Straight talk may have rescued epic interview fail

Your Career, Your Choices

Q: I went to a job interview last week. Early on, it was fairly obvious I wasn’t the right person for the job. Although I have experience in the sector (hospitality ), I haven’t the business management experience they needed.

Initially, I persevered and tried to answer their questions and almost bluff my way through it. Then two things struck me during a moment of clarity: 1. they know and I know, let’s not maintain the pretence; and 2. is there anything I can rescue here today?

So I addressed the elephant in the room. I said I didn’t think I had the experience they were after, but that if some other jobs ever came up that might suit me; would they bear me in mind? They agreed and we had a much more normal chat after that. They thanked me for my honesty, wished me well and assured me they would keep me in mind if something comes up in their hotel.

I don’t really have a question – I just wanted to share this experience with the rest of your readers. (KJ, email ).

A: Fair play. I think you did the right thing. Maintaining the pretence wasn’t getting any of you anywhere, and, if you hadn’t interjected, chances are they’d have forgotten you before you got to your car, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

The experience of sitting in an interview as the tide starts to go out can be a chilling one. I once toyed with cashing in my chips halfway through an interview. I started poorly and went downhill from there.

I was on the verge of ‘getting my coat’ and leaving but I didn’t: I soldiered on poorly, throat getting drier with every passing second, until it finally came to an end and I left and they rapidly stroked an ‘x’ beside my name. And I wouldn’t blame them: I had given a miserable account of myself.

At least this way, KJ, they might remember you someone who was confident enough to tell it like it was. It might stand to you when they are hiring again.

Somebody messed up by having you there in the first place. While you did the best you could with a bad job, the reality is that a lot of time – yours, theirs – was wasted because you were brought to an interview for a job that wasn’t right for you.

Parachute can help you jump

Q: I’m looking at changing careers. I’ve been in retail for 25 years and I’ve enough of it. I’m just going the motions. Now, knowing me, this change won’t be a turn-on-a-sixpence job. I tend to make big decisions with all the pace of a glacier. Is there any book you’d recommend at this stage in my decision-making process? (FG, email ).

A: There are a whole lot of books out there on decision-making, none of which I have decided to read just yet.

For career change, What Colour is your Parachute by Richard N Bolles is still a market leader after all these years. Career writers can produce tedious copy (“who are you telling?” ) but Bolles injects the whole process with the sense of excitement and exploration it warrants.

The 2018 edition is now out. It’s as good a place as any to start.

Sli Nua Careers ( ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Ballinrobe and Claremorris ), Limerick, Tullamore, Sligo, Tralee and Cork. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit


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