Monday, August 31, 2009

The 2nd Interview: What Went Wrong

My hair was frizzy, fuzzy. I didn't get the job because in an attempt to create more volume, I flipped my head upside down while blowing my hair dry. Although my hair looked okay when I left the house, by the time I got to the interview, it was frizzy and fuzzy and so I didn't get the job.

Okay, so maybe that's not quite what happened or quite why I didn't get the job. I don't 100% know why I didn't get the job. There are any number of possibilities, as well as the very likely probability that they had another candidate whose skill set better matched their needs or who had more experience in this field than me. I knew that I was a long shot going in- this was an outside sales position and I have less than a year of experience in outside sales. This would be enough to disqualify me from even being interviewed in most cases, but somehow, I got the opportunity to interview. My most recent position did not involve outside sales and I have not actually done outside sales in over three years. None of this was in my control, I couldn't change these facts.

What I could have changed, though, is the skill set that I presented to the hiring manger in the interview. Here's how it went down- she asked me a number of situational questions like, "Was there ever a time when you were able to resolve a customer's problem right there on the spot?" or, "Tell me about an ongoing relationship you had with a customer." What I should have talked about was my relationship with those customers that I had when I was in outside sales 3+ years ago. That would have demonstrated my skill set directly as it related to this job. What I did, though, is talk about my relationships with my customers from my most recent job. I spent three plus years there, so it only makes sense that those situations were the freshest in my mind. It never occurred to me to really dig a bit further back and come up with situations from my previous position, the one just like the position for which I was interviewing. Maybe this is just a big fat DUH for everyone else, but it didn't occur to me until AFTER the big interview, when it was too late. Lesson learned- in an interview, talk about your experience doing the job most like the job you are applying for, even if it was not the last job you held.

The other thing I think went wrong is that I didn't have a clear understanding of how the sales cycle worked for this particular industry. In my last position, we pushed for the sale pretty heavily right up front. With this position, it would have been a more gradual sales process- start with a few items and work the customer up to more, more, more. I didn't know that and unfortunately, it became very clear in the interview that I didn't know that. I could have learned it very quickly, but I think that I lost a lot of appeal when my naivete was exposed. I'm not entirely sure how I could have figured that out before the interview, but I am sure that I could have done some Internet research, at the very least. I will be better prepared for the interview next time around, if there is a next time.

Finally, I wish that I would have come up with better questions to ask the interviewer. You know at the end of the interview, when they ask you if you have any questions for them? I had nothing. Zilch. I feel like the last thing in that interviewer's mind was the fact that I was too stupid to even ask a question about the job. I would have liked the last thing in her mind to have been the insightful, thoughtful question I posed about the industry at large. Next time, I will have several of those kinds of questions ready when the interviewer asks me if I have any questions.

Though I didn't get the job, I do feel like I accomplished something on the day of the interview. It was the first time that I had to get dressed professionally with the baby. Obviously, I get dressed every day, but that usually involves a change of clothes, a quick face wash and new pony tail holder. I generally shower at night or when (if) he naps. The morning of the interview, though, I got up, got him fed and ready and then showered, blew my hair dry, applied make up and got dressed in grown-up real world clothes. When I was working, he was not yet walking and didn't eat solid food. Getting him ready was nothing more than nursing him and changing him. He sat in the bouncy seat or exersaucer while I showered and a woman came to our house to watch him while I left for work. Now, he no longer fits in the exersaucer or bouncy seat and the lovely woman who watched him is out of the country. This meant that I also had to figure out another child care solution while I interviewed- another total stressor in and of itself! We did it though- he and I. He stayed with a friend from play group. He has never stayed with anyone except family and the lovely German woman who watched him when I worked. I was really worried about how he would do being with someone he didn't know all that well. He did great, though, so I was really proud of both him AND me for being able to handle that new experience.

1 comment:

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