Tag Archives: Thought

THE INTERVIEW – A Short Story

HR interview

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.

fired1 hr

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Learning Optimism With the 24×7 Rule

Choosing Optimism

It is a gift to understand how to embrace optimism within oneself and in others. It is an even greater act of generosity to be inspired by optimism from others and to be willing to receive it.

“We have the capacity to be a natural recipient of ideas”, says Anthony Tjan, CEO and Managing Partner of the VC firm Cue Ballad and Vice Chairman of the Advisory firm, Parthenon.

Do we truly see the good in something or someone?

Are we natural critics, cynics or optimists?

Do we often think of what might be wrong with someone or something before we try and understand what might be right or good?

To see everything good in an idea before seeing anything bad, Tjan suggests the 24 x 3 rule.

“The next time you hear an idea for the first time, or meet someone new, try to wait 24 seconds before saying or thinking something negative. This reinforces a foundational skill of good optimists and good leadership. That basic skill is listening. As you gain the ability to listen and pause for a brief 24 seconds before letting the critic in you bubble to the verbal surface, move to the next level and try to do it for 24 minutes. At 24 minutes, you are able to give more considered thought to the idea and think more carefully of the many reasons why it might actually work, why it might be better than what is out there, and why it might just topple conventional wisdom. And yes, you should also work towards the ability to wait 24 hours — one single day — before pondering or verbalizing the cons against something”.

Most times, this may not be possible as one cannot shut out past experiences or compartmentalize things. But the 24x24x24 rule is a more optimistic approach towards people and ideas. It is a good reminder that a prerequisite of optimism is to have a “willing suspension of disbelief”. Mastering the 24×3 rule will make one an enjoyable and inspirational leader; one whose generosity is rewarded with new possibilities that others have prematurely dismissed.

optimism

Of Love, Marriage and Broken Promises

heart

As a young teenage girl, she had all the dreams about love and romance that girls her age would have. These dreams were only enriched more by the constant input of love stories from the movies of Bollywood and the Mills and Boons novels. There was this excitement about finding you ultimate love who would sweep you off your feet, followed by a whirlwind romance and then a happily ever after. This was the ideal picture in her mind too.

And then it happened… ! She was still in college and all of eighteen years old when she met this man, who she thought was the love of her life. He was all she thought she wanted. From the first meeting onwards, both of them seemed to be smitten by each other. The inner feeling of loneliness seemed to disappear in the companionship of each other. Her life now revolved around the life, needs and desires of this man who she loved with all her heart. The fact that he was seven years older or from a totally different upbringing with a different outlook towards life than her never struck her or made her question their love. She was just happy that she found her true love in life.

love swans

He was the one she trusted more than herself. The earnestness and sincerity in his love filled her with hope for the future and she considered herself to be lucky to be with a man like him.

She was the last person that people expected to get married at such an early age. But marry she did. Never thinking twice, with complete trust in their love and on him. Changing her dreams and desires she left her home for him. Her parents had to oblige for their daughter’s happiness. They accepted him with open hearts as their son in law.

The unknown evokes different response from different people. For his parents, she was that unknown who was to blend into their known practices and expectations. He also expected the same. For her, this was but a small sacrifice for their love. Her identity was now from him and everything else followed. So she learnt things alien to her till now. She went from being a carefree student to being a ‘trying to be perfect wife’. All she wanted in return was some love and respect.

This she did earn from his parents but the change in him confounded her.He quit his job without trying to get a permanent position and went for higher studies… away from her. One has to plan a career properly it seems. So he decided that this was the best for him. She was not part of the decision.

Where did all the love and tenderness go? Arguments, anger and her cries were part of a daily routine. .He had hit her twice during these fights. Nothing that she did was good enough. Why did she want hundred buck right now? Why did she have to be part of this particular NGO? Why? Why? Why?   Life had become dreary and listless now. Still she carried on in the belief that this was but a phase. She still loved him.

After her bachelors, she decided to pursue a professional course so that she could also work and help him support the family. This was over her dreams of doing a Masters and pursuing an academic career. But why did she have to study more and work? This was the question asked to her by him.It was when she convinced him that her parents would bear the financial expenses that he relunctantly agreed to ‘let’ her study. And that was when things fell apart.

Everyday was hell. Classes, papers, readings followed by telephone calls filled with malice, hate and anger. It tore her apart. Slowly and steadily, she lost her confidence, the spark in her eyes, the mischief all was lost. But this was not all. The worst was still to come.

imagesThere was another woman! How could that be? He told her that she was his true love, the only one… Must be a lie. She was losing it. Why did he do it? She confronted him and he first denied it but later accepted and blamed her for his actions.

‘You were too busy with your studies!’

‘You cannot keep me happy’

‘You are frigid and cold’

She felt the world around her collapsing and destroyed. There was nothing she could do and neither did she feel like fighting for this relationship anymore. She told him that she needed some time to think about all the mess. This led to more and more fights, where he would blame her and make her feel guilty for everything that she did or said. There was no end to her nights full of tears, anguish and disillusionment! The next thing was an accusation of her infidility made by him to her parents!! Whatever illusions of working things out were there were shattered and strewn around in bits and pieces.

Her parents, like always, picked her up and gave her the support and love she needed. She poured out all that had transpired and her feelings and emotions. Guilt, disillusionment, distrust and despair along with anger ravaged within her. Still, she could not take the final step of divorce so easily. The stigma with being a divorcee is still very strong within this society and she feared that she would not be able to face the criticism, the sympathetic looks and taunts. Her parents were her pillars of strength and support during all these times. And she finally left him…

divorce

But still she wonders if she would be able to love anyone else anymore? She cherishes her independence and knows that she cannot change for anyone. Would there be someone who accepts her as she is, with all the flaws and strengths?