Recently I was asked what it is that I look for in a boss. Well, I look for someone who respects their employees, acknowledges their passion for what they do, and values their knowledge of their role within a company. My current employer is all of these things and so much more, and so when she asked me if I wanted to participate in interviewing candidates to fill my position once I left, I jumped at the opportunity.
I’ve been speaking to a few of my friends who are currently on the job hunt, and many have become so discouraged as they face one rejection after another. Believe me I’ve been there, sending out CV after CV wondering if my degree even means anything. But this was the first time I’ve been on the other side of the interviewing table, and there were a few things that stood out to me that I wanted to highlight.
Everyone is really freaking impressive.
I shit you not. If you’ve been selected to go on to the interviewing stage, pat yourself on the back. The people I interviewed were beyond talented and very qualified for the job, to the point where I was questioning my own qualifications to even be interviewing them. During the screening process, this made it even harder to where we legitimately had to ask almost all of them back for a second interview. As you can tell, I’m really bad at screening.
Interview questions MAKE or BREAK YOU.
As I mentioned before, everyone is so dang impressive. So as an interviewer for a position, you have to find a way to narrow the candidates down. Considering everyone’s answers to my screening questions were so fantastic, I had to make it tougher on the second round. The second I turned up the heat, I knew candidates who had gone through interviews before and handled my questions with ease, and others who were a little more out of practice.
One thing to keep in mind: given that I am so passionate about Diversity and Inclusion, I read up on unconscious bias during interviews before interviewing these candidates and found out that if a hiring professional feels a sense of familiarity with the candidate (ex. similar interests to the person hiring, or someone they know), then they will automatically have an unconscious bias and may ask questions that they forget to ask other candidates, which doesn’t give candidates a fair playing field because someone else might have shined in that particular response if they had received that question. So next time you face a rejection, know that it might not have even been something you said, but maybe something you didn’t get the chance to say.
Don’t be afraid to admit you’re flawed.
Don’t know something about the job? Admit it. Don’t understand a certain term that was used in a question? Ask about it. Unaware of how you’d handle a certain obstacle presented in a situational question? Just say so! You do not currently hold this position. Therefore, there are certain things that you will not intuitively know how to handle just yet. That’s okay! Its not about how quick you are to make something up on the fly. Its about your willingness to learn from you superior or your predecessor, and how ready you are to ask for help when you need it.
One of my questions asked candidates to tell me about a time they were faced with one of their unconscious biases and what they learned from it. I prefaced this with saying that the question was not aimed to have a racially fueled response, but it was okay if that was how they chose to answer it. Some examples I gave them were “Maybe you were walking down the street one night and crossed because you saw a man walking your way; or maybe you were on a plane and felt your ride might be smoother or more turbulent because you realized a woman was the head pilot.”
Many candidates impressed me with their responses, but one candidate truly stood out to me. She insisted she had never had an unconscious bias. This surprised me because she was very knowledgeable about Diversity and Inclusion, , but this answer did not reflect that knowledge. I asked her to reflect a little longer (because it is only human nature to have unconscious biases. Its inevitable). She continued to insist that she did not have any and we moved on.
The reason this was not the ideal answer is because I wanted to find someone who knew they were flawed, able to recognize where it was that they fell short, and find out whether or not they were able to learn something from the experience. Someone who is knowledgeable about themselves in this way and is knowledgable about Diversity and Inclusion is not someone who never has any biases towards any group. Its someone who is able to recognize those biases, catch themselves when they are acting on them, and is willing to relearn what is so deeply ingrained in them to where is has become unconscious.
“You can teach skills, but you can’t teach someone to be a culture fit.”- The Best Boss Ever.
This is something that my employer put into my head on multiple occasions, and I think its the best thing she has ever taught me.
When I first got my current job, I had known Melbourne a grand total of one week. And now, I was being asked to show people from different countries around this city and answer all of their questions about it. Needless to say, I spent that first week with my phone charged at 100% so that I can google any question that came flying my way. (February arrivals, you hold a special place in my heart for dealing with me and loving me anyways.) In addition to that, my degree was not in this field, I knew what it entailed only on a very superficial level, and I just had really big dreams and high hopes. I was hired.
At the end of the day, I go into every interview being true to myself. Like I mentioned in my last post, if you want to work somewhere where you are paid to be yourself, you have to just be yourself. Its hard! I know! Because that means if you are rejected, its not just your resume they’re dissing anymore. But know that if this job follows your truth, people will want to hire you because you are the job. For me, I need to work somewhere where I walk in and its not just an office, its home; and my family is waiting for me in there.
Hiring is not easy.
Not just for the person being interviewed, but for the interviewer as well. For me, it was like finding another mom to hand my children off to so that I can have peace of mind that they’ll be okay. Ask your mom how she’d feel about that. Yeah, not easy.
Everyone is so incredible, and can bring so much to any office. The question at the end of the day is what can the office bring to you. In order for there to be a successful placement, the person being hired needs to feel six months down the road that they are getting just as much out of this job as they are putting into it, and sometimes more. So maybe your last rejection wasn’t even about your answers, or your qualifications. Maybe you wouldn’t have gotten as much out of the position as you were able to put into it.
At the end of two weeks, we found my perfect replacement, and somehow my relationship with my boss grew even stronger through it. I was able to see how much she really valued everything I gave to the company over the past 6 months, and how much she cared for me not just as an employee, but as a member of the family. I would highly encourage any higher-up to allow their employee to get a say in their replacement if you want to show them how much they are valued.
I’ll save my goodbyes for next week, but for now I’ll just say this: Pip, thank you so much for taking a chance on a girl with big eyes and bigger dreams. I will never be able to put into words all you have done for me, taught me, and given me. You truly are superwoman, sunshine, and above all else, my mentor and role model. I hope I can be for someone else half the person you are for our entire team. Keep being the strong, empowered, inspiring boss lady you are.
Good luck to my TIG Aus Fam, and your new, wonderful Experience Coordinator. Continue to change lives the way you did mine and so many others. And remember, its not goodbye, its see you later.
Stay kind x