Was he digging in – or testing me out? Job Interview

Job Interview

By Liam Horan, Career Coach & Managing Director, Sli Nua Careers

Liam Horan
Liam Horan, BALLINROBE Tel: 094 95 42965

Q: I found myself in a tricky position in a job inyerview. The interviewer was certain of a “fact”. I was even more certain that this “fact” was not a fact at all. I worked on the exact project whereas the interviewer only looked on from afar. We butted heads once or twice before I felt it better to make my excuses and relent. Might it have been a test to see if I were assertive enough? I hope the incident doesn’t go against me. (DT, email).

A: Ironically, I came across this scenario elsewhere very recently. That candidate was also curious to ascertain whether or not it was a test of her assertiveness, writes LIAM HORAN, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

It is a very tricky one, as you say. Building rapport is a key aim in a job interview, and butting of heads tends not to create a great sense of bonhomie in a room.

Job InterviewMiddle Road

I would be a middle-of-the-roader on this myself – or at least I hope I would be. This approach would be to state my position clearly without any sense of fighting too hard to prove I am right.

You would hope the interviewer would later check this “fact” and realise the error of their ways. We should never pin too many hopes on the interview panel: we cannot control them, they have their own way of doing it and, in many ways, it is akin to playing the match and trying to referee it yourself too (though, it must be said in passing that the world of sport has a teeming supply of double-jobbers in this regard).

I think you were correct to relent after a couple of exchanges because the atmosphere could linger and lead to one incident damaging the entire interview and, by extension, your prospects of getting the job.


Do I think it was a test? In this exact instance, I am simply unable to offer an opinion: but what I would say is that, in my experience of getting feedback from candidates and interview panels, nine times out of 10 I believe it would not be a test.

The number of interview panels I come across playing games of subterfuge is very low. Yes, it does go on, but nowhere near as often as candidates sometimes think: many of us have been guilty of nursing seductive conspiracy theories after interviews.

Can you talk to somebody else who went for the interview? Did they have a similar experience? If they had; yes, it does sound like a pre-meditated test.

Either way, it’s over now and when reviewing your job interview, you should assess whether or not you properly identified the needs of the employer and set about demonstrating how you meet those needs.

Have you given real evidence from your career to date?

Did you prove your points in a concrete, rather than abstract, manner?

Did you engage in a knowledgeable conversation about the job and what you would bring to it?

If you did all of those things, chances are you did a good interview. Let the ref decide now.

Hopefully the news will be good when the “I wish to notify you…” email or letter drops. And, if not, probably wiser not to lock the ref in the boot of your car, however sorely you may be tempted.

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