7/365: Memorable job interview?

Posted: January 7, 2011 in Misc., People
Tags: , ,

I just don’t like this topic. Not that I don’t remember any of my interviews, I remember them all.  I just don’t find any of my interviews memorable.

So, I just thought I’d quickly list all my job interviews. Or at least the ones I can remember (while trying to avoid all company identities)

  1. Early in final year of my engineering, I interviewed with one of the most desirable firm those days on tech campuses. A small town boy in a big, modern glass & steel building. The interview itself was pretty easy. I use to be a grand master of programming in C back in the day and the interviewers were easy meat. My first job interview and my first success.
  2. I had already decided that I didn’t wanna work as a techie so was delighted when I met this fella on a bus ride who worked for a small telecom startup based out of Delhi. We had a long discussion on the state of telecom industry and he, impressed with me already, gave me his card asking me to contact him if I wanted a job. A couple of months later, I landed up on the firm’s doorstep. The fellow I’d met on the bus had been fired for cheating soon after we’d met!
    Thankfully, they were growing fast and needed more people so decided to give me a chance. The interesting part of this set of interviews was the reaction of three key people in the firm. The main promoter, whom I met first and who’s an inspiration to this day, had a quick chat and quickly gave me an option to either join the development team in Delhi or the Client Servicing team in the hinterland. Basically, sit in an air-conditioned office before a computer 9-6 or roam around in 40C+ temperatures at client’s whim. I chose the 2nd. Then, he spoke about the money. He gave me a paltry base pay and a budget for services deployment. However, any savings from the budget after all services had been implemented were mine to keep. I loved it.
    The second person I met, promoter’s friend and the COO, turned out (later) to be one of the sweetest and most supportive people I’ve ever met. Though, on that first day, I hated him from bottom of my heart. He insisted that I join the tech team in Delhi. In fact he insisted that I could only join the tech team in Delhi. Just the thing I didn’t want.
    The third person, their admin head / secretary, didn’t speak to me much then. But many months later, once we were good friends, she told me how she had analysed my CV – by checking the date of birth and confirming I’d be the right age to flirt around with ;)
    Second interview, second success and that firm stays my favourite workplace till date.
  3. A year and some later, that favourite work place started turning sour as promoter’s  family members started to work with the firm. Also, the COO, now my chief motivator, was starting to distance himself from the firm for personal reasons. So, I quit. I’d hardly spent a week in my small 1 room apartment before I got a visit from the erstwhile bosses. They had a friend who was looking for a part-time developer and wanted refer me so I could land a quick job while I made up my mind about what to do. I went for the interview and landed the project. Three on three! Though, I later learnt from the new boss that I’d been his second choice candidate. They had made me an offer after the first fellow refused. Then at end of the 2 month project, the same new boss was begging me to stay and join them permanently. So, I’d say 3/3.
  4. I was good at but still not interested in being a programmer. The reasons were pretty similar to what skimpy lists here, so I won’t detail them out. Anyway, I refused the permanent offer and interviewed with another small telecom services company that was (almost) a part of one of India’s largest media houses. The first interview was with the promoter at a crowded coffee-house where we discussed the fast growth of Indian economy and my work in the telecom-VAS so far. I still can’t believe I wore a bright green informal shirt to that meeting. And that I told him boldly that the coffee-house was too noisy for a chat and thus lead him to a juice bar.
    Well, the meeting went well and a few days later I met and had a chat with other key members of his team before being made an offer. That’s 4/4.
  5. A year or so later I quit as I got admission into a business school program. The next two interviews were here. And surprisingly, the ones I least remember. As part of the summer internship placement process, I interviewed with a grand total of 2 companies – a tech giant and a medical devices firm. I was told by both forms that they’d be making an offer but surprisingly only one was announced by the place-reps. I remember the big bust-up I had with all the place reps end of the day. I don’t think they were a little shocked, being unused to being shouted down by ordinary students. Nevertheless, I’ll count them both as a success despite remembering little of the interviews except the end – a smile, a handshake and a ‘we will see you in the summer then’.
  6. The lateral placements season was upon us and my first interview was with one of world’s biggest iron & steel companies. The on campus interview was a breeze but the 2nd round, off campus in another city, was a disaster. I had no idea what hit me. And if the kind of questions they asked me were genuine (and not part of a stress test), then I’m glad I didn’t get the job. Anyway, my streak of successful interviewing was finally broken, 5 years after it started.
  7. After the internship, the medical devices firm had offered me a pre-placement interview. I didn’t know what to make of it so was pretty confused when they came to campus for lateral placements and said they’d start with me. Well, I won’t call that an interview. I was already familiar and friendly with the HR manager so she couldn’t have bothered me. The other interviewer, head of one of the divisions, was more interested in what my hobbies and retirement plans were rather than any technical or business questions. So, after a short informal chit-chat, I had a job offer in hand. 7-1 to me.
  8. Though I already had a job offer in hand, there was one other firm that I wanted to work with and believed I had a chance to land a job with. So, come final placements, I interviewed with them. The first three rounds were a surprise. After each round, I thought the questions sounded too easy so I mustn’t have understood them properly and thus had no chance to go through. And I went through each time. The final round, with a partner (let’s call him M) was just the reverse. Unlike in the earlier rounds, this time I went in confident about my chances. And got screwed. Royally. You see, I made the mistake of telling him that my favourite subject that year had been Game Theory in Economics. Only later was I to realise that he had a masters in economics from India’s best economics school. It was a spectacular wipe-out! 7-2.
  9. Four months into the job with the medical devices company, I came across one of the partners (call him D)  from the same consulting firm as above. This fellow was an alumnus of our b-school and had been friendly with me on his visits to campus. He suggested that if I was still interested, I should give it another shot, though not before 6 months of the last interview. I did. And got through. Guess who took my partner round interview this time? D! Guess what did we discuss in the interview? The firm’s name, and his sports interests. My first project was under D. My longest, under M. Score 8-2 :)
  10. Now starts the bleak patch. I was already thinking of quitting the consulting firm, actually the industry as a whole, and either get into finance or (preferably) start something on my own. So, when I got called to an interview by this big name private equity player, I was excited. Unfortunately, the interview didn’t go well. The morning that interview was scheduled, I was called in for a client meeting. And when, after rescheduling, I did land up for an interview late in the day, I was grossly under-prepared. It was completely technical and having worked on execution related projects for the last 9 odd months, I was completely out of loop. How I wished it’d have been a personal/behavioural interview. But then this was a PE player, not an HR firm! 8-3.
  11. After dabbling in stuff of my own, unsuccessfully, one of my closest friends set up an interview for me at the consulting firm where he worked. This firm had been a dream job at one time and when they invited me for an interview, I was understandably excited. However, having spent a couple of years in the industry, I wasn’t anymore sure I wanted to be a management consultant. I guess it showed. Anyway, unlike the previous interview, I wasn’t under prepared this time. Just under motivated. The interview went well but not well enough to land me a job. As I told a friend soon after – even I wouldn’t have hired myself after that performance. Not that I had failed to answer any questions. Just that I’d failed to present any winning answers. Those answers and personality quirks are the ones that make the other person want to hire you right away, or at least curious to know more about you. I brought neither to the party. 8-4.
  12. GF set up an interview with a small global investment bank that was setting shop in India. I prepared extensively. They didn’t care. While I’d prepared everything from detailed valuation fundas to stock exchange guidelines to investment bank organisation structures, all they wanted to know was why I wanted to be an IBer. Not one technical question. Not one personal question. If I remember correctly, not one question other than ‘Why do you want to be an IBer?”. My first and last attempt at landing an IB job. I should say I’m almost glad I didn’t get it. Didn’t want it for any other reason than money and given my low financial satisfaction threshold, would’ve quit in no time. Though I’m not sure to count this interview as a success or a failure given there was practically no interview. So, let’s call it a draw and the score stays 8-4.
  13. Heard earlier today from a firm I’d applied to that they want to conduct a telephonic interview next week. Could this turn out to be my most ‘memorable job interview’? Shall let you know in a week’s time. :)

So there, done with another daily post with just under 2 hours till the deadline. Most of the work places would call this slacking. Friends at the last educational institute I went to would call this cracking! BTW, what’s your interview scoreline?


P.S.: One last word: Swarley rocks! :)

  1. […] a recent career PoV, say, I might go back and put in a better attempt at that consulting interview (#11 here). It really was a dream job for a long while before it became just another consulting job and I […]

  2. […] year was 2002. I was about 2 months into my 2nd job and Id’ again moved base back to Delhi. The guy, technically COO, I was working there with […]

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