How To Be Your Best Self In An Interview
Okay my job-seeking friends. Take a little advice from someone who just spent the last six months of her life sucking up to human resource execs.
Right before college ended in May, I wasn’t just scouting for a job, I was searching for a CAREER in Hollywood and I interviewed the town-wide. Funny thing is, the harder I tried, the swifter the rejection letters seemed to come. (And most of the time, they don’t come at all.)
Yes, Liz Lemon, I agree… “What the WHAT??”
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Try hard at the interview and I’ll come off as desperate. Don’t try, because I don’t give a crap and it doesn’t matter anyway.
We could all be like THIS GUY, who stood in the streets of Beverly Hills every day, got to meet celebrities (Sigourney Weaver bought him a coffee) and just this summer landed a job at a mid-level talent agency. Good for you, man. Wish I had your balls of kryptonite.
But since we can’t all be so brave, here’s what I’ve found out from my slew of interviews:
1) TAKE EVERY INTERVIEW, even if you don’t want it.
It might be for the doorman at CBS. Or in the mailroom at ICM. Or being the personal waxer of George Clooney’s basketball collection (bad example, who wouldn’t take that job?) The point is — TAKE THE INTERVIEW.
About three months ago, I interviewed to be the assistant to the head of a boutique management company. To be honest, I wasn’t super interested in taking the job, but what the hell…
My potential boss was a suave, old-school New Yorker who worked himself up from the ranks of cab-driver and wanted everyone to know it. He was a rough, tough, straight shooter — and I shot straight back. I had no reason to impress and nothing to lose, so I relaxed, was casual and just hung out with the man for about twenty minutes. The next day, I was offered the job, and politely turned him down (thanking him profusely for his time, of course). I told him I was truly hoping to land at “insert-big-four-agency-here.”
But you know what? He was supportive! We had gotten along well and because I was upfront, honest and confident, he offered to help land me my dream job in any way he could. Ultimately, he sent over a very helpful letter of recommendation to the company and checked in from time to time to see how the job hunt was going.
I didn’t want the job, but I took the interview anyway. And I made a friend.
2) ACT LIKE YOU DON’T NEED THE JOB
Notice, I didn’t say “act like you don’t WANT the job.”
There’s a big, huge, hulking difference.
Yes, I want the job. Your company is awesome. YOU are awesome. Who wouldn’t want to work for you/this company? But do I NEED this job? No way.
Don’t be a suck-up. Exude a confidence and straightforwardness that will make them want YOU more than you seem to want them. It’s like dating. One text a day is okay — It’s mysterious, alluring, makes you want more. Two texts is appeasing. Twelve texts is stalker-worthy.
3) YOU ARE JUST AS GOOD
My Irish grandmother used to say “You’re no better than anybody else, but damn it all if you’re not just as good.”
This is true, and contributes to the way you need to dress for an interview, make eye contact constantly, how you speak, etc. Remember cool New Yorker I interviewed with? The man was at least thirty years older than I, but I approached the situation like I was meeting up with an old college-buddy. I was friendly, direct and had a friggin’ sense of humor. Your potential-future boss wants an employee they can relate to, and they want to know their life is going to be in good hands…. The hands of a mature, capable individual who didn’t get their tie from dad’s closet and isn’t shifting their eyes down to Facebook between every syllable (Oh god, Facebook. Just don’t do it.)
4) GET PERSONAL
I just so happened to be married.
A friend of mine knew I was going out for this big interview one time — a top agency, a sharky agent with a reputation for being big, mean and scary. This particular co-worker advised me that I should take off my wedding ring for the interview. Why? So I could go into the interview as a potential booty-call for my new boss? (Think of those old-school secretary reputations).
Nope. Even worse.
I should remove my wedding ring so that it didn’t look like I had any outside commitments — so that my new boss wouldn’t feel uneasy about asking me to stay late, or calling me on the weekend to run errands. Basically, so that I could sell my soul to Satan without him knowing I had a life outside of the workplace.
I kept my ring on. I went to the interview. I had a great conversation with the agent about our personal lives and how we dealt with balancing a marriage and family with the demands of work. It was an awesome interview and I once again made a friend.
I’m awesome the way I am. And I bet you are too. You don’t have to lie to get the job — not about your personal life or the fact that you like to have your weekends to yourself. Just be cool, be genuine and you will be such a breath of fresh air in this town.
5) FUGGEDABOUT IT
How did it go?? Was the interview bad? Forget about it. Was the interview awesome? Forget about it.
Most of the time, you won’t land the job. There’s always someone with a better resume. And a lot of the time, your potential boss just had someone different in mind. Move on, take the next interview, practice your skills of relating to people and one day the rainbow will land on your little patch of earth and magical job-giving leprechauns will sprout out of the posies. It happened for me and it will for you, too.
You can read more from Molly Bruno on her blog.
Image via Shutterstock.