I have been applying to jobs continuously for 3 years. Thankfully, in my search for a new job, I finally landed a job away from retail, but I'm still not in a position where I would like to be: working directly in the interior design industry.
During this time of about 10 in-person interviews and about 5 phone interviews, I have been asked the basics:
"Why do you want to work for us?" or "Why should we hire you?"
"What are your strengths/weaknesses?"
"Tell me a time when you have had to deal with an irate customer..."
While I don't mind these questions and I will never feel 100% calm while answering them, it's as if the interviewer is waiting to hear only the answers they expect and what is considered "acceptable" answers based on a guideline instead of personal judgement.
I had an interior designer ask me once,
"Why haven't you got a job in Interior Design?"
You know what? I'd love to know, too.
And I don't fully mean this in a snarky way, I really would love to know.
My response was: "I may not have been the right fit for that company."
That could have been the truth. I may not have stood out against my competitors. While I have years of customer service experience under my belt, my counterparts had internships. Maybe it was my resume. Maybe it was my portfolio. Maybe it was the lack of a website with my own domain.
Interviews would and could go smoother if companies focused on candidates who are a good fit personality-wise with the company's culture and maybe not focus so much on how a person is on paper, especially for entry-level positions. I had one great experience during a job interview. The interviewer tested my skills, both creativity and logical skills... it was such a long interview... 4 hours actually, but I enjoyed every minute of it!
I was shown around the warehouse/showroom/office space, asked to do an accurate sketch of the room using a tape-measure, asked to solve a brain-teaser (this one) and lastly, asked to show my ability to use their software which is very similar to AutoCad.
I was hungry and I was still breastfeeding at the time so, that's even worse because I was always hungry, haha. They fed me some snacks when they realized how long I had been there. I think I may have had a shot to work there since I was asked if I could stay just a little longer to interview with the owners of the company. I will chalk it up to probably not saying the right things to convince them that even though I don't have experience, I was willing to work hard and learn all I can. Also, I will chalk it up to the universe having a say since I wouldn't have any time to spend with my little family. My son was 1 at this time and the time we spent together was precious, obviously. I like to think of it as a blessing in disguise...
I really enjoyed this interview because they truly wanted to get to know me along with my skill level. I look back and can say that was the best interview I ever had. Regardless of the length of the interview and the fact that I had to take the Metro North and walk like 20 mins to the place and having to kill time because I was an hour early while in the middle of New Rochelle (I'm from the Bronx, New Rochelle is like the suburbs to me).
Interviewers, not just in Interior Design, should strive to get to know their potential employees on a level deeper than what is on paper. I feel that will weed out the truly dedicated and loyal employees from the "good-talkers", you know, the highly charismatic smooth talkers who could sell you a Geo convincing you it's an Audi.
I'm not a "good-talker".
I'm an honest talker, though. Like truth-serum honest talker. Even if I rehearse what I am going to say, I'm more than likely going to tell you the full truth versus half-truths that would/could/should make me look good.
The point of this post is to not only relate with all who are reading this, but to also shed light on what is consider important when being interviewed when applying for work. Employers want the best candidates for their companies, but are there some techniques that employers can use to get the candidates to be more relaxed and allow them to be their true selves versus a robot feeding them automated answers or things we think the interviewer wants to hear?
Even for entrepreneurs, eventually, you may want to hire someone to help you. How will you do that? I want to ask questions that aren't typical along with getting to know the candidate. I don't want just a "good talker". I want someone who is willing to learn and works hard, someone who likes receiving feedback and is comfortable giving it back as well.