Interviewing in the Digital Age

Yesterday,  I went on an interview for a new position. Before I went, the hr manager emailed me and said “please be sure to bring a portfolio with samples of your work.” This is a reasonable request as before a company hires you, they want to see what you’re made of. This caused me to come up with some advice to share for other people interviewing as I am:

1. Be different than your competitor. 

Like I mentioned, I was told to bring my portfolio of work. I did. I took it one step further though and I brought my iPad to supplement my work as well. Now, the hr manager was able to look at my writing samples (press releases, blog postings, etc.) through my portfolio. Thinking ahead though, I was able to show her the outdoor media campaign that I had created at one of my last jobs. The benefit of this is that she got to see the billboard in its bright colors and get a feel for what it looked like besides for it just being on paper. I was able to explain that this was a concept I created, took the initiative on and was able to run with. My prior company had never had an outdoor media campaign before and I got to showcase my work right off of their website.

2. Anticipate your future employers needs.

I was going for a social media/pr coordinator position. Before my interview, I checked out their press releases and different social media channels. During my interview, I mentioned that I had looked at them and I had some ideas on how I could improve the channels ROI and help create a bigger buzz for them. The hr manager then asked me what I would have done different. I told her that there was nothing I would do different, as the person who had this job held it for three years, left on good standing and I didn’t want to offend them. I mentioned that they built a great foundation and knowing myself, I explained the areas that I could help improve on and make them better for the company as a whole.

3. Why does this company stand out to you?

When interviewing with the hr manager, she mentioned to me that the company has a lot of “social responsibility” and they are very proud of that. I instinctively put my hand up to my chest and smiled and she noticed and said “social responsibility moves you, doesn’t it?” This was the perfect opening where I could talk about my philanthropy work that I did in college with Relay for Life, Centre County PAWS (the local animal shelter) and of course my work with THON (Penn State’s dance marathon that raises money for kids with cancer). I had also mentioned to her that I read about the environmental awards they had received for their outstanding work.

4. Get a personal feel from the interviewer.

I always remind my friends that interviews are a two-way street. Not only are you looking to start fresh but the company is also looking to add to their company as well. I remind friends that they need you as much as you need them. I also tell my friends to get a personal feel for the company. When the hr manager asked me “What questions do you have for me,” I responded with the usual questions about the job making sure I understood what was being asked of me. I went on to ask her “What do you like most about working here?” She seemed a little taking back as if no one had ever asked her that before. I said to her, “You’re my link to this company and I like to get a feel of what other people in the company think of where they work.” That made her smile and she was able to give me a lot of insight about the company. 

5. Always do a through follow-up.

I always make sure to ask for a business card or a method to follow up with. I know it sounds like an obvious point but I have friends who didn’t know that they should send a follow-up email or phone call to thank the interviewer for their time and to leave an impression. I always send an email with just some follow-up points on things we talked about and why I think I would be the right person for the job. I also always make sure to mention something in the interview that matters to me: i.e.- social responsibility, so that when the hr manager talks about me to the department head, she has something to say like “oh, he knew a lot about our environmental award and was excited to help bring that to the next level.”

What other advice would you offer those interviewing?

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Starting My Own Company

When I was a young boy, I always had the dream of owning my own company. Never did I think that before the age of 30, I would be doing so. I had the opportunity to work with a great web designer and some have some excellent clients to do some work for. All the pieces seemed to fall into place and thus I started X3 Media.

Business is not as easy as it seems. I would like to go through and point out a few things about successful people and people who have the drive that not everyone knows.

The first thing I would like to point out is that success takes time. A person has to know what they want and go for it. Don’t be worried about falling down a few hundred times because that is the only way to fix what you are doing wrong. Trust me, you will do things wrong. I do them wrong all the time and I’ve been in the field for a while. It’s part of growing professionally and knowing not to make the same mistake again.

Also, you are going to make mistakes. Own up to them and most of all, learn form them so that next time you don’t mistake the same mistake. Whether it be a mistake with a co-worker, your boss or in the work that you do, learn what you did wrong and how you can correct it. Early on in my career, I got busted applying for jobs from my work account. I was young and barely out of college. It wasn’t a job I wanted but I was broke and needed the money. Let’s just say, I wasn’t fired but I wasn’t going last there much longer. I found a new job and that was that.

Another big point about running your own business or working for someone else is that you aren’t the perfect fit for everyone and you shouldn’t try to be. Some clients that you may meet won’t be the perfect client for you. They may not have enough money for you to work for them or they may ask for too much for what they are willing to give you. You need to figure out what your own worth is and when to say ‘no’ to a client who just doesn’t work out. Do yourself a favor and find out what your own worth is. What will keep you afloat in your current situation? What will allow you to move up in life? Ask yourself these questions, make lists and take the time to figure it out. You aren’t the perfect fit for every client and sometimes you are better off waiting for the right one to come along instead of just taking one.

You will know what feels right. You will find out through experience what works and what doesn’t. The biggest thing you can do for yourself is to learn what you can from some influencers, ask a ton of questions and make sure that you are constantly learning. Social media and public relations are always changing due to new apps and products. Stay on top of it and talk to those “higher ups” that you trust and can learn from.

And with all of that, X3 Media was born. It’s no where near what I have planned for it but it’s a start. That’s all that I needed, a start.Image