Being back in the States after two years in paradise–then seeing said paradise shredded by a “monster cyclone” shortly thereafter–hasn’t been easy, to say the least. But the experience has reinforced my Purpose, enabling me to carry it with me from the South Pacific and the toughest job I’ve ever loved, to my next great endeavor of building my future in New York. My Purpose is to work with and for those whose lives have been shattered so that they can build their lives anew, strengthening the communities they live in (and humanity as a whole) by being living exemplars of strength and resilience.
Here is the second installment of the search for my next work-medium for fulfilling this Purpose:
Interview Numéro Duex: My wonderful recruiter gave me tips on how the online job posting system works and which kinds of jobs would suite my needs and qualifications. After I applied for probably the perfect job for me right now, she forwarded my application on to the person who is recruiting for that specific position. Before I knew it, I had a “phone screening” scheduled with a senior recruiter in NYC. Though I had just an hour or two to prepare for it, I absolutely dove into prep-mode for this one.
What went wrong:
- I was only kind of prepared, due to time being so short. It wasn’t the end of the world, but if I could suggest anything, I would say to prepare answers with specific stories from your experience to potential questions before or at the same time you start submitting applications. That way you are in a general state of ready on a moment’s notice. Of course this doesn’t mean you won’t have to do more research and prep specific to later interview opportunities, but it gives you a good foundation.
- I didn’t have any questions to ask her. With such huge volumes of applications to sort through, a recruiter or interviewer has to try to find the people that are truly interested in fulfilling a specific role, not just interested in it because it’s a job opening. Having questions to ask is your opportunity to demonstrate your sincere interest in the position as well as your knowledge about the organization (or desire for that knowledge).
- I had a lot of awesome humanitarian work to talk about, and I was applying for an administrative position. She ultimately told me “You obviously have a lot of great humanitarian experience, but what qualifies you to work in an office?” Make sure your answers are directly applicable to the job you are applying for. Know the job description inside and out, and develop your answers accordingly.
- I looked top-notch professional. All the advice I found for phone interviews said to treat it like a face-to-face interview and get cleaned and dressed-up for it. I did this. For the vast majority of people, this is probably good advice because it helps them keep their professional hats on in a potentially casual-feeling context. But when you struggle with anxiety in a need-to-sell-yourself kind of situation, maybe that’s not the best choice. I was nervous and rambly as hell on the phone, feeling unfit for the nicely-pressed outfit I had on. In most cases, I enjoy looking nice and presenting a professional look, but in this specific judge-me circumstance, it didn’t pay off. When the recruiter had to call me back several times that afternoon, after I had gotten back into my normal mode and a pair of jeans, my anxiety quickly vanished and my professional confidence was able to resurface. Maybe that was only partly due to the outfit, but it certainly had an impact.
What went right:
- Because I only had a small amount of time to prepare, I didn’t have stories from my professional life that demonstrate my awesome rehearsed and ready to perform on queue—but I was able to speak knowledgeably about the organization and the role I was applying for. The internship system can and, in my opinion, is often abused is our here-and-now, but in this case it really paid off. If you can find any way to swing a few months of work with little to no pay, an internship is a great way to get the inside scoop on an organization you’re interested in and learn how to thrive in their culture (and if you’d actually want to try).
Near the end of the day, the person who felt like my newest New York friend called me back and asked, “If you get a skype interview, and if it goes well, would you be willing to fly to New York for an in-person interview?” This was the first time I hesitated to say yes. After all, a quick trip to New York wouldn’t be cheap, and I am not the only one impacted by my financial decisions. My tip here: No one will ask you to do something like that unless it will likely be worth it. If you know it is something you are capable of, then be willing to make the commitment. Otherwise, I say just be honest. Say you would be willing to, but don’t have the financial capacity- Then ask what s/he suggests you do to get around the financial roadblock so that you can be there for the organization.