The interview

So I have a job interview today. This blog is half written on the train to the interview and half written on the way back. It’s with a big online company whose product is awesome and unless Tesla need an intranet, might be the best job out there, and no, I am not going to tell you who for, why would I invite competition?

The interview is face to face at the company offices. Prior to this role, I’ve had phone interviews and had coffee with a few people informally, but this feels like the next step and it’s for a company I admire and the role is a good fit with my career aspirations. (Read: Do awesome shit). So the potential to do great work is there. It’s the second stage, following a phone interview and it’s with the team. Here’s hoping it goes well.

I’ve been working with a career coach and, since August, with an Entrepreneur coach, as I am exploring working for myself – though that could change if this job interview goes well.  But I’ve been working to understand what I am good at, what I want to do etc. So I should be prepared, right? Err…. Having watched  the olympics I understand that no matter how much you prepare, you have to perform on the day. Like many Olympians, whilst I am pleased to have taken part, I am greedy, I came for the gold medal.

I go into the arena with some understanding of who I am and what I can do. The challenge is to translate that. Explain the diversity of work I perform, from drafting articles to writing strategy documents. The fact I actually need both. A balanced variety (and having to find balance) in the work is needed. Talk about creating blog posts and training materials to support knowledge sharing and community managers. Working late to support the crisis communication team, or getting in early to ensure the annual results go live smoothly. Talk about outlining the business case. Don’t forget to mention all the user research, feedback, polls, monthly stats to stakeholders and discussions over coffee to understand employees and what they needed. Or the baking, got to mention the scones or the chocolate cake. Teams need sweet foods and who could refuse the worlds best scones? [Note to self: Might be wise to discuss the companies view on bribery and sweet goods]

I’ll also need to listen. Its a different sector and so what are the factors in play, what has impact? How could I add value and what could I bring on day one?

Key is to be myself. Unless I can be Batman, then I should definitely be Batman, though he sucks at intranets and digital communications.

To know yourself, as Covey says ‘you first need to be independent before you can be interdependent’. This seems obvious and I am a little embarrassed that I can still discover new things about myself, but for the most part the process of tests, discussions and feedback about the type of person I am, what I am good at and what I shouldn’t worry too much about have all confirmed what I know deep down inside.  All this information has helped tweak my CV and focus how best to answer questions. It has also helped make me feel more confident as I know who I am and how to express this better in an authentic way. If there is not a fit with a role or team, so be it. Better to find out now than after you’ve joined the team. Hopefully both interviewer and interviewee learn from the experience.

If your not sure of your type or are having challenges with figuring out someone else, I would recommend 16personalities.com as a quick test and overview. I have done several tests with my coaches and this online and free test was pretty spot on with the others. It gave me things to think about and consider. I am a Mediator apparently.

Part 2: So the interview has just finished and I am waiting for the train.

How did it go? Well, I came out feeling positive. The job seems awesome, the people who interviewed me seemed great, initial reaction is I could work in this team. I hope I have given a good account of myself. Did I answer the questions in a way which showed what I can do? I don’t know, I suspect I didn’t get into the detail too much, not enough focus on STAR. Looking back there are a few times I might have said ‘That reminds me of the time I…’. Most worryingly, there was one brief moment when I might have stepped from ‘explaining’  something, into sounding perhaps a little condescending, like a little kid who has learnt something and wants to share with every adult he meets. Hopefully this was just me and I didn’t come across like Donald Trump. Did I waffle – an occasional problem, especially when I am over excited.

So by now, the initial positive feels have turned to excessive reflection and deconstruction. Why didn’t I say that? I didn’t mention anything about that? Was I too focused on that part of the role and didn’t mention I also have skills  that would benefit the operational activities too? Were my best answers just in my inner dialogue, nodding to myself as I thought I can do that too! Ultimately, were my games ruined? did I set off before the gun was fired, fail to nail my landing infront of the judges, not hit my personal best or leave anything out on the field. Only time will tell, in the mean time, this is my stop, time to grab my bike and cycle home.

So, sipping a cup of tea and jotting down lessons learned. Both incase they call me for the next stage, or I miss out this time.

What went well?

  • The job is exceptional, its like someone asking Neil Armstrong, ‘Dude, you like flying, want fly to the moon?’ or ‘hey Oprah, you should totally have your own show’, this is something I want to do and I understand the factors which got me excited about the role and company
  • The team is new and I got a positive, but focused and driven vibe, I like that and I know I can help
  • The opportunities to do something new with the platform is there
  • Some of the experience and practices I’ve learnt would be really useful, with tweaking of course
  • I arrived on time and there were no major catastrophes

Any issues?

  • The job is awesome, so there is certainly someone out there way more qualified for this. As a Buddhist I can’t kill the competition and it’s such an opportunity, I would  want to see them do really well.
  • Did I show I have the skills to work within their culture?
  • Did I explain the variety of skills I have
  • I might have picked up some bad habits in the present role which meant I didn’t respond to some questions as well as I could. We talked about social media policies, and I was immediately reminded of the Sharon O’Dea tweet, Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 16.20.24where she hopes one day the policy will be. “Don’t be a dick’. a) I did not suggest this as the answer (maybe I should have), b) A truly great social media policy is not defined by head office, it comes from the network, the community. A campaign to engage and discuss this with the users would be better, perhaps explore sharing and translating the local behaviours which are a no-no. Made me think of the HSBC marketing campaign, ‘Different points of view’  https://thefinancialbrand.com/6361/hsbc-brand/ highlighting how things have different meanings across the globe. What does ‘don’t be a dick mean to you? If I land the role, I should draft a blog post and get some user input on this.

What next?

Now I just wait. Thankfully some other really cool work came in yesterday so I have to get on with that.


About Dan Leonard

Based in the Netherlands, I’ve been working on intranets and digital workplaces for over 12 years. Mainly in financial services for Learning & Development, HR and Corporate Communication functions. I am interested in the skills required by Intranet Managers and Digital Workplace Leaders now and in the future.

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