Last Tuesday I had an interview for an internal job my experience made me near perfect for. I came away from the interview less confident than I should be. It felt as if they were going through the motions, a view supported by the fact that not one question was asked of my resume – which details previous roles similar to this one, in a range of different organisations. Of course I was itching to share, but could only allude to it.
Everyone told me I was a shoo-in. I’d learnt that there had been no other applicants from this area, which should have held me in good stead given the work will be done in this department. I left the interview being told I would be told the outcome by the end of the week.
Friday came and I was very cool about the whole thing. Experience is in this place is that though something is promised it often slips, so I wasn’t holding my breath. As the day went on without any news though I became more dubious. It was not pessimism. I knew that if they were making a decision then their first priority would be to inform the successful candidate, and the others after. Chances are I had missed out.
I was still in the office at 5.30 Friday. I was having dinner with Donna and was killing time. The department head wandered around on other business but spotting me, called me into a meeting room. What followed was a 27 second conversation in which I didn’t say a word, the basic gist of which was that I had been unsuccessful and he would catch up with me next week to explain.
I was unsurprised. I probably felt disappointment. I felt a kind of anger, but held back on it not knowing who had got the job, and not knowing the reasons why I missed out. By my reckoning there’s maybe one other candidate the equal to me, and then it would be stretching it. Her advantage is that she’s been here a long time and is very efficient. The other options were, to my knowledge, strong technically, but had shown no evidence of the project or change management skills necessary.
I went out, had a nice dinner and a long conversation with Donna, who has just returned from a month in Europe. We discussed my situation and I shared with her my suspicion: that I have been denied this because supposedly I was difficult to deal with.
This is something that has reared its head in the last 6 months, but with very little evidence to support this. In fact, the few times this has been alleged to me no actual circumstances have been cited. The fact is I am more than usually popular with the rank and file who see me as easy going and unpretentious.
If I have issues it is with select groups. My direct manager wants me to engage more with the team leaders. I don’t like them much as a group because they’re basically jumped up mediocrities with pretensions to competence. It’s not actually that which offends me, rather it’s the tyrannical abuse of the small amount of power they’ve been given. It sits very poorly with me observing someone like that stand over their staff either making unreasonable demands or ridiculing them. I deal with them, but I’m polite and well mannered – almost always a sign I don’t like someone.
Otherwise I’ve been told I ask ‘too many questions’ – my response to which is surely scrutiny is better applied to the person unable or unwilling to answer such questions, rather than the person asking them? To be clear, my questions are all about process or the job at hand: what about this? What’s happening with that? And if this happens, what happens then? It’s the way my mind works, but also my experience, always looking a few steps ahead to anticipate issues and outcomes. In my day it was a part of risk management, something that barely exists here. I’ve been uninvited from meanings because I ask too much, but projects go live and predictable issues arise when they may have been prevented. I suspect there is some resentment towards me then, as if I said I told you so (I don’t).
The only other thing I can think of is when I raised the issue of incorrect budgets and the legal risk that posed. That was a very unwelcome discovery and made me very unpopular, even though I was doing the right thing: exposing a flawed and dangerous process. I was threatened with being banned from sales for blowing the whistle. I’m sure there’s still a residue of bitterness to me regarding that.
The other thing I wonder is that because I’m smart, strong and confident if it puts some people on the back foot from the get go.
All these are suppositions, of course. I might be told of a very legitimate reason why I missed out. I’m prepared to accept that, but it has to be good. If this line gets trotted out about being hard to deal with then I’m going to demand the evidence of that. It’s time for them to put up or shut-up.
I was asked if I was angry over the weekend, as if everyone thought I was entitled to be. In response to one such question I said I felt ‘brutal’. Whatever I felt it was heavy and implacable. It felt as if it might roll along crushing anything in its way. It’s rare that I feel that spontaneous, spiky anger that I would occasionally when I was younger. I’m not volatile in that way. That sort of anger can be violent, but can also burn out quickly. If it’s anger I feel these days it’s much more measured, and it is defused by logic. That’s how it has been. I’ve applied my mind to the situation over the weekend and come to work Monday unhappy at what has happened, but at peace with it to.
What that means is that I still expect an explanation, and a good one – and if it’s note I may take it further. Otherwise I realise the writing is on the wall for me here. I told a colleague before that I missed out and he was astounded. He couldn’t believe anyone could have got it ahead of me. Then he said, probably means you’re done here. He’s probably right.