Okay, that may be a poor choice of words: no interview (for a job you really want, at least) is easy, I think. But there may be a way to make it significantly less painful, and it's advice I've actually been hearing since Kindergarten: be yourself.
I know, cheesiest, most cliché piece of advice, ever, right? But - wait! No! Don't you dare navigate away to Facebook before finishing my post! It's relevant! I promise! Anyhoo, advice like that wouldn't be cliché if it didn't work, right? For my evidence, I would like to present to you a brief case study: me.
A little over a week ago, I went in for an interview with Racepoint Group, a "global public relations agency defining the new model of communications through our unrivalled understanding of the evolution of traditional and social media" (shamelessly ripped from their About Us page). To be accurate, though, the story doesn't really begin there. Let's rewind a few months. Six, to be more specific.
While I was away on my European vacation, I received a Twitter DM on my phone. It was from someone with RPG (I won't out you on my blog unless you want me to, but you know who you are, and I am so very thankful and insist that you let me buy you an adult beverage.):
Hi Brittany -- hope all is well! I checked out your blog & thought it was great. R u still looking for something in PR?
If you think the job market is bad now, I'm pretty sure it was even worse, then. Outrageous overseas internet fees be damned! I sprinted to the ship's library to respond immediately. It was something to the tune of "Name your god and I will bow to him/ her if you can get me in to Racepoint," only a little less desperate and crazed. One vacation, many E-mails and a networking event later (read: three months), I finally had an interview scheduled with HR. While they didn't have any Account Coordinator (AC) positions open at the time, it was probably for the best.
As it turned out, my RPG appointment was less than a week after my Porter Novelli internship interview took place. You may or may not recall that I got that internship, and looking back, I am so glad that I did. Granted, I was glad then, but not as glad as I thought I would have been about a full-time job. However, I've realised now that my experiences with PN could only have helped me get to where I am now. Speaking of which . . .
After two wonderful months with PN, I learned that while everybody was happy with Brittany, there was no opportunity for Brittany to join the team full-time. As devastated as I was, I knew I had to bust my derrieré if I didn't want to go back to Starbucks at the end of September. It was time to put the job search into overdrive. I DMed, Facebook messaged, called and smoke signaled everyone I could imagine who might be able to put me in touch with someone of a hiring authority. Eventually, through a series of grapevines, I found out that Racepoint was looking for an AC. And now we're back to last week.
This was my second interview at RPG (and my 8,000th interview overall), but something was very, very different this time: I wasn't stressed. That's not to say I wasn't nervous - I was probably about five seconds from passing out throughout the entire process - but my brain space wasn't preoccupied with trying to remember every piece of agency trivia that my interviewers might hurl at me. Instead, I remembered something my mentor had advised me to do before every interview, but I had never seriously considered: "Just be yourself. Let your personality show." Each time he said it, I thought, "Thanks, not like I could have found that at Hallmark or anything," but the guy had a solid point.
I've had enough experience with agencies to know what's expected of me as an AC and that I can deliver on those expectations. HR wouldn't have invited me in more than once if I was a total ignoramus during my last visit. What was more important was probably if I gelled with the rest of the office (or at least the other two people interviewing me). Commence Operation Yes I'm Awesome And I'm Not Afraid To Show It.
What followed was one of only a few interviews that I've actually enjoyed (yep, I'm going to link to yet another old blog post). I met with a director and VP, both of whom I focused on getting to know, versus asking the "right" questions and discussing "relevant" news. I figured if I had to try so hard to get those other things right, maybe I wasn't in the right agency in the first place. That said, whenever posed with a question, I like to think I did an okay job of responding coherently and perhaps even intelligently, but my mentor had it right: anyone can have the skill-set for a job, but if somebody meets with an account team and nothing clicks, then perhaps that person, in spite of all qualifying experience, isn't the right fit. Skills can be taught. Personality is an entity unto itself, and is much more difficult to tweak.
Eight days ago, HR called to share RPG's verdict: yes, please join us. My response? A series of "Omigod!"s and generic, ecstatic blather, being the composed professional I am. I think she got the idea, though. My start date is fast approaching, and I'm still on cloud nine. To think that all I had to do was listen to my Kindergarten teacher! And more recently, my mentor (okay, and maybe have a pretty substantial résumé).
"Let Her Cry," Hootie & The Blowfish
"One Week," Barenaked Ladies
"Foreplay / Long Time," Boston
"Hold My Hand," Hootie & The Blowfish