and had 15 more in 3 days.
before this, my friends here always encouraged me by saying.. you are hardworking, have good grades, you come from a good university, and speak 6 languages, which company will NOT hire you?
but the reality with my situation is that companies are reducing their foreigners quota as many quit after working for a short while due to the high stress levels of Korea. and I may be really unlucky because the job market is getting more and more competitive even for the locals. so why hire me when there are so many English/Chinese speaking Koreans around? especially because I did not learn Chinese, Cantonese nor Hakka in any formal way, I have no idea how to use these languages in a business setting. why hire me? why go through the trouble of sponsoring a foreigner a visa?
coming to Korea alone 5 years ago was not an easy decision as back then there were not many private students. having to study for another 1-2 years of language was time consuming and costly altogether. and now, especially with the Malaysian currency dropping, studying in Korea became even more of a burden as I will have to juggle between my part time work and studies because asking for help back home became a very difficult task to do. I wasn’t born to a wealthy family and once I even juggled between 3 part time jobs and studies. I worked at shops, I did private tours, I taught English, I wrote for magazines.. and the list goes on. but nothing is more satisfying than when you had to work almost every single day and no time for anything else but yet you scored straight A’s for the semester. that was me. my relatives thought I was inconsiderate and I came to Korea to add up more burden to the family but little did they know all the struggles I’ve been through to live abroad, to make my family proud and to fight for a brighter future.
people always asked me, why Korea? but I would like to ask, why not Korea? firstly, it’s safe, the food’s healthy, there’s 4 seasons, people are driven and hardworking.. I think that if I were to study and work in such an environment, I’d come out of my lazy shell and work to my limits. which I did. but at the same time, the education system in this country is very.. robot-like which grades equals to the amount of time you put in. I sometimes wonder how nice would it have been if I were to study in Malaysia as it’s much more relaxing and students get to have so much more fun while they were at school, before coming to the real world.
with grades that beat most foreigners, I was very positive that I would definitely get hired and that I can finally lift the weights of my family’s shoulders and make them proud. but the more I want that to happen, the more stressed I become. I get very tensed, negative, worried, jumpy and I would very often cry.
so back to my first interview. although I had applied for over 20 companies in the span of one month, very few got back to me, and those that did, it was all rejections. which was expected because they were all not specifically looking for a foreigner. one day, my senior contacted me and asked me if I was interested in his friend’s company as it was on a similar line which I’m interested in. we went for a short meet up with the company’s CEO and everything was great. he told me to come back a few days later to meet up with their other employees. but what I thought was a small company talk was actually a full fledged serious no-smile “I am going to find a way to eliminate you” kind of interview.
well it was definitely my fault. although I wasn’t told that it was an interview so I went in even more mentally unprepared and got super nervous when it was such a formal setting. since I had 6 scheduled interviews, I had actually went online to search for answers but they were all very generic and I thought I could answer them by thinking of how to answer it briefly. but well, when you actually don’t recite it enough and also get into the details, it wouldn’t work. and I am writing this here, to warn everyone, that you should be prepared at all times and not repeat my mistake.
I asked about what position I’d be taking but my friend’s friend wasn’t sure and said that they’ll think of something for me to do. but guess what? I never got to know what I was going to do. and during the interview, they asked me why did I apply for the position I was applying for and.. I got super nervous. I didn’t know what to say. now that I am calm and I have my thoughts right, I should’ve asked. I should’ve explained about my situation, that I was introduced and I asked but I didn’t get an answer. but whatever it is, I almost cried and felt like I was about to throw up after my first ever interview ended.
to be honest, they didn’t ask any difficult questions, just general questions you’d see online like “tell me about yourself”, “what do you know about our company?” (which was really difficult because their website provided very little information. like VERY little.), “what’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever had”, “what’re your career goals”, “strengths and weaknesses”… the thing was, I was not prepared. I always ask myself why does those questions matter, because like a test, the ones whom are good at answering those questions are probably just lying half of the time. but seriously, I should’ve scripted it, memorized the main points and go in prepared. well of course, I only had very few days to prepare, I had 12pm-9pm classes and I had to work, meet application deadlines and do assignments on top of that. may I say, that looking for your first job, without experience, with low self confidence, and DURING the semester is one of the most stressful things I’ve ever experienced in my life?
and of course, I wrote that I am of basic level in Chinese. where they brought in a Chinese employee (who looked like she hated her job) to test my BUSINESS Chinese level. so far I had not much problems speaking to a Chinese person, not even when we are having a deeper conversation. but business Chinese, seriously, I only understood 80% of whatever she said. so people, Chinese is very important. I have many Chinese friends who barely meet 3.0 GPA and yet gets employed easily because they know Chinese. now maybe I should go to China to learn Chinese for a semester or two. I actually failed because they said that my Chinese was not up to par. little did I know, I was actually applying to a job so that I can pitch in Chinese. WOW. but I am pretty sure it was because I screwed up my interview. I did not know what they wanted to hear, I did not know what to answer to those questions, I was nervous, my mind was blank, I just blurted out the weirdest things. their as if their cat died facial expression (well, not all of them actually. just 1.5/4) definitely did not help at all too.
later that week I went to a job fair where I had over 10 interviews and some told me that I am overqualified, some told me I was fit for the job, but too bad they just hired a Malaysian just the week before, some told me that I am perfect for the job and they’ll contact me later but it has been 5 days and no news =/, some told me that I need a masters degree, but overall, it was quite an experience and I became a little more positive after that. however, the interviews were much more specific and the interviewers were very nice with a big smile. although I am pretty sure I will see the poker face expression if I go on further for a more formal interview. but of course, I believe every company has a different hiring process and not all of them are like that.
so I missed out on a golden opportunity. but I would definitely not want to make the same mistake again. I’ve been told that the first interview’s always the worst. but is it?
maybe you, yes you, the one reading this, could share your interview experience with me and maybe even leave some tips for me. I know this is not the most inspirational blog post, but I really hope that everyone who’s going through this terrible job seeking phase, would not repeat my mistake and no matter what be well prepared and never give up, because I won’t too.