Tag Archives: interview tips

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

I’ll start with an apology, I’m not here I am there. I will be just arriving in Canada for my keynote at the BCCDA conference in Vancouver and other workshops. Probably tweet from there… any some views on apologies in your career from someone whose has an apology of a career!!!

Sorry it seems is not always the hardest word, especially when it is strategic for your career. The apology is the latest weapon in the hands of the upwardly mobile who prefer the older definition of apology as a defence or self-justification rather than the more recent meaning of apology as a sincere expression of regret for hurt caused to another.

You do not have to go back further than the recent state election to see the effectiveness of the apologetic “more to do but we are heading in the right direction”. This is a classic example of the non-apology apology and is typical of the type of mealy-mouthed utterances delivered by those with an eye on the main chance and little regard for awkward truths or uncomfortable insights let alone the unpleasant consequences.

There are a range of strategic or cynical apologies open to the unapologetic. Firstly there is the defensive apology. This takes the form of: “ I am sorry but I didn’t realise that you were so sensitive about your looks”. The normal structure is to spit out the “sorry” on a rising tide of volume, followed quickly by a sniping criticism that serves as self-justification. In other words, it is your fault you are upset.

The distracting apology is an all together more devious and powerful device in the right hands. For instance the car dealer who gets in first with “I am really sorry that I lied through my teeth about the delivery date, it is out of our hands, however if you like we could get you one from inter-state, but you would be up for a delivery fee. We do have one you can have straight away but you will have to cop an extra grand because it has the optional rust-proofing on the vanity mirror”. So befuddled are you, you end up paying the extra. In other words, you can wait, but the wait will be your fault.

The aggressive apology is usually a list of apologies: I am sorry that the report you dumped on me last night is late and I am sorry that I couldn’t get the ancient printer to work that you wont replace and I am sorry that I was late getting here this morning because I had to go across town to collect the parcel you left behind and I am sorry that I exist. In other words it is your fault.

A perfect apology to antagonize another is the too late apology: I am sorry that I did not invite you to dinner with Robert De Niro, but you said you weren’t coming into the office on Wednesday and by the time De Niro suggested it, I reckoned you had probably already eaten. In other words it is your fault.

The neutraliser is a great way of controlling a situation: I am sorry. Look I’ve said I’m sorry, so lets move on. Implication: it is your fault that you continue to have a problem with my behaviour.

Then there is the let me tell you why you are wrong apology: I am sorry that we have given you food poisoning, but you should never have ordered the burger to be cooked that way.

Occasionally the apologiser pins the cause on someone other than yourself, but of course it is never pinned on them. For instance, I am sorry, you should never trust what they say in the sales department what they are suggesting is illegal. They are always doing that. You will need to go back to them and start all over again. Sorry it is not my department. Implication: a) you are an idiot, and b) you are surrounded by idiots.

What is often so lacking is the immediate, heartfelt mea culpa. For this to be genuine and genuinely effective, it requires the following elements: a no excuses and no hiding places expression of remorse; a genuine seeking of forgiveness for past transgressions; the promise that this will never happen again; the unprompted plan of action to ensure it wont happen again; the spontaneous offer of some form of thoughtful recompense; and finally a spontaneous self-imposed genuine punishment appropriate to the misdemeanour..

Funnily enough the last approach is likely to be the most effective in career development terms in the longer term because it builds trust and faith. There are plenty of examples of celebrities that taken this course of action without there being any long term damage to their careers (think Hugh Grant and Divine Brown for instance or Bill Clinton). The trouble is for political parties, the cynic in me wonders whether such a course of action would be political suicide.

Jim Bright is Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU National and a Partner at Bright and Associates, a Career Management Consultancy.

Interview Tips for 2010

Here are some interview tips that will help you or your clients in preparing for the all important interview.



Career Resources from Bright and Associates

The Factory Podcast



Tip Sheet : Interviews

Before the interview….

Stress busters

? take your mind off the interview and go and do something else which is

interesting and engaging.

? Say to yourself ‘Why am I getting worried about this, why does it matter if I do

stutter in the interview, what is the worst thing that can happen to me, well I

won’t get the job’

? It is worth bearing in mind, that the person sitting on the other side of the desk

interviewing you is human as well believe it or not. Prick them with a pin and

they will bleed.

? The night before the interview try and have as calm a night as possible. Go

back through your résumé, flick through the material, go to a film, watch

television. Just have a relaxed evening, don’t get too tensed up and have an

early night and not too much alcohol. I would suggest that you avoid eating

food with lots of spice or garlic in it. You don’t want to go to the interview the

following day smelling heavily of alcohol or garlic, because that can be offputting.

Get a good solid meal and a good night’s sleep.

Preparation makes perfect

? take down accurate records of the time, date, and venue of the interview – so

you know exactly where you are going and when

? If there are clashes and you are already being interviewed that day for

another job, you will need to consider rearranging the interview. The thing to

do here is to consider which of the two interviews is the most important to

you. Which job you really most want or which job is the one that you really

feel you are most likely to get and then rearrange the least preferred interview

for another day. You can be very polite about that and I would suggest that

you don’t say that you are being interviewed elsewhere, but make another

excuse such as you are unable to leave work that day if you are working, or

perhaps a white lie ‘for personal reasons you are unable to attend on that

day, but you would be more than happy to attend on any other day that they

may care to choose’.

Provided by Bright and Associates www.brightandassociates.com.au

Career Resources from Bright and Associates

The Factory Podcast



? Pull out from your work file the copy of the job advertisement and the résumé

and cover letter that you sent. Study those closely and try to remember as

many of the points that you made about yourself as possible.

? Any information that you found out about the company that you stored in your

job file you should go through now.


? Now is the time to make sure that you have your suitable attire for an

interview. Whether that happens to be a suit or just a smart pair of trousers, a

shirt, and some shoes that are well polished and look smart and match with

the accessories.

? Avoid strong cologne

? Avoid garish make up

? Ensure you hair is well cut, clean and dry

On your toes

? The minute you walk through the door of the building on the day of the

interview your interview has started. In fact, the minute you have a telephone

conversation with the recruiter or the recruiter’s secretary the interview has


? Never make the mistake of patronising or underestimating the administrative

staff in an office.

? you need to have a copy of the résumé with you at the interview, but you

need to know your résumé well

? the cardinal rule in the interview is keep your cool. It is not the time to start


? If you are sure of yourself and you know where you want to go and what you

want out of the job, then you should ask questions. Not asking questions at

interview when invited to do so, gives the impression you are not interested in

the position, or that you have not prepared properly

? Take your time to respond to questions

? If you do not understand a question ask for clarification

? Do not always accept the interviewers premise i.e. “So you left Bloggs and

Co. pretty quickly, where did you work next?”. Why accept the interviewers

premise that you left quickly? This is a typical trap, instead reply “Well I was

at Bloggs and Co for a year, so I was there a reasonable amount of time, and

in that time, the company restructured which removed any chances of

progression in my specialist field…”

Provided by Bright and Associates www.brightandassociates.com.au

Career Resources from Bright and Associates

The Factory Podcast



? Emphasise positives during interviews – do not dwell on negative experiences

such as sackings, work disputes, long periods out of the work force. If you

have had such problems in the past and the interviewer tries to get you to

explain such events, you can try cutting this short by saying, “ I am really

most interested in how I can best develop my career now and in the future,

and I am positive I can make an excellent contribution…”

? Panel interviews (where two or more people interview you at the same time)

are fairer for you, so do not be intimidated, they are less likely to be biased by

factors such as personal rapport, race, gender and other irrelevant issues.

Compiled by Professor Jim Bright, Bright and Associates

Provided by Bright and Associates www.brightandassociates.com.au