interview question

Part I

There is a part in the job interview process where I am asked about my employment history. They ask me, what was the most important thing that you learned from [insert last job company]? My last job company was a call center, purported to be one of the best in the bpo industry, and my answer to the question was as follows:

What I derived from the experience was an understanding of the bpo industry and its particular niche in our society. I had always heard about how this industry was booming, and how it was important to the economy of the Philippines, and how it was attracting a large pool of young professionals. I was curious as to what it was all about. And so, my knowledge of it in the abstract translated into the concrete when I went into the call center industry. I learned about the dynamics of the job and I learned about people – different kinds of people, especially the kind who walk into the call center business.

That was basically the gist of my answer, of which I am about to expound and elaborate today. I remember, during my first few days in the call center, we were asked about our reasons for entering the call center industry. When it was my turn, I mentioned something about exploring the different pathways in life and seeing how they would fit. This must not have been a usual answer because it caused a ripple of murmur among our small group centering on my vocabulary and how I talk about “pathways”. I guess romantic answers are usually not in order in these kinds of places, hehe.

I think I would like to reflect more on what benefits I might have obtained from my call center experiences and how I can work these to my learning advantage in life. So, I ask myself again, what was the most important thing that you derived from your experience in the call center industry? This line of thought may sound redundant in this essay because I am simply re-enacting a question already posed to me and to which I had already given an answer but my purpose here is to think deeper and extract a learning that I would actually consider as valuable.

Here, I am going to focus on one. One important thing that I derived from my call center experiences is first-hand insight about different kinds of people and the kinds of worlds they live and inhabit.

I guess people and different worlds have always interested me and this could perhaps be the reason for my habit of looking at houses.

Now this may sound extremely dreamy but I have always, always been fascinated by houses – of any type! Beautiful, ragged down, obviously wealthy, or unassuming, ordinary, middle-class, quaint, pretty, odd, square, white, blue, arched, split-level, wood, cement – whatever! I loved watching houses and I looked at them every time I could be out on a stroll or riding a car. Every shape of the door and window felt like a story to me and I would always peer at them interestedly, as though outside looking in on another’s life. And this is how I never became good at memorizing directions. I was too busy observing houses and peeking at other people’s lives.

I remember there was a time I was riding with friends the LRT line 2, going from Katipunan to Recto. As we passed by poor houses, I watched them and remarked naively to my friends, “Ang poor talaga ng Philippines.”

They laughed hysterically at me. Che! I didn’t mean that I didn’t know the Philippines was poor. I meant that the evidence just struck me anew. But they laughed and laughed anyway. (By the way, I was terribly young then. Haha!)

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