC College?
A few hands go up.
HR Exec: Girls please omit the last five lines of your “Introduction” when you go in. It is kinda tedious if you know what I mean. No offence though. And how many of you from JNC college?”
Another set of hands goes up.
HR Exec: You girls can omit the introduction altogether. No offense but it sucks!”

The Introduction exercise was just a tactic to keep you occupied while the interviewer decided whether he would date a Tina or a Tony that night.

Interviewer: hmmm so why do you want to get into communications?
Me: What a thought provoking question Sir…when there is Rocket Science and Palaeontology and Neurosurgery and Software Architecture to choose from, why would an English major like me opt for Communications indeed. You are a genius!!!

Of course I didn’t say that too. We had liberally borrowed whole passages from “1001 methods to keep your Interviewer awake!” and prepared the answer to this so very-anticipated question. These types of questions were a tactic to keep you occupied while the Interviewer decided if Tina would be a more economical date than Tony.

Interviewer: So why do you want to join our organization?
Me: Because you are the only one who called me for an interview you dimwit!!

Well…I didn’t say that too. I had made sure that I knew all there is to know about the company from their website and this included the Vision statement, Mission statement , About Us, Products Solutions and Copyrights, Disclaimers, Contact numbers of all their worldwide offices and the Site Map ( I could even draw the site map blind folded). These kind of questions were a tactic to give the Interviewer time to decide if he should skip the date and go home to the wife instead.

Interviewer: Where you do you see yourself five years from now?
Me: With Microsoft!!

Well...I actually said that! What happened next was horrible. You would think that people would appreciate you for being honest!!!! But no!!! Apparently honesty is not the best policy during Interviews! The result of my honesty was that I was hired! And that was the end of my summer holidays *sniff*

I know I know you will all say that honesty pays. I admit it does....but not very well peoples :(
( I had to hide my first pay check or people would have thought I was on dole!!!)

What I was trying to say in a rather long winded way (purely intentional) is that Interviews suck! I dream of the day when I will give my blog URL to the person who says “Tell me something about yourself”. But that ain't gonna happen we all know till Hell freezes over and Heaven becomes the new hot and happening zone.


Jay Sun said...

Lol... :)

Anonymous said...

Hi There,

Have been following your blog for sometime...very well written & hillarious :)))

U bet interviews suck!!!...I just gave one interview in my life, my current job, and have been glued to this company for 6 yrs now....i mustered up enough courage for my second interview 2 years back...don't know how I sat thru it and what I said, but I go thru that company and then declined it to remain glued to my current company...jeez..i get so jittery before interviews, especially when they say, "so tell me smthg abt ureself!"...."err yea well....puke!!!" - yikes! :)) - Cheers, Poornima

Biju said...

Hello Silverine,
I've been away from the limelight of blogs for quite sometime now. I've attended a lot of interviews to start my career and I know its not good at all when you are at the receiving end. There is a part in one of my blogs. Being in the IT industry for 8 years now I've had occasions to be at the giving end too. But I make it a point not to torture the interviewee with questions they find it difficult to answer. Maybe because I've been in that possition more than often in the past.

Having said all that a very well written blog as usual.

mathew said...

hahaha..well your allergy towards interviews were obvious from your old entries..

"Dress Codes are for Nuns and Losers!" too good..how in the world you came up with such a article..can we get it reproduced here..

Neihal said...

"Dress Codes are for Nuns and Losers!"


creativity knows no bounds. :P

Jim said...

It was supported by solid facts and figures from the college canteen
Is there a pun in there somewhere? :-)

Interviewing for tech jobs is no better, they mostly go "Tell me about yourself", while the interviewer decides his next question. Then he (it's usually a he) cuts you short and out comes this barrage of questions that basically has you reciting the contents of the last textbook you read on the subject, cover to cover. When you finally crawl back up from under the table, he'd ask you to do something like "draw me a circuit that does XYZ", where XYZ is far too complicated. Rather than admit it was too hard, though, he just sits back and sadistically watches you squirm. Finally, these guys absolutely lack a sense of humour, and a snide reply to "where do you see yourself 5 years from now" would leave you outside the interview room lickety-split, possibly with a black eye!

Pratish Menon said...


Anonymous said...

Whatta read! Your's the best of the bests!!

Rajesh said...

Damn cool.
Enjoyed it!!

Alexis said...

That was a rollicking and captivating narrative. Absolutely hilarious and yet very true.

I would like to read the article "Dress Codes are for Nuns and Losers!". Do you still have a copy?

Interviews are fun. I always find them amusing--while interviewing or while being interviewed :-)

Anonymous said...

so boring...

random said...

Hello Silverline, you are absolutely brilliant at mixing your thoughts with humour. I recently had to attend an interview (my first after a gap of 10 years) with one of the very big software company and it sucked.

crumbs said...

going with the general sentiment of interview suck, i was once asked what hte 280th page of my 300-page autobiography would read like!!!
i think i'd take where do you see your self in five years from now rather :D

Gomes said...

On popular demand, pls reproduce Dress Codes are for Nuns and Losers here.

silverine said...

Jaysun: :)

Poornima: lol I guess this must be an HR ruse to curb attrition :))

biju: Nice to see u back again! I have read that post of yours.

mathew: We had many such 'articles' floating in college when the college was debating on introducing a dress code. Luckily for us our college didn't implement it. But Christ college did and now in that college girls have to wear Sarees and salwars (ugh) and guys formals to college! :)

Annie: Remember the good ol days? :p

neihal: Thank you! :)

jim: Pun not intended but be my guest and make your own assumptions ;) And your interviews sounds scarier than ours brr

Prats: Yes!!!

mayuri: Thank you girl!

rajesh: Thank you :)

Alexis: he he I dont have a copy, but we wrote many such 'rebellious' articles for the canteen notice board :)

Anon: Why are you reading boring writing ?

Pawan: Thank you! :) Interviewers seem to be running out of ideas these days!

crumbs: To that question I would have answered that the 280th page of my Autobiography would have a thank you note for people who made it till that page without serious brain damage :))

gomes: Unfortunately I dont have a copy :)

Mathew Paul said...

HA HA...Well written.....I remember the time, three years ago, when I was asked the same question...You are right, it so boring so mundane. And then comes, why do you wish to join our company ? Phew, what can I say...And these things don't change with time or place. Seven seas away and three years later, I faced the same questions for summer internship positions. I feel like yelling, somebody please hire me...!!!!! :D..

Once again, well written..I thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially the first conversation in the coffee shop..Ha Ha, whatever you do, you are a loser eh...ROFL....good one....

Anonymous said...

Have I interviewed you? This looks all too familiar :-).....

Anonymous said...

Superb writing! I am tempted to call you the poor mans Dave Barry. but that would be an insult. You have your own style. Keep writing.

ap said...

Good one......reminded me of my interviews ,certainly an "INSPIRATION" to write something abt interviews my friends and I had....


Sachin R K said...

Ho Ho Ho...vintage Silverine....Cant wait for you to post your "Dress Codes are for Nuns and Losers" article :D

Amey said...

Suntan lotion? Really?

But then, you might have got the job of HR director ;)

Amey said...

Oh sorry, that was PR director...

silverine said...

mathew paul: Thank you :)

browser: If it was you, then you really need to get that snoring habit looked into :p

Biju: Thank you :)

AP: Just read your post. Really funny! !! :))

sachin: Thank you and that article is lost in the mist of time :p

fleiger: really? Its that easy? Hope no PR types chance upon your comment :p

Amey said...

Aah... the advantages of anonymous blogging ;)

fob said...

Really funny!!

Amey said...

On second thoughts, maybe some attractive lady from PR will read my comment and get angry. Then she will get to my blog to "flame" me and realise how nice a person I am...

I guess you know where I am going with this ;)

Jeseem said...

ohh iam sure the interviewer who hired you is crying to this day.
hmmm hav to write smthings abt my interviewing experience.

hey you shld try sitting at the other side of the table. you will see, a girl out from college comes and blabbers at you, telling how many novels she has read and how she is out to conquer the world.
if you have to interview 2 people like that every day, then :)

Synapse said...

i would like to add my voice to the crowd requesting "Dress Codes are for Nuns and Losers"
pretty please!

Lalit Singh said...

I rem my first (and only) i/w where the woman was interested in asking me questions only in the technology which i had admitted not knowing the first time. These guys just love to see you squirm in your seats and enjoy some sadistic pleasure out of it.

Ajith Prasad Balakrishnan said...

"I dream of the day when I will give my blog URL to the person who says “Tell me something about yourself” "
>>>> I did give my blog URL to an interviewer recently, though not for something about urself..:) And yeah, I did get thru -- http://ajithprasadb.blogspot.com/2007/04/my-pgsem-interview-iimb.html

Biju said...

Oh you've read it :-). I expected some critics about it.

Princess Stefania said...

A Carmelite, are you?
Some blue-moon day, I'm sure the girls of MCC and JNC will acknowledge each other as members of the same species. Until then, the cows can have their practice-jump fields all to themselves.

A lovely post.

silverine said...

fleiger: Delicious!! Aint it?

Fobbin: Thank you :)

flieger: Now that is what I call good and effective PR strategy!!! ;)

jeseem: I sit on the other side of the table at least once a mon th :p

synapse: That are among the many gems that I didnt collect and keep :(

lalit: Yes some of them are quite sadistic!

ajith: I do have an official blog, but it has pure management bullshit! :P And congrats on belling the CAT!!

biju: Yes I have read it :)

Princess stefania:
" A Carmelite are you?"
Guilty as charged!! :P
"Some blue-moon day, I'm sure the girls of MCC and JNC will acknowledge each other as members of the same species"
The cows are gonna have their practice-jump fields all to themselves for a very long time !! :))
Thanks for dropping by :)

Amey said...

Delicious!! Aint it?
Oh yes, fun beyond description ;)

Now that is what I call good and effective PR strategy!!! ;)
After all, what is a blog but a glossy ad? And after that, every person is his/her own PR, right? ;)

shruti said...

me too a carmelite ..though frm cal ..

Amey said...

You is tagged. Check my blog for details :D

Anonymous said...

Never been on an interview like that.. but man that was fun to read!!!.. and hey I had given up my blogspot url..(which was used by some idiot to spread awareness on marriage counselling - seems like he knows my requirements even before i get married ;) )

ANyways I am planning to start blogging again.. so catch me here..

Shiny Butter Knife said...

This is funny stuff. Keep it up, yeah?

Kusum Rohra said...

Recently I had gone to meet some prospective employers, and to one of the handsome looking directors I did say "Why don't you check out my blog to know more about me." I guess it was not such a good idea :)

Padakkam said...

haha.. too funny...
but think about our situation when we have to do 25-30 interviews in 1 day... "Introduce yourself" is like a blur to me at the end of it all... :)

Anonymous said...

can i find a 'dress codes are for nuns and losers' post in ur older ones. if i look hard enuff?