As I walked the road down to the company, about the 8th time in seven weeks, I was certain everything would go down well. In fact, I believed I had working for me a particular luck from the beginning of the recruitment process. Looking at the company appear before me that morning, I resolved to leverage on the same luck. Being the last stage, I was determined nothing must go wrong.
Having waited about twenty minutes, I and the other applicants were directed to a waiting room that leads to where we were to be interviewed. My tag number was one, which made me the first to be called inside. The minute I entered the interviewing room, my confidence was mysteriously sapped. It was as if I had willingly walked into a world of fiercely looking being. Each eye I looked at was unfriendly. Though I am no psychologist, but I could tell their minds was stacked with discriminatory uncertainties and questions. Don’t know how I looked either, but their bewildered gaze sure pronounced their disappointment in seeing me and their determination to wear me out.
While I was just about two feet to where I was supposed to sit, one of the interviewers asked if I had all I needed. Maybe for my inexperience, I misunderstood the question. Why would I want to come in with a writing material when it’s just going to be a verbal interview? I stood before the panel of interviewer for about thirty seconds processing the question while each one of them, indiscreetly but meticulously checked me out, from head to toe. If it was a beauty contest they were to judge, I think they would have a wrong person in me, I wasn’t close to one. Their interest in my appearance however, confusingly surpassed mere carrying out interviewing drill I mused.
My first effort at getting a good job was with a telecommunication firm after about my hundredth application to companies was in futility. Because I also didn’t have any connection, one year after I finished my compulsory National Youth Service Corps, and two years after writing my last papers became so frustrating. Another opportunity had been from one of the banks in the country. I almost pulled through but for my age. Eventually, I precisely lost count of the number of applications I individually dropped off various companies, not to talk of the unending online applications.
Just about when I was going to give up on white-collar job came this particular opportunity. At that point, I was already an ardent reader of guardian news paper, especially the Tuesday/Thursday edition because of the job placement by potential employers. While I was turning the pages on that particular day, scribbling notes and addresses of company to honor with my application again, I saw an advert from an oil company. Although I was qualified, yet I didn’t see any reason I should apply since I had no connection. At the end, advice from a friend made me apply.
About two months into the recruitment process, I inexplicably made it to the last stage of the rigorous recruitment exercise. I almost couldn’t believe my sheer luck. How I could have risen, and even on the verge of getting employed without a single input of any important figure; political or economical, didn’t add up. I did the entire written and oral test and was able to present all required qualifications, yet I was scared of how I had gone far in the recruitment. Before I actually got to the last stage, I have had to undergo two stages of written test, an oral test and an interview.
While awaiting the panel to conduct the oral test two weeks earlier, I realized I was the only ordinary citizen to have gone that far. The only explanation I could tag to it was the undeniable hand of God in my life. I had prepared my testimony against when my employment letter would come in. I planned how to mount the altar the Sunday that would follow to share my testimony, an employment in an oil company without any mortal input or recommendation? This kind of story always make wave in churches in this part of the world.
The last stage was meant to be the stage of endorsement. My employment letter should be waiting for me. If I could have come this far, nothing can stop me I had thought.
“Do you mean like a writing material?” I asked in response to the question thrown at me.
“Never mind, just sit down!” The woman I later knew to be the head of HR admonished.
It took another two minutes before I was eventually attended to. All along, they all had their heads close together and I could just hear their murmuring deliberations which I couldn’t have picked a word from even if I tried to. Five of them were doing the pre-interview discussion; I suppose it was about me. A young woman was in their midst, two men and two women from both ends of the table. My heart was visibly beating beyond what could be controlled, I lost every sense of confidence in me and wanted to get out of the sit to fear of what the deliberations would turn out to be. Although, the information I got was that the last stage was just going to be about questions on my background.
At once, after the deliberation, all eyes returned to me. The head of HR welcomed me once again and without wasting time asked me to introduce myself again. After a careful and intelligence introduction, or as I thought it was, the next question shocked and put me off-balance. It came from the woman among them who was sitting in the middle.
“Who is your father?” She bluntly asked me.
The question was a bit confusing initially; I tried to think of what she could have meant. My memory recorded I had told them my surname severally during the course of the recruitment process that I lost count. Why would she be asking a question I had overtly answered in earlier times and even again during the brief introduction that same morning? Then it occurred to me, “who is your father?” She meant the status of my father in the society. She was asking if my father was a recognized personality in the society or top government official. It took me about twenty seconds to process this fact and immediately I knew where I stood.
“My, my, my …He is …” oh I wish I hadn’t come here, I stammered for another ten seconds, sceptical of what my response would lead to.
“May we know who your father is in the society or how come you are here? How did you get to this stage?” she pressed home her point angrily.
I used to think I was strong and emotionally stable, how tears formed in the corners of my eyes remains a mirage. All I know is I tried to hold them back.
“Then tell us if you have a letter from someone, a recommendation and don’t waste our time here.” Another woman to the extreme right inquired.
It was at this period I understood why I was earlier asked if I had all I needed. Little wonder why about five of the other six applicants present for the same interview were with envelopes. That must be their letter(s) of recommendation I thought.
“I do not have any.” I told her.
“So why are you here?” the young woman said to me as if I was meant to be elsewhere.
“She must have missed her way; she definitely thinks we are seated for people like her.” The head of HR said, complimenting the young woman.
“We are sorry you will have to go, this job is not for people like you. I am sure you will get a better job out there, such that will suit your person.” For the first time, one of the men, with a husky voice patronised me.
“And next time when you apply for any job, make sure it’s one that will align with your status. This is an oil company, not a public school. Have a good day”, a closing remark, vehemently delivered by no other person but the head of HR again.
I couldn’t tell if I walked out of the room or someone carried me out. I just find myself in front of the building crying. It was so unfair on me; I did all I could and passed every test that came my way. The only thing that made me lose out was because my father was not a minister, senator, ambassador or whatever “who is your father?” meant. I began to ask if people like me don’t deserve a place in the lucrative sector of the society. Irrespective of my brilliant performance, my status and family background became an issue and eventually a stumbling block. My father spent a lot on me to acquire knowledge. He struggled to see me through school, to feed and clothe me. To them he may be no body, to me, he will forever be everything. I wiped my face and staggered home. It was then I decided on two things. First, my father’s name must be known and be in reckoning through me. Secondly, my children must never go through this same fate. To be rich and known became a necessity for me.
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