Q: I went for a job interview in my own company last week and, to be honest, I found it hard to get out of the blocks. The problem was that the people interviewing me have been my supervisor and manager for a long time. We get on grand. When I went in, stat down and looked at them, my heart sank. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t talk the talk. I knew that they knew that I knew, and they knew that I knew that they knew, and I found it hard to tell them even the most basic information. Total freeze. Imagine my disappointment when somebody from outside the company came in and stole the job from under my nose. I’m distraught and I’m annoyed with myself. Any thoughts? (ED, email.)
A: This scenario occurs more often than you might think – the ‘interview as clairvoyance’ model has serious limitations. Sometimes the panel will give you a pass, but I wouldn’t like to depend on it, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
Ultimately, when an interview panel sits in front of you, they want answers. Even panels who know you have the answers still need to hear them.
They want to feel you’re keen about the job and that you know what needs to be done. They’ve got categories to fill in their marking sheets and you must tick those boxes as best you can.
Something I’ve found that worked with clients previously in situations like this is to invent another unknown person in the interview panel who does not know them, or the ins and outs of the company. In this way, you can convince yourself that you’re explaining your role and achievements to this mystery guest, so to speak. This should force you to be more explicit and persuasive.
The presence of your manager and supervisor unwittingly dragged you down in this interview – but only because you less it. They set up the interviews to try and find the most convincing candidate, and what happened within those four walls was crucially important: when we go in to an interview, we must resolve to give the best possible account of ourselves.
It can be embarrassing, it can be daunting but it cannot be ignored. There is no alternative.
This external candidate, who doesn’t have your experience of the company, was able to come in and, unencumbered by knowing the people intimately, give the most convincing performance on the day.
You let your house be burgled, alas. And, from the tone of you question, it’s clear you know that yourself. The external candidate sang the right song in the interview, and, in the absence of a solid case from you, the panel were swayed in their direction.
But every road has a turn: beidh lá eile ag an bPaoroach.
Next time, you owe it to yourself to be ready to tell them all they need to know – what you have done in the company, the achievements you have to your name, the ideas you have for the new role, and, in short, that you are the best candidate for the job.
Don’t let the day-to-day relationship you have with them obscure you from flourishing in this one-off test.