“Hello, Am I Hired?” Confessions of a Crappy Phone Interview

We have all been there – the crappy phone interview. You wish you would have said, “Sorry wrong number” or gotten the tone key to work as a restart button, but instead you are stuck thinking “Hello, hello. Can you just hire me or excuse me already!” Blame it on the alcohol recession. I used to have a whatever-you’ll-get-them-next-time mentality to interviewing, but now I feel like one crappy interview is as crippling as no Kit-Kat’s to a chocolate addict.

My wounds are still fresh from my crappy phone interview that occurred this past week. It was for an editorial position at a dream-job kind of company. I will not disclose their name for the small possibility that I’ll get called back for a face-to-face interview! The job description was all me, “A smart self-starter with excellent editorial skills and judgment. Experience in an online publishing environment is required. Experience working with freelance writers or independent contractors is a strong plus.” Me, me, me!

The day of the interview, I woke up early meditated, researched the company, and wrote down questions to ask after the interview. If I were a student, I would have gotten an +A for preparation. I felt confident and prepared! The phone rang and I put on my best professional voice. I was expecting the first question to be your typical, “So tell me about yourself.” Instead he asked me something that left me saying, “That’s a good question, let me think about it for a moment.” The awkward silence sent my mind on survival mode. I asked him to repeat the question to buy more time all the while experiencing premature menopausal hot flashes and intense anxiety. I stumbled through the answer and knew my nerves had gotten the best of me. Sadly, it was a domino effect after that. I tried my best to save it, but the damage was done.

I can only compare my experience to going through a long and strenuous search for the perfect guy on Match.com. You carefully pluck out all of the losers (at least the obvious ones) and manage to come up with a pool of great guys to contact. You hear back from your grade-A picks and manage to score a date with a I-can-bring-you-home-to-meet-my-crazy-family type of guy, but first you want to chat on the phone. You start thinking about great conversation starters and feeling confident about your first talk – until he calls and asks you if you’re a virgin. Okay, maybe not exactly like that. Regardless, you realize you won’t be dating this person now or ever.

However just like a bad date, a crappy interview should enlighten you. After the interview, I realized that I have the ingredients and the recipe, but I just didn’t cook the best batch that day. Trust me I’ve made some slammin’ recipes in the past. I can choose to act like a desperate chocolate addict or make mental notes and grow from it. Allow yourself to make mistakes and move on with your head held high. Even in a touch economy, there is always room for another batch!

Got a crappy interview story? Share it!


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VP of Marketing for Siempre Mujer Reveals Her Secret to Success

There is no better way to get inspiration than to hear from successful Latinas themselves. This summer, I attended a Hispanic Professionals Networking Group event featuring a meet up and Q/A with Ruth Gaviria (first to the right in the photo above), the Vice President of Hispanic Ventures for Meredith Corporation. Before the Colombian marketing guru launched “Siempre Mujer” a Latina lifestyle magazine targeting Hispanic women in the U.S. in 2005, she worked as the Director of Marketing and Brand Development for the publication “People en Español.” Fast forward five years, and now Gaviria is in charge of Meredith’s Hispanic magazine portfolio including “Ser Padres,” “Ser Padres Espera” and “Ser Padres Bebé,” which she re-launched and redesigned in 2008.

During the HPNG event, she revealed her experience as a Latina leader in corporate America and shared her secret to success:

I want to share one experience that changed my life. It’s not even job specific. I was identified by management that I was leadership potential and I was sent to the Center of Creative Leadership. I was honored. I was sent there and I was the only Latina woman, and I was the youngest. When you go to these programs they break you down to your core and they build you back up. The goal is to make you a better manager and it’s a formula that works. During that process, a counselor sat next to me and said, “As a woman of color you have to tone it down. You aren’t going to succeed if you act like a part of these people.”

She continued on to explain that she received this feedback because people weren’t used to seeing women of color or Latinas take control in a corporate environment. Gaviria then gave a list of lessons related to her experience at the Creative Center for Leadership: First, adapt to your environment. Second, know when you can be yourself in a professional environment. Lastly, find a company that aligns with your passion.

Thankfully her tips for success didn’t end there,

“Your first advocate has to be yourself. You have to believe in yourself and the biggest part of leadership is listening. When you are saying, “Look at me! Look at me! I’m Latina and I have done this, this, and this.” You are showing me that you are not open to other opinions. What I have learned is that the process of listening and aligning your goals with your client or company is what is going to help you win. The second thing is that you can’t do it all alone. What fuels me is to create that group of powerful Latinos and have us join together. We [as Latinos] aren’t very cohesive. When you look at the American community, you definitely feel a sisterhood or brotherhood. With events like this, I would have to say that things are changing.”

Gaviria’s strong passion and powerful diction made me feel like a part of that change. I secretly walked away pretending that she was my mentor. I recorded the entire lecture, and whenever I feel like I need that motivating push, I listen to her speech all over again. I hope you leave here a little inspired as well.

Share your secrets to success or your view on women of color and leadership below.

 

Image: Google Images

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Theory On Unproductive Work Spaces Justifying Laziness?

Sure, most people have endured the annoying co-worker or a day full of meetings, but is the office really the worst place to work? According to Jason Fried the co-author of “Rework,” the modern day work space (or what he calls the interruption factory) doesn’t necessary encourage a high level of productivity. He explains in his lecture:

When you’re in the office you’re lucky to have 30 minutes to yourself. Usually you get in, there’s a meeting, then there’s a call, then someone calls you over to their desk, or your manager comes over to see what you’re doing. These interruptions chunk your day into smaller and smaller bits. Fifteen minutes here, 30 minutes there, another 15 minutes before lunch, then an afternoon meeting, etc. When are you supposed to get work done if you don’t have any time to work?

I have experienced full-time work days at home and in-house, and call me crazy, but I personally prefer working in an office. I must admit that working at home has it’s benefits when it comes to wearing pj’s or sweats all day and saving money at lunch time, but working at an office offers a priceless sense of comradeship. Productivity should come from within, and we should be able to properly allocate our time between meetings, office talks, or casual Friday’s.

Fried’s speech sounds like a real life version of the movie “Office Space.” He advises people to try passive forms of communication, skip some work meetings, and launch no-talk Thursdays. Is his theory justifying laziness or boosting productivity?

My answer is don’t try this at work.

Source: CNN


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How To Survive A Blogging Trial Interview

We all know how the cycle goes. You open up your favorite job searching sites and start shopping for your favorite job titles. Since the economic downturn, I have altered my selection process to also include ‘jobs I can kinda see myself doing,’ ‘jobs I am over-qualified for but include health benefits,’ and ‘part-time jobs that I definitely see myself doing.’ Creating variety for myself has seemed to help a bit.

I recently got written back for a part-time writing position at Babble.com. I got super excited once I found out that the modern parenting site averages about 1 million viewers a month. They skipped the face-to-face interview as a first step and got me started right away on a 2-day trial blogging interview. That required creating 5 blogs a day, 25% original content and 75% re-purposed or previously reported content. I have also experienced similar interview processes at Sirius XM, Clear Channel, and MTV Networks, which consisted of four rounds of face-to-face interviews and a week of trial blogging.

Trial blogging or sample writing is the main step to obtaining an online editorial position nowadays. I have succeeded in many trials, but also received no call backs from many others. Sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what the hiring manager or editorial director is looking for, but I have a few survival tips that always help me out.

1. Study the site you are interviewing for – Sure that includes getting a feel for the voice and style of writing, but it’s also super important to look at all of their sections, figure out their top content, and how they optimize their content. This also helps you realize what elements they can improve on.

2. Find your own voice – Blogging isn’t NY Times journalism. You want your voice to shine, but also balance it out with the writing style already in place. The percentage may vary depending on what kind of site you are interviewing for. When crafting your voice always keep in mind your audience!

3. Be traffic friendly – As an editor, it is very important to make sure your writers know how to tag, categorize, and link content. It’s a huge traffic booster and shows that you know how to increase their demographic. High numbers can mean more money for you in the long run.

The scariest part of the interview process is waiting to hear back. Sometimes you will and sometimes you won’t. I have had to learn to deal with the no call backs, but I like to see it as a blind date. Sometimes you match and sometimes you don’t. The important thing is to take each step as a learning lesson. What could you have done better or differently? With this in mind the perfect gig is sure to arrive soon!

Read some of my Babble.com sample blogs here and here.


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