4 Interviews, 1 Company = NO JOB! I SCREWED UP!
You know the feeling; you send your resume to dozens of jobs for weeks, maybe even months. Not a single employer responds to your resume and you begin to wonder “what in the world is going on”? Then, all of a sudden, when you least expect it, you receive an incoming phone call from a number unbeknownst to you. You’ve applied to a gazillion jobs before this moment so you have no idea as to who’s calling so of course you answer the phone with a professional tone and introduction; ‘hello, this is _________”.
After a brief 2 to 3 minute conversation, it’s been confirmed that you’ve been invited for a job interview next week. In even better news, the company just so happens to be one of the TOP companies in the entire industry. After you hang up the phone, you immediately get that butterfly feeling in your stomach, you get that sense of relief and nervousness at the same time, you finally did it! You FINALLY got a job interview! After you’ve come down from your high you instantly come back to reality and you begin to think “o crap, I have to do some studying for this interview”! This is really happening!
Let’s Get Prepared
This was me back in 2012 after graduating from college (I graduated with an Accounting Degree from Voorhees College in Denmark South Carolina). At this point I already had moved back to New York City, quit my first job on wall street and quit my first accounting job (don’t judge me, I was still seeking my passion). Its funny how most of us go to college, spend 4 years of our life and upwards of $30,000 for a degree only to find out (through real work experience) that we have absolutely have no interest in that particular field; but that’s a story for another day, back to reality. I had a job interview with one of the most prestigious law firms in New York City called Cleary Gotliebb Steen & Hamilton (CGSH); I was now interviewing for a Billing Coordinator position. Keep in mind, I found out I hated accounting so I was looking for something different, something that I may be interested in (hence my reason for applying for this position and quitting the two jobs I mentioned earlier). After receiving the phone call from CGSH, I decided to immediately buckle down and begin to do my due diligence on this company and the position. There was NO WAY I was going to let this one slip through my hands, not this time, I’ve waiting too long for a great opportunity.
Study Up! Study Up!
I did my Google searches on the company and I also went to Glassdoor.com and struck gold. I was able to find a ton of reviews from previous and present employees of the company (extremely valuable information by the way). I learned a ton on what the culture was like and I also learned what the company valued and where they were heading. After my research, I made my flashcards and began studying possible interview questions.
Flashcards has been my way of studying interviews ever since seeking internships during college. To this date, they’ve done me justice. After studying day and night for an entire week, I was well prepared. The night before I made sure I had all of the tools I needed to bring to my job interview, ironed my best shirt and tie and dry cleaned my favorite navy blue suit, I was interview ready. The interview was scheduled for 1P.M so I had plenty of time to get there the next day, no worries.
The Day of: It’s Interview Day
I had interview anxiety so of course I woke up at like 8 A.M, got dressed, gathered up all of my job interview tools and got on the train to lower Manhattan ( I was living in Brooklyn at this time). I arrive to CGSH at 10 P.M, 3 HOURS before the actual interview (I don’t recommend this by the way). The reason I wanted to arrive early was because of my anxiety and the fact that I did not want to take ANY chances (you never know if the big city) and besides, I waited too long for this moment and I wasn’t going to blow it because a train decided to get stuck in the subway station for hours. Now, at this point I’m standing in front of the building (a HUGE one by the way) with 3 hours to spare before showtime. I began to think to myself “There’s no way I’m walking into this building right now” so I decided to walk into the Mc.Donald’s directly across the street and further study my potential questions and clear my head until it was my time to interview. I studied my flashcards until about 12:40 P.M then decided to finally go over to the building where I was interviewing.
The Walk Forward
As a quick side note, this is where the interview actually starts. The moment you walk into that building you must be at your absolute best. I walk up to receptionist desk and greeted her. I made her aware of my interview and she tells me to have a seat in the lobby until someone comes to pick me up. Before I continue the story, let me quickly explain my encounter with the receptionist because this is extremely important. When I greeted the receptionist, I was BEYOND friendly, I made sure I smiled and showed her the upmost respect. I even broke the ice by adding a little bit of humor (This wasn’t planned but whatever I said, it kept her laughing and smiling, which is good) during our encounter. We even engaged in some small talk before I decided to go over to the waiting area. I actually took the liberty of getting her business card, I’ll explain how this helped me later on.
As I waited in the lobby (standing up of course), I was approached by the woman from HR who initially contacted me about the interview. As I smiled and shook her hand (a firm handshake), she thanked me for coming and we made our way towards the elevator. Keep in mind, this building was over 50 stories high (One Liberty Plaza in Lower Manhattan) with offices on every story. As we waited in the elevator until we reached the upper floor, I immediately started a conversation with her. You see, during my interview preparation process, I actually took the liberty of looking her up on LinkedIN, this way I atleast knew a little bit about her. The last thing you want to do is sit there in awkward silence. By the time we reached the top of the floor, we were smiling, laughing and carrying on (O yea, great start). She let me know that I would be interviewing with her first, so we walked into the office and we both sat down (I let her sit down first) and then the interview began.
THE INTERVIEW BEGINS!
Interview #1 — The Warm Up Round
As she pulls out the resume I submitted, she asks “so, Dayvon, tell me a little bit about yourself”. I answered the question with confidence and as I prepped for. As she’s looking at my resume and giving me all of the softball, most common interview questions, she’s sitting close enough to me to the point in which I can see the front of my resume and I noticed that it looked much shorter than normal. As I looked closer I saw that the resume she was reading didn’t include my most recent experience! (I have no idea how this happened, maybe it was a test, I mean she was sitting pretty close). The moment I seen it, I interrupted her and made her aware of the situation. I then pulled out an extra copy of my most recent resume and gave it to her (I had 10 copies with me, you never know). This is why it is SO important to bring extra copies of your resume; you never know what’s going to happen. After the interview was over, she told me to follow her to the person that I would be working for directly. ‘YES’, I made it to round 2!
Interview #2 — Getting Closer To the Goal
Once again, I was asked to wait in the lobby as the HR woman I just interviewed with discuss my candidacy with my next interviewer. About 10 minutes of waiting happens and then I am approached by my potential direct supervisor. I greeted her with the same respect and energy that I did with the first woman who interviewed me, this woman was much more serious though (time to put my big boy pants on). As we interviewed, we discussed a few of the same questions that I encountered during my first interview.
As we progressed throughout the interview, the questions became more and more technically related to my experience and skill set. No worries, I was well prepared because of the flashcards I created last week, there was no question that was going to get in my way. As the interview came to a close, she then asked me “do you have any questions for me”? After I asked the 3 to 5 questions that I planned for, I ended the interview with a humorous “So, When Do I Start”? She gave a slight chuckle and said “I like your attitude”. She then directed me to wait in the room and that she wanted to introduce me to the person I will be working side by side with. At this stage of the interview, you would think that I had it in the bag; you would think I was going to get hired that day, I mean c’mon, I’m being introduced to the team! As I waited for about 3 minutes, the woman I would be working on a team with walks through the door “Hello Dayvon”. I stood to greet her and interview number three began!
Interview #3 — Easy Breezy!
This was perhaps the easiest interview during the process. In fact, it was hardly an interview. It seems like the point of this “interview” was to determine if our personalities meshed well. She asked me a few questions related to my experience and that was about it, It lasted about 10 minutes. After she departed from the room, I was greeted with the woman who interviewed me during the second interview, she told me to wait in lobby (for the 10th time) until she came back. I kid you not; I waited for about 30 minutes in the lobby; I stood there more nervous than I’ve ever been. In the back of my head I was thinking, If I’m staying this long, I’m thinking that I’m a shoe in for the job. After the 30 minute wait I was approached by two women. One of them spoke “hello Dayvon, this is the Director and I am the CFO of Cleary Gotliebb Steen & Hamilton”. Uh Oh!
Interview #4 — THE FINAL INTERVIEW
Ok this is the big moment, I’m interviewing with the Director and CFO! In my mind, they WANT to hire me; I mean why would I be interviewing with such big names in the company If I wasn’t being hired? Ok guys and gals, this particular interview was a blur to me so I’m going to try and re live that moment the best that I can. Before the actual interview began, I remember the director telling me that she will not be able to stay for the entire interview (keep that in mind as I tell you the rest of the story). As the job interview begins, the CFO is asking me a TON of question and I am answering them to the best of my ability (most were on my study flashcards).
As we approached to what I thought was the ending portion of the interview, she asks me “So, Dayvon what are you looking for”? To tell you the truth, I didn’t really know, at that point all I wanted was a job, I mean I had student loans to pay! All I could remember was me giving this cookie cutter answer I found on Youtube. After I gave that answer, she said “that didn’t really answer my question, what are you looking for”? I answered again, slightly different answer with the same context (big mistake). After my answer she said “great, Well Dayvon, thank you for interviewing with us and we’ll be in touch”. My heart instantly dropped and I just KNEW that it was over. First off, she didn’t give me a chance to ask any questions but what REALLY confirmed it for me was the fact that the Director was still in the room when I was dismissed even though she told me that she would not be able to be in the room for the entire interview.
The walk of shame:
As I left the office, I got back on the train and I was on my way home. Deep inside I knew I didn’t get it but I still had a string of hope, I mean I did make it all the way to the CFO and Director. The moment I got home I decided to send a thank you note to my all of my interviewers (You can download the same letters I sent here) but as I pulled out my computer, I realized that I did not get ANY of my interviewers business cards (dumb mistake). All was not lost though; remember I told you about the receptionist earlier? Well, as I mentioned, I did get her business card. I immediately called the receptionist, she remembered who I was and she provided me with the names and email addresses of everyone I interviewed with (SCORE). After I sent my letters, the waiting game began.
The waiting game:
Many of you’ve been in this position I’m sure, you interview for a company and you impatiently wait until you hear a response back. You check your phone and email every 5 seconds for the next week. I waited for a few days, a few days turned into a week, a week into two weeks and before you knew it, I was sure that my candidacy was disregarded. After all of the hard work and studying, I still fell short.
If you been in this position, don’t’ stress yourself out, not even a little bit. The way I see it, the position was not for me, there was a slight disconnect. The last thing I would want to do is work for a company that I cannot mesh well with.
Even though I didn’t get the job with such an amazing company, I did learn quite a lot.
What I learned from that interview:
- Do not arrive 3 hours early to an interview, it will cause major anxiety
- Kindness is key
- Be sure to get the business card of every single one of your interviewers
- Bringing extra copies of your resume is awesome!
- Its the little things that matter
- Review as many possible interview questions as you can
- KNOW EXACTLY “WHAT YOU”RE LOOKING FOR”!
If you’ve experienced something similar don’t worry, just keep applying. I guarantee that the right career is out there for you.
About the Author: Dayvon Goddard is the founder of Secrets of the Hire, where he focuses on professional and career development for college students and recent graduates through job interview consulting, scholarships, resume consulting, personal branding and LinkedIn workshops. To date, Secrets of the Hire has assisted 1100+ college students and recent graduates find and keep a career they love. Follow Dayvon on Twitter and read his guest posts on Youtern