Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why Getting Rejected Is Good For You ;)

You aren't the first and you definitely wont be the last one if you recently received a rejection e-mail. The reason I say this is because it has its own lessons to teach if you are willing to learn.

Editing the quote from The Dark Knight trilogy,
"Its Who I Am Underneath, Not What I Do That Defines Me."

I know. I know. All you Batman fans, including my inner voice, are totally against what I just said. But, if you think about it and read on, you might agree with me :D

Still working on my thesis with Shell, I strongly felt that I belonged here. That I deserved to be here. And that is when I decided to turn it into a official thing. I applied to the Shell Graduate Programme i.e., for the Shell Recruitment Day.

While still in east (India), I applied for the opening in Netherlands. I initially inquired with the HR in Bangalore and was told that there wont be any more recruitment days held this year here and Netherlands was hosting one soon. So why not apply there and what can go wrong my amazing brain reasoned ;)

And so I did. I applied and got invited for the online test. The first one was a psychometric test. Google came to the rescue once again. I took some sample tests and started gearing up. I got some valuable information from other graduates in the company who told me how they look for a leader / CEO material candidate.

I thought of the attitude and approach my line manager had and read articles / interviews by Peter Voser (CEO of Shell). I tried to think on similar lines and took the psychometric test. To my delight I cleared it and was invited to the most dreaded stage of the online tests. The Numerical Test!!!

This second level on online test had 2 parts namely Numerical test and Decision making test. Numerical being timed, can be quite intimidating and to be honest, I still feel intimidated by it. After thorough practice on graph type tests, I finally took it. Decision making I found to be quite easy since I continued with the same managerial attitude which I had for the first test. Numerical with its 18 questions in 15 minutes has got to be the scariest test so far. It was a whole different level than the ones I had practised and by the end of 12 minutes I had managed around 4-5 questions. Freaking out, I quickly tried to answer 4 more questions not sure of them being right.

The idea here is that you answer as accurately as you can. You dont have to answer all the questions but there is a minimum score which I believe is expected. However, saying that, this test being joint with decision making, the average of both could be the deciding factor. And that, I believe, resulted in my moving forward to the next level of the recruitment stage.

I was called in 2 weeks time inviting me to the Amsterdam office for the face to face interview. Since I was not in the country they informed me that they will contact me again to set it up. Now, during one of the team dinners, I receive a call and the music in the restaurant isn't helping at all. I am asked if it is possible to schedule it for the very next day and if I decline the next opportunity would be 2 weeks later. I decide to take the slot for the next day which I regretted greatly as soon as I cut the call.

I was helping the team set up for a "Pride in Engineering" day in the Bangalore office and not to forget I had left my laptop at work which contained all my crucial notes and preparation for the phone interview I was waiting for. The phone interview was a disaster and after ending the call with my interviewer, I felt sick at the way I went about answering the questions. The main reason being, I was barely myself. I spoke as if it was my right to work for Shell and that I deserved to bag that job.

No One Owes Any One Any Thing. Period.

I received the rejection mail in 3 weeks time as I expected and I did request for a feedback session where the interviewer from earlier called me up to give his inputs on my interview. It was quite helpful in understanding how they interpret your answers and how they understand you from your answers.

This experience humbled me. Taught me that you are as on the same level as any other person and have to fight it to get it. Dont expect but work for it. I have seen every future application as an opportunity and have taken each and every one of them seriously which I never did earlier.

In the end, I say that, keep an open mind and no matter how bad things get, there is always something to learn. It might be more about the company, what they look for or in the worst case, much more about you and what you want. Keep learning, keep changing for that is what helps you to get better as things progress.

Also, there comes a phase (hopefully not) when all you receive are rejection e-mails and with more coming in, the more you send out. In bulk. Try not to get into this habit. I will stress this more in my coming blogs and how you can apply in order to be looked at seriously.

Rejection helps - be it your own or from others (poor me).

PS: While on a roll, it wouldn't hurt proposing to a girl/guy as preferable to you. Worst case, it hurts less and you bounce back faster searching for the next "The One" ;)


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    1. HI Sabrina,
      Rejections happen. Sometimes because of you, sometimes because of employers and sometimes simply because it is not the right match.
      When rejected, reach out to your interviewer for feedback. Companies like Shell, especially after face to face or telephonic do reply with their observations. You can use those to polish off rough edges that did not fit right. Sometimes it is a matter of not communicating using the right words/structure. You then focus on building that.
      If you do try again in a year, focus on what skills/behaviour you developed since the last time. What have you improved upon since the last rejection.
      Also, life works in mysterious ways. I was an intern and thesis candidate with shell for almost 2 years. Got a contract offer with them and worked for an year. Then got laid off during the recession (oil slump) and after 2 years since then, brought in again on contract. I hate not having a permanent position but in times like this, nothing is deemed permanent.
      Life is tough, but you need to have confidence in you and follow what you love. I hope you find your path soon.