On Monday I interviewed with a second company. I did the set-up all right this time: asked who I would be interviewing with (ZC), and for how long (about 30 minutes). Incidentally, the admin assistant who was setting this up via email didn’t make it at all clear that it was going to be a phone interview rather than an in-person interview, so I’m glad that that got cleared up during our back-and-forth. As it’s a smaller business, it seems they don’t have an HR person, so this interview was with one of the hiring managers.
I didn’t have a great feel for how my first phone interview went, since I don’t have much interview experience, but I know that this one went really well. It was completely different, and makes the first one look pretty lame by comparison. Even though many of the questions were similar, it felt much more like a conversation than an oral exam (which is how the first one felt). The interviewer, ZC, was super friendly–not in a chummy way, but in a work-colleague way–and this really put me at ease. I think I was better at answering questions because of the rapport. (I’m wondering if perhaps the difference stems from the interviewers’ own relative levels of experience: BA is about my age and has maybe six years’ experience in hiring, while ZC is mid-career, at a senior level, and is clearly very comfortable with the whole process. Then again, it could also just be personality, or company culture.)
ZC opened it up by saying, “Shall I give you my 30-second spiel about the company, or do you feel like you know enough about us already?” I showed off all the research I’d done by running through some of the things I’d learned about the company, and then asked her to go ahead and fill in any details. While she was talking, I got the idea to make myself smile, thinking that this might make me sound and feel happier and friendlier. I’m not sure if that had a measurable effect, but I think it was helpful for framing my thoughts in a positive way.
Next I was expecting the standard, “Tell me about yourself,” but instead she said something like, “So tell me a bit about what you’re looking for.” I essentially turned that into the question I’d been expecting, and gave her my own 30-second (or maybe 90-second) spiel, which I think has improved a lot since the last time.
Since this interview was a lot shorter, and since the conversation was much more natural, there weren’t as many questions as in the first one. They mostly revolved around ZC describing one of the tougher or less glamorous aspects of the job and asking me what my experience had been with doing that sort of thing. I think I came up with pretty solid answers. There was one question in particular that I know I could have done better with, but it wasn’t like I bombed.
After about 25 minutes, she gave me an idea of the hiring timeline, and, having already alluded to a high volume of phone interviews for this position, said, “I really liked talking with you, and I’d like to bring you in to talk with my colleague and maybe the owner, too, at the beginning of next week.” (Yay!)
She didn’t ever say, “Do you have any questions for me?” so I was slightly confused when she said, “Feel free to follow up over email if you think of anything else you want to ask.” (Looking back on it, I think she was thinking of the whole thing as a give-or-take conversation rather than a formally structured interview, and since I had jumped in with a couple of questions here and there, maybe she thought that was it.) But I jumped in and wowed her with some of my prepared questions–she said several times, “You ask really good questions,” which she had also mentioned was a key component of doing the job well. (Yay!)
Salary never came up. She didn’t ask about my expectations, and I felt weird bringing it up. It’s only curiosity at this point, though, since regardless of the amount, I still want to have the experience of going through an interview and getting as far as I can in the hiring process.
I’m actually amazed at how friendly the conversation felt, given that I’ve never met this person and we couldn’t see each other. I know that I’m pretty good at playing off other people, so when she came across as friendly, it was easy for me to do the same. It’s incredibly hard for me to show that level of friendliness when the other person is standoffish. Here’s hoping that future interviewers are equally friendly!