Interview: a story

Since it is the time for On-Campus Recruiting (OCR) and career fairs, it is always good to be prepared than looking for stuff at the last minute. This is not a tutorial, nor a checklist before you set off for an interview – just a story that happened to myself.

After trying hard, I got an interview opportunity for a R&D internship at one of the giants in the fragrance and flavory industry (yes you can buy perfumes with employee discount there!). The interview would be held in a borough of Zurich, while I was living in the suburb of Geneva (which means 2 hours 48 minutes of high-speed train + transfer between tram/bus/suburban train). Lodging in Switzerland is expensive, so I still decided to go to Zurich on the day of the interview (take transportation into consideration, and don’t save money on flight tickets if necessary).

The day before my interview, I packed everything that might be needed: CV, articles that my future supervisor published before, USB key containing my research report done several months ago, and a pair of black flats – my bag was heavy and full.

On that day, I got up at 6:00 in the morning to catch the train at 9:00. I would arrive at Zurich at 12:00 while the interview would be at 14:00. Since I had never been at the company before, some time would be needed to find my way. Everything went well until 11:00. When I was scribbling on the train for what questions they would ask me, suddenly the HR called me – the guy told me that I need to do a presentation of my past research, and unfortunately they forgot to let me know until then.

My laptop weighed 2.5 kilos so I did not carry it with me. The only high-tech gear I had was my smartphone. Miraculously, I stored some presentations I did for my undergraduate research in Dropbox, so I opened them on my phone, and wrote down key points. I was also lucky enough to find a staff at the train station to print out my report free of charge.

As expected, the way to the company consisted of dusty pavements and roads in construction, so my crappy loafers did their job to carry me to the reception in the building, and I replaced them with a new pair of black suede ballerinas.

The interview went on, and my future supervisors asked me tons of very detailed questions – they were treating me as a person on the similar intellectual level. I was excited to explain why I did this but not that, showed them pictures on my report, drew schemes from my past presentation, and it was done. Two weeks later, I received the email that I was accepted.

This is just my story. I praise Internet and cloud storage for saving me from screwing up this important interview. In fact, getting prepared with modern technology can save you both time and energy to arrange your documents in the paper form, and you can bring them with you wherever you go. Also, unexpected things do happen before your important interview, and what I could suggest is to get prepared – know the enterprise, guess the questions, remember the contents on your CV/cover letter, dress up properly, and think about two essential questions: what I have done, and why my experience would be beneficial for this position?

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