I don’t generally share private stories on my blog unless it’s about my personal learning. But this one I want to. Yesterday I had a placement interview for one of the PSUs – HPCL.
The company had two rounds for selection – Group Task and Personal Interview. Prior to that the students were shortlisted based on CGPA and category – Go ahead India! Well done on the reservation policy here as well. Fortunately I had made it to their extended list. Anyway I qualified GT and was among final 6 students selected in General category for the interview.
In the interview they asked me trivial HR questions – what are my strengths and weaknesses? who’s your idol? etc. But as the interview proceeded, they got more & more interested in my answers.
I read a lot. And this habit of mine had showered me with knowledge which others are devoid of. It was quite evident in my answers. I was able to cite examples and conclusions from the things I have read. Furthermore, reading had taught me the life values which one ought to respect.
They asked – what do I value the most in my life?
My answer was ‘empathy‘. I told them no matter how talented you’re, how hard you work and how much talent you possess, if you don’t have empathy you won’t be successful. When you put your emotion into work, the result of your effort transcends expectations.
Then they asked- what have I learnt from my mother?
I have told them earlier that I value my parents a lot. It’s their unconditional support that makes me the person I’m today.
As I write here – my mother is one of the strongest person I’ve ever known. Sometimes my father looses temper and finds himself battling with dire circumstances. I come from a humble lower middle class family. Like many others, I have seen struggles quite closely. I had a tough childhood and that has taught me to value every little thing in life. But more than that I’ve seen my mother fighting with scarcities, taking prudent decisions, maintaining herself calm during difficulties to strengthen the entire family.
Also I have been taught to learn things from heart. My mother can recite poems from her first grade even after forty years. Why? Call it a good memory but I think it’s because whatever she learnt, she enjoyed it. A simple village girl who was bestowed with family responsibilities quite early in her life, getting education was a priviledge and she respected that. She also took interest in our text books and recalls stories better than us.
I told about all this to them. Then they moved onto technical things starting from what softwares do I use for editing my movies and what languages have I used in web development. Then about the camera equipments I am building and other product designing projects. All my explanations, my projects, my past works gave a clear indication of being a creator. Also I had told them that creativity is my biggest strength and I like to work on innovation things. Things that involves my original thinking & effort.
During the interview, one of the officials (the one who asked me about the technical things) told humbly that your profile is quite good and well above than what this job demands. They didn’t have any product development profile per se and were just looking for someone to manage things at site. I don’t know how but my enthusiasm spoke for itself. He later added that I should go ahead and do something on my own rather than coming for this job.
I valued his points. He certainly knew that this company is not the best place where my talent would be vested in. But I told them that I am just starting out on my career and gaining experience of any type would certainly be an advantage. I was flexible to all the conditions they put forward and replied affirmatively.
After 40+ minutes of the interview, they finally put it to end and asked me if I would like to ask them anything. I asked – why is HPCL still a Navratna company and not Maharatna even after 42 years of its inception? They told me about the fluctuating oil prices and certain profit mark that you need to exceed in order to be classified as Maharatna by the Govt. of India. Also one of the officials added that they’re constantly working for it.
My next question was about the job profile because they hadn’t clarified it earlier. I just knew that it’s sort of a management job and I would be posted as ‘Officer‘ in any of their outlets. It can be aviation refueling, production pipelines, LPG, refineries, sale/marketing, etc.
My interview was probably the longest compared to all the shortlisted candidates. It was an overall pleasant experience. After the interview I knew that the only thing that can stop me from getting this job is my profile. Even though I didn’t tell about it explicitly, they could sense my zeal to do something different. It may give away the vibe that I might not stick to the company.
Govt. companies want employees that can stick around forever. Someone who would start and end their career in that company itself. This doesn’t align with my aspiration. The only reason I was sitting for such companies was my father. While in the first one I had told them on face that I wasn’t interested (apparently the 3 years bond had further fueled the courage), in this one I tried hard to match the yeses because he told me to.
Well after hours of scrutinizing and paper works, they announced the result. As expected I wasn’t shortlisted. But interestingly they put me in the wait-list. “These candidates“, as told by the HR, “would be called if the need for suitable profile arises or anything unforeseen happens along“. Clearly I’m not going to join that company in any scenario.
It obviously felt bad but I was happy within that this choice was checked off. I got reminded of a meme I had read few days back – “life is too short to get stuck in a wrong job“. Now was the time to face my parents and told them what has happened.
I have told my mother about the company few days back but I hadn’t told her the date this company was visiting for placements. My father called in the evening. I told him that I wasn’t shortlisted and what might be the probable reasons. I explained my entire interview to him. But the conversation took a turn that I hadn’t expected ever.
He blamed me instead, for all this fiasco. He told, I must have screwed up. He thought, I must have come out over-confident about my abilities. And he also suspected that I must be ineligible for the position. I was annoyed to brim but I maintained myself calm. It was because of him that I sat for the interview. It was because of him that I put aside all my aspirations and said yes to their conditions on posting – division, location, salary – everything. But now I was being blamed. I was being scolded for being better for a Govt. job.
My father accused me of doing things that any child would aspire for. I asked him – “so all my efforts, all my hard work and everything that I have done since my childhood boils down to getting a placement and that too in a company that doesn’t even value my talent?“. He said yes. He thinks getting a govt. job is the highest form of my worth.
So that was it. When I needed his support the most, my father turned his face. He has dreamed of his son getting settled in a Govt. job after graduating from IIT. He has envisioned me to the best rat participating in this rat race. I told him “sorry papa! I couldn’t be the son you expected“. That was the sentence I have never even dreamed of saying. Now it was there, in front of me.
I talked to my mother later and explained everything to her. She took it calmly and said nothing more than just okay and study for the next company.
The conversation was ended. I sat on my bed and a stream of tears ran down my eyes. I was shattered to the core. I have fought with my parents before but those were more of childhood rebellion. Now as a grown up who knows the importance of humility, who feels the power of knowledge and who envision to pursue his dream, this broke me. I couldn’t control the turbulence of emotion rising within. I vented out.
So what’s now?
It’s the time that I prove my worth. Now that I have experienced the worst, it’s a chance to work with refueled vigor. I hold my parents of highest regard and my family would always be my first priority. But now I don’t have any insecurities of mine. I’m not answerable to certain things that were holding me back.
I am more excited to work towards my dreams and my enthusiasm is quadrupled.
I have one ultimate goal – change the hardware startup scenario in India and I would work for it, no matter what.
I would keep on doing things that always interested me. I would continue to explore things as I come across them. I would continue to entertain my fascination for learning. On the path of changing this world for better, this was a minor obstacle I had to overcome.