A story featuring my wife's cold bottom, with a moral about contractor interviews

“I’ve got this.” Never was a phrase more loaded with light-hearted disaster, with the speaker setting themselves up for comical failure – usually soon after uttering.  

I noticed this on holiday last week, and I notice it a lot with contractor interviews, aka ‘client meetings,’ writes Matt Craven, a contractor winning-work expert at The CV & Interview Advisors. 

The suitcase moment

The wife and I were on a short week's ski trip. Right in the thick of the snow (or should I say among the ‘heat’ of the slopes, with slush and 15 degrees sunshine), I started drawing some parallels with the world of contractor interviews.  

And can you believe it, she says I have trouble switching off from work! 

Anyway, it was my usually expert-packer partner who triggered the parallel. You see; she has never been skiing, but back at home on the verge of filling the suitcase, she got rather defensive to my thinking aloud about clothes. She decided almost instantly exactly what garments to pack. No hesitation, no intervention from me necessary, no umming and erring. She packed like a slalom veteran! With - rather unsettlingly, a record-breaking time to match. 

My advice about base layers, mid-layers, protective clothing, and thermal undies, fell on deaf ears. She did later mention an article in a magazine apparently recently ran the skinny on skiwear chic. My suggestion, while I shoehorned my ski goggles into a new corner of the suitcase it didn’t know it had, was that she’d asked ChatGPT. That didn’t go down well. In hindsight, I would have been more impressed had the AI darling of the moment being consulted versus a guide in a glossy! 

Anyway, it was made clear to me that absolutely any wardrobe recommendations via this adviser were for the birds. 

You don't know, what you don't know

Apologies if she’s reading this (and if she is, 'No before you ask, I don’t want another argument'), but this is the classic syndrome of:

‘You don’t know, what you don’t know.’  

To my mind, she was lulling herself into a false sense of security. That’s even though it did turn out to be brave bikini-wearer-weather.

But it reminded me of how contractors often think about interviews, or in outside IR35 contractor parlance, ‘client meetings.’ 

Over the years, my business has had around 30,000 paying-clients use our CV writing services, and plenty have gone on to invest in our one-to-one interview coaching.  

On the bench

But the number of people who suffer from both selective hearing and unflinching self-belief in their interview skills is high and it bothers me. Especially when despite trying not to be, these individuals are repeatedly stuck on the bench. 

The trend I’ve noticed is; most of the can’t-be-told crowd have had less than a dozen interviews in their entire professional (if not contracting) lives.

They’ve never had any coaching, and they’ve certainly not ever practiced. 

How can anyone be good at anything without coaching and practice?! There are exceptions, I know, but the art and science of interviewing is a bit like skiing -- wade into it unrehearsed at your absolute peril!

Contractor interview = more than just talking

I think I know the reason why benched contractor interview gurus are gurus in their eyes only. It's because they confuse being a good communicator with being a good interviewee. 

Yet there's more to interviews than that.  

Just the same as my wife confuses having a forensic handle on her winter clothes collection with the intricacies of what to wear up a mountain which can reach a wind-chill of minus-twenty, contractors can confuse their strong communication skills with the intricacies of the interview setting. 

A chilled behind…

Now, someone very near and dear to me might have had a cold bottom last week, but at least she could later unwind in a heated spa-like bathroom; which was in a mountain lodge, which was equipped with a log fire and which was enjoyed to sumptuous hot chocolate. Yes you guessed it; that was all on the bill of the unlistened-to one! 

The stakes weren’t quite so high. But if you fool yourself into believing you're an interview ace when there's a job on the line, simply because you can confidently debate anything from politics to who should open the batting for England's cricket team, then you might just scupper your chances of securing a high-paying contract. 

But first you actually need to get yourself to the all-important interview stage!

If you want to double the chances of getting to the interview room -- and be seen as a property hotter than even the fiery exchange my wife and I had over a suitcase -- join my advanced CV tailoring tactics webinar. It’s on Monday 26th February. And we’ll be covering all sorts from reverse engineering contract briefs to linguistic mirroring. You can register for free here. All abilities of listening to me welcome!

Profile picture for user Matt Craven

Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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