After me, the next one in was from John Hopkins university in Baltimore. He flew in the night before and Scotia had put him up at 1 King West across the street. He had multiple second round interviews both in Canada and the US. Meanwhile I had taken the subway to the interview! Somehow it seemed like his travel was already giving him the edge.
The next to arrive was a UBC student who had also been flown in. Not only that, he had actually gone through final round interviews with Scotia for a position in Vancouver and got the job! Upon giving him the offer, however, they gave him the option of going to final round interviews in Toronto if he wanted to work in the home office and he had elected to do so.
So there I was, sitting in the waiting room on the 64th floor overwhelmed by both the opulence of the décor and the caliber of my competition. Eventually, an assistant dropped in to tell us it was go-time. Each of us was directed to a different room and told which to visit next.
I wish I could say that my first interview was when I turned it around, but it wasn’t. In fact, I thought it was the worst interview performance I had ever had in my life. Being a pretty upbeat and talkative guy, I’m usually able to make the tone of the conversation pretty cordial, but the two guys interviewing me were stone cold. Whenever I looked over to them for a smile or a nod there was nothing. I also caught myself in one of the most dreaded interview situations, being 1/3 of a way through a bad answer and not knowing how I was going to get myself out of it.
When I left the room my head was spinning. I was 100% sure they thought I was incompetent, but as I walked through the hallway I gave myself a little pep talk. I put the first interview behind me and told myself that it was now on me to put on my best performance and convince the next two pairs of interviewers that I was the candidate they had to hire. Maybe if four out of the six believed in me I would still have a chance.
Clearheaded and refreshed, I opened the door and sat down for the second interview. I couldn’t believe the contrast; I immediately connected with both of them, the conversation flowed smoothly and I genuinely felt that it had been one of the best interviews I had ever had. My spirits lifted, I now felt that a job offer was at least possible, but there was one challenge remaining. My last interview was dedicated to technical questions and I had been told specifically that the two interviewers were known for their technical aptitude.
The interview started with an open ended question to discuss what was going on in the markets and being well prepared, I proceeded to discuss what was going on throughout the US, Europe and pretty much the entire rest of the world, with the exception of Canada. After providing a fairly long-winded answer, one of the interviews said “well we’re a Canadian investment bank, so what about Canada?” It was meant to be a mild jab, but also had a dose of humour. Luckily, I knew my stuff and continued the discussion from a Canadian perspective.
We then moved on to accounting/valuation type questions and in the typical style of these interviews they asked increasingly difficult questions to the point that eventually I wasn’t 100% sure of the answers. Despite that, I felt like I had had a strong showing. I left the building thinking that I had a real chance. I figured it would come down to a debate between the first two interviewers and the last four. I got back on the subway and headed back to St. George station. I was late for class.
As I walked out of class, I realized with horror that I had a missed call from Scotia as well as a voice mail. I should have just left the ringer on! The message was from one of the guys from the second interview…
To be continued April 19th, 2016
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