For freshers, facing the first interview is nothing less than having bittersweet feelings at its best. Not only are we too excited but also very nervous for those one-on-one interview rounds. The mixed feelings can be overwhelming and it either leaves you speechless or you end up blabbering things you regret later.
Even if you have given many interviews, your first job interview experience would remain as a memorable one forever. For some of you, it would have given a positive experience and for some, a negative experience.
But, for me, it was a turning point experience! It has changed the way I look at interviews.
(Please excuse me for posting a non-finance related article in my Personal finance related blog!)
More than 16 years ago… in 2007, my first job interview was for India’s first organized and modern Retail company– Foodworld.
About Foodworld : The supermarket chain was started nearly two decades ago (1996) as a division of Spencer & Co., part of the RPG Group, but became a separate company in 1999. Kishore Biyani-promoted Future Retail has later bought Foodworld Supermarkets in 2018.
Let me now narrate the entire interview process..!
It was 2003, I was in the final semester of MBA from ICFAI Business School, Chennai. My institute’s placement cell had come to know that Foodworld was looking out for Store Manager-Trainees to manage their upcoming supermarket chains in Andhra, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerla.
For an MBA graduate, getting into an entry level managerial post as the first employment is a decent achievement to kick-start one’s career. I was all excited along with my other Marketing-major batch-mates.
If I remember correctly, around 6 of us (batch mates) went for the interview, which was organized at the Spencer’s corporate office – Spencer Plaza, Anna Salai, Chennai.
The same day, job aspirants from other renowned institutes had also come to attend the interview at Spencers.
We were all briefed on the selection process, which had three rounds – i) written exam, ii) face to face interview with Middle level manager + HR manager & ii) face to face interview with the CEO of Food world.
I was not at all tensed about the interview process but was super excited to give it my best shot.
My First job interview experience
The first round was more about aptitude, marketing, statistics and general management topics. The second round was with middle-level marketing manager and HR manager. They were very impressed with my academic record.
- I was a state-first rank holder in my Intermediate Board Exams.
- Was the University topper in Graduation &
- Was the batch topper in PG.
I had cleared the first two rounds of the selection process without much hassle and was all set for the final showdown with the CEO of the company.
That day, I was very clear in my mind – not to be desperate and be as confident as possible. My much-awaited interview slot (I was the second one to be interviewed) had come and I finally entered the CEO’s spacious room.
- CEO – Hi Sreekanth, good afternoon, be seated.
- Sreekanth – Very good afternoon sir,
- CEO – Hope, you had lunch?
- Sreekanth – Not yet sir
- CEO – Call me Raghu (Raghu Pillai was the then CEO of Food world)
- Sreekanth – Ok sir
- CEO Raghu Pillai – smiled and asked, are you comfortable with me sitting like this and watching cricket (TV was in mute though)? Do you like cricket?
- Sreekanth – I am comfortable and yes, I like playing and watching cricket!
- CEO Raghu Pillai – Ok Sreekanth, you may leave now!
The total time took by him to interview me was around 2 to 3 minutes. I remember that he took around 15 minutes of time to interview the first job aspirant.
By the time I came out of the Spencer Plaza building, I understood the possible mistake that I had committed on that day! (The very next day, the HR team had informed me that I could not make it to the final list of selected candidates..)
So, what really happened in those 2 minutes? How could he come to a conclusion that I am not the right candidate for the job in just 2 minutes? Why did he ask, was I comfortable or not during the interview?
Let me now narrate it for you..
As soon as I entered the CEO’s room, I saw he was very casually seated on his chair with his legs on top of a desk (the legs were not facing me though, like as in the below picture). He was watching cricket on tv (it was on mute!).
Though I was really comfortable with his behavior, I should have objected the way he was sitting in an interview. I realized that I am interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing me. The interview etiquette should be followed by both the parties and its not applicable just for the job aspirant.
This experience has left a long-lasting impression on me! From that day, wherever and whenever I go for an interview, I make sure to ask relevant questions at the end of the interview, say ‘NO’ if I don’t like anything, say ‘don’t know’ if I am not aware of anything, as much as possible to be open and straight-forward and be honest!
Believe me that I have a whopping 90% success rate in clearing the interviews. This strength of mine turned out to be a bane as I ended up being a job hopper (not for money!).
My gyaan about interviews :
- Always remember that it’s a win-win situation and don’t be desperate.
- Your Aptitude is important in initial rounds of the job selection and in the final rounds its your ATTITUDE which matters the most!
- Your academic achievements may take you till the company door-steps but that alone will not win you the job.
- Do not job hop for Salary hike.
- If you are employed in a wrong industry, switch to the right one as early in your career as possible.
- Don’t ever be over-confident during the interview process.
- Keep acquiring new skill sets relevant to your job.
- Work hard for the interviews but be smart during the interviews!
- A failure in an interview is not the end of the road. “A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.”
More about Raghu pillai :
- Raghu Pillai was one of the founders and best known faces of Indian corporate retail.
- He was part of the start-up team of FoodWorld Supermarkets, which heralded organised retail into the country in the mid-nineties.
- He was also part of the team which kick-started Reliance’s retail operations in the country.
- Before joining Reliance, Pillai served as the president and chief executive officer of RPG Enterprises – Retail, where he was responsible for building from inception four Companies that includes Food World Super Markets Ltd, Music World, Health & Glow and Spencer Giant Hyper Markets for seven years.
- Raghu ji was known for his boldness in anything he did, whether in work or life.
- He passed away in 2011 when he was 54 years of age.
- ” Raghu Pillai was one of the founding members of modern retail much before Mr B.S. Nagesh of Shopper’s Stop or myself came on the scene. He was a people’s leader and would be missed for his leadership style which was infectious.” – Kishore Biyani, Chairman – Future Group.
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(Image courtesy of Loveluck at FreeDigitalPhotos.net) (Post first published on : 22-July-2019)