Ann Shoket, author of The Big Life: Embrace the Mess, Work Your Side Hustle, Find a Monumental Relationship and Become the Badass Babe You’re Meant to Be, has moved up and around in magazine publishing, an industry that’s notoriously tricky to navigate. She has hired and occasionally fired employees. She knows what makes an employee stand out from the crowd and who’s hiding from being noticed at all. Here she offers some of the mistakes that were made in interviews — a few made even by herself!
- You Put Your Coffee Cup on My Desk
Don’t come into the interview acting too casual. Ann recalls a time where a senior-level editor breezed in for a get-to-know-you meeting with her lipstick stained coffee cup and her bag over-flowing with papers and sneakers. She unloaded her gear, plopped down and looked for a place to put her cold coffee. She moved papers and files out of the way to place it on the corner of her desk. There was no position open at the time, but she wanted to discuss future opportunities. But what she conveyed was that she wasn’t interested in making an impression or even making a connection that might lead to something down the road. Don’t let your personal mess — figuratively and literally — spill over into a job interview! During the whole 20-minute meeting, Shoket says she was desperate for it to end.
- You Were Too Enthusiastic
If you’re just starting out in your career then often you have little more to offer than your enthusiasm for the position and a promise that you’ll be dedicated to the job. But you have to find something else to sell the interviewer: Take a look at any leadership roles you may have taken part in at school or at a not-for profit, a program you managed and streamlined — even if it was working at your parent’s business over the summer. Coming in super-enthusiastic can come across as a false sense of character – knowing that the candidate wants the job really badly isn’t enough to hire them. Being enthusiastic to a certain degree is good, but don’t forget you also have to share how you’re qualified.
- I Was Too Enthusiastic
Sometimes, Shoket says it’s her enthusiasm that gets in the way. Often when she’s pursuing a candidate with everything she has, she’s actually working too hard to make something fit that isn’t quite right. Interviewing for a job is a lot like dating. Both of you have to want it to build a lasting relationship. If someone’s playing hard to get, it’s a sign that there’s an uncomfortable email coming soon.
JUST AS IMPORTANTLY, THESE ARE THE REASONS CANDIDATES DID LAND THE JOB:
- You Stood Out From The Crowd
Ann says she met her assistant, Meaghan, a full year before she hired her. Meaghan stood up and asked a fantastic question during a college-women’s summit where she was giving a keynote address. At that same networking event, Meaghan found her then-assistant, introduced herself, traded contact information and stayed in touch with her regularly for the next year. When that assistant was ready to move on, she called Meaghan in for an interview. It was a perfectly fine interview, but it was what happened next that really made her stand out. She left the office, wrote a hand written thank you and dropped it off at the messenger center. Then she emailed me a PowerPoint presentation called “5 Reasons I Should Be Your Assistant.” It was bold and clever. I was impressed by the lengths she went to in order to stand out from the pack of other recent college grads with equally impressive resumes. She was hired the next day.
- You Showed Your Passion
Ann recalls a time she was on the fence about an editor who really wanted the job. She thought her work was too conservative, too quiet and had imagined someone in the role who had more edge and who would write big, loud, booming, controversial stories. But she was determined to get the job. So she followed up with a note that made a strong case for how she would command the role, and how she would work with me to deliver what I needed. Ann was still hesitant. And so the candidate asked other, well-respected editors she knew to reach out and endorse her. She continued to follow up with thoughtful notes about why she was the right one for the role. Shoket says she was so impressed with the way she proved herself. She gathered her resources, made a strategic plan, executed flawlessly and refused to take no for an answer. That’s exactly what you want in a teammate. She proved to be one of the best hires she’d ever made.
- You Made Me Cry
You should feel passionate about your work. We all work too hard and too many hours not to have a true passion about what we do for a living. One young woman, who was applying for a beauty editor position at Seventeen magazine, spent the whole interview impressing Ann with her resume and her accomplishments. But when she was asked why she wanted the job her answer brought tears to her eyes. She said she believed in the power of makeup to make young women feel confident because she had struggled with terrible acne as a teen. She knew what it felt like to look in the mirror and hate what you saw looking back at you. And she recalled the moment that her mom bought her a book to teach her how to do her makeup so the pimples were less noticeable. This allowed her to stop focusing on her acne, and start focusing on her dreams. And most importantly, she wanted to bring that feeling to other young girls.
Your work is personal. So, show your interviewer how passionate you are about the mission of the company and your potential role there and you’ll be so much closer to landing your dream job.
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