By Ganesh Subramanian
Alok woke up to the shrill scream of his alarm clock. Hazy eyed and still groggy from inadequate sleep, he looked at the clock. The time was 6 am. He muttered under his breath and cursed himself for not going to bed earlier the previous night. Despite repeated requests from his mother to go to bed soon, Alok ended up watching his favourite action movie on his desktop for the umpteenth time and went to bed by 2 am. Summoning up all the energy that he could, he finally jumped off the bed and tried to shake off the cobwebs of sleep.
It was an important day for him. A day which could well make or break his career. Passing out from an engineering college without a job during the time of economic crisis was like a horror story for him, probably less creepy than the bedtime stories his cousin had frightened
Alok with during his childhood. After 5 unsuccessful attempts at cracking IT companies’ interviews, Alok applied to Himsagar Infoway Pvt. Ltd. one of the topmost IT companies in his state. When he did not hear from the company for two weeks, all his hopes seemed to vanish into thin air. Then out of the blue, came the much-awaited mail from the company two days back.
Alok was asked to appear for an interview by the HR department.” Why would your son want to suffer begging for jobs in these IT companies? I can make him own an IT company itself”, his dad would say, who is an MLA recently elected from Alok’s constituency. But Alok was determined to stand up on his own legs. He never ever thought about using his dad’s political clout to win personal favours. Little did he know at that time, that all those steadfast notions would shatter that day.
After a quick shower, Alok was ready for the interview. He wore his favourite pink full sleeved shirt. Despite his mother’s strong notion that the shirt is unlucky for him, Alok was not ready to give in to his mother’s whims. Swallowing in large chunks, he finished his daily breakfast of aloo parathas, Alok bid his mother good bye, who in turn wished her son success in the interview in the name of the Almighty.
Alok reached the company premises well before the scheduled interview time and was asked by the receptionist to be seated till he was summoned by the HR. Alok looked at the receptionist. She reminded him of one of the characters in one of the “Saas-Bahu” soaps that his mother used to watch. Pushing the thought away after smiling to himself, Alok tried getting his mind to calm down and was expecting to be called in any moment.
The interview room’s door opened after 10 minutes and out walked a lady who seemed to be in her mid 30s. “Alok”, she called with a professional tone. Alok stood up. “Please follow me”, she said. Alok accompanied the lady and disappeared inside the interview room. The lady, once inside the interview room, said, “I am Meghna from HR. I will be taking your interview now”. After introducing herself, Meghna extended her hand and Alok responded with a cordial handshake.
So Alok, can you tell me something about yourself?”, said Meghna. Alok spoke at length about his academics, his interest in sports and his career interests for the next two minutes. “That’s good. Alok, despite passing out from a pretty good engineering college, you did not find a job till now. Can you give me a reason for that?”
Alok tried explaining that the job roles that were offered in those companies did not match his career interests. Still unconvinced with the answer, Meghna prodded on, “So how many interviews have you attended till now?” Alok responded, “Five”. Do you think none of the companies had a profile matching your career interests? Yes Ma’am”, replied Alok.
Meghna sighed and then said, “I don’t think so, Alok. I think it’s rather your incompetency that you couldn’t get into those companies”. Alok was getting impatient by now. This interview was progressing nowhere. He somehow had the sick feeling that the outcome of this interview may not be what he wanted.
Ma’am, with all due respect, I was in the top 10 ranks in my department in engineering. I gave my best in each of the five interviews that I had attended. But, somehow could not convert it. So, I don’t think my lack of competence was a factor in those interviews. Do you think all those HRs who interviewed you are fools to reject you? Why don’t you accept your shortcomings and try working on it?
Okay. You tell me that you are among the top 10 rankers in your department. Can you tell me why we call Java as platform independent? Despite being an easy question, Alok was getting nervous and the tension was getting to him. The 16 degree temperature with which the split AC was cooling the room did nothing to stop the beads of sweat that were forming in his forehead. His mind went black for a moment. After thinking hard, Alok shook his head and said, “Sorry Ma’am. I don’t remember”.
Meghna didn’t stop there. “Tell me the value of escape velocity which is needed for a flying object to escape earth’s gravitational pull and fly into outer space. I am sure you must have read this in school”. “Sorry Ma’am. I don’t remember” was Alok’s meek reply.
Can you tell me some of the recent milestones that our company achieved? What are the revenue projections for our company for the year 2015? Meghna threw a barrage of questions at Alok like a bowling machine does in net practice in cricket. Alok cursed himself for not going through the company website the previous night. Alok found it difficult to miss the irony that instead of watching his favourite action movie the night before, he could have prepared for the action movie that is unfolding right now.
Alok started Seemingly pleased with herself that her victim had been cornered now, Meghna continued, “See. I told you that you were incompetent. You could not even answer basic questions”.
Alok by now was pretty confident that he was not going to be selected. That very thought gave him renewed confidence which until now seemed to have deserted him. With a polite tone, Alok replied, “Ma’am. You were right”. Meghna smiled having won the battle of words with the candidate. Alok continued, “Ma’am you were right partially when you asked me whether I thought that the HR of the five companies where I was rejected were fools. Not only were they five fools. I met a sixth one today.”
The smile vanished without a trace from Meghna’s face. Red with anger, Meghna spoke with a threateningly chill tone “Mind your words, Alok. You are speaking to the HR of the company. I am also a member of the National Employers Association and the National HRD network. I can get your resume blacklisted and ensure that your career is over even before it begins. You will not find a job in any IT company.”
Alok stood up and thought for a moment whether he should really say what he was about to say. Banishing the momentary thought, Alok replied with an equally menacing tone with little respect for the person in front of him, “Meghna, if you do anything of the sort that you just said, I will ensure that not only your professional life is screwed, but your whole life will become a living hell. I am the son of an MLA. Better be careful about what you speak and do”.
Picking up his folder, Alok left the room coolly. Meghna kept starring at Alok leaving the interview room, after being stunned into silence.