By Fadel Marsoumi
I want you to picture several people waiting in a non-descript room. There is an honor student from the University of Tennessee, a graduate from Michigan State University with a Masters in English, a father of four with 15 years of sales experience, and myself. All of us are wearing our best professional clothes, laboriously chosen. All of us are sitting in one room waiting for that moment to prove ourselves to a company. This is a description of my first life-changing professional interview. These four candidates, including myself, were waiting for the news telling us we’re needed for an entry-level advertisement and marketing sales position.
I experienced fear, not the fear that is compared to death and tragedy, but the fear of not accomplishing enough. Being in that waiting room while waiting for my interview had to have been the most intense moment that I’ve ever experienced. All that kept running through my head was that I wasn’t good enough for this position, I wasn’t qualified. I was still in college, learning material that other candidates already mastered and felt like an amateur. I kept repeating the responses that I would give to possible questions they might have. I planned on giving responses that were similar to the words in the job requirement posted for the position. I thought it would also be a great idea to use words like “potential” and “success” to demonstrate confidence in both myself and the organization I would be working for. Of course, I forgot everything the second the office door had opened.
“Mr. Marsoumi, please step into my office,” the interviewer said.
He might as well have asked me to just leave the building. I thought, “What’s the point of us meeting when all of these other qualified applicants had already met with him?” I should have realized that if there wasn’t a possibility that I would be hired, then I wouldn’t be asked to come in for an interview at all.
“Mr. Marsoumi?” he asked once again. I swallowed my fears and got up to follow him into the room where I thought I would face my doom.
“So tell me why you feel you’re qualified for this position?” the interviewer asked.
At that moment, I realized that every word and response that I had practiced did not matter. I had nothing to lose and so much to gain. I realized that buzzwords don’t matter and I went on to say anything and everything that came into mind that would answer the question that was asked. My openness helped me get through the interview. At the end of the interview he asked, “What questions do you have for me?”
I took in a deep breath and asked my interviewer, “Are there areas of improvement in your organization which I could help with?” He told me that I was one of the very few interviewees that asked such a great question. Before ending the interview, he told me that I would be a great candidate for the job because I showed determination and drive. A few days later, I received a phone call saying that I got the job. Success!
From my experience I’ve learned that I am my own limitation.