Monday, November 25, 2013

My First Job Interview in the US

Arizona State University (ASU) has won the Pac-10 South title the other day defeating UCLA. I was reading/watching about ASU’s performance in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe this season and I was filled with nostalgia – I have seen lots of ASU matches there in that stadium and in fact my first hourly job after I landed in US was in that stadium. I forget the job title but the job was to check the tickets at the entrance till the end of second quarter of the game and then be the security guard till every one leaves the stadium. The pay was $5.05/hour and I was supposed to work for both ASU and Arizona Cardinals games.
I was recollecting that day of my interview and I cannot stop laughing. Here is what happened.
I landed in ASU almost a month before the classes started. The very next day as any graduate student coming from India did, I started the “hourly job” search. There was this portal in our school where all hourly jobs are posted and it became a routine for me to apply at least 10 jobs a day. But neither I nor my four room mates ever got any interview call. (Few months later I realized that to get such hourly jobs you need some recommendation – either from someone working there or someone who has already worked there; obviously none of us had any recommendation).
Three weeks passed by with no interview calls for any of us. Lot of other Indian students who came with us were getting job and that made all of us really tense as we knew that without a hourly job surviving is very difficult. 
One day it was around noon and I was sleeping. I woke up hearing a huge scream from my roommate who was sitting in front of the desktop.
Room Mate (RM): I got an interview call from some Athletics department.

Me: What?
RM: Remember the resume we both submitted yesterday to athletics department,?
Me: Yes
RM: They have called me for interview tomorrow
Me: Great
RM: Get-up and check your mail; you might also been called for interview.
The very thought of having called for an interview made me energized and I got up from the bed in no time and checked the mail. I was also called for interview the next day. 
My friend went to the interview and soon after the interview that he was asked to report for the next match happening that coming Saturday.  He told me all the questions and the answers he told. I made it a point that I will tell the same answers during my interview if those questions were asked. 
My turn for the interview came. I had submitted a resume that had shown seven years of work experience (part-time working for four years in engineering college and 3 years while working) in collecting tickets and as security guards in stadiums in India during cricket, hockey and football matches. I had included couple of venues where the 1996 Cricket World Cup that happened in India as places I worked as security guard. This is what has happened during the interview. 
Interviewer (H): Brijesh Na…..; I am sorry, I am not able to spell your last name properly.

Me: It is Nalinakumari
H: I may never be able to pronounce it anyway. I will call you by Brijesh, Is it OK?
Me: Yes
H: How are you?
Me: Good
After glancing through my resume
H: Looks like you have lots of experience managing crowd in stadium; you are the kind of people we are looking for.
Me: Yes, I have over seven years of experience working in various stadiums all over India.
H: Great!!! What was your work like?
Me: Controlling the crowd the day before the matches when they come to see their favorite player practicing to verifying the tickets during the day of the game to crowd control.
H: Awesome! This is may be something you will be doing here also. Now can you please tell me a situation where you did something extraordinary that stood out during your job?
(This was the same question she asked my friend and I was prepared with the answer; the same answer my friend gave; good that the interview happened before 9/11 and Americans were not that aware of terrorism).
Me: This happened during an India-Pakistan match in 1999 in Chennai where I was working then. A terrorist from Pakistan has got into the stadium with a bomb to kill the players and spectators. Pakistan is always fighting a war against India by sending terrorists to India. A spectator sitting next to the terrorist smells something fishy and reported that to me. I went and interrogated the terrorist and I understood that his aim was to kill innocent people. I immediately called the stadium police using my wireless phone and arrested the terrorist. My action saved thousands of life.
I don’t know if she believed that or not. My friend had told me that she was very much impressed by that answer and hence I also gave the same answer. Anyways after that she did not ask anymore questions regarding my previous job experiences. Her next question was:
H: How many hours you can work in a week?
Me: As per visa rules 20 hours/week
H: Ok, You may come and join for work from Saturday and I will have all the formalities complete by then.
Me: Thank You. 
Thus ends the very first interview in the US. When I look back this was the first of the many learning experiences I had in the US.
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