I love interviewing people, and asking the right questions that slowly reveals the story behind someone’s character. When I was pursuing journalism, I used to interview people about their career. But now as an account manager, I’m interviewing people to help form their career. Surprisingly, the high is still the same — the desire to uncover someone’s untold story, and see an essence invisible to the naked eye.
This time I was on the other side of the table. The interviewer instead of the interviewee. I juggled wearing both hats. It wasn’t that long ago when I felt confident on the outside, yet anxious on the inside. Memories of past rejections ran through my head, of not being the right fit, and not ticking the appropriate boxes. I remembered my most awkward job interview, where my potential new employer unprofessionally and brazenly cut me off 15 minutes in to say, “You’re not what I’m looking for.”
Finally, it was my turn to interview someone — a chance to give my past rejections some justice. None of this “you’re not good enough BS.” I would not be a hypocrite.
So, I smiled to break the ice, and so did they. A good sign! Each interview felt nostalgic in a way. The idealism they possessed, and the willingness to learn the job description outside of their comfort zone or experience. They were all fantastic candidates, but the bottom line boiled down to what I was looking for, and what the team and company needed. In other words there was a ‘box’ to fit and a certain kind of person to fit in it.
At first I cringed just thinking about it because I hate putting people in boxes, because a box means putting limits to who people are and can be. But the interview process shed some light on the difference between judging a person against your pre-determined set of criteria versus letting them unveil the criteria they judge themselves against in something we call someone’s character. I’ve always believed that character, above all, sets people apart. It determines who you want to work for, the people who you want to work for you and the kind of professional you want to be. Yes, it’s nothing personal, but the kind of person and the culture also matters.
Recently I made my first hire. Not only am I excited to see her grow, but to see the story of our entire team unfold together as we help each other form our careers.