As a Venezuelan and without a work permit for any European country, Peter knew that the prospects of securing a job were going to be uphill. He wanted to join a financial entity where his citizenship could be viewed in a positive and more favorable light but in order to do so, he badly needed to refine his interviewing techniques. To achieve this, he applied to numerous non-financial related companies such as Kiwi Shoe Polish, Quaker Oats, and L’Oreal. He was delighted to learn that he obtained a second interview with L’Oreal in Paris where he was going to be interviewed by Mr. Rafael Gomez who was the head of L’Oreal for Latin America based out of Bogota, Colombia. At the conclusion of his first interview at INSEAD he was given instructions to present himself at a specified time at the Intercontinental Hotel at Avenue Marceau just a few steps away from the Champs Elysees.
Of course Peter was thrilled at having obtained his first interview and was totally mentally pumped up to do well. He arrived at the hotel lobby. By now Peter was not only well prepared, but also perfectly groomed and extremely motivated to make a convincing impression. Naturally, slightly nervous he approached the reception desk at which time he asked for Mr. Gomez by name. He was advised that Mr. Gomez was in Room 505 on the 5th floor so he proceeded to call the room to advise of his presence. The ensuing conversation was rather inaudible and rather incoherent so Peter presumed that Mr. Gomez was not feeling well and therefore, preferred to do the interview in his room.
Peter: Knock, knock
Peter: Again, but more forcefully, knock, knock, knock.
From inside room: Yes, come in. The door is open.
Peter thinking to himself: “Somewhat bizarre venue but what do I know about interviews as this is my first one.”
Mr. Gomez was sitting on one side of the bed. He was a short man, measuring only 5’5”, dark skin, with a thick accent in English so the conversation quickly turned to Spanish. His pajamas were canary yellow with loud blue stripes. His eyes were half shut. His hair was completely disheveled and standing up in part and the expression on his face displayed a mixture of fatigue, bewilderment and absolute disorientation. Somewhat lost and not having much of a choice he asked Peter to make himself comfortable on the other twin bed and to explain to him what this was all about.
Peter: Having practiced mentally his pitch, he proceeded to thank him for the meeting and given his appearance he expressed his sincere hope that Mr. Gomez would feel better soon. He continued to introduce himself as Peter de Haydu who had just completed an extremely rigorous 10 month programme at one of the foremost business programmes in the world and as such with his background, and newly acquired skills, he was more than aptly prepared to confront the challenges ahead and propel L’Oreal to become the dominant cosmetics force in Latin America. He assured Mr. Gomez that this was almost a guarantee because in a very few months he will be impressed by the performance that an exceedingly organised INSEAD graduate can deliver.
Mr. Gomez from his bed, somewhat dazed and trying rather unsuccessfully to stay with the flow, kept saying rather haltingly in Spanish, “INTERESANTE” but not much else as Peter adamantly kept to his script.
Peter then launched into why his talents and the prospect of working for L’Oreal was a match made in heaven. In fact he explained that employment in a cosmetics company and being able to beautify Latin American women even more was a thought provoking and stimulating notion to say the least. He felt that his “personal touch” approach would help him to overcome adversity and to succeed. This was, after all, a dream job that he visualised since he was an adolescent and discovered the allure of the fairer sex.
Peter: (No longer nervous and before Mr. Gomez could utter another word.) I gather there is an opening in South America. As a Venezuelan, he explained that he felt South America was his home turf, yet his work ethics were shaped in the United States and Europe. He was prepared to work 80 hours a week or more, would be happy to travel, and had no amorous entanglements to keep him at bay. In fact, Peter explained that he was available immediately upon receiving his graduating diploma in a few short weeks and the only minor lingering issue is to sign a long term contract, payable in dollars, preferably, and off to the races we go.
Mr. Gomez, by now savagely roused by Peter’s unrestrained verbal barrage, and utterly irritated at the intrusion of his privacy, exclaimed that his name is Rodolfo Gomez, and NOT Raphael! Moreover, he blurted out, rather impatiently, that he was a Health and Sanitation Manager of a fishery company in the town of Pisco, Peru and has not the (expletive!!) slightest awareness nor (another expletive!!) interest in cosmetics, L’Oreal or INSEAD. In fact he feels somewhat (expletive!!) irate and offended having just arrived on a transatlantic flight, not having slept all night, and now to be (“F ing”) victimised by a mysterious intruder who he thought was originally a helpful room service attendant coming to change the bed. He snapped furiously at Peter, “Afuera, afuera, leave me alone and don’t call me Raphael again.”
Incredulous at what had just transpired, Peter fuming, immediately marched to the Reception desk to remonstrate at the incredible mix up and the serious embarrassment of mistaken identity. After profuse apologies, he learned that the appointed Mr. Gomez and his associate from Colombia were in fact pacing anxiously up and down in the lobby waiting for him rather nonplussed and annoyed by his supposed tardiness. Once he connected with them, Peter spent so much time explaining himself and reiterating what had actually just occurred, that the entire mood of the interview was transformed into some form of a rehabilitated comedy routine. Peter’s well scripted lines were totally discarded and overwhelmed as hearty laughter and comic relief, punctuated by this time with a few lively drinks, extinguished any discussion of employment.
Not surprisingly, Peter never got an offer!!