Interview number 18. New Year’s Eve. Rejections were not scary anymore. There is a phase beyond fear and terror. Even beyond acceptance. You imagine a massive river flowing into a water fall, and you are trying to fight hard against the roaring tides. Your muscles tire, you drown, you gulp in a lot of water. The urge to live makes you breathe and kick your legs. It is not just enough to breathe. Because any moment you may tire and quit. You muster enough will power to push and drive against the odds, and you fail every time. Then, you stop swimming and suddenly the fall comes closer.
The routine was the same today too. He wakes up at an unholy hour because he got a call from a friendly stranger. "Hey Aman, this is your call for the Technical Interview. Congratulations on clearing the Aptitude test. All the very best." He gets up, brushes his teeth. Picks his best shirt, awakens his already placed neighbour for his tie, polishes his shoes and walks out; gladiators would be proud of his stoic demeanour.
It couldn't be all his fault alone. Once, he had four interviews back to back. He was so tired by the fourth one that he had no clue what the hiring company's work actually was.
First question-"Do you have any questions regarding the job?”
He said he wanted to know about the job profile. Irregular, but she obliged. A dozen questions down the line, she asked him what he thought the firm did to earn their million dollars. For lack of any knowledge regarding what they did, and frankly because he was too tired to make up some bull shit, he replied with the exact same words that she had given for the first question. She shook her head and had her laugh, but he didn’t care anymore. In the initial interviews he had tried to guess whether they were willing to take him in. He tried to read them when he thought that he had managed to convince and/or confuse them. Eventually he reached the inevitable conclusion that though he was probably a dozen interviews old, the gentlemen and ladies taking his case had seen literally thousands before him.
“Alright! So moving on to the next question, how many bikes are out there for rent in Goa?”
Two months ago, if someone had thrown this at him, he would have looked at him and probably judged the questioner to be crazy. However, now he knew better. These questions are classic examples of ‘guesstimates’. Exactly like the word sounds, he had to make an estimate, a well-rounded guess. The interviewers wanted to know his approach to a seemingly impossible problem. He started off with the assumption that there were five major towns in Goa, and roughly assuming that there were twenty rentals each, and each of them would have around twenty bikes for rent. The rough number was around two thousand. She listened carefully and nodded her head approvingly. Rookie mistake would be to assume that he had impressed her. The trick with these HR types is that they can be very polite while chewing your ear out. You will never bear their ill will. It’s all part of the routine.
He was asked to wait outside, and he was thinking the whole experience over. In the last 24 hours- one Earth day- he had sat for five interviews. So far he has been rejected seventeen times in total. There were again a few like him, who hadn’t got a job yet. The fact was that he had cleared a lot of aptitude tests, initial technical interviews— the beginning hoops to reach ahead. But somehow he wouldn’t make the final cut. ‘Frustration’ wasn’t even close to what he had begun to experience. It was as if they had set out to brand him as— “Good, but not enough”.
“Aman Bhide Sawant. Second call for Mr. Sawant. Please report to the Placement Unit desk”.
The inevitable call of doom. He would be called, his neatly typed out resume will be handed out to him with a look of sympathy. He would look down upon the smiling passport size face of himself, smiling benevolently, and then the long walk of shame to the hostel. By this point, his friends had stopped asking him about the interviews-they probably knew what was coming their way.
“Would you like a posting in Gurgaon, or Mumbai?”
“Excuse me?”, disbelief and relief- in equal measure.
“Congratulations Mr Sawant. We are delighted to welcome you to the …. “
He didn’t hear the rest. Probably it was because of the air rushing in suddenly- he had forgotten to breath for the last twenty odd hours.
“Happy New Year”, he swore his passport size resume face had mouthed while he accepted the offer letter.