Thursday, March 13, 2008

How To Not Be Asked Back For a Second Interview

For the past two weeks, my bosses have been interviewing candidates for my job. I've gained new perspective of the interview process from watching candidates come in and out of the office and from listening to my bosses discuss how the interviews went.

I remember the effort and preparation that I put into interviewing for my job. My 25-minute interview required hours of trying on of outfits, researching the magazine, coordination rides and public transportation, resume tweaking, and mock interviewing. One interview, to the interviewee, is a day-long event. To the interviewer, it's just another meeting on the calendar.

I have greeted all the interviewees as they walk through the door. I have to admit, I've looked most of them up and down and judged them based on their appearance and demeanor when I first meet them. Some have thought that I was interviewing them (wouldn't that be nice, some days I really could use my own assistant), others were somewhat rude. It's probably a good idea to be nice to the assistant greeting you, they will most likely tell their boss(es) if you aren't nice.

After almost every interview Chicken Soup Boss has been ready and willing to gossip and share the details of the interview: what she liked and didn't like, what she thought was weird or questions that could have been answered better (sidenote: a few interviewees were people I knew or friends of friends, she didn't go into too much detail with those interviews).

One interviewer that stood out was a recent graduate with some background in magazines but had a great deal of experience in finance. Upon seeing her resume, Chicken Soup Boss said, in her Long Island accent, "does she know this is a magazine job (as opposed to a finance job)?" In her interview, my boss learned that she knew this was a magazine job and she wanted this magazine job. Scratch that, she wanted my boss's job. There comes a time in every interview when the interview asks the interviewee if they have any questions. This overly ambitious interviewee asked the wrong ones. Instead of asking "what can I do to gain positive recognition as a sales assistant?" she asked "what can I do as a sales assistant to gain the recognition to become a sales rep?" She was more interested in the opportunities after a sales assistant position than the sales assistant position itself. My boss said to me at the end of our conversation "you have to the remember to interview for the job you are applying for." Sounds simple enough.

This interviewee worked as an intern with a friend of mine from college and the morning of her interview I found out from my friend that she quit her job that same morning. Her reason for quitting: she needed to focus on studying for the GMAT. If her reason for quitting is true, I'm not sure why she is applying for full-time jobs. The publishing world is small so it's not a great idea to burn bridges or lie if you want to move forward in your career. Needless to say, she wasn't asked back for a second interview.

It's odd watching candidates come in and interview for your job. It reminded me that, at this point in my career, I'm somewhat dispensable. Almost anyone can do my job, I'm just hoping whoever they hire doesn't show me up.

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