Failed interview

(12 Posts)
SunTrail Wed 13-May-20 10:39:21

I feel extremely low at the moment. This morning I received an email informing me that the part time job that I really wanted will not be offered to me. I feel like crying, but I need to find some strength to carry on as I lost my job in February.
I think I prepared and researched the company very well, my experience was relevant, I had two zoom interviews (the 2nd one was a panel interview) during which they drilled me with regard to why I want a part the role. I didn't disclose that I was a single Mum and my son required my help with regard to his homework etc.
I said that I wanted the part time role because I had time commitments outside work - but I think they the panel was not satisfied with my answer.
I would really appreciate your help with regard to how to answer "Why do you want to work part time?" going forward, please.
Should I say something like "I have time commitments outside work because:
1) I have family responsibility (I have a child etc)
2) I want to volunteer for a charity that I feel passionate about
3) I want to study and grow my skills (but I already have a professional qualification in my field and if I want to study further - it might sound threatening for my potential employer)
4) I have personal commitments plus I want to volunteer

I am sure there are some wise MN people who found the correct way of answering this question :-) I would really appreciate your help, please.

Thank you so much!

OP’s posts: |
maxelly Wed 13-May-20 11:13:19

Hmm, I think you answered it absolutely fine to be honest, and if your answer to that question was really why you didn't get the role, that is at best a very odd selection criteria as it doesn't really affect how good you would be at the job and at worst potential illegal discrimination if they are actively trying to avoid employing people who have caring responsibilities - which would be an odd thing in a role advertised as part time as the vast majority of people who apply for a part time job want it precisely because they have caring responsibilities. But this is really none of the employer's business.

I am surprised they asked the question at all TBH and if you get asked it again in the future I'd answer exactly the same as you did. Most employers are super careful these days to skirt around any questions that are trying to 'get at' whether a woman has children/wants children/will prioritise work over her children because generally people are aware this can be discrimination.

When I am interviewing for part-time roles I do usually double-check that people know it's part-time and that they do want a part-time role (because believe it or not more than one person has got to the interview stage for a part-time role thinking it's full time and/or only prepared to consider full time employment). I might on the very odd occasion also ask if they need fixed hours/days or are able to be flexible, which sometimes leads to people telling me about their family circumstances, but I would never use this as a selection criteria in itself (unless the job advert explicitly stated we need someone flexible).

Have you asked them for any feedback? There are a million reasons, fair and unfair, why they might not have chosen you even if you gave a very good interview and have all the things they need, they might have had an internal candidate or someone they already know who they preferred, someone else might have been a better 'fit', someone else might have super-dooper aced the interview, you just don't know. I guess either way they aren't going to be stupid enough to tell you that they 'guessed' from your answer that you have children and didn't choose you for that reason even if that is the case, but at least it might set your mind at rest and give you something to work on for next time. If they really are the kind of dinosaurs who think single mothers can't be good employees and/or they want someone prepared to work full time hours for part time money, then they are probably not good people to work for in any case and you may have had a lucky escape, though appreciate it doesn't feel that way when it was a job you really wanted flowers

Atalune Wed 13-May-20 11:16:19

I would ask for feedback too.

Another way to perhaps more positively frame it could be
“I prefer the flexibility part time working gives me and the work life balance in particular is just right with around X working hours each week”

Then if they ask you what you do outside of working hours you can list your hobbies, interests and family life.

WantToBeMum Wed 13-May-20 11:24:07

You shouldn't need an answer to that question, a decent interviewer wouldn't ask it. Sounds to me like you've had a lucky escape from the job but still, I understand how disappointing it is to be turned down.
If a job is advertised as part time then there should be no questioning about it. If it's a full time job and you are asking to do it part time (perhaps as a job share) then they would ask you how you see that working, in which case you might talk about balancing workload, commitment to being available, open communication.
But outside of the job, whether you are looking after a child, elderly parent, studying, sitting in the park, soaking in the bath, it's not at all relevant how you spend your free time.

Cordial11 Wed 13-May-20 11:29:49

Hey! Internal recruiter here.

I would ask this question to someone out of work , just to check they are happy to work PT and not just trying to fill the gap then look for some FT on the side (and leave quickly)

It had happened plenty with PT roles where it has turned out hours not enough etc.

I think your answer was fine. If they are drilling for too much info it could be discrimination.

Did they give you any feedback why you were unsucessful?

Toilenstripes Wed 13-May-20 11:31:09

I agree that a decent interviewer wouldn’t have asked that question. Maybe they’ve had people before who wanted more hours despite knowing it was part-time. Anyway, your response was absolutely fine. If you get asked this question in the future and they press for more information, you can always say that there is no particular reason other than you want to work part-time.

SunTrail Wed 13-May-20 12:03:53

Thank you so much for your wonderful and encouraging answers. That's the feedback that I received:

I’m afraid that we are not going to offer you the position at .... This is not a reflection of your qualities or suitability – we were very impressed with your experience and your enthusiasm for the role. It was just a difficult decision where we had to choose between 2 well-qualified candidates. I do hope you understand.

I'm guessing that I was not the right 'fit' personality wise or they referred another person based on their professional qualities... I end up beating myself up for ages with an existential question "What's wrong with me?" :-)

OP’s posts: |
Cordial11 Wed 13-May-20 12:32:31

Absolutely nothing wrong with you OP! Who knows, another candidate could Know someone who works there, might have an extra random qualification they can use in a place not advertised but I am sure you did well and will do well in the next interview, don't let it knock you!

Sounds like you got far in the process, probably more than most , be proud and try and keep positive. Crossing fingers for you going forward smile

maxelly Wed 13-May-20 13:38:39

Don't go into an existential crisis OP, it's extremely common to not get jobs at interview stage and it doesn't mean you 'failed' or that there's anything wrong with you - I usually interview at least 2 and up to 6 candidates for each position I have available so statistically far more people are unsuccessful than successful! Nearly everyone that makes it to interview stage is a competent, pleasant person who would probably do a good job if appointed- you just have to choose who performed the best and is the best fit for the role.

Best of luck with your job hunt, view this interview as good practice and hopefully you will get the next one you go for. As they've written you a nice email maybe you could reply and politely ask if there were any questions you could have answered better/areas you could improve, just for your own development. They may not give you that information (some people are very nervous about giving detailed feedback), but if it was me I absolutely would and you have nothing to lose at this point.

DoubleDessertPlease Sun 17-May-20 13:19:58

Sorry to hear about the job, it sounded like you were passionate about it. I think you answered fine, so I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it. You may find they offered the job to someone they knew, or to an internal applicant, so absolutely no reflection on your abilities or interview at all. Good luck with the job hunt!

flowery Sun 17-May-20 13:22:22

Bit of an odd question really. If they only want someone to work part time hours then why does it matter what that person will be doing the rest of the time?!

cabbageking Sun 17-May-20 19:42:19

I think they have phrased it poorly.

I would expect they would want to know what you can bring to the job and that it is not a stop gap whilst searching for a full time position?

There is no reason to ask that question?

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