I was so excited when I got the e-mail. I had been invited to an interview with a top law firm in London. When I say top, I mean at the very top! The funny thing is that I applied just a few days before the deadline, (bad move) and I didn’t really expect to be called for the interview. Alas, fate had other plans and there I was, staring at my invitation on my computer.
I knew I was completely unprepared. I was supposed to be articulate, savvy about commerce and all that cool stuff, but deep down in my heart, I just wanted to scream “HELP!” As a Naija girl without an element of dulling in my spirit, I did all I could to prepare for the interview. I started to catch up on my semi-neglected Economist subscription (although I never missed the weekly Babbage podcast), and I stood in front of the mirror countless times to answer the well-worn question “So, tell me about yourself.”
As if I didn’t have enough trouble worrying about what I was going to say at the interview, I was also confused about what to wear. Do I wear a trouser suit or a skirt suit? Is it okay to wear a camisole inside the suit? Can I wear black pantyhose under my skirt or will I look over layered? And what exactly am I meant to do with my hair?
In panic mode, on the day of the interview, I left my corporate finance class to catch the 9:20 A.M direct train from Cambridge to King’s Cross Station, and still in panic mode, I located the law firm on google maps, and trust me when I say the firm was beautiful. I’m not even going to bore you with the details of the group sessions and other discussions, I’m just going to give you the “hot gist” of how my interview went.
I walk in for my interview and in the middle of “Hello, good morning, my name is Mariam Olafuyi,” my bag fell, and all the contents fell out! You don’t understand. My bag fell at an interview with partners at a city law firm. My bag fell and my lipstick, half-chewed biro cover, notes made in preparation for the interview and MAC powder poured from the bag in a chaotic celebration of shame.
Yeah, I’m sure you can say “Well, that’s not the end of the world, you still have a shot.” While this might be true now, it was not true for me that day. I went on to spill utter nonsense at the interview because I could not recover from my first mistake. After the interview, I just did myself the favour of eating the excellent canapés provided, collected a refund for my train ticket and walked to the bus stop with my head bowed, because I definitely knew I was going to receive a rejection in the mail.
At that point, a little bit too late, I might add, I realised that I had a serious deficiency in selling myself. I still struggle with it a little bit, but I’m constantly working to sell myself better, especially at interviews and places where I’ll be evaluated. Taking the lessons from that experience and many others, I learnt how to tailor my applications in such a way that I would not be afraid of being called for an interview (although some organizations are not the right fit for you and being rejected by such organisations doesn’t mean you lack skills, it just means you lack the specific skills or experience they require at the moment). I learnt how to give myself a better chance with interviews and I dare say, I grew to the stage where I had to reject a few offers before finally settling into my current role.
I’m sharing this experience because I don’t want you to be like me, living in bliss, oblivious to hidden deficiencies. Why not cure those deficiencies now in front of a mirror, or with the help of more experienced people, instead of using a golden opportunity as a test drive?
In the spirit of this, if you are already an ardent reader of this blog, you will know that a good friend ‘Kachi Ginigeme of www.kacheetee.com and I organised a brunch workshop on the 25th of June 2016 for women within the ages of 16 and 30, where we discussed “C.Vs, Careers and Chasing Your Dreams.” You can find details of the program here, where I previously wrote about it, and you can see a recap of the event on Bella Naija here.
Do you have any strange interview stories? Share now, so I can laugh
at with you too!