Previously I was in recruitment and I had coached many clients on how to write a strong CV and interview skills. I’d always been pretty unflappable at interview and could quickly think of examples to clearly demonstrate the experience the interviewer wanted to know about. I was unemployed after resigning from my job helping new hairdresser apprentices in their first job (which I loved) after my car accident. But as no one had been able to tell me what to expect of myself I thought I would try to move back into employment, but take a step down.
I applied for an internal recruitment position with a national company who had offices close to my home. Completing the application form was OK as my CV already contained some valuable material so that wasn’t too taxing.
And I wasn’t surprised when I was invited to interview.
I thought I was prepared.
The interview was pretty detailed and I was doing quiet well actually. I could see I was hitting all the right buttons. Even when she asked about why I was prepared to accept I much reduced salary, I managed to confidently explain as I’d had a career break I felt working my way back up was what I wanted to do. Brilliant she was delighted with everything.
But there was an elephant in the room. The UK law limits what an employer can ask about disability. So I decided I would tell her what I knew she couldn’t ask.
I immediately started to cry as I explained about my brain injury. I felt a duty to be clear on how it affects me on a bad day. She was sympathetic and still said I should come for a second interview. But I knew that she was just doing what she had to in order to comply with the law and not be seen as discriminating against someone with a disability.
That’s when I realised that this was just another time that I was being impatient with myself. And trying to push myself too fast. I was crushed and all my confidence was zapped. I had failed, but only because I tried to do what I thought was the right thing. Otherwise it would have been fine. But if I’d got the job it would have been a mistake. I would still have expected too much of myself and made a bad impression when I was having a bad day.
What I learned was that I still had the skills, but I needed to apply them in a different way. I have the same intelligence that I had before. But I’m relearning how to deal with pressure in a more positive way.
Have you had to similar experience when trying to return to work? Also I’d love to hear any tips on dealing with pressure after a brain injury.