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spikegifted - Random thoughts



July 24, 2003

Today (July 24th) is 3 months to the day from when I was laid off... And I've finally secured an interview with a top-tier investment bank. There has been a lot of ups and downs in the past three months and it has not been an easy time.

At 10:00AM, I shall be walking through some door in a building in the City of London, to be grilled by whoever will be interviewing me... I'm very nervous! And since this is my first job interview since 1998, I'm doubly nervous!!

Wish me luck, people...


July 24, 2003

Just a quick update on the interview and a little 'post mortem'... I arrived at the area of the bank with around 30 minutes to spare, so I decided to stop by the office you my out-placement consultant. It's pretty much an open office and once you're registered there, you can pretty much go in and out freely during office hours. I had a chance to cool down from my commute and took on some water and made myself comfortable again.

Got to the bank's office with 5 minutes to spare and that place probably has the most confusing collection of elevators I've ever come across... Anyway, I actually met the guy who's supposed to interview me in the elevator. This in itself settled me. I was calm, reasonably confident and actually quite looking forward to the interview.

The interview started with the general going over the résumé type talk and he did a good job of allowing me to really express myself regarding my approach to the my previous jobs and my opinion on how things could have been done better, given the restraints at the time.

Then the interview gotten technical. I was happy to be able to demonstrate to him that I know what I was talking about in areas of my specialties and I think he was happy to see that I'm not a 'typical' guy doing that kind of job. In areas that I have basic knowledge but not expertise, I was honest and I gave it to him straight. It was encouraging to have him asking me how long it would take me to be up to speed with areas that I don't have in depth knowledge... I promised him that it would take less than a month of fairly intensive research on my part for me to get there.

Originally, and from past experience, I anticipated that the interview to last between 60-75 minutes. However, it was 1 hour 30 minutes by the time we were done and not a dull moment - which I think was a good sign. I managed to ask him some intelligent questions and demonstrated that I've done research on my part on the company, the market and general development in the field.

I'm happy to report that he's verbally invited me back for a 2nd round (I think there'll be around 6 rounds of interviews) when I'd be grilled by two people. He's honest in telling me that there're other candidates they're considering. However, I think I've impressed him sufficiently that as things progress, I'd be high on his list of consideration...

Well, that's how things stand at the moment. Tomorrow, I'd be nailing down the personnel people to at least pencil in the next interview date. My plan is to allow this thing to go on as quickly as possible, given that it is summer time and people are taking their vacations...

Wish me luck and I'll be keeping you guys updated with my progress.


July 25, 2003

A heart-felt thank you for all your encouragements.

I've been trying to get in touch the HR people today to nail down a time for the next interview, but the person I've been talking with is on vacation today. I'll see what happens next week... Meanwhile, I think I deserve a nice little break this weekend.


July 30, 2003

A little bit of news...

Got a call today from the HR contact... The manager has confirmed that I'm in the 2nd round of interview and the HR contact is trying to get some dates together. When enquired who'd conducting the interview this time (half knowing that it'll more people from the business end rather than from HR itself), she told me that I'd be interviewed by THREE people!! And they're all going to be from the business side... Oops!

Anyway, I told her that Thursday would not be a good day as I'd be going to a rock concert (ZZ Top) the previous evening (that's July 30th) and I suggested that my hearing would have have sufficient time to recover. This brought out a laugh from her... (She's actually pretty cool.) Anyway, she gotten back to me later informing me that one of the three is currently on vacation and so a meeting time cannot be arranged until he returns. This is good, it allows me more time to prepare (and to worry)...


August 26, 2003

Just looking at the last post on the thread and it was nearly a month ago.

Anyway, this morning, I finally managed to nail down a time and date for the 2nd round interview. It is going to happen this Thursday (August 28)... As it has previously confirmed, I'm going to be facing three people, but thankfully not at the same time. Actually, I'm not sure if it is good to face all three at the same time... Two of them are V.P. level people and the third is a Senior Associate level person.

So, I've a couple of days to get myself mentally and technically ready for the big day. Looks like I've a bunch of stuff to go over.

Wish me luck, people...


August 29, 2003

Thanks for all your concerns and regards. It is truly an honor.

After weeks of delay, I finally walked into my 2nd round interview with the firm. I've spend the time between the 1st and 2nd rounds reading up some papers on one of the topics that I know would be a major part of the interview.

There I was, sitting in front of a V.P. and a Snr. Associate and being grilled (more like stir fried, since I'm Asian) on qualitative credit risk assessment on insurance companies... The two were well aware that this is not the strongest part of my portfolio of skills, but nevertheless, this part will occupy between one third to half of the time in the job. The question and probing was hard and searching. Some of the questions were very fundamental. So much so that for most people in the business (myself included) they are usually taken for granted and unless you spend time thinking about them, you can't think of an immediate answer to them. Given my lack of exposure (when I was looking at credit risk management, I spend at most 10% of my time looking at insurance companies) and the relative 'rustiness' on the subject (my last job in credit risk was over 2.5 years ago), I think I manage to come up with the goods, with a large dose of 'teasing' from them. Overall, I think I did ok with these two guys, given my limitation which they've been briefed on already. That's probably why they asked the questions they did.

The interview with the third guy was fine. I don't think he was there to give me another shaking up, but to find out how I'm like and my outlook on my career and my desire to do the job being discussed. He and I had a good time chatting.

Total interview time: 2 hours 30 minutes!! To say I was shaken and stirred was not far off, but I think I fielded the questions well, created the right impression and demonstrated that it's more than thin air that occupied the space between my ears (regularly wearing a baseball cap with 'GAP' written on it, notwithstanding. btw, I wasn't wearing a baseball cap... ).

After I left the building, I gave the Ruler_of_spike a quick call to update her and 'report' to her... Just after the call was finished, I saw little over 50yds away, the hiring V.P. (the guys who interviewed me in the 1st round). Good job that he also recognized me and we stopped and talked a little. He's a really nice guy and apologized to me about the delay and explain to me the reasons (which he has no need to do so). I also relayed to him how the interviews went. It also presented me an opportunity to score some brownie points, as I mentioned that I haven't been idly waiting and have been reading up on various issues.

I found out from him that the company is still to conduct 1st round interviews with another couple of people. Their strategy is that if they find a candidate good enough to go through to the next round, they'd proceed with the interview. If after all the interviews are conducted, there are still more than one candidate to be considered, they'd make a decision on hiring... He's asked me to be patient and let things run their courses.

So, what do get out of the interview? I think this is an excellent place to work for and I think I can work well in that environment. I can't assess my chances right now as I don't know the strengths of the other candidates, but I'm reasonable confident that I've painted a sufficiently good picture of myself in front of them to make them consider me for further interviewing or job offer...

I'll keep you guys updated... Keep your fingers crossed for me!


September 23, 2003

Just a quick update...

It has been three weeks since I've had my second interview and I finally plugged up my courage to call the bank to ask for feedback on the interview. I have only done that after an extensive chat with my outplacement consultant who advised me that I've been patient enough and calling after three weeks is hardly a sign of desperation.

Normally, in the recruitment processes I've been involved in, there're usually head hunters acting as intermediaries who will chase up on my behalf. However, since I'm contacting the bank directly, I felt unsure about what to do next. Anyway, I called and my HR contact who confirmed that there has been feed back and it is positive. While there was no clear indication of where the process is heading next, it would appear that there will be at least another round of interview.

Hopefully, I'd hear from them in the next week or so.


September 23, 2003

Thanks guys!

AFAIK, three rounds of interview is not really unusual (when I got into my last bank, I went through three rounds also, but in quick succession...) I've heard that some US investment banks can interview up to half dozen rounds!

I'm just glad that there seems to be some movements again.

Stay tuned!


October 13, 2003

Just been looking back on this thread... It has been dragged out over months. You guys must be thinking: "What is wrong with him?"

After several phone calls over several weeks, I got to find out that up until the end of last week, the hiring manager was still interviewing people up to the second round. I went through that round at the end of August and I've gotten positive feedback since mid-September...

Anyway, I got a call today from the HR people. The lady on the phone told me that they're planning to convert the job from a permanent position to a temp-to-perm one. It basically means that the hiring manager is interested enough to give the candidate(s) that he likes a shot at the job(s). I was asked of my opinion about this change and I told them that it would be something that I'd consider.

Obviously, this is just another little milestone, not yet through the big front doors yet. So, I'm not celebrating, just yet; and I won't be until I actually get a letter through the post to inform of being taken on. However, this is about the first bit of positive news I've gotten on the job front for several months.

Wish me luck, people.


October 24, 2003

Today, October 24 (incidentally, it is six months to the day that I was laid off by ING, my last employer), I have been made an offer to join the credit risk management function of a prestigious US investment bank. While the offer is currently verbal and it is only for a temporary contract (with a view to become permanent at the end of the contract), I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

It has been a long and hard six months of job search, raised hope and frequent disappointment. At this point, I must send my warmest regards to all those who've given me support and encouragements in the past half year, especially to the Ruler_of_spike - who has to endure my out of work experience with me, every single day; who has to try and lift me up when I was down; who has to endure my mood swings, my self-doubts and all my nasty bad habits. Thank you! And thank you all...


October 25, 2003

Thank you all very much for your warm regards.

It has been a long hard struggle and I know it is only a temporary contract, it is still a job. Ok, so far it is only verbal, but I'm already looking forward to working again. If I have any more news, I'll let you guys know.


October 29, 2003

Just thought I'll drop a quick update on this thread...

In the past couple of days, I've been talking at lot to the HR of the bank. There's a credit check prior to joining, they also need to obtain my references (and one of them is ill, so need to quickly provide another one) and finally details of my start date.

I've now confirmed with the bank that I'll be starting on Friday, October 31st. So just over a day or so to get my act together... Right now, I'm very excited but, at the same time, a little nervous. I commented to my HR contact that Friday seems to be an odd day to commence employment, but she revealed that another member of the team is moving on and that is his final day with the team. The idea is that he can then hand over the work to me...


October 31, 2003

I think this will my last entry to this thread...

Today, I report for work for the first time in over 6 months! Many new colleagues to meet and lots of things to learn... I haven't been so excited for a long, long time.

Thank you all for all your encouragements.


November 5, 2003

I'm always heartened by the good wishes from you folks. Thank you.

Well, I have been in my new job for nearly a week... and apart from e-mail and couple (out of many) of other systems need to do the job, I'm still sitting around waiting... I don't even have internet access yet!

There has been a few fairly gentle meetings to go over some stuff, but apart from that I'm not really getting my hands dirty yet. Actually, this is not bad at all, since being out of work for over 6 months, I'm not as sharp as I should be and this schedule is ideal to ease me back into full speed. I guess once things start rolling, I'm going to complaining how busy work is...


November 5, 2003

there is ALWAYS stuff to do...

Oh, I agree... But I do a real 'desk job' - analyzing mutual funds, recommending trading limits on them, reacting to proposal, etc... Without the necessary system access, my boss can't even assign me any work. Anyway, it is good to catch up with things that are at an even more fundamental level - what makes the whole philosophy work - policies and principles


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