I had just finished my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Arigidi, Akoko North LGA of Ondo State; at the time, I could not wait to move on as it had been a wasted year (but for the friends made). There was no retention waiting in the wings by a bank or an oil servicing firm: I taught in a village school, the only worthwhile/memorable things I did were working in the camp radio and then working with the Editorial Board for our ONDOKOPA magazine. So, it was time (in my opinion), to get my hustle on.
After all the applications to most choice banks and multinational firms in Lagos, came the invitations to be tested. I attended a couple and voila; there came the long awaited interview invitation. I travelled to Lagos, quite excited. The D-day arrived and I showed up, 20mins before the appointed time. I was ushered into a plush waiting room, where I met my fellow interviewees. Sidney Sheldon’s ‘Are you afraid of the dark’ came in handy to help pass the time.
Pass the time I did. From 12 noon, I looked up from the last page of my ‘Sidney’ to find that it was past 4 o’clock; yet the interviews had not begun. I began to worry a little, but decided to sit this one out. Gradually, my contemporaries began to leave in trickles. Soon, it 5.45pm and we were only four left in the room. At this time, my patience had worn thin. Suddenly, a lady appeared and apologized for the delay; and told us the interview was about to begin. Only the guy amongst could restrain himself, as us the girls made a number of comments; “at last”, “finally”, etc.
The first girl soon came out, smiling like the proverbial cat that got the cream. The rest of us took it as a good sign and soon, my name was called. I went in and behold, there was a dignified ‘looking gentleman’ of about 60 sitting in the office. You will understand the reason for the emphasis soon. I sat down, ready to repeat the lines I had practiced in front of the mirror lots of times. I was stunned into silence when he said, “You really are a looker: baby fat and all”. I thought I heard wrong, maybe I was dreaming: but he went on to say, “let’s settle this matter now. Meet me at (name withheld) Guest House, Bishop Aboyade Cole Street by 8pm. You will collect your employment letter when you come.” After the initial shock, I asked him what he would say if his daughter my age narrated such an ordeal to him. He shocked me some more by retorting, “oh, you are an idealist too. I will tell her to grow up and do the needful”.
At that point, I lost my cool. “Thank you sir, but am sure someone else needs this job more on these conditions. Have a good evening”, I fumed. I mean, I had spent the whole day for this? I had heard stories of this kind, but had never really lent them much credence. This was my first jolt with the unpleasant reality; that in my dearly beloved country, being smart and intelligent sometimes is not enough. One may be asked for sexual favours to get ahead, simply because some unscrupulous elements are in positions of power. Unfortunately, a lot of young women will fall prey because they think they have no other options. I refused;not because, I am better off, but it just didn’t make any sense. If I slept with him to get the job, how about if I needed a promotion? If I refused, I would be penalized; and how long was it going to last anyway?
It was a rude shock, but it helped me toughen up for the labour market I had just found myself in. I attended other interviews and got employed, but I have never forgotten my first and the most unconventional interview I have ever attended.
What’s the most unconventional work interview you have ever attended? Please share..