These futile attempts

A few weeks or almost a month ago, I made a decision. I have to leave. I have to move on. I have to look for another place to build my career.

As always, the classic saying that things are easier said than done is happening now.

I lost count on how many job applications I made. I started last June of this year. It has been almost four months of nothing but uncertainty. I’ve attended interviews from five companies. One is still on status quo, another employment opportunity in a school. Looks promising but deep inside, I’m half-hearted accepting the opportunity. I don’t feel home entering the premises of the said school. Part of me tells me, I don’t belong here.

On this day, I attended an exam and interview to a government owned bank. The experience was way better than my past interviews and examinations. Although when I left the premises of the building, part of me feels that I will never make it. Added to this, God perhaps showed me something I have to consider. I saw an old colleague working for the company. I was reading the in house publications around and saw a familiar name. Not that I had a bad history with this colleague. It’s just that part of me wishes that I could start a new career in a totally new world, where everyone is a stranger.

All these attempts gave me the same ending. Should I really leave? I’m being held back again.

If I will not leave, I have to embrace the fact that nothing much in my career advancement will happen. No salary increase. No more promotional opportunities.

If I will leave,  I have to understand that the 10 years I had in the academe will be set aside and thrown away. There will be a new working environment to learn.

I’m torn. Over the past few days I was telling myself, maybe I should stop this job search attempts until the year ends. My application to this government agency should be my last. I already feel tired. Maybe I should just enjoy my favorite time of the year for a while. When 2016 comes, that’s when I have to accelerate my shift to my career plans.

Job Interview with Metrobank and how it ruined my career plan

I have been dreaming of pursuing a career in the banking industry. Back in 2004, I submitted job applications to almost all local banks. Metrobank was one in my list, but I was never called for interview. There were a few other local banks who took chance on me. I had the same fate. Life has other career plans for me. I ended pursuing a career in the academe.

I may be looking for other employment opportunities at the moment, but I never regretted my years in the academe. I wouldn’t say it was a bad decision after all. It’s just that this time, I feel that my life in the academe should already end or be set aside. I need to explore other opportunities.

Months ago, I decided to take my chance in Metrobank. I browsed their website and discovered that I need to make an online account to enter the recruitment phase. It took months before the company reached me. Last Friday, I received an SMS, to be more particular, a “mass produced / automated text message” sent to all applicants.

I was instructed to report today at 10:00 am. I took a leave from my current work and hoped that everything will turn out well. I arrived just in time. The usual process, I was asked to fill out a form and answer this two-question essay. For those who are interested , here are the questions,

1. What was your recent accomplished /achievement. Describe the experience and

2. Describe a recent difficulty or challenged you experienced. Also explain how were you able to successfully overcome everything.

There were a number of applicants. As proof, the seats in the waiting area did not anymore suffice. I was brought to a makeshift waiting area with a round wooden table (seems to be a dining table) and old monobloc chairs. I filled out the form, answered the essay and someone later collected my accomplished forms. I remember waiting with two other male candidates. Hours passed, it was already 11: 47 am. A female employee told us that the interviewer has a number of applicants to accommodate. She encouraged us to take our lunch and return at 2:00 pm. In my mind, that meant too much time of waiting again. My patience was still serving me well. I went out of the building, crossed the street and searched for a less populated place for lunch. Oh good thing, Jollibee has adequate seats. It saved me for spending more than my usual budget for lunch. Problem is, I cannot stay long in Jollibee. I need to find a place to kill time. I saw a coffee shop a few steps away from Metrobank’s building. I planned to stay in Figaro, read my book and checked my email. When I entered Figrao, it looked like Jollibee. :p It was filled with diners. It was crowded with employees from…. Metrobank. It’s not hard to notice because everyone was wearing their IDs.

Finding a seat became a problem. I was quite lucky to score a table. When I placed my bag, I saw employees from Metrobank starring at me. Actions speak louder than words. Their eyes were telling me, they were pissed off. But then again, my patience and understanding were still working. I ignored their sharp glances. But deep inside, I was starting to develop a negative impression among the employees. They wear nice clothes, carry the latest iPhone, beautiful pair of heels, and embody the most coveted corporate attire. But attitude wise, I was starting to feel different.

I left Figaro around 1:45 pm. I returned to the HR Office and was surprised to see more applicants. So I went to the makeshift waiting area again. It wasn’t a big deal then. The place appeared beneficial because I was able to observe the behaviour of the employees.

It was already nearing 2:00 pm and most of the employees were still attending to their personal needs. The ladies were carrying their hygiene / beauty kits towards the toilet area. Another group of ladies went out of a room (looks like a meeting room for me) carrying their lunch boxes, chatting and laughing as they return to their respective workstations. I was observing everyone the entire time. I’m not sure about the official lunch break of the company. But it was already 2:00 pm and applicants are still arriving. Some applicants were waiting since 9:30 am. No one seems to show any sense of urgency. But then again, I placed myself in the shoes of the employee. On the positive side, the company is not too strict with break time. Employees are given more than enough time to rest and accommodate their personal needs.

It was already 2:45 pm. I believe I have waited more than enough. Half of me already wanted to leave. I was finally called for interview. A female employee led me to a room (the same room where a group of ladies had their lunch).

Here’s what I noticed in the interview room. They use monobloc chairs. Not that I’m being so meticulous, but I believe monobloc chairs are not appropriate for guests. I also noticed that the monobloc chairs were old and stained. I can let this pass but I can’t imagine the Philippines’ leading banking institution with this kind of facility. Maybe, I had high expectations. I attended interviews of other smaller companies and I can say, their waiting area were way better and comfortable.

As I was seated for interview, I felt something wrong in the interview room. It smells like food. In Filipino parlance, amoy ulam!!! The place obviously smells like someone had a full meal. I conditioned myself to understand. The employees, who serve as interviewers, no longer have the opportunity to eat outside the premises of the building. I thought I might be overreacting. I focussed on the upcoming interview. I can still manage not until I noticed the pieces of crumpled paper around. There were crumpled papers on the table. It was never my intention but when I checked the floor, there were a few more. Worst or the worst, the female employee who interviewed me, never bothered to tidy up the area. I was beginning to sense an undesirable attitude among the employees.

I ignored everything. I conditioned myself, focus focus focus on the interview. The interview started and unfortunately, the outcome of the interview nailed everything.

I will never pursue my application to Metrobank.

I was expecting that my working experience will become an issue. I never had any background in the banking industry. I explained that I’m completely aware of this hindrance. But then again, I wanted to give myself the chance to explore opportunities in other industries. I may have worked for a company with a different nature. But knowledge and skills wise, I’m not empty. I will have my own adjustment phase, but I’m not totally a useless being. As we were progressing in the interview, I was starting to feel that I’m not welcomed in the company. It felt like I entered a building whose walls and doors are pushing me away.

The interviewer emphasized the large operations of the company, which indirectly belittles the company and experience I had. Her intention to emphasize the superiority of the company made me feel the inferiority of my professional portfolio. 

The last question posted on me was … save for the classic question.. what is your edge over other candidates?

In my mind, the bitch in me is starting to come out.

Me, a candidate? With how the interview went, would you even consider me as a candidate?

Of course, I never uttered those words. I felt the need to redeem myself. I told her that it takes another person from another field to provide a different and better perspective of things. They can see my different background as a disadvantage. But in reality, fresh and new ideas, especially in corporate planning, can be found on someone whose perspectives are not consumed and confined within the same environment.

I don’t know how I appeared to the female interviewer. Truth is, I’m no longer interested with the company. Even though history relates that the bank is the best in the country. Sometimes, the best is not really the best.

I have a few suggestions to the management of Metrobank. That is, if they consider my insights valuable and they have the initiative for improvement…

  1. Implement a quota for job applicants – Avoid sending the mass produced SMS. It’s better if SMS are personalised,  that way the applicant will feel that you have examined his/her resume. This also avoids having overworked employees and applicants wasting their time
  2. Don’t ask unqualified applicants to come – Surely, the company is only interested in applicants with experiences in the banking industry. As it appears to me, the bank is a traditionalist. As such, let’s not waste each other’s time.
  3. Check your facilities – The old and stained monobloc chairs are giving a negative impression about the company.  And how about cleanliness and orderliness? The HR Office, being a frontliner, is instrumental in building the first impressions for the company. The Metrobank Building looks really nice in the outside. But the real interiors, apologies but it appeared as a complete opposite. I also believe that the company should try to implement a TQM or at the very least, a 6S program. I noticed the the entire floor of the Human Resource Management Division is cluttered and disorganised. I was seated on a makeshift waiting area with boxes of souvenir mugs around. Eyesore. I also observed the nearby tables and workstations. The usual table I observed are cluttered with so much paper (understandable) and unnecessary things. One workstation almost looks like a Sanrio Puroland because of all the Hello Kitty items around. Another workstation looks like a lifesize scrapbook of photos and other mementoes. I maybe overreacting but this situation is something I don’t expect from frontliners. Remember, employees provide a mirror of the entire company.
  4. The HR employees  – While I appreciate that the company is not strict with breaks, this unfortunately creates a tradeoff with applicants. Maybe suggestion number 1 can work? Also, I don’t find it proper that female employees retouch their make up in front of the applicants.
  5. Retrain or check your HR employees who conduct the interview … As much as I don’t like to emphasise and discuss this further, my interview experiences with other companies are better. Unfortunately, I have to say that I had the worst with your company. Your interviewer made feel that I’m not in any way welcomed in your company. I had interviews which led me to unsuccessful attempts. But the interviewers / recruitment officers left me on a positive note.  Other interviewers were honest about the company’s inability to find a job match for me. No sugar coating or fake promises. But I appreciate how they handled my interview. They weren’t degrading or discouraging. With Metrobank, my experience is something I never expected from the best bank in the country. Also, please teach your interviewer / recruitment officer to smile or at least offer a handshake to the applicant. The female employee who interviewed me, looked like an old high school principal ready to police everyone. I swear! She was wearing a nice black button down long sleeves blouse and an a-line striped skirt in orange and black. She looked almost perfect. Except that her disposition and the way she handled the interview felt like speaking to the School’s Director for Student Discipline.

If anyone is currently pursuing a job application to Metrobank, please don’t feel disheartened. We may have a different fate. You might land to a better interview. But for me, I’m closing my door for the company.

PS : If you are a jobseeker who landed on my blog, I advice that you try submitting your resume to the neighboring GOCC bank, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP). Hands down to the very accommodating security guard, lobby receptionist, HR receptionist and recruitment office (Sir Jay). A fellow “patient” applicant  in Metrobank suggested that I try DBP. I followed his advice and never regretted it. The treatment I received from DBP was way way way better!

Sorry to say, but Metrobank gave me the treatment I can tolerate from a government office. But DBP gave me the treatment I’m expecting from the number one bank in the Philippines. 

This made me remember the female employee who interviewed me emphasised that Metrobank’s Corporate Planning is highly engaged in “benchmarking.” Why not consider benchmarking your HR practices and customer service skills with your neighbouring bank?

~~~~~~~

I wrote a similar post. I also applied for a position in a government agency, GSIS. You can check it out here.