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  • Shruti Joshi

The interview

That wait before an interview, that was the part that I feared the most.

Not the interview, no.

The wait.

Where you had to sit right outside the room and see the interviewers walk in. Maybe some other candidates also before your turn. It was incomprehensible for me that all my life skills that I had acquired in my twenty years of existence, were to be tested and examined in a ten, twenty minute period , that too by a group of people who had no idea about what I'd had to do to reach till here.

What if I bumbled my speech right in those minutes? What if I had another seizure right in between? Would they care about my disabilities and ignore those? Give me another chance?

Nope, this world is a racetrack and everyone's in a race. For people like me, we stood a minuscule chance of success in an already overly competitive world like this. And when you add my tendency to panic, well, you've almost always have the same mail the next day in your inbox ," We thank you for your interest in a career with us, but unfortunately......."

First it was the big, modern, gray building that had set the tone for me, next was the damning silence that was there in the lobby as I approached the receptionist.

"I have an interview scheduled with Ms.Hall"

A long cold stare followed a gaze at his computer. "Please fill in your details here, take your visitor access card & go to level 17. Wait in meeting room 3", hissed the receptionist, handing me the registry to fill my details. I was anyways always rushed, but I'd never filled up an entry form that fast. I just scribbled my details as if I was handing out a prescription and gave the register back to him.

With my access card in my hand, I almost ran off to the lifts, desperate to get away from that stone of a person. The architecturally open lobby didn't stand a chance of uplifting anyone's spirit as long as that man's there, I thought to myself.

Stepping out of the lift on level 17, I started feeling that this entire thing was a mistake. My nervousness had started spilling out with me getting a slight shiver in my left hand.

No backing out now, I told myself. Get it or not, I will complete the interview this time.

Not like the last two times where I'd abruptly walked off. More like ran off.

Not today, I thought, not this one.

Among the general quiet on the floor, despite it being filled with employees hustling around, my squeaky voice somehow sounded like it was being broadcasted through a loudspeaker when I asked one of them where meeting room no 3 was. After being shown in, and a glass of water later, I still hadn't calmed down.

The seriousness on the floor was something that I could almost, literally, feel.

Everyone here meant business. Not a day wasted, not a minute unproductive.

It was my luck that I got the short draw that day, as two of the most grumpy looking guys that I'd ever seen in my life walked into the meeting room. A brief introduction of them later, started my formal interview.

That first question set the tone - "Tell us about yourself"

An oft practiced reply stumbled out of my mouth.

"Why do you want to work here?"

Strange question to ask now at this point, I thought, but gave the answer. Described how my dreams and aspirations aligned with that of the company, and how we can both grow together. A mish-mash of sentences which only I could understand coherently. Perhaps not even I.

Then came the strangest question that I'd ever been asked.

"Why do you want to work here?"

That I was incoherent, I knew. But the repetition of the same question with the same seriousness was something that I hadn't expected. That was the googly. The trigger.

I did what I had done the last two times.

"I..I....I am sorry...sorry", I mumbled, as I hurriedly grabbed my files and papers and walked out of the room. My exit, in five minutes of the interview starting, was a new personal record. I was shivering badly. Sweating like nobody's business. Everyone had stopped what they were doing. They were all looking at me as if they'd seen a ghost.

I rushed out of the building almost short on my breath. I desperately needed to calm down.

A local tea shop a few yards away, across the road to the building, was going to be my escape, my refuge.

A few sips of my tea calmed me down. I got this, I told myself. Next time, I will work on my confidence. My loud words caught the attention of a sweet waiter, who wanted to comfort me a bit.

"Hope you're ok", he asked.

"Yes....I am. Now," I replied, smiling feebly.

"Tough day?"

"Yes. Had an interview. But I am a choker, and I did what I do best, yet again today"

"That's ok. Happens to the best of us."

"Yes but I am literally the queen of them, so...", I hesitated, thinking that this guy was making conversation to help me out ,"Thank you....For trying to make me feel better."

"That's ok, not many people around here as you can see.

Not after that fire last week."

That's when he noticed my questioning eyes, and went on to explain," That building across the road...tragic, horrible day. I think some 30, no 40 people didn't make it. Many of our regulars here. You could almost smell the....." he went on.

I looked across, not hearing what he had to say.

The building was black, not grey.

It was a dilapidated structure, not a beautiful edifice of modern architecture.

It was deserted ever since that fire. Not a single soul in it.

And I had just given my interview in there.

The question rang in my head again.

"Why do you want to work here?"

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