I tap my fingers for a while, I cross my legs and uncross them again, I comb through my handbag to find my cell phone and fidget with it for a while, I’m bored and can’t wait for it to get to my turn. I dash into the washroom and wonder if my make-up is a little too much; I apply a lush amount of gloss on my lips and adjust my dress to make sure my cleavage is looking superb. Whoever came up with the catchphrase” a girl gotta do what a girl gotta to do” must have said that in reference to me. I check my zippers and still wonder how the zip is holding all that together, my skirt is crazy tight and any funny movement can lead to unraveling what I am wearing beneath.
I get back to the waiting room and the other competitors are staring at me, I believe I’m doing it right because it is definitely getting their attention. I sit in my chair with an air of arrogance and to make my situation look more comforting to me, I look around and find two more ladies. I know they have no chance of overriding me and about eight guys. I sit and wonder why they would call all these people to fill two vacant positions, one which is obviously taken by me.
One by one the various candidates troop in and out of the interview room, those whose smiles can extend to that of an elephant truck can’t help it but smile like they are shooting a toothpaste commercial and for those who embarked on a journey to the long islands didn’t need another telling of how they viewed the interview. One more candidate before it gets to my turn, I am nervous, I quickly take out my mirror to have a look at myself, yeah, like I need that assurance. My heart crashes my ribs cage as I get up to have my turn of the interview; I walk into the room wondering to myself why I had worn this dress of all clothes and now prayed they would be men for me to pour my charms on.
The air condition is super chilly, I have no doubts, “aborekyre aba Ghana “suits this room perfectly, I mentally scan my head about what I know about the company and what I fear the most stares me on my face, on the panel are three elegantly dressed women.
“Ermm, Good morning”, I manage to say, the one sitting in the center pulls down her glasses to have a better look at me. I thought glasses were supposed to make one see better; it looked like my presence needed to be looked at by the naked eyes. My hair is held in a ponytail; I quickly let it go loose and attempt to bring the hair to my shoulder region so it can cover the ample cleavage I am showing generously. I am glad I fixed my twenty inches Brazilian hair, more coverage less cleavage.
“Good morning”, the panelists’ to the right responds, “and have a seat”. I am grateful I am carrying a handbag, I put it on my legs to cover my thighs, I want to vanish into thin air or tell them I am sick to the stomach and quickly dash out, I am petrified so I sit transfixed. I then sort to Bukum Banku words, “What can come can come”. I manage a smile. Now that I think of it, I’m not sure he is the one that said those words.
“Young lady, can you tell us what you are here for?”
“I’m here for the job interview for which I was shortlisted”,
“You don’t seem to be prepared for this interview, I’m sure you know about first impressions”.
“Yes, I do”
“And based on common knowledge you know what I am talking about. Do you think we should proceed with the interview?”
I knew it, female bosses and panelist are the worst, I revisit the scenario I had created in bed yesterday in anticipation for today, all the males drooling over me and just giving me the position, not this nightmare.
“I think it is only fair if you do”. I answered, my handkerchief felt very useful, I was gathering beads of sweat on my nose, I wiped and looked straight ahead.
“Tell us a bit about yourself”, easy question, I thought to myself, this I can do. I pulled out a lot of adjectives to describe myself.
“I am a 27 years old lady and bear the name Chantal Freeman, a graduate of the University of Ghana, pursued B.A Economics and graduated top of my class. I am elegant, love to read and industrious.” This isn’t what I planned to say, my brains were moving faster than my lips. I sighed and the panelist to the left followed suit. I must be sounding boring, I thought to myself.
“Miss Freeman, do you have any reason to believe you are not smart enough?”
“I believe I have the mental capabilities to be called smart, if I weren’t smart I couldn’t have passed the aptitude test”, I replied, hoping I answered squarely. Smart isn’t enough these days, I thought to myself, everyone one needs an insurance just that I had crossed with the wrong gender.
The panelist to the right asked, “Would you find it weird if we told you to get up and swirl so we get to feast our eyes, is that not the reason why you are scantily dressed?”, What is it with women “kraaa”, if they don’t want me they should just let me know and then I can walk out of the room with some dignity, this outlandish request was hitting some nerves. What was scanty about the dress I was wearing isn’t that the type the lady on Office Palaver wears. If they were watching TV more often they would have known of the moving trends. I just wanted an excuse to justify my actions, flimsy or not.
I got up and did as requested, resumed my seat and sat upright.
“So you intended to come in here, meet some male panelist and waltz through the interview with your charms. Nod if it is so”
I nodded my head like a delinquent child.
“I must admit, you look very lovely”
At this point, I didn’t know if she was been sarcastic or admitting to the truth.
“I believe you are more than you portray, give yourself some credit and appreciate your brains. Not to say you shouldn’t flaunt your sexuality, but do it when it is necessary. Love your body; don’t use it as a tool for achieving greater heights”.
In my seat I thought to myself, am I in a guidance and counseling session or in a Religious and Moral Education class, if I don’t qualify for the job they should let me know already. With my thoughts clouding me I could hear her voice in the background; I snapped and told myself to pay attention since this wasn’t any kind of interview, I might be asked to write a pop quiz. I smiled at that thought.
“Find yourself and sell that Miss Freeman”, I nodded and cleaned the sweat off my palm.” Women have mostly being made to believe that a little knowledge plus sexuality or good looks equal’s success. A little flirting, a little cozying wouldn’t hurt but prove that you are more than that. You would hardly see a professional female doctor or architect flaunt their sexuality for work favors, why?
“Do you have anything to add, Miss Freeman”?
“Yes”, Can you overlook my mistakes today and actually consider me for the job”, I said.
“Overlooking it wouldn’t be a problem, the question is, what lesson you have learned from this encounter?”
She had proved me right, here comes the pop quiz, I thought.
“Some of us have been in your situation, especially when the search for jobs becomes a mad race if the pot has learned anything it isn’t to call the kettle black. For those who had the confidence and the strength from the word go not to undermine themselves, I admire them,” that was the panel to the right speaking. “Just don’t lose yourself in all this”.
In my mindset I said, I am going to have a long day, this interview doesn’t seem to want to end.
The panelist sitting at the center finally said, “Miss Freeman, we would give you a call if we think you have earned your way to be the Executive Assistant. Have a lovely day”
Who were they kidding, I knew there was no way I was going to qualify but one thing was for sure, freedom from this embarrassment was awaiting me, all I had to do was get up take a few steps then vanish into thin air.
“Thanks for your time, really appreciated”, I said as I got up, picked up my handbag and made for the door. Tiiiiiiit! This couldn’t have happened at any better time. Apparently, my zipper had heard of my “freedom” speech and decided to go loose, I turned, gave an embarrassed smile and used my handbag as a refuge, using it to cover my behind. I wondered to myself, what a grand exit and shook my head.
Two weeks after my doom I got a call and to my surprise, I was to come for my appointment letter and prepare myself for years of enlightenment to follow. My choice of dress that day, your guess is as good as mine, but the dress was just the physical outlook, my state of mind, my confidence level and my abilities were so alive knowing that my career was going to be solely based on my potential. This time I didn’t need insurance plan because all I ever really needed was to believe in myself.