Friday, April 1, 2011

Btw, the Interviewee is human!

Interviews are nice opportunities to know where you stand, how you stand in the industry. A revival process to test your abilities not just by the interviewer, but yourself. After an interview, you can easily understand your weak points and concentrate more on it. That has always been my analogy. My interview experiences have been mostly good, but there are some exceptions.

I'm going to talk here about my experience with a particular gaming company; sorry no names will be taken. After clearing my telephonic rounds which seemed never-ending, they called me to inform that I was to fly down (it wasn't in Mumbai) for my personal interview. Standard procedure. The HR informed me there will be one or two rounds with their producers. A date was set and they sent me a flight ticket.

The departure time was 6 AM... sigh... So I woke up at 2.45 AM, and left home by 3.45 AM. It took about an hour to get to the airport. Rest of the journey was nothing eventful. I was told to hire a cab from the airport to the destination, and without much problems, the cab driver took me to the right place. It was around 9.30 AM when I got there. I met the HR, who showed me to a small room and offered a glass of water. My interview began at 10.

The first one was with one of the producers of the company. After a brief introduction, the Q&A session began. Ideas, mechanics, improvements, visuals, audience, platform, almost everything was discussed. My interviewer was pretty smart. I liked the way it was going. The interviewer liked a lot of my ideas; and showed concerns at places too; which were then clarified. It took about an hour for the interview to get over. By the time it was over, I had a bad headache. Continuous travel at odd hours don't go well with my body. Before leaving, the interviewer informed me that another producer will join me in sometime.

Since it was obvious there was going to be one more round, I asked the HR for a headache relief tablet. Unfortunately, they didn't have one. I took a crocin. Needed some sedative to subside that pain for me to continue. It didn't help.

The second interviewer came in a bit late and apologized for the same. The company was having some senior management meeting; so people from their headquarters in States had also come in.

Anyways, the interview began, similar set of questions. Couldn't they just take the interview together? Sigh. The headache was growing. I just wanted to lie down somewhere. Somehow pushed myself through and the round finally got over. It was around 12.45 PM then. The second interviewer told me that the HR will come in some time and left.

I was relieved. Since the two rounds were over, I thought I will go and visit my friend. The return flight was at 7 PM. I could leave by 3.30-4. There was some time to rest. The HR came in and told me that it was time for lunch. I told him that I would prefer to complete the HR round and have lunch with my friend. That's when he said that my interview wasn't over! I was shocked! I politely asked him if I could go out for lunch and told him that I would be back right on time. I wanted some fresh air. And the reply was negative. Apparently I couldn't leave the office premises till the interview was over!

I was in no mood for lunch. My head was aching so much that I could barely taste any food. Post lunch I went to the washroom and splashed water on my face. Tried anything possible to get rid of that goddamn headache. I went back to the interview room and after what seemed like a long wait to me, I inquired about the next round with the HR. I told him that my headache was rapidly increasing and wanted to wrap this fast or continue it over phone or whatever. He assured me that it was the last round and asked me to wait for some more time. In about 10 minutes, my third interviewer came. Seemed to be a jolly good chap. After some routine questions, he wanted me to solve puzzles. I like puzzles, but the timing wasn't right. I really struggled. My brain refused to cooperate anymore. I was losing my speed and concentration, but still managed to get some of them right. Finally that round was done too. I thought I was going to pass out!

The HR came in with a troubled look and told me that two more guys were coming in to interview me. I just couldn't believe it. What on earth is wrong with them? Was I some convicted criminal that so many people want to interrogate me? He told me that the third interviewer was like a proxy till the real guys turned up. How thoughtful!

I had almost reached my limit. My head was in splits! I was regretting my decision to attend the interview. Finally the interviewers arrived and bombarded me with questions, puzzles, opinions and what not. There were detailed questions related to areas I wasn't well versed with. It was as if a game designer needs to know every bloody thing in this world! I thought they might just ask me to create a AAA game then and there all by myself. (Note: Only in the interviews will your suggestions be deeply pondered upon and if you are lucky may be agreed upon too! For more, please read: The Ideas Guy)

Well, at that state I couldn't even reply to things related to game design. When I thought about the answers I barely managed to squeak, I was sure that a kindergarten kid would have fared better. But that's what headaches do to you!

It was 3.30PM. The car they arranged for me had arrived. Even then they didn't stop. Devoted! Finally at 3.45, the HR came in and told them that I will have to leave in ten minutes max. So finally they asked me if I had any questions for them. I said "No!" One of them told me that it was surprising that after being asked so many questions, I had none for them. I told them, "Maybe you should ask that to me when I'm not drained out." He just murmured a "Hmmm..." They gave me some home assignments to do. I just nodded, took the papers, "thanked" them and headed out.

The journey to the airport wasn't a great one. My head ached so much that I thought about checking myself into some hotel and leaving the next day. The driver felt bad for me and asked if I was feeling alright. I just nodded my head. After a while, he stopped at a restaurant, grabbed a bottle of water for me. Probably the nicest guy I met in the entire day! We finally got to the airport. He told me to take care, gave me his number in case of any emergency. I walked into the airport and waited for the time to fly as fast as it could, praying that the flight be on time. Somehow that day I managed to get home without passing out!

Next morning, I wrote to the HR that I'm not interested in their offer. I also told him that next time they are asking an interviewee to fly down from a different state that early in the morning and going to interrogate him/her till the last drop of blood is sucked out, then they better warn him/her about it! After all we are humans!