Student Perspective: What NOT to do before an interview

Contribution by:  Tam Pham 

For those who don’t know me that well, I am an extremely punctual person. Or at least I try to be. I used to always be late to everything: Boy Scout meetings, school, hangouts, badminton practices, events… I’ll always walk into the room late with my head down, usually with a bag of tacos in my hand, and try to avoid eye contact with everyone. It wasn’t until these last few years, I’ve made being on time one of my biggest priorities. But on the day of my recent job interview, disaster was ready to be unleashed.
A key component of being on time is preparation.
Before I sleep and when I wake up every morning, I spend ten minutes planning out my whole day or recapping on my whole day. So the night before, I hung my suit’s hanger on my door handle, placed my wallet, keys, watch, and chap stick on the table ready to be picked up the next morning. I set multiple alarms on my charging phone and even set up a back up alarm to wake me up at 8:00am. I planned that I would leave the house at 8:45am to go to Jamba Juice for breakfast and depart from Jamba Juice at 9:00am to arrive in Palo Alto at 10:00am and spend the remaining time before 10:30am to review my notes and interview questions. Sounds clear and simple, how hard can that be?
Everything was going according to plan until…
I hit freeway traffic. On my Google maps, it calculated that it’ll take 52 minutes to get from Jamba Juice to EPRI, so I thought since it was only 9:00am, that’ll be perfect! Once I entered the freeway, I was hitting bumper to bumper traffic for at least an hour… As time went on, the more nervous I became. The time struck 10:00am and I still had 10 more miles to exit the freeway. So I’m thinking to myself, calm down, everything will be okay.
I exit the freeway at 10:20 and I’m fumbling though my phone so I can memorize the directions ahead of time. At this point, I hit one of the worse feelings in my life, the feeling of being rushed. I park all the way in the back of 3240 Hillview Avenue, put on my coat that I left hanging in the back seat and scurry inside the building. 10:29am. I’m thinking to myself, things could be worse. And it was. It turns out, I was in the wrong building, the wrong address actually. The location was actually 3420 Hillview Avenue instead of 3240 Hillview Avenue…
Going to be tad late.
I email the HR coordinator on my way to the car saying I was going to be a tad late (calling would have been more effective). I start up my engine and speed a half mile across the traffic light to arrive at the entrance to the parking lot. The HR coordinator told me how EPRI and SAP shared some sort of sign so I assumed by pulling into SAP’s parking lot would make me secure. To my luck, visitor parking was full and at this point, I called Denise to tell her about my situation. She told me I could park anywhere I could find so I scurried in and out of the parking garages but it was absolutely packed… Zoomed in and out twice and of both garages and could not find an empty space until I spotted an employee walking out to her car. I think I could have seriously killed somebody by how reckless I was driving. I rushed to where she parked and sprinted inside SAP. 10:38am.
Not bad, this could be worse right?
Me: “Hi, I’m here to talk to Denise”
Receptionist: “Who?”
Me: “Denise, the HR Coordinator from EPRI?”
Other Receptionist: “You mean EPRI? That’s next door buddy you got the wrong place..”
Just imagine me in a suit with the wind blowing across my face sprinting next door for this interview. Luckily, the distance wasn’t that far from both buildings except the fact that I had to sprint uphill. I slow down to catch my breath before I walk in the door because at this point, I was completely out of breath. 10:45am? At least I showed up, I thought to myself.
Me: “Hi, (gasps for air) I’m here to see Denise!!!”
Receptionist: “Oh okay, and your name?”
Me: “Pham, Tam Pham.” (Imagine the most slick way to say this line, and that’s how I said it.) (Not really, I just said my name)
Denise came in to the front and escorted me to the meeting room.
Me: “I’m so sorry, asjdfklajsdk;fjasdjfjlk”
I begin to explain my situation and Denise cut me off and explained,
“It’s okay, a lot of our employees get lost the first time they come up here. Do you need any water or anything?”
I was touched about how caring she was despite the fact that I wasted her time.  After an hour of interviewing with three different people including Denise, I got a call a week later telling me that they want to offer me a job. I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
Even if I didn’t receive the job, a lot can be learned from this experience.
  • Take 101N in the morning instead of 280N.
  • Get the right address down.
  • Keep the HR Coordinator’s phone number handy in your contacts list.
  • Always look at the bright side of things.
  • If the worst can happen, it definitely will happen.
  • Make the best out of every situation.

About Tam:

 My name is Tam Pham and I’m currently a freshman in a wonderful college known as San Jose State University. I’m studying Business Management and plan to pursue a minor in Sociology. At the end of the day, I believe in equality and social justice. I hope to go into a field where I’m able to change lives and make a difference either through service, projects, administration, or maybe education. I’m not sure exactly what I want to do with my career but I believe that I’m pretty good at making money, listening to other people’s stories/perspectives and interacting with them, and I possess a strong motive to ultimately benefit the world in a positive way. I also have a strong infatuation for Taco Bell but I am restricted in applying for their Marketing internships because they are stationed in Irvine… (Yes I checked).  You can check out what Tam is up to on his blog: mrtampham.blogspot.com
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