Receive Updates and News


Learn more
Circle Button
Left Shadow

On Aspirations and How I Failed my First Interview

The following two tabs change content below.

Randy Banna

I am a Mechanical engineer by study; Subsea engineer by practice, I started in the Oil & Gas sector in 2004. I worked for 8 years with BP in Egypt and the UK then for 2 years with Wood Group Kenny in the US. I am currently working on my MBA at Edinburgh Business School, Scotland and started my own consultancy firm in Egypt. I am a strong believer that collective effort and team work can build wonders, just like what our amazing Ancient Egyptian ancestors once did, you can reach out to me for Oil and Gas, Project Management or career development advice, please contact me on Facebook or Linkedin and I will be more than happy to help you out.
Aspirations on how I failed my first


The last two years in university are very busy for any graduating senior, engineering degree students are certainly no exception. Graduation projects, the search for summer internships, full year apprenticeships and ultimately the thrilling hunt in hopes of landing the first job.

Back in my uni days, as one of the top ranking students in my department, the top 9 students and I were automatically nominated to get interviews for one of the biggest European Oil and Gas operator companies in Egypt. Back then, I was excited and happy I was one of the chosen for the interview; the demand for that year was 3 fresh grads, so my chances were not too slim or so I thought. It was my first internship interview; however this internship upon successful completion would lead to a job offer, so it was critical for me.

As I got closer to the interview date, I started freaking out, I did my pre-interview homework as I was taught in the university and on the day I got formally dressed and two of my best friends gave me a ride to the company headquarters based in the prestigious Cairo Maadi district that hosts the majority of Oil and Gas companies operating in Egypt. I arrived, signed my name in, waited for my return and took the interview. Up till this moment, it feels like it is a normal story, however it is not.

From the second I got on company premises, I felt something was not right, I felt that I did not dress properly, not to my taste, when I chose my outfit, I chose it to try and impress the interviewers. During the interview, I made my first interview mistake, I was answering to impress, not responding practically to the interview questions, I was tense, uncomfortable, intimidated, I jumped to answers without much thinking and my breathing during the interview was all wrong. End result, as expected, I was not among the selected for the internship.

A year later with only a few weeks left to earn my Mechanical Engineering degree, I was nominated again for an interview with the same Oil and Gas Corporation. Going through the whole process again taught me one of the most valuable lessons and it can be perfectly described in the own words of Albert Einstein “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

This time I prepared differently for my interview and this is what I have done, which in no way is interview advice but solely for the purpose of sharing my story:

  1. I familiarized myself with the company history, when they were established, their operating locations, their current operations in Egypt and some of the main brands associated with the corporation.
  2. I reviewed the list of courses I have taken in university and reflected as to how my study is practically applicable in the field of oil and Gas.
  3. I brainstormed a list of what skills I have gained working on my extracurricular activities in university which were mostly on the soft side, covering negotiations, presentation skills and events management.
  4. I did not dress to impress, I actually went for a less formal attire. I dressed in what made me feel confident and comfortable. This reflected on my moral and I was more relaxed and I actually came across as self confident.
  5. For the technical questions, I took my time, I answered using only what I know from my studies or from previous internships and I was never ashamed of saying I do not know the answer.
  6. This time around I worked on my breathing before the interview so during the interview my heartbeat was steady and I was hence able to focus a lot more on receiving the questions and responding properly.

The impression the interviewers formulated about me on the technical and non technical sides was extremely positive and it was no surprise that I got the internship and eventually my first job after this interview which taught me almost all I know about how to take an interview. I had so many interviews since then, I got accepted to jobs I am really proud of, and jobs that helped me travel the world and explore my full potential as a person and as working professional. What I learned is, being prepared does not necessarily land you where you would aspire to be but beingflexible and open to learning and exploring new strategies to reach your goals does.

If you get stuck in the same frame of work or performance you are likely to reach a standstill or at the best plateau in your career. So the advice that I personally, an aspiring entrepreneur to be, apply now is to remain open to new methods, to fresh points of view and above all to listen and learn from others who are successful and from those who failed but never gave up on their dream from all the entrepreneurs out there so I will end this note with a inspiring quote I love for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”

Respect earns you respect

right Shadow