The Other Side of the Interview

I have done so many job interviews over the years, for almost 7 years I have been interviewing regularly, whether for college, internships, or jobs. I have read interviewing books, listened to experts, done trainings in the interview (confidence and the handshake). To this day, the TikTok algorithm shows me interview tricks. However, until this last month I had never been on the other side of the table. To participate in the interview on behalf of the organization to be the one to extend out an offer and to have to make this decision.

Now, I am not the be all end all of this decision and I am not organizing the interviews, but I have a say, got to write questions, and am part of the discussion with my department and HR. I was really surprised by what when in behind the scenes. The interview is supposed to give both parties (sides) a way to move forward and feel confident accepting and offering the position. Each question relates to a quality of work and the position itself: goal setting, DEI, relationship building, passion, etc. I was really surprised by this, and how much it worked to find the information in the interviews.

What I was most surprised by were where the red flags flew. I thought there might be people that were rude or I didn’t feel were qualified, but that didn’t happen. People were polite, professional, and looking for a job that was the best fit for them. The red flags were raised consistently in the answers for continuous learning and conflict resolution. To preface with what was asked for one after hearing about a successful project they were asked ” Knowing what you know now, how would you improve the project if you were to do it again?”. We frequently run events multiple times a year or at the least annually and we want to know that someone can keep growing and improving for attendants and for our organization. Later in the interview, they were asked “Tell us about a time you had a disagreement with a coworker and how you resolved it.” Our work is largely subjective in it’s contents and people approach topics very differently there is no one correct way, disagreements happen and we want to insure that this is a person that understands that and can work and collaborate with others.

The Audacity! I know that you are only told to brag about their accomplishments but my goodness. I on so many interview forms was just like no. We only had 2 candidates genuinely answer the continuous learner with something real and logistical. Everyone else, said I should have charged more to reflect it’s quality or I should have spread it to more people because it was so excellent, etc. I mean truly we had one person talk about personalization and one talk about prep time and I was so relieved.

Similarly to the conflict question, I am thrilled you were right and have good instincts. However, the idea that you just push and push or start without getting approval on a large budget project makes me afraid! Just say I pulled the data, I conducted a poll with our area of service to show this is correct, I asked our volunteers who would had to implement, we COMPROMISED. You can absolutely be right, but the answers put people at the bottom of my list to hire.

We are making our final decisions today regarding who will receive the first (and hopefully only) offer. It was a pretty stressful experience, but I hope we are making the right judgements. I think my main tip from this side of the table is focus on how you are to work with as well as the level of work you do. These are people you are going to be with 40ish hours a week and no one wants work to be harder than it has to be.

15 Interviews

Last year I had three jobs. I was so excited to be working in my field (mostly) so soon after graduation. However, all those jobs were either temporary or part-time. After the mid-term elections I was out of work and feeling incredible unsuccessful (if you remember that post). A month later I moved in with my partner and far away from my hometown. Over the last 4 months in my new city I have been attempting to once again have a job, continue my career.

Applying to jobs was a grueling process. Trying to find a job in the field I have experience in and want to grow in. In that finding a jobs that I’m even remotely qualified for. Over the last couple months I don’t know that I hit 100 applications but I truly felt like I was getting close.

So in the last couple months I had FIFTEEN job interviews: phone interviews, Zoom interviews, team interviews, and field tests. Some were initial inquiries and some were series of follow-ups and meeting different team members. It was during those follow-up periods that I stopped applying, got hopeful.

Obviously after FIFTEEN interviews those hopeful periods got less and less. Overall it was an incredible disheartening experience. There is something that is much more personal about being rejected after an interview versus just being rejected off a resume.

But here we are two weeks after interview #15 and I just accepted a job offer that I couldn’t have imagined when starting this experience. It’s a perfect fit. It is a job that is kinda in my field of organizing while using my actual work experience of youth work. Now it all feels worth it. After 15 interviews to be offered a job that I want and am excited for, in a place where I can be supported and grow.

Truth be told I am also just excited to have a day-to-day purpose and a reason to shower.

I am so excited for this new experience. Wish me luck!