“You’re way too beautiful girl that’s why it will never work…” Alejandro Manzano croons. My recruiter’s name flashes on my cellphone’s screen, and I quickly pick up the call. “I’m sorry, you didn’t get the job,” she tells me in a clipped tone. “You lost to the other applicant. You got 16 points and he got 18.” This was exactly what I was afraid of. I rest my head in my hands and think of what to say.
“You’re way too beautiful girl that’s why it will never work…” Alejandro Manzano croons again. That’s my phone. But how could that be, since I’m using it right now? My eyes flicker open, and I realize that the first call was just a dream. In the real world, my hand digs out my phone from inside my pillow’s pillowcase. It was my recruiter calling in the real world as well. “Hi Joy, what’s up?” I ask, my heart weighing heavily in my chest. “What happened in the interview? What did they say?” is her question. “Shouldn’t I be the one asking you that?” I laugh in reply. My mind flashes back to yesterday.
It was a bit weird to see myself being projected onscreen, side by side the screen that showed my interviewer who was all the way in Sydney. He said he was Australian-born, but I found it easy to understand him. Does he have a weak accent, or have I just gotten used to accents of all sorts? Now is probably not the time to focus on that. Or on the fact that my face seems particularly shinier today.
“So you graduated with a degree in Accounting, but why did you apply for this job?” His first question was anticipated, since the interviewer before him asked me the same thing. Luckily I had an answer to this one, and it comes straight from the heart. “Even back in school, I have always enjoyed the IT-related subjects far more than the finance-related ones. So now I want a job related to IT.” No need to bore him with the story about how my dad forced me into Accountancy.
Which of course led to the second anticipated question: “Why did you leave your previous job?” Perhaps he won’t appreciate the boots analogy, so I keep it simple: “I finally decided to pursue the career that I want.” The transmission was a bit delayed, but I got a nod from him after 3 seconds.
After a few minutes of questions that asked me to give examples of a time when I did many different things, he asked me his final question. “Why did you apply for this job in particular?” This one should have been anticipated, but I did not prepare an answer for it. I pity the beauty contestants who have to go through Q&A portions. I did not freeze and say that I’m only seventeen, thank goodness, instead I heard myself saying, “Well this job is IT-related, and as I mentioned, I was interested in shifting careers. I also thought that since I have previous experience as an IT auditor, which you said was the ‘enemy’ of this role, then I would have something to contribute to this role since I already know what the enemy does and therefore know the ideal thing to do. I also believe that I have some transferable skills that I can apply to this job.” Transferrable skills. I love these words. Delayed transmission is a bit frustrating, because I have to hold my breath a bit longer to see if I had said the right thing based on his reaction. 3 seconds later, I get a huge smile and “That’s a very good answer.” Since this is the third or fifth time he said this, I knew I had him.
“I think the interview went well,” I tell Joy on the phone. “But he said he was interviewing three more people and there’s only one spot to fill. If it were only me, I would be sure that I’m in. But what if the other applicants were better? So we can’t celebrate yet.” The dream all too clearly described what my subconscious fear was. She promises to let me know of any updates and says goodbye.
A couple of hours later, I am finishing up my brunch while watching an episode of Gossip Girls online when my phone rings again. “I have news,” Joy tells me in a serious tone. My heart drops. “You have been technically selected.” Her tone and her words do not match each other, so I have to ask her to explain what this meant. “It means they have chosen you. They’re just finalizing some things, but we should have the job offer ready for you by today.”
Still I go to another interview because I already have an appointment. I smile and say all the right things to the two women who are very keen on explaining the work to me – work that sounds suspiciously familiar. Isn’t this what I had escaped from?
It’s Joy on the phone again. She has gotten the go signal, in black and white, to release the job offer to me, so could I come over now and bring along the requirements for my EPASS (work permit)? I am rushing back into the MRT station as I tell her, “I’d love to, Joy, but I can’t right now. Seems as though I left the envelope that contained all my documents in the train. I’ll call you later.” Dory strikes again.
I march to the train booth and inform the personnel about my predicament. The girl buzzes me through without having me swipe my EZ link card. The guy hands me a slip of paper so I could write down my name, contact number, and the details of the missing item. When I hand it back to him, he quickly sends out an email to all terminals and calls up a few stations. When the calls are in the negative, he tells me to wait for a call on my phone in case someone finds it. I nod and go up, walking down the entire length of two trains to try and find my precious cargo. I finally settle myself into one of the trains and head for Tanah Merah interchange so that I could check the other train headed for Expo. Just then, my phone rings. My stuff had been found, and I could come get it at the Expo station. My intuition was right. “I am on my way there right now. Thank you.” I say gratefully.
“My stuff has been found, but it’s kinda late, so I probably can’t make it there in time and besides,” I tell Joy on the phone, eyeing the huge droplets on the train’s glass windows, “It’s raining really hard. Can I swing by tomorrow morning instead?” When she agrees, I slump against my seat in the train, thinking about how this scenario would have gone had this happened in the Philippines.
The first thing the guy says to me when I arrive to claim my envelope is, “ano ang pangalan mo?” Wow, kababayan, I think, but when he steps out of the booth, I see that he’s Indian. I guess he just knows some Filipino words. He hands me the folder and asks me to fill out an evaluation form, which I all too happily ace. He asks me if I’m a PR here, and I say no, I was actually just on my way to meet my employer. “Oh…interview,” he says, accepting the form I hold out to him. He walks back into his booth, then just before closing the door, looks back at me and says, “You have good qualifications.” Ooookay. I guess he needed to look through my transcripts to find out who I was.
The next morning, I sign the contract and fill up the application form for my EPASS. I manage to get to Tanjong Pagar, Joy’s office, without incident, but this time it’s the others who had an amusing experience. I’ll blog about it next time. Cate and I have to celebrate my moment with instant spaghetti for now. Isn’t this the best birthday gift ever? (The job. Not the spaghetti.)