/ Rock Climbing and Job Interviews

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Tommyads on 15 May 2013
Just had a reasonable interview, and when thinking about areas I could have done better in, one thing came to mind.

When speaking about my interests, they seemed worried that I was a rock climber. Almost as if I would fall and die shortly after the company invests its time and money in me and they would have hired the wrong guy.

Hopefully this should not go against me and hopefully I miss read the reaction and should not think to much of it.

Anyone ever felt like this?
purplemonkeyelephant - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

Depends what the job is I suppose. If you're going for an insurance broker position, and you regaled them with tales of soloing your local crag, probably not advisable. But some people might see it differently
HeMa on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:
> Anyone ever felt like this?

Yes...

Might not be the best line to punch through at interviews.

I would be a tad more discrete and formulate it more in the lines of I'm an outdoors person and enjoy my time in the hills/mountains/moors what ever.

But then again, I happen to live in another country that happens to have quite old fashioned view on employees and hiring them (hire 'em once and think they'll work you for you until retirement... unless you sack 'em).
Tommyads on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:
Perhaps I might change my stance on the Olympic bid.

Come 2020 all interviewers I meet will think I am some sort of athlete regulated by health and safety rules.

I think that could work better than them assuming I am some sort of Alex Honnold but with no competence.
jdawg_85 - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads: I've never had a problem with telling interviewers I'm a climber.

I've found it gives them something to talk about, and you can always play the 'team work and decision making' card when talking about it.

I did once get asked if it's a dangerous sport, which is a great way to prattle on about identifying and managing risk (if that's relevant to the job).

Sankey - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads: I think you can use climbing/mountaineering to demonstrate a wide range of skill sets, organisation, planning, keeping calm under pressure, motivating others etc. So can be useful as an answer to one of those horrible "stock" questions "describe a time when you ....?"

However, maybe if due to a geography it looks like your interest in climbing may be a motivating factor for the job it could end badly, has done for me a couple of times attempting to move to the north lakes and edinburgh. Didn't help that you could actually see Skiddaw from the window during the first interview maybe...
Bulls Crack - on 15 May 2013
In reply to HeMa:

Should be possible to emphasise some 'positives' in a interview buzzword stylee ie trust, partnerships, challenges, dealing with unexpected situations, health and safety etc

Dull but true!
duchessofmalfi - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

I think they are not as worried about that you might fall and die as you think...

They're more likely to be worried about the ever urgent need to bugger off and do some routes every time the weather is favourable!
Quiddity - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

I almost certainly wouldn't bring being a climber up in an interview unless it was relevant to the job.

Apart from anything else, non-climbers tend to have quite predictable reactions to finding out that you're a climber and I wouldn't want that to become the thing that the other side took away from a job interview. Do you really want to be spending the interview explaining that really they mean free *soloing* not free climbing and that what you do at weekends isn't climbing everest or scaling buildings like that french bloke, or instead communicating that you are a serious professional and the best person for the job.

I think it depends how much experience the position is calling for, but from having sat on the other side of the table, while I want interviewees to have a personality and interests outside work, I would regard them as a much stronger candidate if they were able to demonstrate teamwork/organisation/dealing with pressure/motivation stuff from their work experience rather than transferring it from a leisure context.
Neil Williams - on 15 May 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

I think they might well be worried about you getting injured and being unable to work. I think I would similarly emphasize liking outdoor activities while being a bit less specific about what.

Neil
Blue Straggler - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Sankey:
>
> However, maybe if due to a geography it looks like your interest in climbing may be a motivating factor for the job it could end badly, has done for me a couple of times attempting to move to the north lakes and edinburgh. Didn't help that you could actually see Skiddaw from the window during the first interview maybe...

I knew a guy who used to recruit for light industry (I forget what) based in Bangor or similar and if candidates did not list a hobby such as hillwalking or climbing, the company would worry that the employee would not stick around for long as there wasn't much else to do around there! So in that case, climbing would be a good thing to mention

Offwidth - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Sankey:

I agree it may need careful handling to get a particular job but would you really want to work for an employer who you need to lie to about that?
Simon Caldwell - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

and of course if the interviewer is a climber then you're more likely to get the job. I once offered a job to someone on the basis that not only were they a caver, but they'd also postponed the interview for a week because they were away caving. Best appointment we ever made.
IainRUK - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads: I think it depends.. its not just climbing its any sport..

Some job interviews have looked favourably on my running.. others don't.. I now don't mention it..

I've friends whose work has helped fund their trips to represent GBR or Wales.. yet when I said at work I was selected to compete for Wales at various events.. the response was 'How do you find the time.. we don't have the time, you mustn't work hard enough'..

I now don't mention sport unless they look fit people or mention sport themselves..
Simon Caldwell - on 15 May 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> the response was 'How do you find the time.. we don't have the time, you mustn't work hard enough'.

I wouldn't want to work for that sort of company anyway.
nniff - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

I recently had my CV reviewed by a friend of a friend who's in the top end of the headhunting business, but sadly not in a position to help me directly. His comment was that my CV was 'fine' which is apparently high praise. He was particularly keen on my inclusion of 'Ice climbing' on the last line, beacuse at my stage in life it leapt off the page as a differentiator. He was really keen to move it right up to the front, but we couldn't really see a way to make it work.

Some of you may recall that I was recently told I was going to be made redundant. Everyone in the firm said that was crazy, and so they apologised for startling the horses and gave me a new cost code. Same job, same everything, different bucket of money with which to pay me. Still, it forced me to update my CV....

Dave Garnett - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

On balance I think having climbing on your cv is a plus. The received wisdom is that it demonstrates leadership, teamwork, risk assessment, responsibility, maybe a certain boldness and drive (it helps if you have a good safety record!).

I have only once had an interview where the HR person made a big thing of the recklessness and lack of responsibility to the company. My response was that I had significant vested interest in not hurting myself for all sorts of reasons and had never had an accident in n years etc. In any event, the interview went off the rails on another point (the complete denial that they had any problems with one their drugs which was in the news and was withdrawn shortly afterwards, when I was making my pitch for how to limit the damage and salvage something).

I decided I wasn't interested and terminated the interview.
Andrew Mallinson - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

Hi Tommy,

Never put anything to do with climbing or mountaineering on your CV...you will be shoved in the bin quicker than you can say Aiguille Du Tacul...
ANdy
Scarab9 - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

Depends on the interviewer, like it does for anything you could put down!

I've had very successful interviews where skydiving/climbing/fell running have been brought up - they allow a slightly less formal part of the interview where you can still often show capabilities related to the job, but it also shows you have a personality which is important in many companies. Also it can help set a personal link between you and the interviewer as you can banter a bit which can help.

obviously some places can be very serious and might not want anyone utterly devoted to their job (I've known people that have expected staff to put work before their family ffs!) then I wouldn't want to work for them.
neilwiltshire on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

I put climbing on my CV and generally find it engenders a positive response. Most people find it fascinating and like people with broad interests that don't involve tv and computer games.

And funnily enough I have recently been in the position you describe. Had an interview in April, spoke about climbing during the interview (as I had just taken 5 months of work to climb), got the job, and after precisely one week in the job I went climbing in Swanage, had a serious fall that involved broken bones and was off work for 2 weeks! Lucky for me my employer was very understanding and concerned for me. I have been back in the office for 2 weeks now.

I would still continue to mention climbing in the future since its my main interest outside of work, but I would do it in such a way as to allay any fears they may have.
IainRUK - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
> [...]
>
> I wouldn't want to work for that sort of company anyway.

Aye.. that was a University.. the head of department gave a speech to remind us that writing papers and grant proposals was work to be done in evenings and weekends.. not a core part of our job.. yet we get assessed on grants won and papers submitted..

A day later he gives a talk on work life balance...

IainRUK - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Tommyads)
>
> On balance I think having climbing on your cv is a plus. The received wisdom is that it demonstrates leadership, teamwork, risk assessment, responsibility, maybe a certain boldness and drive (it helps if you have a good safety record!).
>
> I have only once had an interview where the HR person made a big thing of the recklessness and lack of responsibility to the company. My response was that I had significant vested interest in not hurting myself for all sorts of reasons and had never had an accident in n years etc. In any event, the interview went off the rails on another point (the complete denial that they had any problems with one their drugs which was in the news and was withdrawn shortly afterwards, when I was making my pitch for how to limit the damage and salvage something).
>
> I decided I wasn't interested and terminated the interview.

I had a similar interview.. I asked about job security and the future of the center as I thought the center was under threat.. Yet they had a MoU that the center was safe from closure by the new 'owners'.. yet they hadn't actually signed to take it over.. just a commitment to.. (which we all know is worth shit).. I had my views quite rudely dismissed. A week later there was a press release that the center was to close... and the position advertised was just for a person to lock the gates basically.. needless to say I didn't get the job..
BnB - on 15 May 2013

If you put climbing, and especially mountaineering, on your cv, you'd have a great chance of a job where I work. And no it isn't a climbing shop. We just like objective-oriented risk-aware achievers!!
Simon Preuss - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:
I found they tended to ask "what do you enjoy about climbing?" or "isn't that dangerous?"

I went with points along the lines of:

-I enjoy the personal challenge

-I think it is good to step slightly outside ones comfort zone occasionally (this also applies in other aspects of life, both personal and professional).

-The problem solving nature of it appeals to me.

-Yes there is a bit of inherant danger, however I take every reasonable step to mitigate/manage these risks. I have gained a greater appreciation of risk management through this, along with a meticulous/methodical approach to safety.
Dave Garnett - on 15 May 2013
In reply to BnB:
>
> If you put climbing, and especially mountaineering, on your cv, you'd have a great chance of a job where I work. And no it isn't a climbing shop. We just like objective-oriented risk-aware achievers!!

I have to admit that seeing that a candidate is a climber, skier, diver or sailor gets my attention and suggests we'll have at least one non-work related topic for conversation. It must increase their chances assuming they have the right professional experience!
Dave Garnett - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Simon Preuss:
> (In reply to Tommyads)
> I found they tended to ask "what do you enjoy about climbing?" or "isn't that dangerous?"
>
>

To be fair, it also works the other way occasionally, in that it can give you a dangerous sense of proportion. When there's a bit of a panic on and someone says 'It's a life and death decision' I always mutter 'no it isn't' under my breath!
Blue Straggler - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

I put "diving" rather than "freediving" despite not having had a regulator in my mouth since 2000. I'm not lying, I just don't mention that it's not SCUBA :-)
ian Ll-J - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads: I once had a job interview as an Outdoor Pursuits development officer, a few days earlier I had been airlifted from the Irish Sea after an attempted solo sea kayak crossing from Anglesey to Ireland went a bit wrong.

The interview had gone really well until the final question which was to question my Gung-Ho attitude, and was I like that when I worked with groups!

I was offered the job!
Wiley Coyote - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:
Climbing got me my first job. Coming straight from school there was no job record to talk about and I still had not got my A level results so he fell back on asking about my hobbies. I said climbing and his eyes lit up. He spent the next hour regaling me with his achievements. I couldn't get a word in edgeways except to say 'Yes' when he oferred me the job on the spot.
Maybe he decided being a good listener and knowing when to keep quiet was a useful thing in a reporter. Or, more likely, he'd talked about himself for an hour and considered that an interesting interview.
SteveRi - on 16 May 2013
I was in a string of phone chats, playing the good citizen, when I thought I'd test the water and mention the ultra I'd run that weekend. Turns out they're all high achievers in a 'don't like to mention it' way and a job offer followed shortly :)
highclimber - on 16 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads: My Ex-employer, while not in a interview sense, had a very bizzare attitude towards my activities after I rang in to tell them that I had quite badly injured myself mountainbiking and I wouldn't be in for the rest of the week. Their response was to ask me to work from home as it was self inflicted!
Neil Williams - on 16 May 2013
In reply to highclimber:

If you're injured, and you can work from home, why shouldn't you work from home, whether self-inflicted or not?

Neil
BnB - on 16 May 2013
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to Tommyads) My Ex-employer, while not in a interview sense, had a very bizzare attitude towards my activities after I rang in to tell them that I had quite badly injured myself mountainbiking and I wouldn't be in for the rest of the week. Their response was to ask me to work from home as it was self inflicted!

I think it's your attitude that's bizarre. Do you think it's ethically reasonable to expect to be paid when not working because you had recklessly endangered yourself? In a soft first world nation like the UK the law is on your side, so of course you will be paid. But if this happened in the far east (and I don't mean Norfolk), a far from uncivilised place btw, you'd be turning up on your crutches for fear of losing your job.
highclimber - on 16 May 2013
In reply to Neil Williams: Erm, because I was in hosptial, I forgot to mention that bit!
highclimber - on 16 May 2013
In reply to BnB: I didn't recklessly endanger myself. I was mountain biking not juggling chainsaws blindfolded. Thankfully I live in the UK so I don't need to turn up for fear of losing my job. Read above post.
BnB - on 16 May 2013
In reply to highclimber:

I should have put a smiley there to indicate a degree of tongue in cheek. But you did call your employer bizarre when in fact he or she was probably just trying to get value for the money being spent on you.

As an employer (who regularly "endangers" himself on a hillside in as responsible a manner as possible) it's easy to see the other point of view.

My gripe is with employees who holiday in exotic locations then need a week off work to recover from their "delhi belly". How would you like to give someone 1000 of your own money to lie in bed recovering from their holiday?

It goes with territory of being an employer, and, as I said earlier, my business positively discriminates in favour of adventure seekers for a number of reasons. So if I came across as curmudgeonly, I apologise.
winhill - on 16 May 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to highclimber)
>
> If you're injured, and you can work from home, why shouldn't you work from home, whether self-inflicted or not?
>
> Neil

Depends on the nature of your illness or injury, I would have thought.

I used to take the attitude that I would carry on whenever I could, it does mean you're taken seriously when you say you can't continue, but the downside is that you may put in below par work, which is then held against you.

So it offers a risk with little benefit.
Stone Muppet - on 16 May 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> Aye.. that was a University.. the head of department gave a speech to remind us that writing papers and grant proposals was work to be done in evenings and weekends..

Shameful. Which department where?

(...returns to writing bids/papers...)

To the OP, any place I'd want to work would by definition regard climbing as a positive thing.
Stone Muppet - on 16 May 2013
...but climbing and outdoor activities would never take up more than a few lines on the last page of the CV. That's just putting things in the same proportions, line for line, as the employer wants to see.
Stone Muppet - on 16 May 2013
...and if you can list any qualifications or goals you have achieved in that space then you get to look all the more goal oriented (bleuurgh)
mkean - on 16 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:
I've told most potential employers that I climb as it has often come up in discussion. (I spent a while running climbing sessions in a previous job).
I'm pretty certain that it was one of the main reasons that I didn't get one job (As a H&S advisor) but it has normally been fine. Most employers have been pretty positive.
Neil Williams - on 16 May 2013
In reply to highclimber:

Fair point :)

Neil
Neil Williams - on 16 May 2013
In reply to winhill:

If I've done it because I've been feeling rotten, I've always let my boss know so he would know to expect that I wouldn't be 100%.

Neil
Bulls Crack - on 16 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

Juts reply:

'I like the danger, the risk and being my own boss with no responsibilities other than having a good time on my own terms'


Welcome to the Banking world!
Rob Naylor - on 16 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

There was a vogue a number of years ago...probably late 80s/ early 90s IIRC, when it seemed that careers advisors and teachers were positively recommending new job-seekers to put something like climbing on their CVs as it demonstrated the team work, self-reliance, risk assessment etc that others have mentioned above.

I was interviewing masses of people at that time and a good 40% of those who'd put climbing on their CVs modified it to hill-walking, or admitted that they'd just done it once on top-rope on a school adventure holiday or similar when questioned about it.

Lots of people back then were over-egging their CVs and to me any bullshit about what they'd done on their CV put them instantly in the "no" pile. We were a fair-sized company and could usually find someone with knowledge of any esoteric areas of expertise claimed....as the (white, British) applicant who professed a "good knowledge" of Tibetan quickly found out! Four or five words was stretching the definition of "good" a bit!
Motown - on 16 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads: Guess I might worry that they might ask about work time given up to reading/adding to climbing-related forum threads...
Howard J - on 16 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads: It's in my CV but I've not often been questioned about it, when I have it's usually that they're glad to see something a bit different. However I also say that I've served on the committee of my climbing club, which shows qualities which are relevant to work.

If asked in more detail, there's lots to talk about - teamwork, organisation, resourcefulness and self-reliance are all pluses to an employer. If they're concerned about risk, explain that it's really all about evaluating and managing risk, which also applies well to the world of work. Dig out some stats to show it's safer than horse-riding.
HeMa on 16 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

The OP mentiones interviews and talking about climbing, not CV.

While I do have my hobbies listed in the CV, I would not push the matter with climbing on the actual interview (unless climbing skills are part of the job description).
Irk the Purist - on 16 May 2013
In reply to Tommyads:

I interviewed someone who had climbing on their cv. Being a competency based interview it wasn't of much interest really, unless they used it as an example later, but I like to break the ice at the start so I asked what grade? They gave me an excellent summary of the UK adjectival grade system and the technical grades before giving me an answer. They even went on to explain what grades they climbed in different disciplines and compared these to each other.

Later on, their example for explaining complicated ideas to non-technical audiences was quite poor but I was able to use climbing instead as additional evidence.

They got an offer but they turned it down.
RoFanne - on 20 May 2013
In reply to Eric the Red: Good example. Just about all the comments above have been from the perspective of the candidate.

Some years ago I interviewed someone who put that she was a climber. She wasn't to know that both her interviewers were also climbers. I expressed mock concern that we might be taking on a liability. She said that what she did wasn't that serious and explained how climbing was really very safe. We did establish that she wasn't really a very experienced climber and had clearly put it down in an attempt to impress her interviewers. Whilst we looked at the rest of her claimed attributes with a little more suspicion as a consequence, she did eventually get the job and proved herself to be one of the most able employees we had. We didn't hear anything more of her climbing exploits though!
Blue Straggler - on 20 May 2013
In reply to BnB:
> (In reply to highclimber)
> [...]
>
> Do you think it's ethically reasonable to expect to be paid when not working because you had recklessly endangered yourself?

I know you said you meant to put a smiley but anyway...

how about people that incapacitate themselves playing 5-a-side football or doing some DIY?

or who slip on a step and land badly, trapping a nerve in their lower back?

Are they allowed to stay off work on proper sick/injury leave, when people injured similarly but whilst biking or climbing have to find a way to work from home?

I am actually half-serious here. I was off for some time with a broken ankle sustained in a lead fall and I am sure I'd have had a harder time if another (more favoured!) colleague had not 2 months before sustained an ACL tear at 5-a-side.

Neil Williams - on 20 May 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Or those who turn up to work with a stinking hangover and thus get nothing done?

Neil

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