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When you put a lot of effort into a job interview..

81 replies

GirlOnATrainToShite · 17/07/2017 18:30

And you get there and totally feel like there is an internal candidate who has been primed and lined up for it?

Went for public sector job today and there were 6 candidates, including myself, one of them the leaving persons deputy.

Very cagey about being "internal" to the point they pretended they didn't know their way round on the tour of the building and when approached by a staff member ushered them away.

We were asked to give a presentation which she would have had a massive advantage in knowing what they were looking for (I emailed in advance and got as much info as possible and it's a job I am already doing).

One of the interview panel gave us a speech at the beginning of the day saying if you are offering this this and this then this is not the right job for you - which internal candidate would have known!

Clearly I was not successful and neither were two others (one told she was too inexperienced- so why did they interview her?!) so this could be sour grapes but AIBU to think this is unfair and a bloody waste of my time and energy and new bloody dress

And bets on that she got it.

Is this ok?

Over 60 applicants.

OP posts:
Nettletheelf · 17/07/2017 19:12

This happens all the time in the public sector, OP. Maddening, isn't it?

It's because of their 'fair and open' policy, which was put in place in the 19th century to stop civil service jobs becoming sinecures.

As with all things, the public sector organisations balls it up, and waste the time of candidates when they know who they want to appoint already.

I've been on both sides of it. I applied for a finance director role in one of the NHS clinical commissioning groups a few years ago, when they were newly formed. Did all the research, took a day off work for the interview, sat through a grilling by a load of GPs etc. I interviewed well, and I was strong on the technical questions so thought I was in with a decent chance.

No. The lead interviewer, a GP and chair of the CCG, called me the same afternoon to say that they wouldn't be appointing me "because we want somebody who has worked in a PCT". The candidate they planned all along to appoint, in other words.


I've also been an interviewer at a public sector body. We saw some fantastic candidates for an MI and reporting role, including one great guy from a major supermarket group. He was streets ahead of the internal candidate. However, my boss, the FD, told me after the interview that I would be appointing the internal candidate, end of story. I felt terrible for the other candidates: the odds were stacked against them.

bakedbeansandtuna · 17/07/2017 19:13

I have been in similar situations. It is horrendous. I completely sympathise. Preparing/getting to an interview is a costly and wearing process and I always give it everything I've got. When you get the feeling you were wasting your time all along it is gutting.

Decaffstilltastesweird · 17/07/2017 19:14


Once, as a really junior clerical assistant for an HR team, I had to greet candidates, scan their passports, get them to take a test etc. I was once asked for feedback on a candidate. I really liked her and said so. She got the job. Obviously that was based on more than my opinion, but it was interesting that they actually asked someone as junior as I was!

windygallows · 17/07/2017 19:20

What Lux said.

It's happened to me lots most recently a senior role that required two overnight trips up north and 3 days of meeting/greeting, tests and interviews. I was the only other candidate and more qualified or at least I thought so. The Incumbent got the role. They called me about an hour after my interview - so sounds like it was a hard decision!Smile

Not only is this process a time waster but companies are getting wealthy from it. The recruitment firm leading my recruitment would have been paid circa 25-30k to find me and put me forward. What public sector body can afford to do that purely on the grounds of good practice/transparency? But it happens all the time. A total waste.

I also wonder what the way forward is because the current set up benefits few and people are becoming more vocal in complaining about it.

frieda909 · 17/07/2017 19:24

Decaf the last time I had to meet and greet candidates I found that the 'shortlist' I'd drawn up in my head exactly matched the one the panel themselves had come up with. Just from the few minutes I spent with them before the interview. It made me wonder how much gets decided in those initial few seconds of an interview when they meet the candidates for the first time.

OP, I'm sorry to hear things are so rough at your current job and hope you find something amazing soon!

BoysofMelody · 17/07/2017 19:36

Once, as a really junior clerical assistant for an HR team, I had to greet candidates, scan their passports, get them to take a test etc. I was once asked for feedback on a candidate. I really liked her and said so. She got the job. Obviously that was based on more than my opinion, but it was interesting that they actually asked someone as junior as I was!

If you are going to be working with someone, you want them collegiality is important, how they treat someone comparatively junior in the organisation is telling. In a reverse of this situation, I was looking for a PhD supervisor and had met with various academics. One suggested getting a coffee in the canteen, I saw how he interacted with the canteen staff, friendly and open he knew them by name and they called him by his first name and I thought, 'yeah, he's a pretty good guy and someone I could work with for the next 4 years.' That isn't always a given in academia.

A friend told me that the most horrendous interview experience they've had for an academic job was when they had to give a presentation to the department, including the PhD students and there was an internal candidate. The academic staff put on a veneer of interest and civility, but the PhD students treated all but the internal candidate with hostility and clearly saw them as potential threats to their mate's chances of getting the job. They sat their arms folded and when it was opened up to questions, they said nothing.

GirlOnATrainToShite · 17/07/2017 19:40

It felt like they had chosen the other 5 of us from really "different" backgrounds and really "different" qualifications and skills Hmm

OP posts:
NurseButtercup · 17/07/2017 19:43

I feel your pain op and yanbu to be frustrated. But I've attended interview and beat the internal candidate .

Use it as practice to polish your interview skills. Flowers

ZerbaPadnaTigre · 17/07/2017 19:48

On the other hand, some employers feel they have to interview internal candidates in the name of fairness even if they have no intention of giving them the job. When I was 21 and about 18 months into my first full-time job, I went for an internal vacancy and was interviewed against four women who were all easily double my age. My rejection feedback was 'the other candidates had more experience'. Total waste of time. I wish there was more honesty and less pointless crap for the sake of ticking boxes in the job hunting process in general.

GoldTippedFeather · 17/07/2017 19:54

Two jobs ago, I got the job over an internal candidate that was already semi doing the role. It was incredibly awkward as I had to work along side him but him i was semi-managing him. He quit as soon as he found out but still had to work his notice period with me. Awkward.

I have also been in a situation where someone at work in a different team to me went for a role internally and didn't get it. The team were really hostile to the new person.

HulaMelody · 17/07/2017 19:55

Plus in the public sector you often have to deal with redeployment i.e. Another internal candidate whose post has been deleted so it makes sense to give them a job rather than face the whole redundancy thing (esp when councils pride themselves on no compulsory redundancies Hmm)

It's horribly frustrating and I've been on the receiving end before. To the point that thinking back, I knew the manager interviewing for the post and he'd implied who he'd want for the job way before recruitment even started.

BabsGanoush · 17/07/2017 19:56

Colleague of DH, specialist, early years of tech, was headhunted and sat 2 days of interviews and presentations - 'what would he do in X scenario' etc.

He didn't get the job (if there was one) but they implemented his ideas.

heebiejeebie · 17/07/2017 20:04

But...I have been an interviewer in similar circumstances and, whilst it would take a lot to give an external candidate an advantage over someone who could be up and running the next day, there is the possibility of someone knocking your socks off. At least it gives you exposure there, so if another job comes up in the next few months they may invite you back. Contact the interviewers warmly to ask for practical feedback - anything I can do to increase my chances - and let them know that you would be interested in other vacancies.

Friendzone · 17/07/2017 20:07

Oh yes it is horrible. I've been on the wrong side of it twice. The worst was at Leeds Met. I was having a tour round pre interview and the smiley woman who showed me round, just before she opened the door to the panel, said "of course we all hope that our Becky gets it". I was gobsmacked and wrong footed. Their Becky, did of course get it. It was about 20 years ago now. I'm still raging. Rude cow! They still owe me a new suit!

StealthPolarBear · 17/07/2017 20:08

Why do companies do this though? Its not a legal requirement I don't think

Foslady · 17/07/2017 20:10

So many times this has happened - the last time was when I went for a permanent job in my dream department when I was currently on a fixed term in the department from hell. When they rang to tell me I hadn't got it I even got told 'Didn't HR tell you we had a departmental candidate?' Only saving grace was that they admitted I gave a stonker of an interview --for what good it did me-

chipscheeseandcurrysauce · 17/07/2017 20:19

That is the reason I've never applied for a public sector job, in the local authority to NHS as I know full well, there will be internal candidates being interviewed and I wouldn't stand a chance.

But for all they knew, I could have brought something with me that the others don't have... ah well, their loss 🤷🏻‍♀️

firtlebunny · 17/07/2017 20:20

I used to work in a Government Department. One day I interviewed for a job producing conferences.

The interview included the exercise of researching and writing a programme for a conference in your current area of knowledge. I did so and didn't get the job.

Three months later the exact programme I had written landed in my in-tray printed on glossy paper with a tear-off chit which I could send in if I wanted a seat for the princely sum of £895.


VeryButchyRestingFace · 17/07/2017 20:26

I attended a series of job interviews once in relation to my job (I wasn't on the panel nor was I an interviewee).

Position being interviewed for was very high in organisation. 5 external candidates, one internal.

Internal didn't get it. Sometimes the organisation really does want to recruit from outside.

Hefzi · 17/07/2017 20:27

Classic in academia. Fuckers once dragged me from extreme SW to extreme NW for an interview plus someone from NI and the internal candidate. Internal candidate did not show up for either the talk or interview (cue lots of mad phoning and desperate dashing when various bods tried to find him- to no avail) but was rescheduled for the following day and mirabile dictu, got the job. Wonder how much teaching he's missed for hangovers since Grin

KarmaNoMore · 17/07/2017 20:35

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NeverTwerkNaked · 17/07/2017 20:40

Why are places still doing this? We recruit internally only first, then if no suitable candidates (or if we know there will be no suitable candidates) we recruit externally. If we know we have a pool of decent internal candidates we wouldn't advertise externally (public sector organisation)


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QuackDuckQuack · 17/07/2017 20:45

I don't understand the magic number 6 when the internal candidate is a shoe in. Surely it would be better to only waste the time of a couple of other candidates than 5.

I wonder how often jobs are advertised externally that don't really have to be. I know there is a legal requirement for some, but quite often it seems more a habit than a legal requirement.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow1 · 17/07/2017 21:09

I usually just ring and ask if any internal candidates are applying and if they are I don't even bother Sad

ThomasinaCoverly · 17/07/2017 21:23

I don't get this. I recruit occasionally for my team (public sector). If I know there are good internal candidates, I advertise internally only. We're advertising our latest job externally as I don't think we've got anyone who's got the right skills for it.

On a hopeful note, when I interviewed for my present job there were three internal candidates and three external, including me. They appointed me.

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