Friday, September 20, 2013

Job Interviews

Applying for a job interview at IKEA? Make a chair, and have a seat.
Whilst job-hunting, I stumbled upon many epic offers but sadly, none of them were local. For instance in the gaming industry, one actually gets paid to test out video games to submit feedback. How cool is that!? I can just imagine an announcement on an employee’s promotion go “Level up, achievement unlocked!” In Australia I found this amazing job, where you explore deserted islands for a year whilst giving inputs on your discoveries for tourism purposes.ß Tanning; the seal of quality.

Though out of all of the stunning offers I found, my friend Rashid had one of the most fun tasks as an engineer at Blackberry. He would test their phones’ durability by any means of destruction. Whether, it is running them over with his car, hitting them with a baseball bat, or throwing them from tremendous heights. So if a phone actually survives an impact, it is readjusted and transferred to sales.

Fun fact: if you find your phone lagging or experience any technical difficulties, just lift the lid up and notice the infamous signature “Thrown by Rashid, courtesy of RIM”.

I remember my first full time job, which was my internship at Microsoft. I was living the Indian dream, working at a tech giant. I remember how sympathetic management were by distributing stress balls to the staff. It is as if they were indirectly saying “We know you’ve only thought of quitting about 4 times today, so here you go.” Working there, I saw my boss more than I saw my mom.

The Call:

It’s Saturday, and it’s my second time seeing the sun this month. As a fresh graduate I have been vacationing for the past two months. I have spammed my CV out to selected companies for a career in either PR or Marketing.

The next day I wake up to find 3 missed calls from random numbers. I call back in excitement but my calls go unanswered. Moments later, I receive a call from that same number with a guy speaking to me in French 0.o Naturally, I thought it was a prank call, so I played along only to realize that it was an actual representative from a PR firm and to top it all off, he is the V.P. of the company. Dayum nukka dayum! I managed to pull it off but he wanted to interview me straight away that afternoon.

I do not have time to go back home and change, so I showered at my friend’s place and ran to Zara to buy a shirt. I go in, buy a shirt, and leave (confession: that was my fastest shopping spree without distractions). Changing in the car, I think to myself this must be how super heroes do it. Over taking people rudely on the road, I realize that I break into a song and hum to make it less awkward for myself. Two traffic lights away from my destination, I realize the shirt stinks! Who ever tried it on before me is a disgusting skunk! I stop by a perfume parlor and drench myself until my nose is numb. 2 minutes away from the building I promise myself to wash everything I buy fresh off the shelf before wearing them.

Suddenly it hits me. I realize that during the first five seconds of a first encounter, we make no less than four judgments about each other. We assess everything in an instant from appearance to educational level. As I mentally panic, I start thinking if I had made any mistakes on my CV. I once read a resume that stated “fluent in Spinach” instead of Spanish.  I even recalled this other one by a restaurant manager that stated that he cleaned & supervised employees.

I take a deep breath and walk in to the building hoping to bump into Walid Bin Talal, since Rotana is one of his sub companies. I can imagine each time someone would shake his hand, we would hear ka-ching. I take the elevator and walk in to the V.P.’s office. I notice his chair wasn’t authoritative enough, which got me thinking why don’t CEO’s have massage chairs as office chairs. I notice he was wearing a modern thobe with two green and white streaks across his sleeve. Spank God I held my tongue from blurting out my stupid comment “these must be the company’s colors”. It is enough I thought he was a prank caller.
I leave the office feeling good knowing that the interview went smoothly.

Lost in Translation:

The previous week, my friend decided to help me out by arranging an interview for me at Al-Faisal Foundation. It is the division of the Al-Faisal Group that is in charge of their educational and charitable projects. I thought to myself, I am either walking out of there as a free mason or a teacher, since the Late King Faisal and his sons are supposedly free masons.

I wake up the next morning and drive with confidence over there already having background information on the company. I park my car and call my friend up asking her which floor, so she responds “PWC on the 10th”.  I hit the roof thinking WTF! Her excuse was the infamous “I thought you knew”. When I entered the elevator, I noticed that all the buttons were pushed. So I thought to myself sarcastically, well I always wanted a tour of the building.

As I arrived at my destination, I reach out for the door. Little did I know, the door handle was like quick sand! The more I tugged at it the less responsive it became. So I pushed slowly until it clicked it with me. That moment felt like a lifetime. If it were a movie, it would have shown the hands of a clock spinning around, maybe a whole calendar flipping by.

I walk in with a poker face and a smile that says, “If you ever got hit by a bus, I’d be the one driving it”. As I am waiting in the meeting room, the coffee boy offers me some chef d’oeuvre called tamriah. Basically, it is some sort of finger food dessert made out of dates. It was my first time seeing and hearing of such a dessert. The instant I picked one up to smell it before tasting it, I hear another coffee boy behind me say in an Indian accent “don’t smell it, just gulp it… gulp… it” with the other coffee boy in front of me nodding his head.

I left the interview not pleased with their offer. They never called back (fakes fainting) but I am glad they did not because their workload was from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm oh ma gah! Haven’t they heard of a nine to fiver?

What I concluded from my interviews is that whenever you are asked whether or not you have any questions, it is to identify your area of interest. E.g., if you ask about the salary first then your primary interest is money and so forth. Also, whether you are switching careers or mid way through your current one, always remember this golden lazy boy rule. If you don’t want to do certain tasks asked from you, do them horribly so they will never ask from you to do them again.

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