Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Pursuit of Employment

Minutes before hitting the interview. I had to tone down and look boring, alright.

I've always wanted to work in a bank. It comes rather naturally, since I am a Bachelor of Economics graduate (God, I love putting down that word 'graduate' - now minus the prefix 'under'). Most Accountancy graduates love big auditing firms (e.g. Deloitte, KPMG, Pricewaterhouse Coopers) and Engineering graduates salivate over Shell, Petronas, Road Builder and Schlumberger (to name a few) - for me, I'd really like to work in a bank.

I love the energy of the bank, the long hours of working, extensive studies over monetary instruments, the complexity of the economic market, ...

Screw that. Who am I kidding? I chose to work in a bank because of the high pay and big annual bonuses. There you have it.

Step 1: Resume Submission
So I applied to every possible banks I found in the recruitment section of The Star newspaper or on JobStreet. On top of that, I applied to other big and medium-size firms as well.

About two weeks later, I got two responses from two different banks with two different positions. One of them is from United Overseas Bank a.k.a UOB for the Management Trainee post - standard post for the fresh grads.

Step 2: Written Essay
Apparently the good news was half-baked since I still had to submit a written essay back to them within a week. I had to write down about the type of people I get along with and why.

Wanting to sound very, very congenial, I wrote how it would be unwise to have preferences in choosing certain groups of people to mingle (which is bullshit, I do have preference) since it would limit my experience and flexibility in work (which is true, however). I tried not to write Pulitzer-length essay as I know they wouldn't read much of it (or maybe they would?) and without much consideration, I hit the 'Send' button.

Step 3: Phone Interview
Few days after I have submitted my essay, they sent me an email saying I was through to the next round of the interview. Seriously?

Now, I had to call them and explain to them - orally - what I had written in my essay and relate it in my own experience. Without much thought, I picked up my phone and called them within an hour after I received the email.

True enough, I was the first person to call. I tried to sound very convincing and relate my industrial training experience to the essay, but less than five minutes of talking, she dismissed me saying she thought she had got the idea. I didn't know whether to feel relieved (for not having to ramble on and on for minutes more) or not (since she sounded like she's ready to hit the snooze button on me).

Step 4: First Interview
The following week they informed me I was qualified for the real, face-to-face interview (finally) in Berjaya Times Square Hotel.

I tell you, that day I wasn't in my top form. It takes a great deal to intimidate or scare the hell out of me but seeing so many people with (presumably) better grades than mine and some even had prior working experience in top MNCs, my confidence was lacking.

After an hour of briefing and introduction to the history of the bank, about 100 something of us were finally called for one-on-one interview. The stern face and voice of the interviewer simply didn't help in boosting my confidence.

Compared to the earlier job interview I attended with another bank (cough, Maybank, cough), this one is the top of the worst. I stammered big time like Colin Firth in The King's Speech. Naturally, I didn't have high hope to be called back.

Step 5: Final Round of Interview
Thankfully, that stammering didn't jeopardize my chance as I was through for the final round of the interview.

However, I was down with fever really bad.

I prayed to God, if this one is meant for me and if this is the best choice among the rest, then by all means help me gather some strength to attend this interview.

True enough, that morning of the interview I was feeling so much better. But as I was waiting for the whole event to start, the fever kicked in again. My hands and feet went cold as ice. My head was throbbing in pain. I felt like throwing out and dropping out of the interview.

Praise the Lord I didn't. I managed to gather the remaining strength I had for the whole 7 hours of the day's event - starting with group assessments in the morning (where we had to perform a number of tasks as a group of six) and individual presentation (in which I had to choose a topic from a list given and deliver a 15 minutes talk in front of five assessors).

I even managed to get into a verbal fight with an assessor during the group assessment as she misinterpreted my answer (here's a tip: next time when people give out his/her answer, LISTEN CAREFULLY). Not cool to mess around with a tired, fever-stricken lad. Not cool.

The Aftermath
After nearly two weeks of waiting, I got a call from the bank to congratulate me and deliver the good news. The first thing to hit me was: that fight with the assessor seemed paid off! Winks.

I don't know how this next chapter of my life will go but I'm really looking forward for it. I believed He has shown me this path and brought me here so, how wrong can it be (can't it?)

Yeah, I'm quite nervous of this new beginning but more anxious to see how it turns out - hopefully well. To see so many unemployed graduates out there and not being one in the statistics is a real blessing and I really hope to make full use of this opportunity.


Ri said...

congratulations, khai! :)

love that statement
'minutes before hitting the interview, i had to tone it down and look boring'

all the best!

Dan said...

Congrats buddy.Sickness always strikes during the right time to bring you down.Anyway,you eventually pull it through.Now you have a career you wanted and hopefully you have a good path.Great to read your updates.And anyway,buzz me if you come online,I kinda need to talk to you.Thx


Kye. said...

Thanks thanks thanks! :D

Eugene Wong said...

Hi, i came across your blog on UOB management trainee. I know its been a year. But could u pls give me some tips about the interview and assessment? I'll be going for the interview this 20th July 2012. And what preparations i need to do? Pretty pls?

Eugene Wong

Kye. said...

Hi Eugene,

I've sent a message to your Facebook. Hope it helps! Break a leg!

Eugene Wong said...

Thank u very much Mr.Khai. Appreciate ur effort.