A Common thread in most self-help / personal growth books is learning from failures.
It is nearly a cliche it is mentioned so much, but it is certainly true if you embrace it.
I always coach Clients to learn from questions you struggled with, to write out which questions you answered well and more importantly what you learned from the experience and how you can use that to your advantage in your next Interview?
A number of years ago I participated in a really great three panel Interview with a company in Australia. I knew many people in the organization and felt it would be a good fit for me. I agreed terms and was verbally offered the job. I then received a phone call that the ‘big boss’ wanted to meet me ‘just to make sure‘. It all smelled a bit fishy. I was told by one of my contacts there that this person felt he was not included in the decision to hire me and wanted to set an example to his team.
It was a one on one Interview, probably just as well a Human Resources person was not present..
He was an ex-lawyer who was now working in supply chain and boy did he grill me. I remember one of the questions he asked me was ‘how do you ensure that a Contractor ‘s work is within quality standards?‘
I gave him a very thorough answer from both a pre-award and post-award stance but it wasn’t enough. I gave him more and it still wasn’t enough, I further expanded on the topic and was confident all of my answers were well thought out, practical and contractually sound. Having been on construction sites for all of my life I was supremely confident my answers were more than comprehensive.
The rest of the Interview was a barrage of difficult questions where he continued to turn the screw, he was short, rude and made me feel very small, I would certainly be ready for that these days but back then I was ill-equipped.
Of course this interview may have been a stress test, he may have found fault in anything I said just to show his team who was boss or contrary to the previous offer of employment, I may not have been the right fit, in any case, I learned a lot from that encounter:
✅ Stress tests are designed to do just that, to test your resolve, how you handle pressure, recognize it and you are far better able to deal with it.
✅ The hiring process can be a cruel mistress, companies can and do treat people poorly in some cases, don’t let it negatively impact you, learn and move on. Use it as a litmus test of whether you want to be part of that organization.
✅ Managers or people like that are not worthy of your service, if someone is a complete d#@khead to you in an Interview, that won’t change when they hire you. Interviewing is a two way street.
✅ Interviews like this happen, be ready for them, most people are respectful in an Interview situation but agendas and internal politics does influence who gets selected, who is given a fair shot and who will be a lamb to the slaughter.
I wasn’t ready then for someone like that, I vowed after that interview that it wouldn’t happen again, I doubled down on my efforts to improve at interviewing, these days when I get ‘stress tested’, I smile and play the game knowing that I am ready for whatever is thrown at me, there is also a time and a place for asking hard questions to a ‘difficult’ Interviewer, more on that in another post.
“How did we learn? By losing. Failure is a teacher. Be honest with yourself,extract the lessons, and you’ll never make that error again.”
– Dan Peterson (founder of the Top Gun naval program)