There are interviews and then there are some. When there are hundreds of them going on daily, these some others make our day. Thanks to a free flowing press meet along with the opening of our Kochi office, the coverage we got was immense. Suddenly news spread about this MNC who wanted Commerce graduates in droves.
The fun started the very next day. Walking into the office was nothing short of a shock. The entrance looked like one of those seedy recruitment drives. People of all sorts flocking the door and a security guy who didn’t have a clue about what was happening. Some sort of order was forced in an hour and then the one to one started. The criteria were very clear to us, to the ones outside, well….
Target of 200-300 in the coming few months, we decided to see almost everyone who came in initially. First round, just to check the communication skills, then a short accounting test, second round and then the final interview – the routine was fixed. The security guy was the most important person those days. By the time we reached office, he would have made everyone wait in order, collected their papers and got them ready.
The first question naturally “Tell me something about yourself”.
Three out of five would answer “Njaan, ente peru…”
One of us, “We do understand Malayalam, but we are sorry, you have to talk in English. You have to deal with western clients and we would like to know how your communication skills are”
A long silence.
“Did I say something wrong?”
“English, difficult. But I’ll do any work”
“Sorry, we have no choice”
Another one, a BA in English Literature.
“Well, this is an accounting BPO. How do you think you will fit in?”
“Are you not doing data entry?”
“Not really, we are doing accounting work for foreign clients”
“Oh, then isn’t this a BPO?”!!!!
So much for our talks about high-end accounting work and similar jargons.
Next, a lady in her early thirties.
Didn’t give me a chance to ask her anything. “Madam, my husband is good for nothing and I have two kids. I have a job now but the pay is not enough for anything. Please give me some job here. I’ll do anything, I just need Rs.3500 a month” and all this in a non-stop Malayalam monologue.
Sure, I felt really sorry for the lady, there was nothing much I could do about too. And to think that she had come all the way from Vaikom just seeing some news item in a newspaper!!
Made me thankful about many a thing in my life.
This one was the best. I still don’t know how I kept a straight face throughout. Did his CA Inter long time back. Then went for Law, claimed to be a rank holder and practicing with “one of the top-most firms in Trivandrum”.
“What brings you here?”
One moment of silence and then with full force “Accounting.. (a significant pause) is my passion. I (again a pause) have always dreamt of seeking a career in this magnificent profession. Blah, blah…….more blahs for a full 10 minutes”
Somehow sent him out and burst out laughing, much to the shock of the entire office. Wonder how many days it took him to learn the whole script by heart.
Our office building was just getting ready and Infopark had given us an incubation center – their small auditorium converted into workstations for a few months. Life was an open book there, interviews used to take place anywhere in there and everyone knew what was happening. The best was one of our Managers. Whenever he took an interview, all eyes would be on the computer screens in front of them and ears tuned towards the Manager’s seat.
First, he would have a look at the candidate, feet up till the head. If someone came in sandals or slippers, boy, that just wasn’t his day.
“Is this the way you come for an interview in an MNC? Go back and if you want a job, come back dressed properly”.
Half of them would never come that way again. But we got a few good ones from those who actually dared to.
Dressed properly, you would be offered a seat. Then the scrutiny of the CV.
“What is it with you guys, all the CVs look the same – Name, Date of birth, Father’s Name, Religion, Marital Status.. and then two sentences about education and work experience. Why should I be bothered about your Father’s name and age? Tell me about your work”
Couldn’t argue with the logic in his statement. To give him due credit, even if the person was not short-listed, he would get a brief class on how to prepare a CV and attend an interview.
Then , there was this qualified guy.
Communication ok, technically fine, so the next step.
“What is your expected salary?”
“35 – 40,000”
“What is your current pay?”
“Gross or net?”
“Oh, don’t you think the hike you are expecting is a little too much for your kind of experience?” (He was working as a chief accountant in a nearby hospital)
“Isn’t this a BPO?”
Well, another one of those……
Being an accounting BPO, we used to get lots of CA, CS and CWA Inters.
In comes this lady to one of our managers.
“So, what are your qualifications?”
“Sir, I have done Inter course”
The manager claims the first thing he immediately checked was her marital status.
The auditorium was proving to be too public or maybe everyone was having too much fun , the venue was slowly shifted to one of the Infopark conference rooms. This was one of those rooms with floor to ceiling glass walls. The only way you could make out the door was the handle in one of the huge glass panes.
One day, a big crash, and a sudden commotion. To this day, we have no clue how he managed it, but this guy actually broke one of those thick glasses. He was sent off to hospital immediately. After a few hours, a knock and a face peeps into the auditorium. Then comes the body – bandages on hands, dried up blood on his dress, “Sir, now can you take my interview?”
For qualifieds, even for the initial interview, one of managers would be there. There was this guy, after every question we asked, he would look down and search something and then look up with a very vague face and equally vague answers. After a couple of these, I looked at my manager very subtly and there he is very surreptitiously looking under the table to figure out what this guy is up to. Well, actually he was searching his palms for the answers, maybe he was adept at reading it.
Another one did fairly well in the test, experience was kind of ok and we felt he could be developed into someone better. Nonchalant throughout, as if getting this job was the least of his priorities, at the end of the interview he offered us a visiting card of his.
“You see, I am actually into marketing and exporting of handicraft items. Yours being an MNC I wanted to know whether I could get some contacts or at least some orders”
After the usual questions in yet another interview, one of the managers asked a candidate, “Do you have anything to ask me?”
He swears the look on the candidate’s face had to be seen to be believed. He was shocked beyond words and with a hand still over his mouth, “Sir, you are qualified with so many years of experience, how can I ask you anything?”
The poor chap thought he was being asked to interview the manager!!
My personal best was when this lady walked in, gave me a look and, “Hey, I know you”
“Even I know you”
We had a common friend, used to somewhat know each other during our CA coaching class days, liked whatever we knew about the other and promptly lost touch for the next ten years or so. Needless to say, we are partners in crime in almost everything that happens in office now.
We have a swanky new office now with separate rooms for interviews, discussions and trainings, and formal tests for the initial screening. Everything is so organized but we ordinary mortals are denied a major source of entertainment in our official lives.