He Failed The Interview, And They Gave Him A Better  Job!

He Failed The Interview, And They Gave Him A Better Job!

Written by Tayo Solagbade

Topics: Career Development

Quick Overview: This write-up tells the story of a young manager in a large company, who failed an internal interview for a bigger paying position, and then got promoted into a better one!

How could this happen, you ask? Read this article – which is based on real events to find out (names and other details changed for privacy).

The story also offers useful instruction senior managers can adapt to swiftly uncover, and kill “office politics” aimed at stifling other employees’ progress. Especially where it affects vulnerable young employees showing talent and promise in the workplace.

Introduction: The corporate grapevine was abuzz…again!

The news had been quietly circulating amongst employees for a while, but he had ignored attempts by friends and colleagues to interest him in it. If the management was planning any career move for him, he preferred to hear directly from them. And not through some office politicking bootlickers who wasted precious company time chasing silly gossip.

So he focused on leading his night shift team, which was anchoring output to meet the week’s target. When he left by 9 a.m the next morning, the job was done. After sharing some good natured backslapping with the men, he completed handover formalities, and left. As soon as he got home, he dropped off to sleep.

A letter arrives…

Less than 2 hours later, he was awakened by the sound of his name being called by Nohj, his neighbour. A letter had been dropped off by one of the company drivers. It announced that he had been short listed for an internal interview at the headquarters, for a new position that had just been created.

Just as he’d thought, the grapevine’s version had been wrong. “Figures!” he said, chuckling to himself. The rumour mongers had created the impression that he’d been appointed to some new position. Unless objections had been raised, and additional names thrown up for consideration, this letter’s message suggested the decision makers never planned it that way.

He attends the interview

He arrived in town the night before the interview date. By 9 a.m the next morning, as he walked into the headquarters venue, he ran into Eze. They greeted cheerfully. “Ol boy, so you got invited as well?” Kay asked. “Yes, I got my letter yesterday morning. I didn’t know they called you as well.” Eze replied.

They had known each other since joining the company through separate recruitment channels, 3 years earlier. Kay was later redeployed to an out-of-state branch, and they had only been able to interact intermittently via phone since then.

They chatted for a few more minutes before one of the two expatriate senior managers conducting the interview showed up. He announced that Kay would be called in first. That was when it struck them both, that they were the only ones invited.

Well if you get it, you can stay at my place until you find yours” Kay said. “Thanks man, but who knows, you could get it!” replied Eze. They both laughed.

An hour later, Kay emerged from the room, and wished Eze luck as he went in.

Reflecting on the interview…

It was 2 pm and he was due to resume morning shift the next day,  so he promptly headed out, and picked a cab. As the taxi sped off to the motor park, he reflected on the session he’d had with the 2 man panel. It had been surprisingly laid back.

He was familiar with one of them, who was based on the same plant as he was. The other he had only known in name, until the interview.

They’d asked him the usual questions about his background, education, interests etc. Not unexpectedly, the work he had been doing as a departmental Right First Time project champion received considerable attention. He had been thrust in the spotlight for the creative initiatives he had introduced. One example was the detailed competency assessment questionnaire he had developed, to conduct practical competency tests for all the operators. The training department had promptly adopted it.

The panel also asked about his career expectations. And it was there he surprised even himself. He literally zoned out while responding…saying how great improvements could be achieved in operator performance, if the right approach to training was adopted.

To him, it went beyond concepts. Trainees needed to understand how to adopt the Right First Time project principles as a way of life in doing their work. It had to become a part of them. They had to live it. And that required re-orientation – and greater emphasis on job-based (as against classroom) coaching. The kind of coaching he had been doing as a champion in his department.

He had continued totally absorbed in the vision he was sharing, until one of the interviewers said “Thanks Kay. We can see you’re really passionate about the work you’re doing. And that’s great.

He realized he had gotten lost in a kind of “I have a dream” speech.But he had no regrets “I’ve only spoken my mind. Now they know why I’ve been so driven to do the stuff I’ve been doing” he thought.

The taxi arrived the interstate motor part. He noted it was already 3pm. For fear of getting waylaid by high way armed robbers, most people avoided night travel. He quickly got on a bus, and was soon on his way.

They choose the other guy!

About 2 weeks later, the grapevine got busy again. But this time, the news was that Eze had gotten the job. Unable to reach Eze, Kay confirmed it by speaking with Eze’s colleague who was on duty. He promptly sent Eze a congratulatory email, reminding him to stay at his place, and not waste time searching for an apartment.

By the next morning Eze had replied and confirmed he would be staying over. “That’s settled then” thought Kay. He turned his attention to more pressing issues: the operator competency tests he was conducting for the first batch to be licensed. He visited their shifts to watch them at work, scoring each using the assessment form he designed.

To assess all the operators, he had to spend extra hours before and after his own shift to catch them on theirs. The training department provided great support. Everybody looked forward to the big licensing ceremony planned for those declared competent. They would be presented with certificates/new uniforms, as an incentive to them – and others.

Vicious backstabbing by a trusted colleague…a nightmare begins…!

Eze had arrived and settled in at his place. They had spent that weekend catching up on old times, and later went out for a drink with other colleagues.

Monday marked the start of the final week of operator testing. The last group Kay had to assess was on morning shift. As he walked in, he noticed some colleagues stole glances at him while speaking in hushed tones – but thought nothing of it.

A few days later, he got a call from the expatriate senior manager – HB – who’d been on the interview panel. “Please see me in my office after you close your shift. I need to speak with you” he said. “Okay”, replied Kay.

One hour after handing over to his colleague resuming afternoon shift, he walked into the manager’s office. After exchanging pleasantries, he took the seat offered by HB, who then looked him in the eye and said “I’m getting reports that you’ve stopped doing most of the good work you were doing on the Right First Time project, since the announcement was made about the interview results. People are saying it’s because you are unhappy that you did not get the job. Is this true?

Shock was Kay’s first reaction. “But why would anyone would think that” he wondered to himself. To meet the deadline, he had had to visit operators on different shifts – mostly targeting late and night shifts (and weekends) which had less interruption. As a result, most people had not seen him around for a while. Some had apparently chosen to read negative meanings into it.

And then it struck him: Maybe that was what the odd looks and whispering had been about! “Who thought this twisted angle up? he fumed.

Speaking with controlled anger, Kay said “Well, thanks for giving me a chance to tell my side of it. I can tell you it’s totally untrue. In fact, just this morning, I conducted a competency assessment for the last of the operators we’re hoping to certify. All that remains is for me to add up the scores. Since I returned from the interview, I’ve had to step up the work pace, to ensure we finish on schedule, for the ceremony. Everything is going according to plan. If you ask the Training Instructors they will confirm this!

HB nodded slowly, and said “Hmm, very interesting”. Then he asked another question. “Eze says you’ve been so upset about losing the job that you bluntly refused to let him stay at your place, even though he asked you. Is that true?

This time Kay almost lost his cool.

What?!!! That does it HB. I’ve had it with these lies. That’s ridiculous – particularly when you consider that just this morning ALL his stuff was still in my apartment. As it has been from the very first day he moved into this town!

I should also mention that Eze did NOT ask to stay with me. Immediately after the news broke, I was the one who wrote to congratulate and remind him he could stay at my place. I actually thought we were friends, but from what you’re telling me, he’s been going around painting a bad picture of me, while benefitting from my generosity. Well, now I’m wiser about the politics.

HB said “No, no, no, Kay. Don’t let this bother you at all. I think I know exactly what’s going on here. Can you do me a favour? Get me samples of the Right First Time project documentation you say you’ve produced so far, including the assessment forms for the operators. I’d like to see how what they look like.

About 30 minutes later, Kay had returned with all the requested materials, and HB confirmed that work was progressing just as he had claimed.

Shaking hands with Kay, HB said “You go back and keep up the good work. And don’t let any of this get you down. I know exactly what to do.” Kay nodded and left.

The smart senior manager rights the wrong being done…

The next day he resumed his shift to find a commendation letter written by HB addressed to him. It praised him for the progress being made with the Right First Time project training. It was copied to all departmental heads and also placed on the notice boards.

With that single blow, HB effectively neutralized the calculated attempt to discredit Kay via office politics. And in the process, he restored Kay’s belief that the company provided relible checks and balances against vicious backstabbing and other corporate vices.

Months later, Kay gets a promotion

Less than a year later, some high profile management changes were announced in a memo circulated from the MD’s office. A few days before the new broke, Kay had received a tip off about it – from the dreaded grapevine. He never understood why they kept calling to tell him even though he never asked. Only out of politeness did he hear them out most times.

He had been promoted to Training Manager. That same week, he got a letter stating that he had been nominated for an international course outside the country. While on that trip, he came across HB (who’d left the country earlier) who asked him “So, what’s your job title now?”. When Kay told him, he said “I told you not to worry didn’t I?” Kay smiled and replied “Yes, you did say so. Thanks again HB.

The relentless grapevine later churned out hearsay about why Kay got promoted as follows:

Kay’s interview performance had indicated he could serve the company’s needs better, in a more influential/high profile role than he had interviewed for. But that position would not be vacant for another 9 months. So, they decided to give the newly created interview job to Eze, and keep their plans for Kay on hold. But Kay of course had no way of knowing this. So, the delay also offered management a useful way of seeing how he would carry on after the new broke that he had not passed the interview.

For once, Kay felt he could accept the “version” from the grapevine as being close to the truth. Especially when he recalled how HB had called him up, and subsequently taken action to quash the malicious rumours.

He never did bother to confront Eze about the vicious backstabbing incident. Instead he let him stay on until he found a place of his own – though sometimes he inadvertently acted cold towards his guest. “After all I’m only human!” he would rationalize.

He was however grateful for the useful lesson Eze’s betrayal had taught about dealing with colleagues in the corporate workplace. It was a dog-eat-dog world they were in!

Final Words – Always Give Your Best, No Matter What Happens!

As this story suggests, sometimes your company’s decision makers may simply be trying to test your character by “failing” (or even “demoting”) you…to see how you react to (seeming) setbacks.

On the other hand, it could be they have future plans for you, that confidentiality concerns may prevent them for letting you know about upfront.

In either case, the advancements you hunger for would take longer than expected.

What’s more, anyone – even a person you consider a friend – can silently mark you as a rival or “competitor” in the company. And s/he would gladly use any weaknesses you display to make you look bad.

So, never let seeming delays or disappointments stop you from doing great work every time you turn up in the workplace. Otherwise, you’ll give haters the ammunition to shoot you down with – making decision makers conclude you cannot handle higher responsibilities, since temporary setbacks easily upset you.

Don’t do that to yourself!



One powerful way to make that happen is to send your boss or HR Manager a professionally updated resume/CV. This differs from the standard CV. It showcases your key accomplishments, successes, projectsadditional certifications and degrees(s) earned.

CB Studio can help you produce a professionally updated CV for the above  purpose, which youll also find to be a useful tool during the forthcoming end of year performance evaluation, with your boss!

For details, fill and submit the request form at http://www.cbstudio.biz 


What do you think of the above message? Share your thoughts in the comments – or send me an email via tayo at tksola dot com.

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[IMPORTANT: This blog's contents are being updated following the transfer to www.tayosolagbade.com from my former domain - Spontaneousdevelopment.com. As a result, some parts of it may not work properly for now. Quick Tip: If a link contains "spontaneousdevelopment.com", simply change it to "tayosolagbade.com" - and it should work. This applies to article links as well as image links. Work continues to update the links(in over 500 articles). Tayo K. Solagbade.]

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