I did an internship at department A of a company about four years ago. It lasted one month and it was horrible. I was given nothing to do and felt very out of place. As an intern, everybody was my superior, and they were very stressed and uninterested in teaching. I should have shown more initiative, but I was demotivated almost from the beginning. This was a very frustrating experience for me. I did not smile very much and I probably made a bad impression during this month.
About half a year after this I've started a project-specific employment at department B of the same company. The people there were nice and respectful and gave me goals and a high degree of freedom in how to attain them. There I blossomed, and I think I surpassed my superior's expectations.
Now the time has come to apply for a permanent job at this company. The thing is, the boss of this company is also the boss of department A, and I'm not sure whether he remembers me, but if he does, I'm afraid that maybe during the job interview I will get asked about what happened during this one terrible month four years ago. I'm not sure what the best way to handle such a question would be.
- Telling them that they should have *!&%$ given me something to do and treated me like a human being and not a ghost is out of question.
- Telling them that my good performance during 36 months should outweigh that during this 1 month could trigger the question "How can we be sure this won't happen again?" and also might be too defensive.
- Apologizing and effectively saying "I'm sorry, my behaviour was unprofessional" also seems suboptimal because I didn't do anything wrong except being displeased and consequently not smiling, which would of course have been clever. Also I feel that preemptively admitting failure when all that really occurred was personal antipathy is a weak move that makes me appear weak.
- The best option so far to me seems to talk about positive things that happened during this month, stating that I am thankful for the experiences I made back then, and show that I have profited from this time, which, after all, I did.
tl;dr: I did badly for a short time, and well for a long time, at the same company. In an interview for a permanent position, what do I say when they ask me about the short time?