You guys are smart and you can tell from the headline I’ve been doing a few of these, so I won’t waste precious time and space explaining to you what’s straightforward: We’re going over what interviewers and interviewees shouldn’t do when they meet up.
“Don’t make it their job to figure out why you are great for the role,” says Michael Muse, co-founder and VP of product and operations for LocalResponse. “At a startup, it almost never is. Without HR departments, hiring managers are often just the doers, who don’t have time to translate your interview responses into a list of reasons you are perfect for the job.”
To put it in plain English: You need to be awesome. You need to be so awesome that you understand a job interview isn’t about you telling the company everything it can do for you — you’re telling them everything you can do for them and why you’re such a great, natural fit and a snappy dresser. If you fumble or can’t make up your mind, guess what: Someone else sitting in that same interviewing seat will be able to. They’re probably scheduled right after, you, too, so don’t screw that up.
But I can’t emphasize this enough, folks.
“Not a day goes by where we don’t get an email asking if we are hiring,” says Andrew Haha of Sensory Swim. “The ironic thing is instead of waiting for an actual response, they just go ahead and paste their whole résumé in the body of the email. That needs to stop.”
I’ve written about this before, but there’s a pervasive sense I have that a lot of entrepreneurs feel they are the most unique, greatest, most creative individual in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all have the same amount of potential, the same amount of creative energy — what differentiates us is what we do with it and knowing when to apply the soft touch to charm others. Most people lack that final point, and it’s super-key both in getting that interview but also in selling people on you in general.
So, reflect on yourself and ask: If I didn’t know me, what would I like people to know about me? Why would I want them to know if I was hiring?
If you don’t know, it isn’t someone else’s job to figure out.
So figure it out and then broadcast it with your actions, not your words.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as IFC’s comedy, film, and TV blogger, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. (He also co-runs a blog behind the DePaul class, DIY Game Dev.) He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.