Even though I managed to clear my written exams and official papers, my job hunting hardly progressed after that.
I’d had a second interview too, but no results followed. I sighed, searching for my textbook that I’d kept in the corner of the club room.
「Oi, Noda! You look down!」
「We thought you’d be sick of job hunting all the time, so we hid your textbook! It’ll be a nice change of pace.」
「It won’t! Give it back now!」
I gave a light uppercut to the member who said he’d hid my notes as well. I had to go to career counselling class after my lectures, and I had no time to waste.
「Ouch! That one hurt more than usual!」 The member complained, saying I was taking my anger out on him.
「You’re the wrong one for getting started on Noda when she’s clearly wounded.」
「I strongly agree. It was too mischievous of you.」
I could tell I was getting frustrated with my unsuccessful job hunting. My sighs just wouldn’t stop.
「Well, cheer up, Noda. Arioka’s coming next week so you can ask him for some countermeasures!」
I’d just met Arioka on White Day. A new working adult, Arioka seemed always busy with something or another, and had stopped replying to emails for a while. I myself only came to university once a week and there were a lot of members I hadn’t seen in a while.
I’d been failing in all my interviews, so if I asked Arioka for some advice when he got here, I might just manage to get one interview right.
I sighed. Taking notes went so smoothly, but when it came to interviews I got nothing but rejections. I had no idea what to do so I took seminars and learned business manners, but that just wasn’t enough.
Today, I had my first encounter with what was called a ‘stress interview.’ I’d heard about it before, but once I experienced it, it wore my heart down quite a bit.
The interviewer would ask troubling questions on purpose, deny every word I said and keep pressuring me. It seemed he was evaluating me based on how I managed to get through it, but I completely lost it.
When he asked me, 「What will our company gain from hiring you?」 my mind went blank. His last words to me were 「You’re not suited for our company.」 This was the first time I’d been so emotionally damaged by an interview.
「Stress interviews are tough, huh… I had a stress interview where no matter what I said, the interviewer said, ‘So?’ My spirit just shattered. It’s like a test to see how you cope with stress.」
「Though, Arioka always seemed like he had fun in stress interviews. He’d turn into a tsundere, saying stuff like, ‘You don’t really want to hire me but whatever, how about I let you listen to my reasons for applying for this position?’」
「I tried copying him but it’s impossible. I can’t think of anything except the fact that an intimidating man is saying disturbing things to me and I can’t stay calm.」
「So it was Noda’s first stress interview~! There’s a lot of those in the IT field. But you probably wanna go into the food industry. There can’t be many jobs in that field… Food companies are a negative, then. Even though there’s so many consumers like us, it’s risky…」
It seemed like everyone was going through their own challenges. Even though I knew I wasn’t alone, everything seemed dark and hopeless and my sighs still wouldn’t stop.
On the way back from my career counselling class, I went to Mizuhara’s place.
I didn’t have the energy to make sweets, but I couldn’t complain to the club members who were going through the same as me, nor to my underclassmen who’d be job hunting themselves next year, and definitely not to my upperclassmen who were newly working adults in dire distress.
Mizuhara, who’d chosen a stable job at a very early age, was the optimal choice.
He watched me annoyedly as I grumbled and rambled, tearing off lint from my lap blanket.
「You’re annoying. How about you just shut up and go job hunting?」
He handed me a small box, as if thinking I’d be quiet if he gave me some sweets. I opened it to see marrons glacés inside, and my gloomy mood lightened a little.
Marrons glacés were my favorite sweets.
I’d never made them myself; the quality of the chestnuts greatly affected the taste so they tasted way better store-bought. But they were a high-class, expensive item, and I lately couldn’t afford them since I was jobless and broke.
「Delicioussss! As expected from the king of sweets, marrons glacés!」
Sweet and savory, it was amazing. The large chestnuts were soft and boiled well with the molasses and brandy.
As I read a book on interview tactics, I worried over whether I could succeed if I didn’t widen my scope further. So far, I was just focusing on businesses near my home, but it wasn’t working out.
「I’m thinking about living alone somewhere in the province,」 I murmured.
Mizuhara, who had been relaxedly reading his gourmet magazine, quickly stood up. The table shook, and the tea was about to spill.
「Hey, that’s dangerous!」 I had documents and reference data I had to turn in on the table, and if any tea got on those, it would be a problem before interviews.
「Where will you live?」
「Huh? I haven’t decided where yet. I was hoping to do office work at some nearby business so I wouldn’t have to relocate, but now I’m planning to get a proper job even if it’s somewhere far from my house.」
I told him it didn’t matter where it was, as I read some details about a company I was going to be interviewed by the day after tomorrow.
「Let me see those,」 said Mizuhara, and I handed him the documents. He ran his eyes over them and started asking me questions about the company. I gaped as he asked about the company’s capital stock, number of workers it started out with, its profit growth, and corporate philosophy.
「No no, I haven’t memorized those yet.」
I was about to read all that now but Mizuhara had just sliced through me like a bisection.
「You’re slow and half-hearted. Your interview’s the day after tomorrow, right? The most basic principle is to know about the company before.」
「Huh? Yeah, that’s why I still have today and tomorrow…」
「Your research is far too insufficient, that’s why you’re failing. And on top of that, do you not look at anything but your desired company’s strong points to flatter them during the interview?」
Especially when talking about my reasons for applying, I’d talk about the aspects that company exceeded others in and how I felt attracted to it and wanted to work there because of its strengths.
「That’s useless,」 said Mizuhara. 「It’s very important just how much you impress someone in interviews. You have to find the company’s flaws and point out areas of improvement. Companies also already want students to apply to them, so they’re all already being told about their good points. Meanwhile, you’ll be a student that actually leaves an impression on them if you dare to point out flaws in the difficult to understand business system and propose valid solutions to them.」
Overwhelmed by Mizuhara’s enthusiasm, I nodded understandingly.
「Do you have any plans on Sunday?」
I basically had no interviews on Sunday, and no seminars either. I shook my head, and Mizuhara took out his phone, typing out an email.
「There’s an Underground Meeting at Maruta-san’s store with all the official members. Microwave and the others are directors of large companies. You can consult them about interviews.」
「Huh? Won’t I be disturbing them in their private time?」 I thought it’d be pretty depressing if I started asking them about interviews when they’d been waiting the whole week to enjoy some sweets.
「Microwave and all have taken a liking to you, and they do worry about you, so it’s fine.」
「But…」 I hesitated, feeling bad.
「It’s fine, the trump card of being liked comes above all else.」
I didn’t really understand but Mizuhara was being exceedingly cooperative, and helped me out a lot. His way of teaching was rather cruel and Spartan, but I realized my attitude towards job hunting was too naive until now. I’d been applying to tons of companies using the philosophy 「keep trying until someone accepts you」 but my weakness was that I hadn’t been focusing on one at a time.
Microwave helped out a lot too, teaching me lots of things.
And then, June started.
I received an unofficial offer from a food company I’d been aiming for.