Pining For… Substance

Delightfully Maladjusted

Technology I hate You Today and Some Interview Tips for Newbies

Well I am wrapping up a whirlwind week of interviewing with two different companies. I definitely have interview fatigue at this point and I don’t want to be “on” for another minute or answer any more questions about myself. That said, my first round interviews went very well. Well enough to secure a second interview with each company and a third with one of them. The pickle I found myself in this week was weighing out the pros and cons of each position. One company is very prestigious in my field and I would love to work there…in theory. The other company, a little less prestigious, but still very recognizable, offered a great hands-on entry level position in the marketing dept. After weighing numerous factors, such as cost of living in the job locations, the day-in day-out tasks of each, my best abilities and the amount of creative work I would be able to do I actually decided I would rather work for the lesser known company. The position at the less prestigious company offered a much more hands-on opportunity to get into the type of work I am most interested in, and in the end, that outranked working for a dream company in a less coveted position. The pathway was clear after a couple of days thinking it over and analyzing longer-term goals. So I was quite happy when company B asked to schedule a third and final round interview with the VP of marketing. At this point, I had phone interviewed with my would-be manager and the next manager up. So two interviews down, one to go.

Let me break down some mistakes I made at this point, just in case there are new grads reading this.

1. I assumed this interview was more of a courtesy/formality and would only last about 15-20 minutes, because my other two interviews had each lasted about an hour. I figured, what else could they ask? I have been asked, and asked, and asked….just about everything related to the job and my background. I figured the VP would not want to spend much time on me and mostly this was just a “personality” interview, and since it was via web-cam it was also to make sure that I am a normal looking person (i.e., no odd growths or pink hair).

2. I didn’t prepare anymore job/company related questions because, well honestly, other than salary, benefits, PTO I don’t have anymore questions at this point. I was very thorough in the prior two interviews and felt comfortable with all of the answers I received.

3.  I underestimated the mishaps of video conferencing and interviewing and didn’t think it through enough before hand.

So what mistakes were made during my final round interview?

1. I thought that all video conferencing platforms operated similarly to Skype, in that once you log on you can use the microphone in your computer to speak back and forth. Well I was horribly wrong about that. The company was using Go To Meeting to conduct the interview and you have to dial in through your phone and stay on it. So through the entire 40+ minute conversation I had to hold my crappy cheap cell phone up to my ear…WHILE ON CAMERA. So not only did I feel completely awkward, but I looked it too. Yes, my phone is a POS– it does not have a speaker feature, so I looked completely out-of-touch with modern technology whilst interviewing for a job that will be focused on maximizing the marketing opportunities of said technology. Ugh. Can you hear that cartoon-ish flailing happening in the background as the bomb drops?

2. Because I was having a hard time holding the phone, listening, smiling and responding I was not making good eye contact with the web-cam. Again, in some fields this may not be a big deal, but when you have a degree in New Media, knowing how to effectively use consumer tech is a big deal.

3. Which brings me to my other HUGE mishap…thank you Dell for making the worst web-cam ever! I have changed the settings numerous times to stop face-tracking and auto-focus but the web-cam just continues to do this! So of course in the middle of this interview the camera starts to zoom in and out sporadically, giving my interviewers an up-close view of my ear, or cheek, or eyebrow or whatever stupid thing the camera thought it should zoom in on. Again, most people could laugh this off, but it makes it seem like I am completely out-of-touch with modern tech tools for communications jobs. I mean, geez I would be thinking–this girl has an old phone, isn’t using a speaker at least, isn’t looking into the camera properly and can’t figure out the settings on her web-cam…and she wants to run our social media platforms, good grief. I am not out-of-touch on purpose, I simply cannot afford a smartphone, or even a nicer phone right now and I had to settle for this Dell laptop because it is what I could afford when my other laptop crapped out on me. If I had the extra cash, sure I would have an iphone or a macbook, but I dont.

Thankfully the vp interviewing me also made a bit of a tech error when she muted the call on accident and couldn’t get it working again…so that tipped things in my favor.

So at the end of the interview when the VP asked if I had any questions for her specifically I stammered out some question that would have been great for, say, the person who would be managing me, not so much for the VP. And as expected, she deferred the question to the assistant mgr. while remarking that she wouldn’t be managing me directly so… So I felt pretty stupid there…

Anyway I tried to answer the questions the best I could, but honestly at this point I was just burnt out on interviewing and with the embarrassing distractions, I fear I didn’t do very well.

Lessons learned:

1. Never assume that the third or later round interviews with the higher-ups will be brisk and perfunctory…prepare for in-depth and possible new questions about your background and goals. And be prepared to regurgitate the same info that you discussed in the prior interviews as though it was the first time you have been asked, even if some of the same people are present this time around too.

2. Had I taken a moment to really think through the whole webcam interview process, I could have most likely plugged my ear-buds into my phone so that I would not have to hold the phone to my ear the whole time…I could have just lifted the speaker closer to my mouth when I was speaking. If you are interviewing for jobs out of state, make sure you are fully prepared for phone and webcam interviews- think about your background, audio, right height for the laptop webcam, lighting and any weird glitches you are aware of before hand ( such as a stupid unnecessary zoom feature), make sure you dress the part from head to toe…just think what would happen if you wore a blazer and dress shirt with sweatpants thinking that they will never see your lower half…what if something went wrong? What if you had to get up to plug in your phone or laptop b/c the battery is dying or change locations because the lighting is bad, or  you need to get up and go retrieve your resume or some notes you jotted down but forgot to put in front of you, who knows…it is unlikely that you will need to get up during a webcam interview but be prepared in case you do.

3. Make sure you think of a couple of questions that would be relevant and appropriate to ask someone in a higher-level position (VP, Director, CEO, CFO, etc.) they are not going to be interested in discussing the details of the job you are applying for, ask more broad questions about the branding direction, or company mission, etc.

4. Be prepared to be asked again over and over why you would want to move to -X-, people will ask, and ask again and again. Mostly I think they just want to be extra confident with out of town candidates that they won’t get homesick and flake out on them a year into the job. Find a reason you want to be where this job is and stick with it every time they ask. Now when I am asked I do a combo of, ” I am happy to move anywhere for a position in my field as an entry-level candidate, but I also like where this position is located because I have friends and family closer there than where I am currently. ” Or whatever, if you are currently close to family and friends then go the other way…say you want a new adventure…yadda yadda yadda. You get the idea.

5. Be okay no matter what. Both of the jobs I interviewed for would be good and great entry-level positions respectively, but even if I don’t get either one I made a decision, not too long ago actually, to be okay with what happens. I did my best, I messed up a bit in some areas, but overall I am doing just fine and overall I will be just fine no matter where I land. Actually, once I decided to stop punishing myself so much and being unhappy about my job situation I started getting interviews. Part of growing up for me lately has been discovering that being in a good mood is a choice. I have always left that up to the whims of the day, but when you decide how to feel, rather than react to everything, well there is a great freedom in that. I encourage any new grad, or long-term unemployed etc. to try and find that for themselves, no matter what, no matter bills piling up, pressure, family tension, depression, bitterness-NO MATTER WHAT IT IS- just stop, and just be. It really helps. Things could get worse, things could get better, you don’t know, but life is not stationary and something will change for you and very likely those changes will be good and bad at various times. Know that there WILL BE good times for you again, even if things seem completely hopeless now, accept this crappy time of unemployment as a rocky, turbulent transition, because that is all it is- it is not your WHOLE self or life.

I will be a bit anxious this weekend waiting to hear back about these jobs, but I am also looking forward to other things too, like a good movie or a new recipe or the fact that the sun was out here in Seattle (wow!), just other things too. You know that old adage about love happening to you when you are not trying so hard to find it, well I firmly believe that karmic law applies to just about everything.

Good luck to everyone out there (unless of course you just applied to one of the two jobs I interviewed for,  in that case I  hope you get the next one, hehe >;)



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