Interviews and Examinations

I’m honesty not very good at either, but they seem to be the way of the world.

It’s not a proud boast, but I failed my first degree. Twice. I might have mentioned this before.

Twelve years later I gained a Masters degree, and six years after that a Postgraduate Diploma.

The difference? Exams.

That first degree had eight modules, seven of which were three-hour written exams. The eighth was called Artefact Production, for which I produced a help system to be used on the computer in the College’s sound recording studio.

I failed two of the written papers but scored a 70% mark on the artefact and accompanying write-up.

The Masters had a couple of German oral tests but was otherwise two 6,000-word essays and one 12,000 dissertation. The PG Dip was all essays and reflective studies.

Some of us are just better at practical things… which is why I hate interviews (and, I think, they hate me). That’s not to say I *can’t* always do exams. I once scored 100% on a mock exam in my first year, but that was 50 multiple-choice questions (of course, they changed it to questions plus essay for the actual exam).

The really annoying thing for me is that, when I receive feedback, no-one ever says that they didn’t think I could do the job; it’s just that the other person passed the interview. Sometimes they don’t stay, I see the role re-advertised and wonder if I should bother. Mostly, I don’t. There’s only so much rejection a boy can handle.

The interview process, while designed to see how candidates work under pressure, doesn’t tell you if the candidate can actually do the job. For people like me, a probationary system would be ideal; and that’s what most organisations do anyway, once you’re appointed. But first, you have to be appointed.

Wouldn’t it be great if organisations could simply appoint the best-qualifying candidates, and then keep the one that they thought had done the best job after a few months? A comprehensive three-month interview instead of a surface-skimming 60-minute one?