culture/tradition education lifestyle Pastoral

The Magic in a Smile

A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear. Let me tell you a story of how my experience got me an intern position in a leading Nigerian bank. In 2010, I was privileged to sit for a recruitment test in my school. The test was supervised by representatives of Diamond Bank Nigeria PLC, now Access Bank Nigeria PLC, a major financial services provider, who were scouting for interns. About 2000 applicants were pre-selected from different departments. I remember that the first test was a written essay and as someone who enjoyed writing, I found it easy to navigate through. The next day, applicants were asked to check a shortlist pasted on the notice board. We were advised to wait for an open interview if our names appeared on the list. I was nervous, and wasn’t sure that I would make it as other applicants were as good as myself. Anyway, when I checked and saw that I was among the shortlisted 99 applicants, I knew that I had to face one more hurdle: the interview. At first I was happy that my essay was good enough. But there was no time to prepare for the interview, I could only adjust my shirt while observing myself from the hall window.

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Few hours later we were ushered into school auditorium. As it was an open interview, the academic faculty were invited to see our performance. It was a long wait for me, as my name fell somewhere between 50-60 in the list. I remember how I felt when my time finally came. As the interviewer walked over to me, my hands shook in fear. To contain this, I shoved my fingers into my trouser pockets,  but it wouldn’t stop! So I pulled them out and decided to face the panel. The interviewer observed my dressing and when he was close I smiled, nervously. He nodded and ticked something on his book. When he raised his head he asked me a question on math. Thankfully, I had experience teaching algebra. So I gave him an answer after solving the problem on paper.He disagreed with my first answer. I attempted the question again and again. I continued trying as he said no each time I gave a wrong answer. Luckily, I got the answer before my interview time could elapse. I thought as I took time to get the answer I wouldn’t make it to the last list. When I sat down, my seat mates offered me handshakes and said I answered the toughest question in the interview.   When the last candidate was interviewed it was past 7PM in the evening. It was then that the interviewer and his crew called out the names of successful candidates. 50 of 99 applicants made it through and I was one of them! It was an exciting and unforgettable moment for me. The interviewer congratulated us and explained why we were selected. First, we smiled. As providing good service and customer satisfaction are central to bank ethics; working with the public required patience, understanding and tolerance. Also some were selected for their persistence, appearance or determination.Few months later I received a message for me to report to Imo State Secretariat Mini branch, Owerri, Nigeria as Cash Services Representative. Indeed, smiles can create doors where they never existed and when knowledge fail, smiles give confidence to carry on.


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