I was thinking recently about the time I really stuffed up a job interview for a role within the public sector. I was told that I was too offensive to work for the organisation.
That’s right. Anyone who knows me – or reads my blog regularly – will surely think this is ridiculous.
Let me explain.
I was having an interview for a multimedia position which involved producing and editing videos, writing news stories as well as community management of social media channels, if I remember correctly (this was a good few years back). It was quite an intimidating interview – me on one side of a long table, and a panel of three judges, sorry, interviewers on the others. Straight-faced, no nonsense. I don’t think any of them even cracked a smile.
They were keen to communicate their equality and diversity policy and asked for an instance of a time when I’d worked with a diverse group or a group of minorities (or words to that effect, in all honesty I can’t quite remember the exact question) and how I adapted or what challenges I came across or something like that. I told them about a time I’d written an article for a gay magazine distributed in Soho. The magazine was called Fuck.
Little did I know, despite continuing with the rest of the interview and completing a few writing exercises afterwards, that it was at that exact moment that I failed the interview. They told me afterwards it was because one of the interviewers could (note, not was) but could have been offended by the F bomb. They weren’t offended, but that was irrelevant, they could have been.
Now, I understand this to a point. Some people don’t like any swearing whatsoever.
But it’s about the context. If I’d have said “I fucking wrote for this gay magazine, right” then point taken. That’s unnecessary. But when I’m telling them the name of a publication title, one that they’ve asked about, I’m not sure how I feel about that. Doesn’t the title of the magazine help to illustrate the diversity point further? Isn’t it a tongue in cheek name that helps to celebrate the diversity of the LGBT community?
Perhaps not, perhaps I should have said the magazine was called “F star star K” or “a naughty word beginning with F” while I blushed and giggled.
It’s something I still think about this day.
But the fact that I didn’t get the job tells me that it wasn’t the job for me. I mean, the interview and work environment also told me that it wasn’t the job for me. I don’t have a mouth like a sailor at work but I also don’t want to be worried about the odd “Shit” slipping out. Obviously an actual shit slipping out is a real problem but that’s what spare pants are for.
At the time, although I sort of realised I wouldn’t have felt comfortable in the role because of this, I also saw my rejection from the role as a failure. I was a failure for not getting a job I applied for.
But in hindsight, it wasn’t failure. The job wasn’t meant to be. But not only that, it’s taught me a lesson about myself that I can learn from. When I was younger and job searching, I used to apply for just about anything that I could do on paper. Regardless of whether I felt I might actually want the job. Regardless of whether I liked the sound of the role and whether I thought I might fit into the work environment. If I could do the job, I would apply. If I was offered the job, I would accept it. It never occurred to me that I actually had a choice in the matter. I didn’t have to apply for a job with a company I wasn’t interested in working for. I didn’t have to accept a job that would be working for a person I didn’t like.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that something that feels like a failure at first, may not be. It’s easy to say ‘in hindsight’ but something that initially feels like a failure might be a lucky escape. It might be a valuable life lesson. It might be an opportunity for you to learn something about yourself, to take a step back and think about who you really are or what you really want.
Don’t let someone tell you that you’ve failed. You haven’t failed. You’re living your life!