Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Life's a Pitch: How to not cope with job rejection

DISCLAIMER: Reading this article before you go for your job interview is not a good idea. You have been warned. The views expressed in this article are that of the Author's ego and not of the super-ego cunningly mediated by the id. The content is  not designed to help you nail a job interview of any descripition. However, if you would like some advice on how to take up navel-gazing as an accreditable afterwork hobby, the author, a certain Tallulah,  would be more than happy to re-adjust your moral compass.

Being good at the job you’re applying for and being good at a job interview, are two different disciplines. And in my case, job interviews are my absolute Achilles’ heel - luckily I have been appointed for 80% of my jobs, otherwise I would be permanently unemployed. For the remaining 20%, on three momentous occasions, I have been in a position where I was in the final two, with a clear lead, and on those three occasions, I did not get the damn job.

When you get rejected for a job – particularly when you have been shortlisted from 200 applicants, to five, and then called for a second interview – it’s hard to not take it personally, despite what anyone else says.

At the end of the day – the interviewers are buying into the person they see before them, and not necessarily their skills. You either inspire confidence in them, or you don’t. Naturally there are other factors which come into play, such as:
You may have been the best candidate until the next one came along
The job may have been targeted for an in-house candidate even though it was advertised
You may have been the right person for the job, but your face didn't fit
The recruiter may have asked the right questions but lacked the skill to make a proper post-interview assessment.

Don't Get Even, Get Mad!
Yesterday – I got the rejection letter that said that I didn’t get the fucking job, after three weeks of reading their shitty website, performing timed written tests,  researching presentations ect and them conveying how fabulous they thought I was to my recruiter.

The first panel interview went superbly well, and lasted over an hour, in which I breezed through all the questions confidently and they seemed to hang on to my every word. I left the building feeling exhilarated– especially as I was going through a more senior role, and even took the lift with a member of staff who said they hoped I got the job.

I then got asked to come back for a second interview with the director and one of her minions, as it was now down to two candidates.  I had to make a presentation based on some vague ideas they had in mind and answer all their questions, some of which were designed to be confrontational.

Compared to the first interview, hostility seemed to be the running theme of  these  Birkenstock-wearing charity skanks' approach to the damn interview.

This time, I left the building feeling deflated, as not only was I in there for 30 minutes, as opposed to an hour – but also because I was not feeling the vibe man or getting any kind of positive response from anything I said. It was as if the first interview happened on another planet altogether.

So last night, after several glasses of Prosecco washed down with some carbs, I became obsessed with these questions: Who was the other final  candidate? Male or female? Younger or older? What type of experience? Do they speak any other languages (I speak 4)? Did they have a PR face or a Charity face? Did they think that I looked too high-maintenance to be sent to fragile states?

Who fucking knows. Apparently, they  cannot give any skanky contructive feedback yet.

The only thing that I do know, is that the major defining factor between the first and second interview was that I re-read the brilliant pitching book called Life’s a Pitch, by Stephen Bayley and Roger Mavity – which I thoroughly recommend.

I have read this book numerous times, and the advice in it has proven to be invaluable. Nothing like it has been written before. A mixture of mentoring, graphics, anthropology, market research and modern Machiavellianism.

There is a helpful section in there about how to cope with job interviews, the blueprint of  which I applied in the first interview. For the second one, I did not bother to skim through the book again because I thought that all the main points were already lodged in brain - -which clearly they werent.

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