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How to defend Poor Performance in an Interview

Updated on June 20, 2016


This is a personal story of how I went to an interview for a high post despite my poor performance previous year. I applied, got shortlisted and attended the interview courageously.

My story

I had just been employed and working in a region that included seven branches. I served the entire branch network on my own and the experience was awesome. I would move from one branch to another closing down deals and getting business for my employer. Things were working out for me in the first three months and honestly I was going places. After the first quarter, we went for a review meeting and I was awarded for being the most promising agent in 2015. I received a shopping voucher and the feeling was awesome. I worked really well and I did not know that it was being noticed.

After the meeting I went back to my station to make a sound plan for the second quarter. how to maintain the high tempo I had set. Then one of the officer in the office was transferred. She was moving completely out of my region. This is when I realized she was the reason for my success. She pulled the strings for me from the other end. Mine was to close business and let her do the rest. She had left a big gap.

Then another officer left in another branch. This had a bad effect on my work flow. I had to start sourcing for new channels to support me. It was not immediately available until the company hired new people. And this takes time since finding the right talent is not a walk in the park.

Any way the second quarter was really bad, actually worse. I couldn't meet any of the targets I was given. Questions started rising and I was at the bottom of the dash board. My cost income ratio was becoming an issue and the next thing was summons to explain my poor record. We came in five of us and I was the most promising. Then things turned round, I was the most unwanted in the flock.

When Interviewers have an opinion.

The Position

Then recently management found out that it was overwhelming for me to handly seven branches. That was a loophole and business was going out. They advertised for a position regional supervisors. There is no one I could let that go without applying. I definitely felt I was better placed to take up the new role. I applied for the job. I called my supervisor and told her I had applied despite my dismal performance. She was amused and laughed of my attempts to engage her.

" Seriously, with a BSC score of partially met you want to lead people" She said,.

I couldn't even say a word and she quickly put me off.

"Good luck"

Obviously she never wanted to be entangled in to discussions of whether I am qualified or not. In every aspect I was qualified except that I had poor numbers. That was going to be big problem during the interview

They ask about my past performance and strategies that I have for the region

I knew what they will ask me. I prepared and boldly walk in to the interview room. My boss, her boss and a third lady, I suppose she is HR. The first question is my documents.

"I didn't carry any of my documents." I answered them.

They never asked us to carry our documents. Half of the applicants didn't have documents with them. It was obvious that we were novice job seekers. So I went out to look for the documents. I always have the answers. All my certificates are backed up in cloud mail. Dropbox. It is not a problem accessing them.

Make sure to let the interviewer know that you are aware

My boss asked my about my cost income ration.

"The last four months, you have been at the bottom and your cost income ratio is the worst among the team."

Before she could even ask her question I jumped in,

"That is not the exact number. Seven months is the right figure. I know and that has been a concern for me."
I told her that I had even considered changing department because the person who left affect my performance and the company has not been able to replace him.His production directly affects my cost income ration.

"So is that why you requested transfer to that department" my boss asked.

I wanted to move department because along the course of my work, I noticed that I was not into this job. There was a vacancy that directly fits my education background and experience as well. My boss never wanted me to leave. Despite my poor numbers. She always thought I am better than that. But I wanted to leave and she forcefully blocked my move and sealed every door.

By the way this story was supposed to appear on my personal blog. I have two Moses Wafula and Moses Wafula the blog

My boss wondered where I got the guts to apply for the job. I told her that Icall that courage. I am a born leader and even with my poor performance which was largely influenced by departure of key stakeholder in this business, I had the courage to forge on. I had the courage to apply and despite their thorough knowledge of my past, present and possibly future I had the courage to appear in the interview room.

After hot exchanges in the room, my boss just giggled. It seemed like I had terribly failed the interview but her boss had positive things to say about me. I appreciated their comments and left the room with not very severe headache, but that one that made me uncomfortable.


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