AFF recently held a workshop for people to do mock interviews and get some feedback and tips on the interviewing process. I participated as an employer/interviewer and thought the event was great for highlighting things people often don’t hear from employers about interviewing.
I am in my third year as an entrepreneur and have 15 employees. I am perpetually hiring for talent, so have conducted dozens of interviews since I launched (it feels like hundreds). I’ve learned much in the last few years being on the other side of the table. Most striking is that a much larger number of people in the world are total weirdos than I previously thought.
Here are some takeaways from my experience that I shared at the event:
1. Never ask an employer for directions to their office. I’m amazed how many people do this. I’m not your assistant – I’m a potential employer. Go online and make sure you know where you’re going and that you’re going to be EARLY – not just on time. I’ve already decided not to hire you if you ask me where my Adams Morgan location is or if you’re 30 minutes late.
2. Find out as much as you can about the culture of the organization. I direct people to my website in job posts and explicitly say “if our philosophy appeals to you, email me a resume.” My product is specifically marketed in opposition to most of my industry, and if I can tell when you show up that you don’t get that, I don’t want to hire you.
3. Don’t focus on yourself in the interview; be intuitive about what the interviewer cares about. I know it’s hard not to be in your own head because you’re worried about your answers, your experience, how much you want the job, etc. Instead of focusing on yourself, cast your mental energy on the person you’re meeting with and figure out what’s important to them. You want to leave the interview with them thinking “wow – she really got me/us.” That’s way more important than them getting you. Leaving that impression will make you stick out among the other candidates; even ones more qualified than you.
4. Your problem solving abilities and hustle are more important than your experience. Especially early in your career, people are hiring you for your ability to be flexible and work hard. Try to demonstrate in the conversation how you think through things and that you hustle to get things done and you’ll be memorable.
A resume gives me some basic context for you. Your email (which used to be the cover letter) should establish a narrative for what you’ve done and what you want, and the interview ties all that together in your personality, your presence, and your level of engagement with me and my company. My gut feeling from that interaction is more important than the other two things.
Now go forth and impress. And try not to be a weirdo.
Joanna Robinson is the Owner of Lunar Massage, a growing chain of massage studios in Washington D.C. She is a former Membership Director and now Board Member of AFF.
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