There was a low point in my life where I was unemployed, pressurized, but thrilled. People wanted to work with me but not enough to pay me. They didn’t want to hire me full-time. My self-confidence was shattered every time I got a mail that said — “We think you’re not fit for this position. But we'll keep your resume in our database in-case a new opportunity comes”. But I didn't lose hope; I continued to work on some interesting pet projects, I used to apply to a few dozen jobs every day, and I also worked on some volunteer jobs.
Even after doing all that, I couldn’t get to that first golden interview round. And I never mean ever. Suddenly things changed, and I actually got a mail saying that it would be great to report at 11 am at the company’s office for an interview.
I was delighted. The next day, I put on some formal clothing, picked up my two-wheeler, and drove towards the interview location. I already knew the salary — it was 5,000 Indian bucks. It was nothing. Not even sufficient to help me pay for my food and petrol bills. But I was least worried about that because it was a job-based in my hometown. That meant I didn't have to pay hefty rent or security deposit bills. Fortunately, I never had any ego asking my dad for any amount of money. So I went optimistically.
I wanted to exhibit the best in me. I didn't know a portfolio is an important tool in a designer’s life and that my resume should be all fancy with Helvetica used extensively. I was just an ignorant guy, so I printed my resume and my portfolio in ‘color’ before reaching the location. I still laugh at that. But it’s the truth.
Unfortunately, I reached the location too soon, and the office was yet to open, so I went downstairs and sat on a wooden plank on a lower floor. As soon as it was 11, I rushed towards the office again, and this time, I found it open, but there were hardly two people there doing some printing job. The office ended as soon as it started. There were four chairs in there, and it looked like at least one could be taken out to make room for the other three. But I was hardly disappointed. I already assumed that this would be my new, first office, and I was already trying to like the place.
After some waiting, my interview started. I presented my 10-page portfolio and resume to the recruiter. He glanced at every page, and if I can remember correctly, he looked at me a couple of times in between and then continued to turn my portfolio pages. After a while, he asked me to wait outside for a couple of minutes.
I went out, and my joy seemed no end. Not because I thought he liked my work but because the recruiter was only interviewing me. There was no line of candidates waiting for their turn. For a moment, I thought that it was a perfect opportunity for me. Maybe because no one is interested in this job, I will get it easily.
After a while, I was called in, and the first line the recruiter said was — “This is a semi-sales and a moderately low design job. Employees don't work out of this office. Most of the time they are out on sales calls, that’s why the office is so small”. After a little pause, he again started — “I like your work, and I can give you this job. Do you think you can work from ‘this’ office?”
I don't remember what expression I had on my face, but I said, “Yes. I will take it”. He looked at me with a little awe, shrugged his shoulders, and said to me — “OK fine, but I am not gonna give you this job. After looking at your portfolio, I can judge that you are creative, and I know for sure you won’t fit in this small office because we don't really need this kind/level of creativity. I don't think you'll like coming here every day, and I honestly believe you deserve much more than this place. I think you’re not trying hard enough; I am sure you’re not, else you would have gotten a better job opportunity than this”.
In response, I just said — “I really need this job. Can you please reconsider?” I couldn't conjure enough confidence to speak more. It was almost as if lightning struck me. But even after repeated insisting, he didn't change his mind. It was a simple ‘No.’
After the interview, I went back to being miserable again. I kept blaming myself. My parents were even more disappointed. For the next few days, I kept doing what I had been doing, but I could never forget that man’s words. They sounded very sharp, and each one of them kept stabbing me days after that. Surprisingly, stabbing started changing me, and it instilled a lot of confidence and respect for my own work.
For the next couple of months, I didn't get any interview call from any damn place. Later afterward, I got one, and luckily I got selected, and I accepted the offer too. I believe that the first failed interview of mine helped me clear my second job interview. I don't remember that guy’s name, but I will never forget him and his golden words of advice.