Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Interview

The most thought provoking interview I have ever given –

No, I am not a celebrity. And it was not a big TV channel interviewing me. I had appeared humbly for my first job interview for a private multinational company. Before the interview, there was a written test and I had cleared it. Though a mate from my college was not through, I wonder why, since we had done a collaborative job in the test. With tears in his eyes I saw him leave the campus and I waited for my turn.

I watched the public engrossed in their books, into last minute revisions, as if they knew what was being asked. My name was called. It was a big hall and there were three interviews simultaneously going on in three different corners. I went thinking – every room has four corners, still they have left the fourth corner. May be some logical question would be asked on this. Why the fourth corner is left alone. I eyed my interviewer and at the other two interviewees. With the arrangement, I was to sit facing the wall and against my deepest desire, I had to turn my back to the beautiful girl in the opposite corner. My interviewer brought me out of my reverie. I looked at him. This was the man on whom my career depended. He would fetch me my first job. I had never felt so obliged to a perfect stranger before. He began:

Interviewer: “Please take you seat”

I pushed myself down.

Me: “Good morning sir”. Though it was 3 in the afternoon, still, the most used salutation from my school days is still not leaving me. He chose to ignore.

Interviewer: “How are you?”

Not mixing this usual question with the online chat rooms answers I have always given, I carefully watched my words and said “I am perfectly fine sir, though a bit nervous and excited.”

Interviewer: “What’s making you nervous and excited?”

I regretted saying the obvious but then how would I have known that he would drill me on this. I restrained myself from telling him that his presence and being with two other girls in the same room is the reason for my mixed reactions, respectively.

Me: “First job interview sir. Big deal! I am a little apprehensive about it.”

Interviewer: “Apprehensive? So you are not prepared well”.

Am thinking – I am prepared but I don’t know what crap you have loaded in your head today, and I don’t know how hard would you throw that at me.

Me: “I am prepared sir, but being a little nervous is also good I guess. It helps you from getting overconfident.”

He liked the answer. He asked me to tell him something about myself, and I recited to him the one page document I had written about myself and had learned by rote. Though, to give the impression that I was making the answer on the spur, I took time in answering and in the process forgot the lines in between making obvious that I was reading it from a note in my memory while I tried to remember the lines.

Finally I told him, I am a jovial and fun loving person and how I flew kites during my board exams. This piece of information was not necessary but in my haste to complete the four hundred words answer that I had prepared, and bits of which I had forgotten, I had to add this.

I saw a smile growing on his face. Probably he too had a passion about flying kites.

He asked (sarcastically though; I later realized that), “What else fun you have made?”

I told him that I had watched kaho Na Pyar Hai twenty six times. For that I had to bunk my college 10 times. And I even had to bunk a sessional exam.

His smile broadened. Then he asked me the tritest question ever asked in interviews. What are your strengths? And me, made the biggest blunder (as if I have already not done it) of saying that I am very strong on ethical and moral fronts. Why I could not remember ten different points on the same question I had already prepared, I don’t know. May be destiny has its role to play in everything.

I have given him the rope, and he started strangling my neck.

He mocked, “Ahhh, is it? So should I ask you some questions? The questions could be controversial. Would you answer?”.

I pretended to be brave, while thinking what was coming. “Yeah, I will try”.

Interviewer: “Do you smoke?”

Honesty is the best policy. “Yes I did, but have quit”.

Interviewer: “Do you drink?”

Honesty is the best policy. And anyways I don’t drink. “No.”

Now came the shocker.

Interviewer: “Do you watch porn movies?”

I stared at him. Honesty is the best policy, though this time I could have safely avoided the truth. But the name of porn I guess had excited us both. And I said, “Yes”.

And I knew the interview was over and a social debate had started, because the next question was –

Interviewer: “Is that ethical?”

I was bold, “Why not?”

He was surprised, “Why not!! Watching nude girls is ethical?”

I said, “Its art and its entertainment”.

He said, “Entertainment? Justify it?”

I replied, “You watch TV for entertainment. You watch movies for entertainment. I watch porn for entertainment. How is that different?”

He questioned, “But society doesn’t accept it. That’s why it’s not ethical.”

I tried to justify, “But as long as I am not carrying that into the society, how can it be morally wrong? I watch it alone, behind closed doors, enjoy myself and then threw the thoughts away before moving out into the society. How can anyone question the morality of it?”

He still was adamant, “Whatever you say, but illicit thoughts do enter us while watching it, isn’t it? So it’s not ethical.”

I wondered, since when sex had become illicit unless you are not presenting it socially as a very offensive, obscene and vulgar stuff.

I repeated, “Unless I don’t carry the thoughts with me into the society I don’t find it unethical or wrong.”

It has been more than half an hour already and we both realized that it had been enough. As he stood up to see me off, he gave me an advice.

“Be a little more diplomatic the next time you tell something like that.”

I left with a smile and as I came out of the hall, I looked at everyone immersed in their technical books, and hoped that they knew what I had been asked.

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