Well, now the second part of the selection process is over: the interview. Words cannot express the relief I am feeling now that I have finished my interview. Granted, the committee mentioned that I would hear results “within a few days,” which could mean any time from today to the middle of next week. Thankfully, this last part of the selection process has nothing to do with me and until that time I can breathe a little easier. For now, I am thankful that the interview is over and done with and that I have done all that I could to paint an accurate portrait of myself for the committee members. Let me review how this interview process went over…
I spent the majority of yesterday in my tiny hotel room, researching. Researching the committee members, of which there are seven, the other finalists, and researching my own application with incredible scrutiny. I took a three hour adventure in down town Montreal to get some fresh air, some food, and do some shopping. After this, I returned to researching, taking periodic breaks to focus on some schoolwork (it has to get done at some point…) and to get some more food. I decided to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep, attempting to feel refreshed in the morning.
I did not sleep great at all. I was annoyed at my hotel hall mates, who seemed to think having conversations in the resonating corridor was a fantastic idea at 3 am. I did manage to stay in bed until 7, and then gave up trying to sit still. I took an extremely long time getting breakfast, getting dressed, and packing this morning. All the while, I would interrupt my routine to look over the notes I had made for myself in an attempt to prepare myself for the interview. Despite all of this, I still spent too little time getting ready and resigned to leaving my room early, once I was all packed. I checked out of the hotel and began my walk to Power Corporation Canada, suitcase in hand. even though I tried to walk slowly, I arrived a whopping 40 minutes before my interview – quite a bit more early than the 20 minutes they had suggested. I sat outside the building and played solitaire on my ipod in an attempt to calm myself down and make some of the time pass.
At 10:50, I entered the building, where I was once again directed to the coat room. Here, I left all of my belongings, including anything that would give me an indication of the time. I was then instructed to sit on the first floor in a small waiting area until the committee called for me to come upstairs. I have no idea how long I waited there, but I remember watching people pass in the window and allowing my nerves to build up. Finally, the phone rang and I was instructed to take the elevator to the 8th floor, same as on Thursday. Instead of going directly into the interview room, I was instructed to sit once again in a waiting room. Luckily, this room did not have a window with a street view! Instead, I was distracted by the large, half nude, wooden sculpture positioned directly beside me. For whatever reason, this statue made me feel much more relaxed. My heart rate was only mildly deafening at this point.
Eventually, the secretary came down the hallway with the previous interviewee, the African History girl I had made friends with. She gave me a kind smile and wished me luck (a VERY small comfort at this point!). I was told by the secretary to wait a little while longer while the committee prepared itself and that he would come back and get me. Once he did so, we walked down the white marble hallway together, my heels making an excess of noise, to a fancy boardroom at the very end of the hall.
I entered and took my seat at the head of the table. The committee members were seated three on the right, three on the left and the president directly in front of me. They asked me questions about my application, about my reference letters, about the Rhodes scholarship, and some questions that came entirely from left field; such as which artist (art, music, theater etc.) would I choose, as a scientist, to nominate for a prestigious award for their artistic contribution to Canada since our constitution (boy was that one hard…).
In all, the entire interview flew by in a flash. I remember sitting down and then shortly after standing up and thanking the committee. The secretary walked me back down the hallway, just as he had done with the previous interviewee. As we walked he asked “so, how was it?!” and smiled. I remember laughing and saying “not too bad, but I’m glad its over!” He laughed some more and then thanked me for coming, wishing me the best. I left my contact information with the security guard at the entrance to the 8th floor before taking the elevator back down.
There you have it! Over just as quickly as it began. Now, all I have to do is wait for my train to Toronto to visit my wonderful sister and brother in law and hope for the phone call that could change my entire life. Win or lose, this entire experience has enabled me to learn about myself and meet fantastic new friends. Stay tuned for one more post about the final results!