It’s Wimbledon so the sports pages have an interview with John
McEnroe. He who was as famous for his on court tantrums as his skills
with a racket. He was a serial winner who said he had to learn how to
lose. It reminded me of interviews for senior management posts.
There were four of us in for the Directors post. We were being
chaperoned by the executive recruiter the night before the panel
interviews. We sat in the bar. With an alcoholic drink in our hands
she decided to impart some wisdom. Because she was guiding us through
the recruitment process and was an former Director we listened closely
hoping to gain something that might help us in the next days
interviews. She said you are all strong candidates and have done well
to get this far. I know that in the past you will always have got the
posts you went for but obviously tomorrow three of you….My mind was
spinning. “ ……you have always got the post you went for”. Well not me
, at every stage I had failures and disappointments. My first
management post was gained at the second attempt. I wouldn’t have even
applied for the next post because it was a secondment rather than a
permanent post if I hadn’t failed to get the one I really wanted.
Turned out to be a great career move giving me experiences I could
never have got in my first choice post. My sights, expectations and
self belief were raised,no way was I going back to my substantive
post. So I took a gamble on a different sector. It didn’t work out
forcing me to take a backward set . I honestly can’t remember how many
Assistant Director interviews I attended before being successful.( My
wife and kids would be able to give the details because the process
takes it’s toll on the whole family). And to cap it all this was not
my first shot at a Directors post.
I think the recruitment consultant meant well, she was saying
most people don’t get a Directors post at the first attempt so don’t
be despondent if it’s not you this time. Your time will come. Which of
course is reassuring and encouraging but the idea that those I was
competing against had got this far without ever having a set back
shocked me and shook my confidence. Years latter it occurs to me that
I might not have been the only one who had experience the deflating
feeling of rejection. After all I didn’t own up to being someone who
had past experiences of failure so maybe the others also had recent
experience of not getting appointed.
I didn’t get the job. I bounced back. Like McEnroe said even
winners need to learn to lose.
Blair Mcpherson former Director author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk