Why having a terrible interview was the best thing that ever happened to me 

 interview queueI’m Jordan Paterson and In September I started a Masters in Forensic Psychology & Mental Health at the University of Manchester after graduating from the University of Bolton in 2013 with a 2:1 in Criminological & Forensic Psychology. After completing my degree, I started a fixed-term Graduate Internship at the University of Bolton in the Careers Service.  Other experience includes some volunteering at a special needs charity, as well as working at a Respite Care Unit and a short stint at McDonald’s.”

Every student goes through that period of “what do I do after I graduate?” It caused me and others I know great anxiety, especially during our 3rd years when stress levels are already at an all-time high due to dissertations, placements, finances, etc. In the 1st half of my 3rd year (late 2012), I made an executive decision; that I would apply for a teacher training course in Psychology.

There are a lot of reasons why this seemed like a good move.

1. I’ve always had an interest in teaching
2. The courses are funded
3. It meant I could continue studying Psychology
4. It gave me the opportunity to study in a different city

But most importantly of all

5. It staved off entering the real, scary world of job hunting

I told myself at the time that reasons 1-4 all had more significant weight in my decision to apply than reason 5, but in retrospect I can honestly say that isn’t true. I can also say honestly that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being scared with where your future might lead you after graduation. For me, the task felt particularly daunting as at this point I’d never had a job, not even part-time. I had some volunteering experience at a special needs charity which involved kitchen and till work, but that’s it.

Anyway, I applied to 3 Universities. Two rejected me pretty quickly after, stating that I did not have the relevant work experience. However, I managed to get an interview at the other one for a reserve place. This was it. I had my foot in the door and nothing to lose. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot went wrong.

I turned up at the specific campus where interviews were taking place. I was nervous as hell; I must have gone through at least 10 cigarettes in the 2-3 hours that I was there. When I turned up, everyone was in a suit. I wasn’t. This wasn’t quite the horrific fashion faux-paus it may seem though, as I’d turned up in some smart shoes, black trousers, black shirt and a nice coat, so I at least looked smart. It wasn’t like I’d gone to it in converse, blue denim jeans and a Slayer shirt.

All the candidates applying for the qualification in various subjects were sat down in a lecture hall. This is when I noticed a lot of the candidates were a lot older than me. Admittedly some were around my age, but many were several years my senior. This combined with the presentation they gave us began to make the whole process far more daunting. The presentation wasn’t designed to scare, but prepare. However it still didn’t help my nerves.
After it had concluded and then a short break, we were taken to a room where all the interviewees for the Psychology course were to be interviewed as a group.


As a group.

Pretty terrifying stuff.

We were given a hypothetical situation on a student who wants to study Psychology at college and takes her parents to an open-day, but her parents are not too fond of the subject. What proceeded was everyone in the room vaguely trying to connect their relevant experience to the question. I may sound bitter, but every time I tried to interject with my point that “many people misinterpret what Psychology is about”, I kept being cut off. Not a good sign if you want to be a teacher.

Then we had 1-1 interviews. I was up pretty early. It was merciful; I could get out of there as quickly as possible. I’d come to the conclusion I was completely out of my depth and my answers to the questions asked reflected that. The interviewer mentioned I was still young and I could still get the relevant work experience I needed. I was done for. At the end of the interview, I mentioned what I’d wanted to say during the group interview and left after the interviewer had debriefed me sending me on my way. I knew I hadn’t got it and the train ride home felt a lot longer than it actually was.

A few weeks later, that was confirmed. They’d undoubtedly made the right decision and I harbour no grudge against them for it.

Now to the title of this post, it was the biggest wakeup call I’ve ever had. I knew I had to pull my finger out in the next few months, get a 2:1 and get out. Then I’d take the next step. No more worrying about just after graduation, just the immediate future.

Anyone who’s known me long enough, has worked with me or even just read this blog knows that shortly after graduation it went Respite Care Worker, McDonald’s, Graduate Internship and Master’s course coming up for me. Those 1st two jobs really helped me build some much needed character and backbone. On a particular period of 7 days (Sunday-Sunday) I worked 8 shifts, including a 5pm-2am shift at McDonald’s shortly followed by a 9:00am-3:30pm shift at the Respite Care Unit. On one day, I did a 9:00am-3:30pm shift, followed by a 5:45pm-11:00pm shift the same day.

I don’t want to come across as bragging, it’s just to give some means of comparison. Around 10 months after one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life, I was working myself very hard. I’d gone from looking for a way out of entering the scary real world to working 2 jobs. Through my experience at both of these, I’m on the path I’m on today.

Who knows, maybe I’ll end up applying for that teaching course again, it’s still certainly something I’d love to do. I’ll just be a lot more prepared this time.

I’ll definitely wear a suit too.


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