Monthly Archives: April 2016

how long ago can your experience be?

A year or so back I was interviewed for a very short-term job which I didn’t get. The interview was most peculiar – I was asked several questions that appeared to have little to do with the job, and wasn’t asked about a number of things I’d expected to be questioned on, including at least one question it was essential for the interviewing panel to know the answer to.

Furthermore, at least one of the interviewers appeared not to have read my CV. At one point they addressed me in a bet-she-hasn’t-done-this manner, asking me whether I had any experience of X: X being a kind of work that is demanding and requires intelligence, energy, time management and people skills, although the job I was being interviewed for did not involve X on the scale I was being asked about. In fact, for several years I’d had a job doing X – it would have been hard to find a job that involved more of X than this one – and had been demonstrably good at it. As I explained this the interviewer’s face fell, and then brightened again when they asked me how long ago this had been and I had to admit it had been quite a few years previously. They showed no further interest in this part of my experience.

But should this have mattered? X did not involve a large amount of technical knowledge which would have gone out of date. It was not my fault that my subsequent work did not happen to use all of these particular skills; there was not much call for X in my place of work, part-time work and maternity leave limited my opportunities to do it, and I was using opportunities to develop other skills. But I haven’t unlearnt my people or time management skills and my mind is still sharp! What was the point of asking the question if they weren’t interested in the answer?

I consoled myself by reflecting that I’d wrong-footed the interviewer by saying an emphatic YES to a question to which they expected an embarrassed NO. But I’d rather have got the job, short-term though it was.