“Thanks for taking the time to demo your solution, but I have to say, your design made the application more difficult for users, NOT easier,” the interviewer stated matter-of-factly and with no trace of a smile on his face.
The other panel members stared at me sadly and awaited my response. I was internally crushed by the response to my demo, an integral part of the interview for my dream design job.
In that moment I wanted to slink down in my chair and disappear forever. I felt like snow melting on a hot sidewalk.
But I couldn’t melt away, I had to save face and at least close the interview with some of my dignity intact. “Well, I’m sorry you feel that my design wasn’t up to par, however I disagree with your assessment because…” The interviewer would have none of it and promptly ended the interview. 10 minutes later I was in my car, in tears because I knew that I had totally bombed the interview for a dream job which would have put me 10 minutes from home.
15 minutes later I was in my car, in tears because I knew that I had totally bombed the interview for a dream job.
After that day, I refused to interview for months. Even though I was in a job that I absolutely hated and knew that I needed to leave, even though my phone rang off the hook several times a day from recruiters looking for talented designers, I stayed at my current job because I was afraid of being rejected again. And not to mention it was a major blow to my ego.
Simply put – I “failed” the interview, or rather, I didn’t get the results that I intended. The real problem however is not that I “failed”, but how I reacted to the outcome. I was so focused on my fear of rejection that I didn’t take the time to examine why I didn’t interview well and how I could avoid that outcome in the future.
What I eventually learned from that interview is that how I reacted to failure was more important than the failure itself.
How we pivot, change direction and prepare ourselves for the next go-round is the key to being Finer after the fail.
Instead of retreating in fear, what if I used the experience as an opportunity to sharpen my interview and design skills?
What if we looked at our failures as opportunities to be even Finer than we were before?
What I learned from that fateful interview is that how we react to failure is more important than the failure itself. How, and if we change direction and prepare ourselves for the next go-round is the key to being Finer after the fail.
In my former life, I was stepmaster of ZPhiDynasty, a graduate chapter step team comprised of 10 Zetas from the DC/MD/VA area. In 2005, we performed at the annual George Mason University stepshow (see the video below). Despite what we felt was a great performance, we took second place. Talk about disappointed!
Sure, it would have been easy to blame the crowd, the judges, the lighting or the competing step teams team for our loss. Instead we re-evaluated our performance and went back to the drawing board. We reviewed tapes of the show to identify where we messed up, tightened up our steps and worked on a different theme.
A year later, we took 1st place and beat the same team we lost to with less than half the members we had at the George Mason performance. Truth be told, we “won” because we took responsibility for our loss and took action to be Finer after the fail.
If you find yourself in a “fail” or situation where the outcome isn’t what you desired – here are 5 steps to help you be Finer after the fail:
- Pray for clarity.
- Be honest with yourself and what part you played in the outcome. Avoid hurt-searching.
- If the outcome involves something you may have done to hurt or damage someone else – make amends.
- Decide what changes you need to make today to avoid this outcome in the future.
- Take action and Be Finer next time.