Tag Archives: Interview

Unlearn

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So far in my life I have been learning, and very recently in a discussion with a very senior person in the industry, I realized unlearning is equally essential.

The discussion was over a job profile in an institute which is used to and has to work as per rules and guidelines. Till date my work experience is Healthcare focused, Finance segment was new to me. During our 20-minute discussion, after looking at my profile which has umpteen academic qualifications, something which I have stopped counting now, he said, “So Asma, basically you are jack of all trades?” To which my quick reply was, “Even Master of a few.” And he gave me a mile and thumbs up.

But it was what he said after this that made me think – think hard.

I consider every interview as a learning experience. Whether you accept the job or not, that is different, as your decision could be based on various reasons, but the learning you get from every interview, I feel is immense. With a smile on his face, he said, “Even I come from varied academic and career background, with about 27 years of experience. But Asma, I am yet learning, so maybe I cannot call myself a Master yet. And sometimes unlearning, so that I do justice to the profile I am appointed for.”

Yes, unlearning is essential—essential to adjust to your surroundings, essential to get along with your new colleagues, essential to become a part of the new system. Technical learning is essential, but non-technical learning can lead to prejudice. Unlearning helps us get rid of the invisible bias baggage which we carry where ever we go, without even realizing that the bag is so heavy and we are hunched under its weight.

I believe, one can be master at a young age or may be after years, depending on your focus and how fast a learner you are. But to ‘Master All’ is not easy. After the conversation, I realized that I have mastered a few sections of academics and life, and currently, in the process of mastering more subjects, however, there are still many areas of my life that need a focused attention.

In today’s corporate circus, it is not enough to be a juggler, if that is your specialty; you also need to be an acrobat, a musician, a cyclist, a gymnast, an animal trainer, a magician, and sometimes, even a clown to ensure smooth flow of the show everyday. You may not Master all of it, but you still will be Jack of All Trades – the so called multitasker – and a Master of more than one because ‘none’ today ‘is not an option’. So yes, you learn and keep learning, but what is redundant and a heavy burden to carry along, you unlearn those, unpack those, so that you move fast, light and quick.

I am still thinking it over. If you have some thoughts, please feel free to share.

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…Ashu Bolar

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Thank You For Your Time. But You Wasted Mine.

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As the economy rises from the crisis, the job portals now have some good profiles posted. At a slow pace, but you get interview calls these days. Now, if you are really looking forward to a job change, then you would go for the interview.

Yes, interview. Let’s talk about the interview session. If it goes well, you are happy, but keep speculating why they did not call you back (which is not unusual these days.) If it went bad, you will crib and sulk till you appear the next.

I recently had an interesting interview for the post of Assistant Brand Manager. The interviewer was Head – Marketing. After 20 minutes of HR discussion and paper exchange and waiting for 40 minutes, I finally meet this person. The interview goes on for around 25 minutes and through out the interview either he snaps at me or the vice versa. The initial five minutes was annoying, but got interesting over the following fifteen minutes (at least at my end).

Now what went wrong? When you work in a team, at times you tend to talk as WE did, WE achieved, WE… and some more We’s. This person was like, “You are using ‘WE’, what have you done as ‘I’? I have a 300 slide presentation indicating what I have done as ‘I’ in the last two years and probably more than 3000 slides portfolio and several publications for the last 6 years. The irony was, on the whiteboard in his cabin, in huge black fonts, the expansion of the word ‘TEAM’ was written in a very clear writing.

TEAM

Like seriously dude??? 😛

There where many mini snap Q&As, but the final was interesting, “Besides going through the organisation website and internet research, you should have done more homework on the organisation?” (The company website is incomplete. No Social Media Presence. Barely any information when you Google it. And I understand that this is why they need a brand manager in first place.) This time my answer to his stupid remark was a question, “And how do you do that?” In the 21st century, the man is expecting the candidate to chitchat and find about the organisation; or was I suppose to call Holmes and Dr. Watson?

Being old school is fine, but being ancient is unacceptable, especially, if you are in charge of the branding segment of an organisation. Digital media is ‘the media’ today—with which your presence can be felt globally despite you being located in just a corner of a country. Without a complete web presence, you are on your way towards extinction and will be fossilized soon. You may be an old and established service firm with an excellent word-of-mouth publicity, but with the competition around, just PR is not a sufficient promotional means. As a Head Marketing achieving sales target is great, but branding is a totally different ball game. No doubt both are interdependent, but applying sales principles to branding will not work most of the times—this is what I got to learn from the 25 minutes snip-snap session. Though we departed cordially, I really wanted to tell him, “Thank you for your time. But you wasted mine.”

However, there is no point crying over the time wasted. You will always get to learn something from an interview – be it good or bad. You learn by wining, but sometimes you learn more by losing. It is part of life. I have decided to apply what I have learnt to my work…and also to be prepared for clever as well as brainless prehistoric questions for my next interview! 🙂

…Ashu Bolar