My first Interview

After reading this, you would probably wonder how I managed to get four jobs in the last seven years. But as they say, destiny sure plays a hand.

Like all those misguided-missiles-tipped-with-truckloads-of-shit, that one saw on college campus in the early nineties, I also wanted to do an MBA. I had the perfect launch pad – a BA in Economics. Now, all I needed to do was pass CAT.

Maybe…I would have passed it. Or maybe not. But as luck would have it, I ended up trading a seat in Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) for one Chikken Briyani, one plate of Chicken Butter Masala and one tank-full of petrol. Quite a deal.

I once had a friend called JP Dennis. Quite a guy. Over the years, we have fallen apart but we sure had some fun together. He wanted to start earning as soon as possible. Thanks to him, I also wanted to be independent….

Soon my MBA aspirations went down the drain, and we would embark on our first interview together. Company`s name: American Remedies. Designation: Medical Representative. Job: Selling Drugs.

The interview was scheduled for God-knows-when and the venue was Hotel Ramyas in Tirchy – a city three hours drive from Madurai.

Only the day before, my father had given me money to apply for CAT. That is the reason why I blame my father for me not being a Management guy today.

My decision changed my life forever. Instead of being in a Bank applying for CAT, I was on my way to Tirchy on Dennis` Hero Honda Splendor – the master bike of the early 90s. In those days, if you had a Splendor…you had arrived.

After topping the tank, we embarked on our first interview together. For lunch we stopped at a Dhaba. Here is where, I would finish off my ‘CAT money` on a plate of Chicken Briyani and Chicken Butter Masala each.

We reached Tirchy with maybe fifty bucks in our pockets. Tired, but excited. Dirty but determined.

We rushed to the Tirchy Railway junction, bought a platform ticket, sneaked into the 2nd class waiting room, and had a nice wash. Dressing-up took a while, for we had to borrow combs from suspecting passengers….and steal face cream when the ladies were not looking.

We were quite a sight, emerging out of the washrooms freshly dressed in light colored shirts, dark trousers…and a matching tie to go with it.

Dennis got selected for the next round. He was a BSc Physics graduate and American Remedies encouraged science grads. But they eyed Humanities students (read lesser mortals) with suspicion. Here is how the interview went –

Interviewer: Why would you want to work as a Medical Representative after studying BA Economics?

Me: My friend asked me to accompany him to Tirchy for the interview. And he convinced me real hard.

Interviewer: You seem to have studied science in 12th. Why then did you shift?
Me: I got inspired by Dr Manmohan Singh, our Finance Minister (then, he was the FM).

Interviewer: Of all the science subjects, which was your favourite?
Me: Biology.

Interviewer: Why?
Me: I had a nice, pretty teacher.

Interviewer: You have to memorize a lot to work as a Medical Rep. Would you be able to?
Me: Yes, I can. In fact, they used to call me ‘The Mugger` in school and college. How do you think I got such good grades?

I knew I had answered all the questions right. But the Interviewer seemed confused. He discussed something with a person sitting next to him, and then spoke to me.

“Who is this friend of yours you came along with?” He asked.

“Dennis ….JP. He got selected to the next round. Why do you ask sir?”

“No …nothing…” was his only reply. And then he motioned me to leave. I knew I had struck the right chord, and had been selected.

After spending a few hours in the Hotel lobby, they announced the names of the people who were selected. Surprisingly, our names did not figure. So much so, Dennis` who had been told that he was selected for the next round found his name missing.

Dennis was pretty disappointed. Being a good friend, I did not want to remind him of American Remedies again…so never told him how my interview went. To this day…I wonder why his name was struck off the list of selected candidates.

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