An Authentic Interview
This story was submitted anonymously to the How We Show Up collection as part of the July SEEQ sessions.
Background: I’ve played soccer my entire life and partially built my identity around the sport. After working in the corporate world for a handful of years directly out of school, I was unhappy, overwhelmed in a big city, and craving a return to myself. The person who moved to a big city no longer existed in my head. So, I started training again and earned a professional contract with a soccer team for a season. After the season and with my goal of playing professionally achieved, I began considering what my movement back to the traditional working world would look like. With that transition back to the working world, I needed to consider who I was outside of soccer as a person. My season ended in October. February began, and I had turned down 3 job offers from companies whose interview process deemed I “fit” their culture. I turned these places down because who I wanted to be would be stifled by their cultures. When applying for jobs, I struggle with the cover letter. What do I say about myself without “bragging”? How do I present my skillset succinctly? What is my skillset? Do I fit anywhere? But, give me an interview, and I thrive. Asking questions, connecting interpersonally, and exceeding expectations have always been strong points. It’s easy to exceed expectations when the bar is set low with a poor cover letter… But, does excelling in an interview for a job that I will not like help me grow as a person and become who I want to be? At my core, I want other people to have positive experiences that meet or exceed their expectations. The trouble with this core or guiding principle is that I had absolutely zero recognized experience to my name that speaks to building experiences in the physical or digital worlds. But I figured the job title which would get me closest to creating experiences on a weekly basis would be some sort of consulting gig. Browsing Craigslist one day, I came across a posting for a consultant role working in user experience design for fortunate 500 companies. BINGO… What higher power put this ad on Craigslist on the specific day I happened to have given up on all the other mainstream job posting boards? So, I emailed my resume to the recruiter and heard back rather quickly that I did not have the experience needed to work for the company. A bit taken aback with the promptness and content of the response, I pushed back on the recruiter and asked for a chance with the hiring manager to prove my worth in an interview (my go-to!). This time the interview, role, and business were perfect… I was able to interview for a role that genuinely excited me. I was able to speak about creating experiences both digitally and interpersonally for clients. I started that job 3 weeks after the interview. One first takeaway from this story could be that the job that finally worked out for me was the one where I could be my authentic self in the interview. I wasn’t putting on a face and saying what I knew the hiring manager wanted. A second takeaway, and the bigger one for me, is that this moment of authenticity which allowed me to work from my core turned into more than just an entry point back into the workforce. My boss from that same job and I are now business partners working with small businesses to help grow their digital footprints and exceed expectations with their customers.