Thursday, 26 February 2015

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

God bless the BRIT Awards. Something memorable always seems to happen at them and usually not for which artists have won. Last night we had Kanye West putting in a potty-mouthed performance entirely at odds with the TV audience for the event, which was then almost entirely overshadowed by what can be politely described as a costume change fail for Madonna. If you've missed it, see here for yourself.

Even with all the best preparation in the world, things can go wrong. Here we have a global superstar who has been performing for over 30 years and in the midst of a high profile gig experienced what it is like when things go wrong. Being the pro that she is, Madge picked herself up, dusted herself down and the show went on. Full credit to her for doing so, but this performance will only be remembered for the cape and tumble.

There is something to be learned here for students in their approach for interviews and assessment centres. Even with the most meticulous planning and attention to detail, things may happen which can throw you off course. It could be a broken down train on the journey, a sickness bug, an overbearing candidate determined to have the last word during a group exercise. To share a personal anecdote, once upon a time in the days before my involvement with placements, I was on my way to a conference to deliver a presentation to a group of science teachers. Getting into a taxi my trousers split in a pretty catastrophic manner. A quick diversion to Marks and Spencer and finding a pair that vaguely matched my suit jacket later, I delivered my presentation, albeit slightly red faced from the shame of walking into a shop with my underwear on display for all to see.

Clearly I'm not AC Slater from Saved by the Bell but this is a pretty good representation of the wardrobe malfunction
The point is careful planning is all well and good, but adaptability in the face of the adversity is a valuable skill to hone. If you can regain composure and show to an employer that you will not be tripped up by a stumbling block, that can work to your advantage. And if things don't result in a happy ending, there is a lesson to be learned for the next time. I very much doubt Madonna will opt for the stairs/cape combo in the live performances any time soon. I learned that in a 50/50 decision, the wiser choice is to opt for the looser pair of trousers! Learn from negative experience to minimize risk for the future.

The next time you go for an interview, all the pieces could fall into place and you nail it. However, with so many variables, many of which are outside your control, things don't always go according to plan. Take things in your stride and you can still achieve the positive outcome you are looking for.

In the immortal words of the band Chumbawamba, who caused another infamous BRIT Awards moment, I get knocked down but I get up again, you're never going to keep me down. Motivational words that students would do well to keep in mind when encountering hard knocks in their search for a placement.