Beware of the Bull
Last updated: 23/09/1996 11:32:09
Automotive Management 23/09/96

"I thought it would be easier to look for a new job with time on my hands, so I resigned"

"We had a major policy disagreement, so I resigned"

"I am not prepared to discuss the reasons for leaving as I am not prepared to betray my old employer's confidentiality"

"They discovered that I was looking for another job and sacked me"

Many recruitment consultants, personnel managers and those who interview often will be smiling at the above. We have heard them all a hundred times and will them again just as often.

The majority of candidates have nothing to hide, and answer our questions candidly and frankly. With those we genuinely have very productive and thoroughly enjoyable meetings, and genuinely feel that we are able to help.

The problem comes with a small percentage who feel that they can bluff their way through any meeting by giving bland and in their mind original answers to questions which they would rather you hadn't asked.

Over the years I have met and interviewed thousands of candidates. During that time I have heard every excuse for dodging a question and the bluffers simply do not impress, they irritate and waste your time. Not only do they waste our time they waste our clients if we put them in front of them. As a result, we rarely do.

Even so, sometimes a client will come back to me and say "We felt he had something to hide, but we couldn't put our finger on it." Or "She just bluffed her way through the interview - we wouldn't trust her to answer a question honestly".

It is a recurring theme with me, but it is a very genuine plea. Please understand that in interview situations, as in any other form of communication, when you are asked a question what is genuinely required is an honest response. Do not spend your time worrying about "interview technique" or second guessing your interviewer and telling them what they want to hear. Do that and do it very well and they will end up employing the wrong person, do it badly and they will simply be put off you from the start.

Genuine employers with real career opportunities will respect far more those that handle well the unpleasant truth (maybe you were sacked by making a really silly mistake that you would never repeat, or maybe you failed all your A'Levels because you hated your school and were in with the wrong group of friends) than somebody who lies or deliberately misleads to hide the truth.

Most interviewers realise that people have problems with their careers and their lives. What we are normally looking for in capable Managers are those that recognise problems and handle them and deal with them logically and effectively. What we are not looking for are people who refuse to acknowledge that problems exist and try and sweep them under the carpet.

So next time you are in an interview situation, beware of the bull. Talk straight, admit your mistakes and show how you dealt with them positively and you are likely to impress far more than those who tell you they have so much talent that it is difficult to understand why they were not Chairman of ICI by the age of 35.

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