What personality?

Since hiring season is at its peak, I might as well talk a little more about it. One very important aspect of the recruitment procedures is the dreaded interview. Be it 10 minutes or 20, you have to condense your personality in to the most apt of words, such that whatever comes out of your mouth neither sounds too generic nor too fake. If you practice it at home too much, you end up trying to remember the words you said to yourself in last night’s mirror interview, and that always gets across to the interviewers.

So, what is the best way to explain your personality to a bunch of highly judgmental people? Well, there is none. As far as my experience is concerned (which isn’t a lot, but is valuable at the same time), you can’t just think of a one size fits all kind of solution to this. That also does not mean that your honesty and integrity about your personality will get you hired. No, it just means speaking your heart out, while staying within prescribed limitations is the best way to get through to these morticians behind the desk.

 

What exactly do they look for? Uniqueness, definitely uniqueness. Especially at the internship level. At this point in time, your skills are as close to zero as possible so the interviewers want some spark, some zing, as if they are looking for a certain romantic chemistry between you and the organization. This does not become evident over the course of the interview, but can take from a split second to the whole duration. It depends on how long you take to stand out from the rest. What matters at the end is the people whose names or personalities get etched in to the interviewers’ mind after all the interviews have been conducted. When the time comes to evaluate, you want to be sure that they remember who you were, because even if your personality was fabulous in your head, if they forget you, you’re done for.

 

How do people manage to stand out and appear unique? There are a number of ways to do so, however, I shall first talk about the kind that do not need to appear different, they simply are. These people have always been the kind who stand out in the crowd; they either have such privilege by speaking more fluently and expressionistically than the rest, have their schooling done from a foreign country, or having a different birth place, making them sound much more learned and special than other people. They could have an eccentric dressing style, pairing up things in ways that are not common to a lot of people, or a name that has hardly ever been heard around, and instantly clicks with the interviewers. These are what I would call, ‘the Lucky Ones’; they simply have their uniqueness served to them on a silver platter and never have to make a conscious effort to achieve that.

 

Next, we have the people who spend every waking moment trying to develop their personalities, appear sharp, appear vigilant or appear…just about any positive adjective in the dictionary. Life is hard for these people, since they always fear breaking out of character at the wrong moment, or cracking under pressure. They need to carefully evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, because interviewers will try their hardest to break these people. Sometimes these people concentrate their strategy on breaking the ice with the interviewers, to develop some kind of friendship, either through compliments or similar beliefs, and hope that this tactic can carry them across the recruitment ladder. Sometimes these people are generally smart and capable, but the things they are good at are things everybody happens to sell easily as well, rendering them unnoticed.

 

Finally, we have the people who are clueless about themselves and the interview. They do not make a conscious effort, nor do they stand out as special, and are often quick to be rejected. Sometimes the interviewers also find them to be a little arrogant in their answers. Let’s hope none of us falls under this category.

 

If you haven’t been gifted with an idiosyncrasy you can flaunt to the world, I suggest you stick to the second strategy. It is going to be difficult for you, you will fail quite a lot along the way, but I assure you, someone will recognize your potential and decide to give you a chance.

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The Woes of Job Hunting

At the age of 22, all you hear people say is stuff like, “The time is ripe”, or “You have your whole life ahead of you”, or “You can make a difference”, and although I believe that for a lot of people, I can never quite seem to believe it for myself.

Spring is here, and so is the pressure to apply for jobs and internships. I for one lie in the internship category, and am thankful for things being slightly easier on me as compared to the poor souls making futile attempts at job hunting this very moment. Just a little bit about the internship requirement: it has to be of around 6-8 weeks, strictly corporate, and span over the summer vacations. Big bummer.

However, that’s not the worst of it. The worst thing ever is when you don’t have an internship at all, when you manage to fail most corporate internship entry tests, and in the ones you do manage to get through, you are destroyed and humiliated in the interview rounds. You see the face of rejection over, and over… and over again, and mind you, that face is not a pretty sight.

I’ve gone through the process quite a few times now, and I think it’s time everybody else goes through it too. Let it be a fair warning to those aspiring individuals yet to step in to this phase, and a wave of nostalgia to those who have already endured it, and live to tell the tale.

  1. It’s halfway through junior year, and you know that a number of internship offers are going to be surging towards you any moment now, and you just have to grab hold of the best out of the lot.
  2. It is always the top corporations that conduct their tests first: Unilever. Procter & Gamble. Reckitt Benckiser. These are the three names you’ve memorized and etched in to your brain. This is where you want to get in. The dream almost seems achievable. After all, you’ve been hearing success stories of very ordinary people from your uni, who’s lives changed once they got in to these top tier companies.
  3. You grow overconfident, and expect to get in without much of an effort. You do prepare for the test, just to be on the safe side, but only so much as too appease yourself.
  4. Congratulations. You’ve failed test number one. The math was way over your head. But who are you kidding. You know it was the easiest math ever. You’re just bad without a calculator. You begin to think of all those people you know that are exceptional at math. You know you have no chance here.
  5. You stand in line for the next test, knowing a little more than you did before and realize that there are around 300 people from your uni, and many more from other unis, all waiting to get in to the same organization. How were you calculating your odds before? Why did you even think you had a chance? You’ve never even displayed extraordinary behavior. But that doesn’t matter here. What comes first is the math and the reasoning. And you suck at both.
  6. By now you’ve become immune to the rejection, and you give up on the prep. You leave it to God’s will and move on with your life. What happens then? You miraculously get through your first test. A whirlwind of images and scenarios rush through your head, and you can see yourself as the CEO of that company, driving around in a Mercedes, and travelling every other day. Such joy! But wait, you have the dreadful interview to ace first.
  7. It’s interview day. You’ve learned the company’s website by heart, and you’ve seen their best ad campaigns. You want to work for marketing so you’ve memorized all the jargon you can throw at them and convince them of your capabilities. However, your brain freezes over when the first question they ask you is ‘Tell us about yourself’. It’s not like you did not expect it; you know that’s always the first question. You struggle to find the right words, the perfect words to describe yourself, but anything that comes out of your mouth feels subpar. You get through this part, in one way or another, and hope for the best.
  8. A few weeks later, you check your email to find out that you have NOT been selected for the internship. The company does not seem to be the ‘appropriate fit’ for your personality at the current time (or vice versa), but encourages you to apply for further openings.
  9. You, in utter frenzy, decide to email your resume to all of your LinkedIn contacts, and the companies they work for, hoping to hear a reply from at least one of them. You delude yourself once more, by thinking your odds are high considering you’ve sent your resume to so many people. Unfortunately, most of those emails go unread, and the resumes ignored.
  10. On the slightly positive side, you receive replies from 2 or 3 contacts, who ask for sometime to decide, and then disappear from the face of the earth, bringing you back to square one.

So as you can see, the career ride starts off pretty rough for most people, I being one of them. There are always shortcuts in the journey, through references and other (read: illegal) means, that I have chosen to ignore, because I believe in trying my hardest before asking others for help or resorting to shady ways. Not that I ever want to be pushed to the point of having no choice but to use these shady means. Anyway, here I am, still trying my best, having lots of doubts, and learning lots of new lessons on this path of self discovery (and self loathing) and hope that you – when the time comes – do the same.

The Blogger in me.

Small Business Management. Yes, those are the 3 words that sum up how and why I started this blog. Our course teacher, being the ever-positive and uber enthusiastic entrepreneur that he is, was teaching us how to use blogs to promote businesses. I did not feel the inner entrepreneur in me awaken at that point in time, nor was I convinced that this was a surefire way of marketing, however, what I did realize was that something inside me wanted to do this. I wanted to blog. I didn’t know about what exactly, but it just made me rather at peace to think of writing about what I feel, and maybe, if I was lucky, get some recognition out of it. No, this isn’t a blog about facts and figures, science and technology, or any specific genre, as a matter of fact. This is me deciding to make a difference in my own life, if not others’. This is me expressing myself, be it through anecdotes from my life, or an extensive write-up on my day, or my opinion on *insert topic*. This, is my story.*

*I, in no way believe that my story is worth being told, or has something extraordinary in it that separates me from the rest. I write this for myself, and will do it to my heart’s content. If I happen to pick readers along the way, then that is a blessing from above, one that I will be grateful for.