Why I bombed in an interview and what I learnt

Bombed in the interview

I was recently asked about my personal experiences interviewing and being interviewed.

Now I sure have had some great interviews but also some utter failures - one particular incident where I bombed it! This interview failure was in fact ironically my first ever job interview to be a recruiter.

Picture this. Many years ago being a typical young confident Kiwi, I decided that it was time to travel and live abroad, so I decided on Japan. I moved to Tokyo as it was thriving and a good place to seek work.

Following a stint teaching English, I saw a great head-hunter role advertised. I sent off my resume and as I expected (cockily), I was successful in gaining an interview. I truly believed I would nail that interview. So, with this thought in mind I boldly went into the interview with very little preparation and without thinking about my audience. I went in there thinking that I would get by in this job interview just like every other job interview I had ever had, on charm and the ability to use the gift of the gab.

Oh, how I was wrong…

I was confronted with someone who was very sophisticated, was a very experienced recruiter and could see through all my ploys of getting by with my good looks (ish) and fast-talking. He really dove into the detail of why I wanted to get into recruitment, if I understood myself and what I believed to be the success formula for recruitment. I was completely unprepared and unable to articulate any of those concepts. I bombed. Hard.

What it taught me

This really taught me that the preparation, planning and the effort that you put into understanding not only yourself but also the audience that you are addressing in an interview is key to any successful presentation, irrespective of your experience to date. Taking in these experiences and learnings, I decided to turn it around and research all the aspects of the philosophies that the recruiter who had interviewed me believed to be the success formula for recruitment (he’d told me at the end). I also thought deeply about what I considered was important in recruitment, and how I could adapt myself to the constraints of the role.


I took all that I had learned and got back in touch with the fellow who had interviewed me. I told him what I had discovered in my own introspection and research. He agreed to give me another chance. Heading into the next job interview, I did still have to use my chat but instead of relying on it, I was prepared with well thought through explanations on why I wanted the role and would be good for it. This time, I came out with that great feeling that this time, I had nailed it. And yes, I got the job!

So my advice to you is, take the time to prepare for an interview as charm will only get you so far in life. And what was his secret to success? Perseverance...