Have you ever thought that you were a slam dunk for a job promotion or prestigious school clinic and been really surprised when not selected? If so, it’s important to get feedback and learn why. It might also present an opportunity.
In my second year of law school, I was one of 150 students that applied for an Alternative Dispute Resolution clinic, including a year of intensive study in mediation, collaborative negotiation and conflict resolution. 12 students were selected. After the interview, I was very sure that I would be one of the twelve. I was older than most and believed maturity and life experience were a leg up. I was not selected and very disappointed.
However, I didn’t walk away with my tail between my legs. Instead, I made an appointment to see Professor L. I asked her why I wasn’t selected. Her feedback surprised me.
She said my interview was excellent and that she thought I would be a great mediator. However, I had mentioned that occasionally people in my small hometown perceived me as intimidating. Intimidation and mediation do not align.
We all make interview blunders and I was oblivious to mine. Before interviews, it is important to understand the personality type that fits the role. Mediators are collaborative peace makers not intimidators. Had I considered the role upfront, I would have omitted the comment.
By reading my bio, you know that I was in Professor L’s mediation clinic. How did I get there?
After explaining her impression, I told her that I really wanted to mediate, that I knew that I would be good at it and I was acutely aware of situations that intimidation impressions played out.
Professor L respected my courage, the ability to put pride aside, learn and ask why toward avoiding a future mistake. So while I misaligned myself as a mediator type, I demonstrated desire to right the wrong, the essence of conflict resolution. She told me that she had a clinic waiting list and that if one of the 12 declined that slot was mine.
Actions sometimes speak louder than words.