In my life I have had my share of interviews; so much so that at one point I had a questionnaire prepared with answers as notes and I circulated it among my colleagues. I remember a time an interviewer tried to interview me by looking at me intently and jotting down everything I said. I thought he meant it to be intimidating: however I found it funny, since by then I had attended multiple interviews. The reason I attended so many interviews was that within my previous organization, the supply of people was more than the positions that were open and opportunities came once in a while. The time I got promoted, my boss then even introduced me to my team by pointing out to them that patience paid in the end and appreciated my attempts. So when I went recently for an interview after a year-long hiatus, the questions were the same, only my answers had changed.
Yesterday’s interview changed my perspective. First, the mystery behind the whole job offer. I received a mail stating that there was a job offer for me if I were interested. Nothing was mentioned about the profile work timings or anything. So I was curious, I acknowledged the mail and agreed to meet the person. While on the phone, I tried to get some information out but he said there were a lot of profiles we would see what suited me. I knew the guy worked for an insurance company so he could either be a salesman or a consultant. So there I was, half an hour early, sitting in the reception of an office, waiting for my turn.
Finally the wait was over. Mr. X (let’s call him Mr. X) arrived and the interview started. Now you would think an interview would take place in a small room at the least. But here I was sitting at his desk/cubicle. The usual questions started – Tell me about yourself. Now you have to understand that I had no clue till now what I was applying for so I gave a very brief summary of my job profile.
Mr. X: “That’s it?”
So I continued and gave him a more detail about my career progression.
Mr. X: “What did you want to do when you were in college?”
I was a little taken back so I said the first thing I remembered; I said I wanted to be a social worker.
Mr. X: “Why Commerce not any other stream?”
Again, an unusual question. I told him my cousin was doing well and was in Accounts so I chose Commerce
Mr. X: “So why did you choose that company to work for?” And so on, each time questioning my motive of choosing various jobs. By now I was certain I had signed up for the TV series of L.O.S.T and each question was as mysterious as the island.
Finally Mr. X broke it down for me. He says, “So let me see if I understood it correctly. Until this moment you have allowed your life to control you. You did a job for money, you did a job out of necessity and convenience, and now wouldn’t you like to be in control of your life instead of life controlling you?” The first thought in my head was, yahoo I am getting free therapy! So then for the next two hours, he built up a dream job for me not telling me what the profile was. Then he tells me he was giving me a chance to be an entrepreneur. He emotionally used my ambition of wanting to be a social worker here as he wanted me to sell insurance and various other products that the company was offering, to my friends and family first, in order to make a database and then presented me a rosy picture of the commission money that I would receive. His logic was that there is a sense of accomplishment and a social cause when you go to give the claim check to a widow. I am still scratching my head on that one.
I ask him if it was a commission based job only and if there was no salary. Mr. X replied that if the company paid salary then I would let money control your life. He said that with such a straight face that all I could do was nod in agreement. At the back of my mind I was thinking the whole build up towards the job and the climax was an anti-climax for me. It was like a murder mystery being solved only to be told that butler whom I suspected from the start, had done it. I informed him that I needed to think about it and left or rather ran from that office. Needless to say I didn’t pursue this opportunity. Let’s face it I am a desktop person and trying to convince friends to know what to do for their family after their death is just not my cup of tea.
But one thing he said struck me and the deconstruction of my entire career was an eye-opener for me. I had actually taken jobs out of convenience or only for the money. So this time I didn’t want to do the same. The job he offered had good flexible timings and if I did well, good money. But I would actually be doing exactly what he explained – I was letting life control me. I guess his explanation backfired on him. The more I thought, the more I realized I was done with compromising by taking jobs which don’t make me happy. I would want to go to work, not dread Mondays; I would want to be passionate about my job. Who knows my next job could be the one I stick around in for thirty years. Do I really want to do a job which I don’t love for thirty years? No, not this time around.
October 28, 2013.