Friday, April 4, 2014

Interviewing 101: Be A Human!



I went on a lot of interviews in February/March.  A lot.  It was painful  - because I really hate talking about myself and everything I’m good at.  I mean, sitting there and telling someone how great you are at multi-tasking and how deep your knowledge of Microsoft Products is just sucks.  It’s awkward and it sucks.

But – whatever, I got a job!  No more interviewing!  And the job interview I went on to get the job that I got (what a sentence) didn’t ask me that many painful questions.  They cared more about me than my work facts/resume.  They seemed to care whether I’d make a good fit for their company more than how many words I could type in a minute.  (But for the record, 80-90. Thanks, Mavis Beacon.)

However, some people are way more prepared to answer work questions than questions about themselves as human beings.  Or they feel that they can’t say what their passions/hobbies are outside of work because they wonder if it’ll affect them getting the job.  (In California, a lot of people are afraid of hiring actors.  For many companies, I removed acting/comedy from my resume completely.  It was like a dagger through the heart.)  But, as someone who has worked in HR and participated in a lot of interviews on both sides, here’s some advice on how to answer those personality/out of left field questions.

Tell me about a time where you went above and beyond for (customers/clients/co-workers/bosses/whatever is related to your field):  That’s simple enough.  Just state what your typical job duties were and how you stepped outside of them to do something great for someone else.  What they want to hear is that you’re ears/eyes are always open and you’re willing to work outside of your job description every now and then.  It’s good to be able to jump one step ahead of expectations.

What’s something you’re not good at but wish you were?  I think it’s best to just be honest, but tame.  For example, “time management” or “making decisions confidently” and not, say, “controlling my anger” or “arguing when I get feedback” or “controlling my drinking.”

Describe yourself in three words: I got asked some version of this quite a bit.  I think this is a great way to showcase yourself and your abilities at the SAME. TIME.  Stay away from words that were in the job description, like “hard-working” or “efficient.”  Using words like “positive” “passionate” “confident” “forward-thinking” “adaptive” help make you seem like an efficient worker and human being. 

What do you do outside of work / in your free time?  Also known as “How can I spin blog reading and wasting time on the internet into a hobby?”  Easy.  What kind of blogs do you read?  “I’m interested in fashion, travel, cooking, DIY projects etc.” even if you’re just reading about it, you’re still passionate about it!  

Do you write a blog?  “I blog/I do a lot of creative writing.”  

Do you act/perform/improvise/write?  “I act/perform/improvise/write.” 

Or maybe you volunteer, in which case FINE.  You’re better than me.  Trust me, most employers want someone with something else going on! 

What do you want to do?  This was one of the harder ones.  How do I balance the truth with getting hired at this job?  Do I want to work at this company forever?  I don’t know.  Do I want to be an assistant forever?  Of course not.  But what do I want to do?  Think of those things before hand. For me, I want to write a book. Be a boss. Perform casually. Write for television.  Write scripts.  All things I want to accomplish in my lifetime.  How do I fit that in a job interview?  I honestly just say, “I want to try something new. I want to figure it out. There are things I want to cross off my list, like writing a book and performing improv now and then and eventually doing something with television – but right now, I’m just trying something new and hoping it leads me somewhere great.”  

The truth is, the best thing you can be is yourself.  Interviews are so awkward and weird, but at the end of the day - they're hiring you because they like you as a person in addition to your fantastic resume.  I've seen several cases of people getting hired with weaker resumes because they had great personalities.  So unless you're an obviously terrible human being, then be a human being and don't just say lies to impress the people interviewing you.  Of course, I also work in a creative field / modern company.  I'm sure more "corporate" places can be tougher, but I still think you should be honest and be you. Again, unless you're an OBVIOUSLY TERRIBLE HUMAN BEING. 

Now go 'head gurl go 'head get DOWN.  And then celebrate with a bottle of Andre.  Because you earned it. 

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