Pro-Tip #23: How to Nail a Job Interview

Hi team! I think I like the more honest format of the last post, so I think I’m going to roll with it again on this one. Thoughts? Feedback? I’m here to serve y’all, tell me what you like!

Nailed it.

Nailed it.

Anyway! I recently moved across the country away from my friends, family, and city that I love. I have a myriad of reasons for doing this, maybe I’ll go into it in a future post. That being said, I moved without the security of a job. I know, I’m cRaZyYyYy! My professional experience is in Am I desperate?!marketing, and it’s really hard (nearly impossible) to land an early-career level marketing gig somewhere without living locally. It’s a generalized enough (but omg not generalized at all) field in which most employers have enough local options to not risk it on a far-away candidate. My cover letters were eventually, “SO I LIVE IN ATLANTA BUT I HAVE THE RESOURCES AND DESIRE TO MOVE SO PLEASE JUST TAKE A CHANCE AND TALK TO ME,” which is apparently not a good strategy. I guess employers don’t like desperation. So yes, I moved here without a job. I’ve been fortunate enough to land a sweet gig working at a local sandwich shop, Fricano’s Deli. Let me tell you… our sandwiches are off the chain. Like, if I didn’t work there I’d  probably still be there daily pounding some food. My co-workers and bosses are also a delight to work with, and there’s some solid musical taste happening over the speakers. If you live in/are visiting Austin, come by and eat some food. I plan to continue working at the deli as long as possible, but I’d prefer it to be more supplemental and fun than my sole source of barely making rent each month (never mind my overly active social life). It’s also not much good for furthering my professional aspirations to one day rule the world. So, I’ve been on the hunt for a job more in line with world domination and whatnot.

Heard that, y'all

Heard that, y’all

My hunt has been successful in a lot of ways. I’ve had a lot of interviews, 4 this week alone! It’s encouraging that people are picking up what I’m laying down, and every company I’ve spoken with has been gracious and somewhere I’d like to be employed. But nothing has worked out as of yet (that’s the unsuccessful part). It’s been a frustrating experience. I’ve put a lot of time, energy, and heart into applying and interviewing with these companies, and rejection never feels good. Sometimes I get multiple rejections in a day. This usually leads to me sitting in front of a mirror and trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with me, concerned that perhaps a wart is growing on my nose. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), there is no wart. My nose is not the problem. And neither am I. And neither are the companies I’m applying to work with.

Oh, what a world! What a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness? Oooooh, look out! I'm going! Oooooh! Ooooooh!

Oh, what a world! What a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness? Oooooh, look out! I’m going! Oooooh! Ooooooh!

My past experiences have taught me what’s important to me in a workplace: good culture, transparency, the potential for upward mobility, and maybe some free lunch. I’m only applying to places that meet my standards for those requirements. I think the first item, good culture, is the most important. The places that have a good company culture didn’t happen upon that culture by accident. They intensively vet their candidates through multiple levels of interviews, tests, and seeing how long it takes until you’re sweating blood. At first I was annoyed. I interviewed with one company 5 times, the final interview lasting roughly 4 hours. I am not currently employed by this company, but I’m okay with that. After all those interviews, they know me pretty well. They know my qualifications, they know my personality (at least a little bit), and they know what they’re looking for. If I’m not it, I appreciate them not setting me up for failure. If I’m not a good fit for that role within a company, then I’d rather not fall on my face and end up with a bad reference in my portfolio.

BOO

BOO

faceplant As much as these companies are interviewing me, I’m interviewing them as well. Sure, the Austin Business Journal may have ranked them the #1 business to work for in Austin. But are they #1 in my heart? Interviews are an opportunity to figure this out. At the end of most interviews (good ones, anyway), the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. Don’t squander this opportunity! Ask about the level of job security! What the best thing is about working there! The worst things! ARE THERE FREE LUNCHES?! Jk, buy your own lunches freeloader. You know what you value, use this to find out if this company fits what you want.

Bras are for the birds, jobs are way better.

Bras are for the birds, jobs are way better.

Another thing I’ve learned is… don’t be afraid to show your personality. I know, it’s tempting to be stiff and professional and barely staving off the nervous vomit. But that is NO way to present yourself to somewhere you might work. You are a unique snowflake who should take interviews as an opportunity to demonstrate how awesome you are. It’s taken me a while to figure that out.

I basically sweat unicorn blood.

I basically sweat unicorn blood.

I’m a huge, goofy, awkward nerd. I love being around and working with people; I’m super extroverted. I’m into music and helping my teammates, and I’m not afraid to be the person asking the dumb questions. Sometimes I try new things that fail, and sometimes I try new things that are THE MOST AWESOME THINGS EVER… but either way I’m not afraid to try out something new that might help my company. All of these things (and more) are what make me who I am, and help to make me a great candidate for the jobs I apply for. If I’m not letting my potential future employers see these things that make me, well, me, then I’m doing both myself and them a huge disservice. But it’s kind of scary letting complete strangers in on the secret of me; it’s an uphill battle every time.

Yeah, future employer, I know you're weird too.

Yeah, future employer, I know you’re weird too.

As I said earlier, I’ve *failed* a lot of job interviews. I put *failed* in stars because I don’t really see it that way. I see it as, “Thanks for not letting me get into a situation where you think I’d actually fail, because you know the company and position way better than I do.” I also see it as a chance to get better. I guess not only have I had the opportunity to hone my talking-about-me skills, but I also get the chance to request some feedback. I usually request an interview debrief upon rejection. This is easily the most uncomfortable thing I’ve had to do, professionally, in my entire life. It’s like, “Okay great, thanks for taking the time to let me know that we are not entering into a long-term relationship. That being said, please tell me everything I did wrong in great detail, because I like dragging myself over the coals. Oh yes, I guess I never mentioned that I’m a glutton for punishment.” Anyway, I don’t do this because I enjoy it. I hate it. No one likes to hear about awkward blunders in the interview room. BUT! It’s a really good way to get better. Many great companies will totally take the time to let you know a) why you’re not a good candidate for that role and b) areas where your interview fell a little (or a lot) flat. Despite the horror of asking someone to enter into a mutually uncomfortable conversation (because, in my experience, people also don’t like telling other people why they suck. At least, nice humans who are worth your time don’t.), it’s a worthwhile endeavor. It helps to turn perceived failure into a chance to get way better.

T-Rex is truth

T-Rex is truth

Regardless, as one of my darling friends recently pointed out, “it seems like interviewing sucks.” He was correct in that assertion. Interviewing is totally brutal. It’s offering a lot of yourself up for the judgement of total strangers. It’s worst than dating, making friends, or joining a new club. There aren’t really second chances, and hopefully that first impression is good enough. It’s unknown territory where you know what the stakes are. Interviewing is a scary place. It’s also a necessary evil. I don’t think there’s one way to nail a job interview, and based on that I apologize for my blog title. I haven’t found my “secret formula” besides being great at what I do and confident in who I am. I’m fairly certain that I’m a human of worth and value, and I’m positive I’ll find my perfect fit soon. My main takeaway from all of this is… be fearless. Be bold, be strong, and don’t lose heart in the face of *failure.* Every interview is an opportunity to better yourself and improve your abilities to show your flavor.

He gets it

He gets it

I think the most important thing is to not stop trying. Sometimes I get discouraged and want to stop trying. When that happens, I remember that I’m new in town and no one is banging down my door to hire me; it’s my job to kick down doors. Hopefully there are good repairmen in town, because those doors are SPLINTERING. Please, share your approach to interviewing and finding that perfect fit. I’m an imperfect human and would love advice 🙂

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6 comments

    • mlleallie

      Thanks Adrienne! It’s definitely been a learning experience, that’s for sure. I appreciate the positivity, I’ll keep you updated as I go!!!

  1. Catho

    Your awesomeness will eventually conquer and some lucky company will get the benefit that is ALLIE. Hang in there, keep kicking down doors until Austin is door-free! Then you can walk right in 🙂

  2. Jacob

    This is a nearly perfect post. You should make it your cover letter. 🙂

    I say nearly perfect because I’m pretty sure that’s a velociraptor, not a T-Rex, that is pondering winning and failing.

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