Monday, June 7, 2010

Guest Post :: Carly of Grown Up Lady Me

Greetings students of elephants!

You might have noticed that Molly and I sometimes overlap or reference each others' posts.  That happens for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is that we usually spent at least an evening or two a week together when she was here in Boston.  Now Molly's moved on to an awesome job in a whole other state and her allusion to getting it, despite a less than perfect interview, was still overlapping with what I was thinking about.  Lately I've been doing a battery of phone and in-person interviews for my company (again).  I'm learning a lot about what to do and more of what not to do.

Here's some quick advice to those of you looking to start or change careers out there:

You better think.  Take a second to consider the question that you are being asked and why.  All too often people rush to answer and miss the mark.  

This is only a test. Recently I've been working with a manager who has adopted some brief in-interview tests.  At first this freaked me out.  I didn't want my little, carefully selected interview candidates to freak out.  But, that was half the test.  Whether or not someone can add sets of numbers in their head is important when they are applying for a job that utilizes basic math.  Just as important is how they react to being asked to do so on the spot.  To my relief, many people handle it well, and it almost disarms them to see themselves sweat a little, then succeed.  Keep cool and don't be afraid to laugh. 

Dress for success.  An oldie but a goodie.  My Developmental Psych teacher was a big believer of this one, and always told us to get up early and dress well on test days.  Even if it is a casual office, wear something that is appropriate, that makes you feel powerful, and something non-generic.  As tempting as it is, particularly when you're new to the working world, to work that basic black suit to no end, it does nothing to help jog my memory.  There is no substitute for great qualifications or exceptional skills, but clothes show personality and can give confidence. I love the outfits Molly put together for this post.

A well dressed pair of applicants
When someone asks about you, tell them about you.  One of the most interesting questions I like to ask is "What's not on your resume that you think would be good for me to know?"  Consider it before you have your next interview. Channel those lame freshman orientations if you have to, but you know interesting things about yourself.  You know marketable things about yourself.  And your interviewer, until you tell them, does not.  At one interview I attended, a candidate for a technical position left her retail experience off her resume.  When it came up in her interview, the hiring manager asked her not to downplay such experience as customer service was a huge part of what our company was all about.  Company culture is a big part of hiring and you are more than a set of skills or a degree.

Follow up, follow up, follow up.  It's not just perfunctory.  In my job, I've seen over 200 people apply for one entry level position.  It is difficult to get to everyone, but people who thank me for the interview, or people who pose follow up questions, simply position themselves in my inbox.  Word of warning: As much as you might want to, you do not control the response of the company to which you are applying.  I actually got an initial email from an applicant who gave me 3 steps of how to let him know if he was NOT being considered for the position.  Please be polite and considerate of other people's circumstances when you follow up.

Last but not least, sometimes you just make mistakes during an interview.  Never give up!  Even the most egregious of errors can be forgiven for the right candidate. 

Well, that sure was an adult perspective!  I feel it's necessary to tell you all that I work in an office with lime green walls, where it is not uncommon to get pranked with a handsome cardboard cutout we've dubbed Chad, and with people who conduct entire conversations with quotes from Arrested Development. No one there is entirely grown up, least of all me.

See more laugh-out-loud life perspectives from Carly, here!

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