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Interview Don’ts – Stre-e-e-e-tch!

from the desk of smartdept. inc. Principal, Eric Pairitz

3. Stre-e-e-e-tch!

Yup! We’ve all done it. And, most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. For instance, during a traffic stop, when a police officer asks, “How fast you were going?” Or when the nurse’s assistant at your regularly scheduled check-up asks, “What’s your height and weight?” (I always say 6′ with shoes on.) Oh, and my favorite, “How many baseball cards do you have?” Okay, that one is more specific to me. But you get my point. Every single day, we’re asked a dozen questions that allow us the opportunity to “STRETCH” the truth.

But what about during an interview? Can we “STRETCH” a tiny bit there? You know — make four-and-a-half years of experience into five? Maybe bump that previous salary up a bit? Stre-e-e-e-tch!? Just a little? Well, I’m not your mother, so do what you think? However, creatives, beware! There’s one place for certain that you should never make a “STRETCH.” And that place is during a portfolio review.

That’s right! You should be up front in every case about your level of participation on a particular piece in your portfolio. If your contribution to a piece was more production and less conceptual, let your prospective employer know. Maybe it was a collaborative effort? If so, give credit to your partner (they’d like that). Lastly (and this seems obvious), never represent someone else’s work as your own. If you convey to a prospective employer that you possess a particular skill set, you can expect to be put in a position to use that skill set if you’re hired. Stretching the truth may set you up to fail in your new environment. Worse yet, it could cost your employer time and maybe even money.

So remember, if you’re a creative with an opportunity to show off your work, it’s best not to “STRETCH” the truth. Oh, and how many baseball cards do I have? I’d say, “About a million.”

Interview Don’ts – The Cozy Monster

from the desk of smartdept. inc. Principal, Eric Pairitz

2. The Cozy Monster

A prospective employer always has a checklist of things they’d like to see in a future employee. You’ll almost always find “confidence” included on that list. No, I don’t mean the “look at my hair” or “check out my abs” type of confidence — more along the lines of a “sit up straight, look me in the eyes, talk confidently about your work” sort of thing. Yup, confidence is a great thing! It can leave the person on the other side of that conference table thinking, “Wow, this person knows what they’re doing.”

However, be aware of… the Cozy Monster! That’s right, you’re most susceptible to being attacked by this subtle beast when your confidence is at its peak.

Imagine that you just finished guiding a prospective employer through the final pages of your portfolio. You can sense he or she is impressed. You know things are looking good. Really good! All of a sudden, you feel yourself lean back in your chair and fold your hands behind your proud little head. Uh-oh! Now the Cozy Monster has got you, and there’s nothing you can do. The next thing you know, your shoes are off your feet, your feet are on the desk and this interview is in the toilet! You’ve become another victim of the Cozy Monster!

So remember, when you’re in an interview setting (use your favorite monster voice now) — “Confidence GOOD, feet on desk BAD. Grrrrr!”

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