I have usually been great at interviews. If you have read my blog for a while or read information on this site in detail, you would know by now I had my very first official job interview when I was 16 years old for a commercial bank! Thinking about it now sounds crazy. But I am someone who can think on my feet in such situations. I am someone who prepares greatly regardless, and I am someone who still “feels” nervous even though I know many people admire my public speaking skills. I picked up my confidence and skills in this regard from none other place than church! Yep! Singing in the choir: I had to stand in front of people. Sometimes giving interviews about programs we were organizing especially for the youth and also a radio program I started when I was 18. I will share more on that another day.
Anyway, when I was on the job market I had one of a few interviews. To be honest with you, I don’t ever remember a bad job interview that I have had. Ow yes I have had difficult interviews, I remember one or two that were super technical after my undergraduate studies. Still I could point out some aspects I did well and an overall enjoyable or at the very least “okay” experience. Not this particular interview. I read and prepared for that interview. I was pretty sure I was a good fit (I realize now it so not the case. I love my current job!). Anyway, several things were not quite right.
First, I was told a somewhat vague starting time but not really when to arrive, so I arrived way too early. It was really cold that day, I had not eaten, and I waited in the lobby for about two hours whilst hungry before I could go in. So far, not so good, not so bad. I thought anyway more time for me to read a bit more, to speak words of power and be “charged up” and all that.
Finally, I was escorted in and immediately they realized they gave me the wrong time. My interview would be a little later than the time I got. “Its okay”. I thought to myself. “All things work together for good.” It was getting very difficult to stay positive at this point. Also, I was still hungry! I had this interview after interviewing another post, where the candidates of the day mingled a bit, had some coffee and snacks and generally felt more at ease by the time one went in the interview and other processes of the recruitment. This was the opposite. I sat by myself on some table in the corridor where other employees were passing by, waiting for my name to be called. Also, no coffee.
Finally, the time came. An interviewer came to take me. I entered the office and they said, “here, have some coffee”. I was like wait, you have coffee inside the room? I was feeling way, way, way too nervous to even think of the hunger or thirst at that point. I wanted to nail it. Finally, here is the opportunity I had been waiting for. Hooray! So I just took a glass of water to have with me, which I never drank.
I can tell you this was the first time in my life I was thinking to myself: when will this end? It was just bad. Other challenging interviews I had been in the past I was happy they kept going, I could see a path of turning things around. But this one, none of my preparation seemed to help. And no it was not because it was even too technical, because I had pretty much the answers but for one reason or the other the environment and atmosphere was less than friendly. It felt like at least two thirds of the interviewers didn’t want to be there and the others were forcing themselves to be civil.
Maybe its meant to be a test? I thought. One of the interviewers was even on their tablet!!! They would ask a question and then not seem to be keen to hear what I had to say! I really wished this was the last aspect of the recruitment process, because after this i was just drained. But it wasn’t. There were some two more processes after this, after about two more processes before this. After that point, my system felt disoriented. I remember towards the end I was asked a more HR question to give an example of something from my past work experience and when I shared, they found it funny and laughed and I could barely smile at that point. It felt like hostile territory but somehow, I was able to make them laugh.
I gave it my best, in spite of all. I prepared and delivered. In the end, that’s what matters. Continue being the best of you.