Confessions of a job interview candidate

This isn’t a question. It is my own personal experience from a job interview I did last week. I hadn’t done one in about six years, and I was nervous beforehand, not least because I really want to escape my current incarceration, sorry, job, writes “Regular Reader, CP”.

I tried to avoid putting a lot of pressure on myself. But I had the lot – the sleepless night the night before, the self-conscious feeling as I walked to the company’s office (I was sure I’d trip or something, make a fool of myself), the dry mouth and the bit of a shake. There was a glass of water on the table: I knew better than to attempt to lift it to my mouth.

It started slowly, and that was good. That allowed me to settle me a bit. My sense of security was an illusion, however.

About three questions in, one of the three interviewers took centre stage and clicked into action. Boy, did he lower the blade. Any time I tried to elaborate during an answer, he brought me back to clarify something I had earlier mentioned. I struggled to avoid getting tied up in knots. My train of thought barely stayed on the track.

But I kept at it. I played a lot of rugby in my time, and I heard my inner voice say, “this is like playing against a strong breeze and the referee is letting the other crowd away with a lot”. I just stayed with it, answering as best I could. I hoped they would interpret my persistence as a good sign.

It was billed beforehand as a competency-based job interview, but it veered between competency-based and a more traditional job interview. I tried to tell stories I had prepared and, by and large, I did that. When the hard-hitting interviewer allowed the colleague to his right ask a few questions, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders.

I was still alive and breathing, albeit a bit heavily. I was sweating; hopefully not visibly. And the panel was still interested in me.

The third interviewer allowed me to develop my answers. Her nods encouraged me greatly. “Good point,” she said at one stage. It was a boost.

What surprised me most was how chaotic it felt at times. I had thought through a range of scenarios, and I’d done well in a mock interview with a colleague, but the interview happened so fast I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.

Questions I remember include: tell me about a time you had to manage conflict; have you ever dealt with underperformance; and how would you escalate an issue to a senior manager? I finished strongly by reiterating I really wanted the position and that I had a lot to offer.

The biggest lesson I learned was to keep trying. Keep thinking of a relevant answer. Keep tuning into their questions to see if you suss out what they’re after. “Remember, everyone else is in the same boat,” my colleague had said.

I got word this morning that I’ve been successful. Clearly my boat hadn’t gone under. That’s what prompted this missive. Others might learn from my experience. I can’t say I enjoyed it, but all’s well that ends well.



Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.


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