Learnings from Interviewing

Last week, I had a couple of initial interviews for digital marketing/social media/content marketing roles. It’s been quite a few months since I’ve interviewed for work, so regardless of how successful I was in actually securing a job, I knew the interviews would be good practice.

And indeed they were! Not only did they help get me get back into that interview mindset, but they also allowed me to refine my narrative: what was my career path before, why did I take time off & what I’ve done for the last two years, and what I am looking to do now, as I return to the workforce.

But a pleasant surprise from the interviews: they have also provided even more clarity around what I’m looking for in my next opportunity.

My first interview was for a wearables start-up about to launch their first product. In the role, I would create branding content across social media, emails, and blogs. And, of course, being at a start-up, the position would obviously grow and change (and likely pretty quickly) as the company expands.

It seemed like a role with a ton of opportunity to be creative and try new things. My interest has been piqued, and I’d definitely move forward with the next round of interviews, if they ask me to.

My second interview had me pretty excited. It was a digital marketing role in the wine industry; and those who know me well, know how much I love wine! Taking a look at the company’s websites and social media accounts, there seemed to be a lot of potential to take them to the next level and really try some new, fun content ideas, especially given the wineries’ needs to shift how they do business in the wake of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, I ended the interview less than enthused. It started out like any other interview: I gave my spiel about my career trajectory and what I’m looking to do now; the interviewer explained more about the business and what the role entailed, asking for more details about my experience doing the specific duties required of the position.

And then came my turn to ask questions. Excitedly, I inquired about what new things were on the horizon for the business and any upcoming growth initiatives. The interviewer didn’t really have much to say on that — it didn’t sound like the business had any big (or at least specific) growth plans.

A little confused, I realized I needed to get some clarification: was this a new role or were they just looking to replace someone? I assumed this was a brand new role because when I was reviewing their social media accounts, the posts were … well, okay, but to me, they looked like the work of someone who was just doing it as an add-on task, because the business didn’t have a dedicated person to run the social media. 

Replace someone, the interviewer responded — the person who previously did the job was moving out of town. 

Oh. Huh. 

I immediately added, “So, in filling this position, are you looking to do something new with your social media and digital marketing? With pandemic-related restrictions, I imagine digital is going to become an even more significant way you engage with your customers.”

As the interviewer struggled to find her words, the answer was clear: there were no plans to do anything new and exciting. They were simply looking to have someone come in and take over the role as it has always been done.

Now, to be fair, this initial interview was with the HR person. Perhaps if I had spoken to someone on the marketing team, I would have been regaled with grand plans of revamping their digital presence, exploring virtual events, and infusing their social media with video and more interesting storytelling. 

But what I at least got out of that interview was a better understanding of myself and what I’m looking for in my next career opportunity. Two big priorities surfaced for me:

  • I want to be able to try new, creative ideas and make an immediate impact in growing and/or improving the business.
  • I want to work for a company that has clear and ambitious goals and plans.

These learnings will not only help me ultimately choose my next role, but in the more immediate future, they will give me more clarity around which positions to even pursue. Much like this second interview, things don’t always (or even often) go to plan — but what you can hopefully gain is a new perspective, interesting revelations, and important learnings for yourself.

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