Expect the unexpected in job interviews

By Deirdre May, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers (Limerick)

LIMERICK - Deirdre May
Deirdre May, Career Coach, Limerick office
Tel: 086 890 8400

Thanks to RG, who emailed us this tale from the interview front:

This is not so much a question as a story that might be of value to your readers. I was called for a second interview. I knew I had done really well in the first interview, particularly as the chairperson told me that I did a superb interview when she met me downstairs afterwards.

As per your advice in previous columns, I was diligent in my preparation for the second interview. I had new ideas and fresh questions in light of the first interview, and I was ready to restate my commitment to the position. However, when I turned up I got a shock: the interview was called off.

Sheepishly, the chairperson explained to me that the managing director, who was scheduled to attend the second-round interviews, had been called away at the last moment. The other two candidates, who were due to be interviewed after me, had received a phone call, but it was too late to notify me.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Having psyched myself up for the interview, adrenaline coursing through my veins; this was a real knockdown. Nevertheless something clicked in my mind, and I decided to make the best possible use of an unexpected situation.

“That’s not a problem,” I said, “these things happen. I’m sure she’s a very busy woman. I was very much looking forward to meeting you today as I had a great number of ideas to discuss with you, but I guess we will have to wait for another day. At the very least I would like you to know that having attended for the first interview, I am even keener to attain this role and feel that I present as a very good candidate for the job.”

The chairperson explained that it would be inappropriate of the interview board to hear my ideas, given that the other two candidates would not be afforded this opportunity. I said I understood perfectly, shook hands with the trio, and left the room.

My head was all in a spin as I drove away from the building. Still, the more I thought about it, the more I felt I had done the right thing. If I had expressed anger, annoyance or frustration, I might have had some short-term satisfaction, but the likelihood was that it would have scuppered my chances.

Turns out my hunch was correct. Three days later the chairperson rang me to say that the second interviews had been postponed, and that the original interview panel had been given the power to make the final selection based on that first interview. And I was the chosen one!

She also let it slip, perhaps intentionally, that my measured reaction to the second day scenario had not gone unnoticed by the panel. I’m over the moon. I start work next month, and I’m really looking forward to this new challenge in my career.

The message I would like to give your readers is that they should expect the unexpected where interviews are concerned. The panel may be disinterested, the questions may be unanticipated, or, as I discovered, the interview may not even take place.

But no matter what, stay true to your purpose in attending for interview –  think on the spot, stay calm, and focus on always doing or saying something that will convince them to give you the job. I hope this helps.

Deirdre May is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Limerick.

Make a booking HERE for CV Preparation, Interview Training and Mock Interviews.

More articles from her blog can be accessed HERE