‘Searching interview brought out the best in me’

Liam Horan, BALLINROBE Tel: 094 95 42965

Q: This is not so much a question as an observation. I went for an interview last week in my own company – and the panel gave me a right grilling. I could feel the sweat running down my back. It felt like an hour in the cage with Conor McGregor.

They probed almost every answer I gave, checking if what I was saying was correct and even challenging a few of my assertions about the company, as if I were not telling the truth. They were relentless. At times, I felt like the chief suspect.

Thankfully, I was able to give them what they wanted – i.e. knowledge and insights. It brought out the best in me. I’ve been working there 15 years and if I do say so myself, I know my stuff.

I got the job. And the person on the panel who most put me through the ringer later explained to me that they deliberately adopted this approach with all candidates. They wanted to see who knew most and thought deepest about the role.

“We knew we would only get one chance at making this appointment, and we had to be sure we got the right person. Going deep was our best way of properly checking everyone,” he explained.

I won’t deny admitting that on the night of the interview, as I looked back on the events of the day, I was raging. I felt they hadn’t been fair. But I guess fairness is a relative concept: if everybody else was put through the same grilling, then it was fair. I just thought I’d share that with your readers. (FC, email).

A: I think that is an excellent observation. In my experience, good candidates do best when the interview is tough even if they don’t always enjoy the experience as it unfolds, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

Good candidates should not be afraid to go deep. The more the panel delves beneath the surface, the more the good candidate has to reveal.

A searching interview goes to ocean depths where the bluffer species simply doesn’t survive. It sounds like the panel treated the interview almost like a suitability test, asking you detailed questions about the role, how you might improve it and so on.

Those candidates who haven’t got the experience or the drive for the position get found out in tough interviews like that.

Furthermore, by making it such a grilling, some of the fluffier ends of a shallow interview drift away. It gets down and dirty. A strong candidate, who has done their homework, and who possesses the requisite skills and experience, should be happy to go 15 rounds.

Another advantage of a searching interview is that it tests your capacity to think on the spot while remaining calm. I don’t know the nature of the role you secured here, but that sort of calmness might well be a decided asset in the post.

Of course, it may feel like a battering at the time. But as long as everybody else is subjected to the same level of scrutiny, you really shouldn’t have as much to fear as you think. What’s good for the goose…

Hard questions draw out the best candidates. Good luck in the new role.

Liam Horan is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Ballinrobe.

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