In which I hold it together …

Once again I managed to survive an interview process. I’ll hear next week. So it’s a waiting game now. Time to ponder.

It was an assessment process that will be familiar to lots of us in the public sector. A case study, some roleplay and then a competency based interview. I always find it hard to be objective about how I’ve done unless there’s a tape. Then it’s easy.

Relying on memory is much, much harder. My version of the human memory editing software filters good stuff and punches up the bad. So it’s a little unreliable. Whatever happens I’ll be grabbing any feedback – good objective feedback – I can from those who had to put up with me.

I think it went ok. At least I did nothing that will be remembered by those involved for all the wrong reasons. Actually … um, let me get back to you on that. I once co-interviewed for a role and our last candidate was a little late. He turned up freshly bandaged, fragrant with spirits and spoiling for a fight. At least I won’t be memorable in that way.

Needless to say despite being memorable he wasn’t hired.

I think one of my troubles in my present predicament comes from underestimating the impact of redundancy on my sense of self. You know, that little picture of ourselves that we carry around. Its glass is burnished by every success but dimmed by every failure.

Having jogged along and enjoyed some success it’s hard, astonishingly hard, to psychologically deal with a sudden reversal of this magnitude. You think you are past the feelings of inadequacy and failure but then, to misquote Michael Corleone, ‘… they drag you right back in.’

For me the well of recruitment has been dry until now. My sense of self not only dimmed but covered by quite a heavy dust sheet and stored at the back of my memory mansion in an unfrequented room. So it’s hard to know how I’ve really done. I have only a ropey baseline on which to judge performance.

Still a couple of thoughts haunted me on the way home. Two elementary failings that I knew about but failed to guard against. I didn’t exploit either The Pause or the 90 Second Rule.

The Pause works like this. You are asked a question. You pause and think about the question. You frame a response. And then you speak it.

Too often yesterday my mouth was entering the first bend before my brain had let the hand brake off. You then have the experience of your thought process desperately trying to catch up with where your voice box has got. It’s a mental version of a chase down supermarket aisles. Just as your mental faculties catch up, your lips throw a whole stack of irrelevant items across your path.

Your consciousness rushes past wondering ‘why did I just say that?’ There is no obvious answer.

The 90 Second Rule isn’t the time it takes a Sky Sports Presenter to make an inappropriate comment about an official’s gender or attractiveness. (Can I just say here that Howard Webb is a strikingly handsome presence in my humble opinion?) No, my 90 Second Rule is linked to The Pause and the generally accepted law of diminishing returns.

If you use The Pause your answer to any question should have sufficient impact to make the listener think ‘they’ve answered that’ at around the 90 second mark. The next 90 seconds support that judgement. If you use a further 90 seconds they may well have forgotten the question. And so might you.

Too often I saw my interviewers massaging their aching wrists as I dictated yet another stanza in my heroic prose poem: 1001 reasons why you should hire this bloke.

I had a lengthy journey to contemplate and fret. Still, it’s now time to wait.

And fret a bit more …

About redundantpublicservant

A redundant UK public servant looking for work, sharing his experiences and providing a space for others to do the same.
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8 Responses to In which I hold it together …

  1. YourJSC says:

    It’s not good to blame yourself for not following certain rules and feeling it may have cost you the job. You were speaking of low self-esteem, this way it only gets worse.
    It’s all about the competition and there can only be one winner. If you don’t get the job, it really doesn’t matter, if you came in second or last, the result is the same. Don’t over-analyse it, just accept the situation and move on. When you finally find a job you’re satisfied with, you’ll be happy for all the times you lost one.

    Fingers crossed for next week 🙂

  2. Troodles says:

    Mr RPS, I wish you well and hope you get the job. You mention getting ‘good objective feedback’ from your interview. Good luck with that, even my recruitment consultant couldn’t explain mine to me following a 40 minute grilling on the telephone for a project management job, interviewed by an HR manager. I was told I had no commercial awareness, although no questions linked to that subject ( I ran my own business for 5 years and worked for one of the few Gov Depts without VOTE funding). I can only assume that coming from a Public Sector background they thought I would not understand business, clients etc… hey ho and on we go. I too am looking at my own business, specifically in property development as I have some experience in this. I feel there is a need for a more feminine first contact for people wanting work done on their own home. So to appeal to the female market I have had a real laugh thinking up female orientated property/development company names. My son sent me some ideas that could have come straight from a Sky sports presenter, needless to say I’ve put them to one side. I will let you know how it goes.

    • Dear Troodles,

      Puzzling isn’t it? I have had feedback that seemed to relate to not only a job that I’d not applied for but also an application I’d not written.

      Good luck with the business – I think you’re on to something.

      Best wishes


  3. A says:

    Best wishes as you await the outcome.

  4. Feedback, I could write a long short story about feedback……

    When in my career I was on ‘the circuit’ for a promoted post I always reckoned it took me two or three interviews before I got into the swing of them again. That was in a time when each week in the ‘trade paper’ there’d be loads and loads of jobs to apply for. These days sadly there are few – so you don’t get the chance to get into the swing – however nor does anyone else.

    End of the day in most cases you have just got to be better than the others…. and if you weren’t – its their loss isn’t it?

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