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Surviving car crash interviews

Doing a job interview can be a harrowing experience, confesses Naomi McVey

My last blog on being more honest about career challenges seemed to strike a chord with many people. So I thought I'd follow it with a blog about difficult interviews, and how to turn what can feel disheartening (or even humiliating) into something more positive.

A few years ago I had a couple of difficult interview experiences in less than 12 months. It took me some time to move on, particularly as I continued to see the interview panel on a daily basis after one of them. I questioned my own ability and spent months beating myself up that I'd not only failed, but that in my mind the people I looked up to hadn't.

It was only as I became more honest about my own experiences that people told me their stories - it's safe to say that most people have an interview story to tell!

With time and mentoring, I was able to take the experiences and use them to improve my approach to interview preparation. I recognised that going for a new job involves stepping out of my comfort zone and going for a stretch role - and this brings some risks. I've reflected that it's important to find out that the role or team aren't the right fit at interview stage, rather than if and when in the job.

Preparation and reflection

There are some things that help with a calm and (relatively) confident approach when it comes to interviews. Preparation is key. Taking up the offer of an informal call teases out what organisations are looking for in a candidate and if it's the right job and culture.

Before an interview writing 'plan on a page' on key objectives for the role in the first 30, 60 and 90 days is a good way to prepare. This can be shared at the interview but first and foremost, if I find if I can't fill it in, I know I don't understand enough about the job.

Challenging interviews can expose gaps in our knowledge and experience. This feels very uncomfortable at the time but is an important opportunity to identify and act on additional learning needed for next career steps. This means structured reflection afterwards is important, writing down questions asked by the panel and highlighting questions that were particularly challenging to use to prepare next time. Feedback from the panel is invaluable. Debriefing with a trusted manager or colleague - the perspectives of someone who knows you professionally - can be really helpful. Coaching or mentoring is a great way to explore this further.

Lastly, it's important that we all use experiences of interviews to shape how we conduct them ourselves. Positive approaches to interviewing, getting the best out of people and giving meaningful feedback demonstrates true leadership in action from everyone involved.

Thank you

This will be my last blog for the CSP for a while. The learning from those unsuccessful interviews has helped me in time to progress to a new role at NHS England, supporting the chief allied health professions officer for England, Suzanne Rastrick.

While I get to grips with my new objectives I'll be still be active on Twitter via @physiotalk and @WeAHPs and my own account. Thank you for sharing and commenting on my blogs over the past year, and no doubt I'll be blogging again in the not too distant future!

Naomi McVey, one of our regular bloggers, wrote this blog in a personal capacity. Follow Naomi on twitter @NaomiMcVey

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Post date:

14 August 2017
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