An Unusual Interview

Today, I’ve met my match.

Today, I wavered, was too afraid to take a leap of faith and failed to stick to a value which I had always advocated.

It was always passion over money.

Pursuing one’s interest was always paramount to the tangible remuneration that one was to receive. Yet, today demonstrated how difficult it was to stay true to the statement above.

It was an unusual interview with a video productions company, an interview which I didn’t even expect myself to be called up for.

Prior to the interview, I had an exchange with one of the co-founders who later on turned out to be the interviewer whom I met today. Our conversation on phone was carried out matter of factly. He got to learn a little about me through several sketchy questions and it ended off with him saying,” Actually your video skills, isn’t what we’re looking for and the videographer position has already been filled so…”

To my surprise, shortly after that abrupt ending, I received an email, inviting me to drop by his office for an interview.

Unlike most interviews, which get you to answer questions about yourself, my interviewer repeatedly asked if I had any questions for him. True enough, I didn’t arm myself with that many questions and could only blurt out some pretty shallow ones as to why he chose to come into this industry and the methods used to source for clients when they just started out.

Within minutes, I exhausted whatever questions I could think of, expecting him to take over the interview and hit me back with a few questions of his own. After all he didn’t even seem to bother asking why I was keen to take up this position, which piqued my curiosity as to why he kept prompting me to ask him one question after another.

He responded,” Do you know why I called you down today? It’s because on the phone you said you’re keen to start a business of your own in future.”

(Yes this is true, it has been somewhat a long term goal of mine to eventually be my own boss.)

Anyways, he continued,”I expected you to come prepared with more questions. The fact that I am willing to take time and invite you down here, you should have given it more thought,” whilst giving me a cursory, disapproving glance.

I didn’t know how to react. All I could muster was a sheepish grin while trying to avoid his gaze.

It was one of the most, if not the most uncomfortable moment for me during an interview. In a desperate bid to find another question, I eventually asked the question which I never thought to be important.

A question regarding the pay.

Internships never paid well. It was something I had establish a long time ago and hence refrained from asking it in any interviews. But upon knowing that the remuneration was $480, I subtly shifted in my seat, clearly taken aback by the meagre sum.

It did not take him long to notice my discomfort at the sound of the pay before he mentioned,”Indeed you’ll be behind your peers but the intangibles you can get out of the internship will definitely be worth more than this amount.”

Sure, everyone knows that, it’s why we even consider applying for internships in the first place isn’t it? But when you are unable to define my key role in the organisation and could only say I’m here to be a ‘chapalang man’ or a ‘Jack of all trades’, somehow, somewhere deep inside me, alarm bells went off.

“So, you are willing to take me in? To be part of the team?” I asked.

He nodded.

Before I applied for these internships, I told myself, no matter the pay, as long as I could get a position in a video productions company, I would take it up.

But $480 a month threw me off completely.

I asked him for a day to consider. It was true, that he had gone through rough patches when starting out and having been in the business for 7 years now, it was a place where I could learn about the hows in developing a start up, the necessities in turning ideas into reality.

But he said no.

I was asked to think and make the decision on the spot. ” I have to put you in a spot and let you make tough decisions in the moment,” he mentioned as he broke into a wry smile (in no way is this an exaggeration, I could feel it completely) ,”opportunities don’t come by twice so you better consider carefully.”

It was tough keeping my cool hearing him elicit those words as I was close to saying sorry and walking out straight. But thankfully I managed to remain calm. Yes, opportunities certainly don’t come by twice but some things just didn’t feel right and my gut told me to decline.

“Sorry but I don’t think I’ll take it up.” I said confidently.

He was stunned momentarily and for five seconds, all we heard was just the buzzing of the aircon. He got me to explain my rationale (which I won’t go into detail considering how long this post is getting). However, if you are interested to know, you can ask me personally.

Of course, he didn’t agree with my train of thought, and tried to sell the idea that it was difficult to get the chance to find such an environment to learn about growing a start-up.

I stuck to my words and thanked him for his time. Unlike how he first greeted me, with a smile, he bade goodbye rather nonchalantly. (Probably still couldn’t believe that I said no, considering how eager I sounded on the phone.)

I walked down the flight of stairs and the immediate thought was if I was going to ever regret turning down that offer.

As I continued on my path towards the crossroad junction, that sense of guilt of betraying my initial words of taking up an internship regardless of the pay began to set in.

Am I never capable to stay committed to the things I say or promise?

It was difficult to shake off what had happened in that studio. Either way, I hope I won’t be wrong in choosing to trust my gut feeling.

At the same time it really shed a new perspective on that statement about pursuing one’s passion at the expense of material gains.

It was a statement I wasn’t embarrass to preach and in fact, proud to use that as my guiding principle, but today I found myself unable to maintain that stance.

For a long period of time, having believed in that value allowed me to be secure about myself and my ideas, but not being able to practise what I have advocated really got me to think again as to what I really want.

It’s again time to do some soul-searching.

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