Mat leaned back against the sofa he shared with two other
persons. He could see other sofas seated with young people of about his age.
Without exception, each person held either a large envelope or a paper file in
his or her hand. Everyone was nervous and expectant though each tried to look
nonchalant and relaxed.
The room that Mat and the others were sitting in was air-conditioned. A pretty
young girl sat in front of a telephone switchboard and was busy handling calls.
The room was tastefully furnished and decorated. Mat thought: so this is the
place I might get to work in; not bad, not bad at all. He checked the contents
of his envelope - certificates, reference letters, identity card, resume, etc.
Yes, everything seemed to be in order. This was the first interview he was going
to attend after applying for various jobs advertised in the newspapers. He
wondered how he would face up to the interviewers when his turn came. Being a
recent school-leaver, he had absolutely no experience in being interviewed. He
had consulted some older working friends about the correct way to present
oneself at an interview, but they gave him contradicting advice that left him no
The door marked "Conference Room" opened and a young girl, presumably one of the
secretaries, stepped out. Everybody turned their eyes on her. She held a piece
of paper in her hand and from it she called out a name. Mat held his breath,
heart pounding. Maybe this was his turn.
An unfamiliar name broke the tense silence and the young man next to him stood
up, adjusted his tie and followed the girl into the room. Mat and the rest
settled back on their seats.
Ten minutes later, the young man emerged. Another name was called. Still it
was not Mat's turn.
After an hour of waiting and watching others getting into the room, Mat was
feeling edgy. When would his turn come? He fidgeted about, fiddling his tie and
rolling up the corners of his envelope.
He must have started to day-dream because when he heard his name being called,
the young girl was standing right in front of him.
"Ahmad Nordin, are you Ahmad Nordin?" She asked Mat, raising her voice.
"Er, Yes, Yes!" Mat muttered. "It's your turn now, come."
Ahmad jumped up and and followed her into the conference room.
Inside the room, three men with ties were seated together behind a large long
table. They looked as though they meant business. In front of them was a chair
on which Mat was indicated to sit. Mat managed to say "good morning" and "thank
you" before he sat down.
"Ahmad Nordin?" boomed the man in the middle. "You wish to be a sales
"Yes," Mat replied. "I want to give it a try."
"What experience do you have?"
"None, sir. But I am a fast learner."
"Maybe, maybe" the same man commented.
After this opening exchanges, Mat felt himself answering their questions
confidently and spontaneously. He did not feel uneasy at all. In fact he was
beginning to enjoy the interview. Soon he was talking cheerfully as though he
had known these men for years. Then suddenly the man in the middle gestured to
him to stop.
"Okay, Encik Ahmad, that's all. We shall inform you as to whether we want you or
not. You may go now and thank you."
Mat stood up, wishing that he could stay longer. There were other things he
wanted to say. Nevertheless he had to leave. So he uttered "thank you" and
shuffled out of the room.
When he stepped into the busy street outside, the sun was shining brightly. He
squinted his eyes to get used to the glare. The day was hot but the sky was a
beautiful blue. Mat felt happy and relieved. He had just attended an interview
which he reckoned to have done quite well. He had just cleared a fearful hurdle
and he came out unscathed. With a smile on his face he half-walked and
half-skipped down the road.