Unexpected interviewing disaster for TBI survivor

Previously I was in recruitment and I had coached many clients on how to write a strong CV and interviewing 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.

 

How not to interview with a brain injury.

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 doing. She could not be seen as discriminating against someone with a disability. So she invited me to the next stage to in order to comply with employment law.

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.

lost-confidence
I felt beat because I had to put myself in a difficult situation to see that a wasn’t ready

What I learned was that I still had the interviewing 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.

However, if you feel ready to interview for your next job but what to brush up first, read Interview Tips That Lead to Job Offers.

If you need some hope for the future, read Achieving new things doesn’t end after brain injury, and Next chapter after brain injury, am I in it now?

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.

As a former recruitment consultant I know the do's and don'ts for interviewing technique. But that was before my brain injury, so I stuck my foot in it.....
My first interview following my brain injury didn't go to plan. Here's why...

 


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9 Replies to “Unexpected interviewing disaster for TBI survivor”

  1. Love it! Where is the Like button btw? I actually lost my job the same week I was diagnosed. That’s when I burst into tears. Because I didn’t know what I was gong to do. I needed to pay my rent and my bills and didn’t know what I was meant to tell a new prospective employer……

    1. The like button is at the bottom of the page beneath the social media icons. How awful that you lost your job when you were still reeling from the shock of your diagnosis. It must felt like that saying, “it never rains, but it pours.”

  2. Interesting points on what to tell an employer, because even the professionals don’t fully understand the effects…and we know ourselves – both strengths and weaknessses best. The key is applying your skills in a different way. (And why I work best “in a totally unstructured environment with no rulest” and just write. Anyway what other job would be suitable for me?
    Thanks for sharing, Michelle

  3. Sorry I waited so long to add my comment, but here it is.

    During my outpatient rehab sessions as it became apparent that I would have to find a job and, of course attend interviews my therapists came up with a plan and beside advising me on what I could or could not disclose to a prospective employer. Once I indicated that if asked I would tell them about my brain injury, they then walked me through the different scenarios and gave me practice sessions on how I could tell them and made me practice the wording of how I wanted to say it. Fortunately I have not had the need, so far, to put the practice to use

    1. Your therapists do sound brilliant. I genuinely thought I would be fine and was surprised that I didn’t hold it together. But if I’d done some role plays I might have seen what works and what doesn’t.

  4. My TIA was actually 3 years ago tomorrow. Though I am still, and have been, impaired cognitively as well as the invisible physical deficits such as numbness, loss of sensation; and balance. I have been ignoring my rehabilitation, living with friends and family this whole time. Obviously I want my life back. I interviewed for a paraeducator job a month ago and had a similar experience. I answered questions well and they liked my resume, but at one point during the interview I went completely blank and could answer no further questions without taking several minutes to come up with something to say. Needless to say, I received the “thanks anyway” email. I am completely stuck.

    1. You might find that practice will lessen the effects. Or maybe it’s not quite the right time yet. Don’t be disheartened. Whilst I still haven’t passed an interview, that’s because I haven’t tried since. 3 years still is early so just chalk it up to experience.

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