Friday, February 17, 2006

My First Job Interview

So many things happend between Chinese New Year and now. There was the begining of the second semester, my one week absence from school due a bout of high fever, 2 job interviews in London, there was of course Valentine's day and now, poor Vinz is suffering from a bout of food poisoning.

CNY came as quickly as it went. I probably tired myself out making endless batches of pineapple tarts and peanut cookies for Vinz to savour and for the small CNY party we had at a friend's place. The day school began after a one and half month closure due to the Xmas break and the exams, I fell ill. I fell really ill. I never felt so sick in my entire life before. I couldn't get out of bed, I couldn't sit up to eat my Paracetamols and cough mixtures. I couldn't speak. I was irritable. I couldn't eat. I couldn't stand, what more stand under the shower for 20 minutes cleaning myself inside out. There were many times when I tried to do so but collapsed in the bathtub fully naked with hot water running down my body. Thankfully I had the door unlocked and Vinz came to my rescue. I had to sit on the toilet seat cover while brushing my teeth and there were many times when I just said...

"Heck my teeth. I need to lie down. They can rot for all I care."

I had to drag myself to the doctor on the 3rd day my fever wouldn't go down after constant Paracetamol popping. I called for a cab (Vinz was at work and couldn't take leave) and took 5 minutes to walk down 10 steps down the stairs. It was that bad I tell you. I expected the doctor to presribe something really powerful or something just to ease my endless suffering. But all she said was alternate between Paracetamol and Ibuprofen taking and I will be fine in a couple of days to a week. A week? I can't afford a week! I have classes to attend !!

So I kept the pill popping. I was sweating in the middle of the night but I was shivering as well. I sprouted a bunch of nonsensical words in my sleep which Vinz couldn't even make out (cos he normally is able to understand my sleep talk). After exactly one week after a 38-39 degree C fever, it finally went away. I was so close to going to the emergency ward at the University hospital nearby. But I chickened out everytime the thought crossed my mind. I am afraid of jabs. Very afraid in fact that I would rather suffer in bed than have a needle being poked into my skin.

I managed to make it for my job interviews the following Friday in London and boy I must say that it was really an eye opener!

I've never ever been on a job interview before. The internship that I had back in JB was arranged by my dad and all I had to do was turn up on a certain Monday morning, introduce myself, get my own work station and that was it.

My interviews were with HSBC Malaysia and British American Tobacco (BAT) Malaysia. They found me via a corporate head hunter i.e. via the Global Careers Company which organises various career related events in Asia, Africa and Russia. Before I went for both the interviews, I already had in mine which job would suit me best. I never liked a banking job and I don't think I ever will unless the bank in Malaysia opens up a Corporate Responsibility/Ethical Banking department. The BAT job suited me just fine as it has a very large Corporate and Regulatory Affairs department without which the whole company will fail. My dad also discouraged me pursuing a job in the bank unless I can make full use of my expertise in CSR and Corporate Governance issues.

The interview with BAT was more of a one-on-one get to know you session. They did ask me a few technical questions just to test my knowledge of CSR and the law. But most of the questions focussed on whether I would be comfortable working for a tobacco company, why did I choose to study law, how many siblings I have (?) and what are my interests. Hopefully I will be called for an online test in a couple of weeks. Well, they did promise that I would be given the chance to do the test though. So I will just have to wait. If I do pass it, I will need to attend an assessment centre in Malaysia once I am home. They told me to contact them the moment I am ready for it and they will arrange one as soon as they can. After that, there will be a one to one interview with the Head of Function and then a job offer will be made presuming that I pass all the stages. I really am looking forward to a career with BAT. Yah...they may be a tobacco company and yah, they produce products which reduces the life span of millions of people, but I believe that a job is a job. Someone has to do it. And I am the willing one.

The HSBC interview on the other hand was much more formal. I am glad that I attended it because if BAT was the only interview I attended, I would probably think that all interviews will be as informal as theirs. I was interviewed by two people, one of which is a Caucasian and the other a Malaysian Chinese who happend to be an acquintance of my father. They asked me many tough questions and I had to lie through my teeth when answering a few of them. They asked if I would be comfortable selling unit trusts and promoting the bank's products to customers. They asked if I would give up a UK job offer to work in Malaysia. They asked what is my biggest disappointment, am I a self starter, what made me choose Law, why CSR, what is my stand on Ethical Banking, what am I do to if I am faced with a difficult customer, do I know what the Personal Financial Services department really does, which position of responsibility did I learn the most from and I was to give examples for each and every answer that I gave. Tough tough. It was like a grilling session. I was on the hot seat and I had to answer them within a given time limit.

At the end, they did not give me the job. My qualification failed me. Well, it didn't fail me per se, it failed the bank. They wanted someone only with an undergraduate qualification and I was over qualified for a job which requires me to promote the bank's products. All these feedback I got via my father who got a phone call from the chinese guy who interviewed me. Funny eh. Shouldn't I be the one getting first hand feedback?

Oh dear...I just realised that my post is getting a little bit too long winded. I shall stop here for the time being and update on V'day and Vinz's food poisoning soon.

See ya folks !