Good morning! Random thoughts this Friday, as I’m leaving for a new position very soon (more about that later), about interviewing for a new job:
I just spent a ton of time interviewing candidates for two open positions. From what I’ve seen in my sample pool of intelligent, college-educated young people, determined to make a career in Hollywood, very few have developed the skill of interviewing. Here are some of their mistakes, most made within the first 90 seconds:
They tell their whole life story.
I don’t need to hear about growing up in Detroit, or how your mother’s nightly ritual of reading GOODBYE MOON shaped your career trajectory.
Save that for your HuffPo blogger profile.
When I ask you to “tell me about yourself,” here’s what I’m really asking:
“Tell me about yourself and how your past can improve my or the company’s present.”
This interview is not to hear your life goals. Go find your unemployed friends, or a life coach (not mutually exclusive) for that.
In the same vein:
Don’t treat the job like it’s a stepping stone.
No, there are no 40-year Ford employees anymore. I get it. Few people hang around for more than 2 years. Totally fine — but don’t put it on the table right away.
Play the game a little.
When you answer, “The reason I want to work in literary management is because I’m excited to continue my education and I think this is the next step,” what I’m hearing is:
“You guys are a stepping stone to what I really want to do, so don’t count on me being here for too long.”
Whatever job your new boss is doing, that’s where you want to be in 5 years.
Not that you have to lie.
Like I said above, I get it. That doesn’t mean you need to slap me in my face with your exit strategy.
Your answer can be, “You know, obviously I’m still learning but I definitely see myself in [whatever the boss does] for a long time, because…” Then give actual, specific reasons why you’re a good fit for the role and the company.
Do your research.
God, please, do your research.
Most people walked into interview this week without any idea what clients we represented. Hint: look around you when you’re in the waiting area. The big movie posters of THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, LIFE OF PI, and THE BOOK THIEF? Yeah, those should tip you off.
Or if those didn’t work, how about the dozen books sitting on the table for display?
If you don’t know any of the clients, don’t think I won’t call you out on it. One candidate said, “Part of the reason I want to work at IPG is because of your great, prestigious list.”
Obviously, my follow-up question was: “Which of our clients or clients’ work do you most resonate with?”
She couldn’t come up with one name.
At that point, she knew the interview was over.
She was right.
I am, by no means, a master interviewee. There’s plenty more I have to learn and practice when it comes to interviewing and negotiating. My delivery could certainly use a polish. However, I have reached the level where I understand what questions are actually being asked in an interview, and this knowledge alone makes a critical difference.
I think covering the interview process would make a great addition to any internship development program, so interns have the skills to communicate their value and earn a job that pays.
Have a fabulous weekend!