I had applied for a post in a different account, wanting a change in my job related activities. Since every client account in my org was run like a separate company in itself, I was asked to take an interview with that account manager. My current manager accompanied me, as he had referred me to that account and also give a moral support. He was more of my friend than a manager and was always a well wisher. So he insisted on him being present. At least, this was my initial thought that, him accompanying me was all for personal reason. Later I realized, it was just to make sure I don't sothappify by me being myself!! I was reminded of that F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode when Chandler goes for an interview and before the call, Phoebe does a mock round with him, where she tones him down asking him not to be the way he usually is, if he really wanted that job.
As we waited for the lift, my manager looked at me from top to bottom and let loose a sigh.
"At least for today couldn't you come in proper clothes?"
"???!!! What's wrong with these? Its Eddie Bauer tee shirt and John Players Cargoes"
"You are not going for a party my friend" Before he could continue further, the lift came to my rescue. I've always hated the concept of dress code. Never felt comfortable with any rule that dictated my attire. Not that I roam around like a hippie. But I felt more at ease with my sartorial sense, than one being forced. Later I realized how wrong I was.
As we entered the discussion room, he gave me tips on what I should speak and what I shouldn't.
The account manager was already waiting for us and after shook hands and the brief intro, he was convinced even with the intro that I would fit into his account and didn't even bother with the interview. As he and my manager were chatting around, I was surveying that room and was happily swaying on my seat playing candy crush.
After we came out of the room, my manager was silent till we reached the lift. This time also the lift came but not to rescue, more to trap. The moment we stepped in till we reached our building, he was blasting me in full flow and the tirade went on for half hour. I was perplexed as to why he was so angry for I had cleared the interview. He only said one thing.
"Even before I sent your profile to him, I knew yours would be cleared. He also knew that by reading the profile. Yet the reason why the in person interview was arranged for evaluating the person behind the profile."
"Ok..i get that. But what did I do wrong?" I asked still in confusion and with anger slowly rising.
"What wrong?? are you nuts? Did you realize what you were doing there?"
"You mean the game I was playing on phone?"
"Not just that. Your entire attitude and your body language during the meeting. It was pathetic. It was oozing with casualness. Do you realize why people are asked to dress formally? It gives a different appeal to their body language. It gives a different perception than from one that you get by wearing flashy casual dress. Leave alone the dress, you were swaying like a school kid sitting on that rolling chair, looking at the room as if you've entered a zoo. You never bothered to listen to what he was telling me. It reeked arrogance"
I couldn't hear anything else that he was saying. I felt as if he slapped me with his words. I've been anything but arrogant in my mind and I was so scared that such a kind of opinion had been formed about me.
"I..Didn't realize that..."
"Yeah. I knew. That's what is angering me. How can you be so callous? that too in a job interview? I've known about you. So I can understand about you. What about the person who is meeting you for the first time? How would you've seen yourself had you been the person on the other side?"
"How would I see myself?" it resonated so many times in mind that all thoughts went blank.
I've always been critical and judgmental about peoples actions and never had I realized that I can do the same on myself. The moment he said that, I could visualize myself interviewing me and to be honest, never liked what I saw. For anyone stranger to me, they would've considered my action as either arrogant or casual at the lenient.
The words kept ringing in my ears and it took a whole week for me to face him normally. After transitioning to the new account and months after settling into it, the words still resonate. That is something I wouldn't forget in a hurry and wouldn't want to forget as well.
No one can be your best critic but for your own self. If we ourselves don't like what we see in us, nothing else can be a cue for changing, for the better of course.
After that incident, every single time, be it in a meeting or any form of communication I've with any other person, known or stranger, my entire approach has changed totally. Or at least, that's what I hope :)