Is it ever acceptable to swear in an interview?

I was being interviewed for a directors post and I was asked about working with colleagues in Health. Having discussed points of conflict like delayed hospital discharges due to budget pressures on home care and residential care home placements I went on to talk about my work with the then Primary Care Trust. I recounted a discussion where the GP’s around the table were expressing frustration about the increasing number of patients they were seeing who did not have medical problems. These patients one GP said were to use his expression,” suffering from shitty life syndrome “. Immediately the body language of members of the interview panel stiffened. It was clear that they thought this sort of language was inappropriate in the same way I had when I heard it. I went on to say that the GP in question had explained that he was referring to patents who came typically complaining they could not sleep and asking for sleeping tablets or anti depressants. A few questions about home life and it quickly became apparent that the husband had lost his job, there were mounting debt problems, teenage daughter was staying out all night and 13 year old son with learning difficulties had recently been brought home by the police accused with a group of other boys of criminal damage. 


I suggested to the interview panel that this was the area that GP’s were looking to the local authority and social services in particular for help and one that we could and should work together at a strategic as well as an individual level. 


I could have answered this interview question with out having used the expression ,” shitty life syndrome” but I made a conscious decision to do so because despite the risk it might be considered inappropriate language in such a formal setting it was memorable. After all it had stuck in my mind so it would most likely stick in the interview panels mind. I hoped they would consider this memorable answer a better answer than simply talking in general terms about the value of multidisciplinary working because in a graphic way it revealed an understanding of how GPs think as well as the common ground between us. 


I didn’t get the job. 


Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger



Security level: Public

More Blog Entries

Organisations get the Management they deserve 

In the 80’s trade unions were strong and managers complained about not being allowed to...

In the not to distant future 

  A few Years from now, when the  high street is a wasteland and Local Authorities no longer...