April 24, 2012

Career Life: Securing the battlements for a promotion

As you may know, I was promoted this year.

It was a long road in getting there, and I thought I’d share some of the process.

Even though I had the advantage of knowing the job description when it went live, it was never a given that the job was mine. This was serious business. Sure, I could learn from someone else. But this was my team. And I wasn’t prepared to let someone else be my boss, other than Boss.

I considered this a strategic battle and I prepared as such.

Stage One: Signal of Intent

Once the job was created, my mind was ticking. There was never a moment to just sit back and think about it so I kept the back of my mind in high-analysis mode for weeks about what I had to shore up before the interview.

Then, of course, I went over my resume about ten more times before I was satisfied, and started crafting a cover letter.

I hate writing cover letters.

One of the benefits of my job for this situation has been hiring and hiring a lot. I’ve read well over a thousand resumes and cover letters, and helped other people with theirs. It didn’t make writing mine easy, critiquing is always easier because of the mental distance, but it was easier.  Once completed, rewritten, burnished, and rewritten again, I asked the favor of the eyes of a few respected expert resume and cover letter readers for feedback. *Interestingly enough, I wasn’t comfortable submitting my cover and resume until I had already started working my way through some of the areas I knew were weaknesses or lacking. There had to be truth in advertising as an internal candidate.

Stage Two: We Have Contact – The Interview

It was unfortunate timing that the process coincided with my Mom’s passing. My Powerpoint was half done and largely unpolished, my plan was still putty and I had to pull it all together while trying to stay on top of work. Jobs may be easier to get when you have one but the process is pretty painful.

Still. Eye on the ball: my team.  (I’m not possessive, oh no.)

Once the interviews were scheduled, the panel was set. I knew who my audience would be and what perspectives/departments/concerns might be represented in our conversations. From there, I tailored my presentation.

Honestly, despite carefully dressing (totally out of character for our culture, predictably earning me a few jibes), an excellent Powerpoint tailored to be inserted into each conversation with individuals rather than having them each sit through the same thing, I felt that my performance was inconsistent.

I was not in my best form that day (or any other day that month – holidays, new life, without Mom were basically hell). The most important person to sway on the panel was very insistent to sticking to a script and after a full day swapping gears between work and interviews, I simply didn’t keep framing the conversation as I should have.

It took about four days before I got past post-interview jitters and unnecessary recapping.

Stage Three: Immersion and Negotiations (pre and post offer)

Post-interview, I immediately immersed myself in salary negotiation and interview technique writings and videos. It didn’t matter if I wasn’t at that stage yet. I was still, in essence, at that stage. I needed to be in the right mindset. It was the next best thing to practice and to achieve a sense of control and calm. 

As well, without practice, all of the following would feel impossible. It would feel “easier said than done.” I simply couldn’t leave anything to chance or hope, so analysis, strategic planning and more planning it was!

The interesting thing about negotiating with this particular organization and the people involved is that while they certainly don’t make it seem like the job itself will be rescinded simply for the asking, they have been less that open to negotiating itself. Or that initiating and continuing the process for more than a weak gesture means you’re “hard-nosed.”  Nossiree. Know what I know?

This is business.

“When people with hiring authority think of winners, they think of people like them who live and breathe this business thing.  They negotiate things as a matter of course: that is a major portion of the value they bring to the company.  Volunteering a number when asked says the same thing to people with hiring authority that flunking FizzBuzz says to an engineer: this person may be a wonderful snowflake in other regards, but on the thing I care about, they’re catastrophically incompetent.  It will also cause them to retroactively question competencies they’d previously credited you with.”  Patrick of Kalzumeus, in his 7000 words on Salary Negotiations  

My mindset:  I represent my business interests in this negotiation and those interests are my life, my ability to make choices, my freedom. This is my family I’m negotiating for.

And if that isn’t enough, I absolutely acknowledge that as a woman, as a minority(somewhat, this is a slightly wibbly wobbly factor), and as a relatively young person, I apparently have the cards stacked against me, not to mention the dismissive attitudes that don’t come right out and say: it’s not that your work doesn’t merit the higher salary, but you’re just sort of too young so we don’t actually understand why you’re asking as you should be glad to have landed the job.

And to that I say: You’ve had the time and opportunity to observe extremely high quality, high powered work and know that I will bring even more value over the next period of time, and for that? Appropriate compensation is appropriate.

But at this point, it was a waiting game. I had been interviewed, other candidates would be interviewed, and a second round of interviews would commence for final candidates.

March 9, 2012

Money in my 20s

Balancing acts in adulthood

I’ve been enjoying the conversations over at Wandering Scientist on work life balance. As I teeter into my thirties, I’ve been examining some of the financial and professional choices I’ve made during this decade and reflecting on how effective those philosophies have been and whether they will continue to hold true for the upcoming decade. I suspect that life and money and career in my thirties will be just as interesting a trip, but beyond that? Well, so far I’ve been terrible at prognosticating so I’ll just leave it at that.

As for my twenties ….

These were absolutely the foundation years: completing the final years of undergrad, deciding to hold off on graduate school until I knew better what I wanted out of it, throwing myself into my career at full tilt while digging out of debt and then building up a nest egg.  My approach to my career and my money was the same: more is better.

Philosophically, the natural, deeply ingrained, unthinking element was an intrinsic need to achieve something, a drive to have a discernable growth pattern, to do something that seemed tangible. I wanted to build a career, I wanted to have achieved something substantive.

The logical, considered, and reasoned plan was to aim for a position where my work-life balance wouldn’t be dictated by the company because I was highly placed enough where they didn’t care about niceties like when I showed up or how many hours I worked as long as the job was done well.  Essentially, I wanted to achieve the ability to talk terms with the company I worked for as long as I was an employee.

*** 

In Oil and Garlic’s post, A Precarious Balance, she discusses the ignored constraints in finding work-life balance when your income doesn’t stretch to buying flexibility and help. She lists a number of things that one can do to earn or achieve more flexibility from her perspective as a non-manager with a mid-level salary in a HCOLA.  That combination probably describes a fair number of us who simply don’t have the ability to buy out of the choices that we have to manage to run households and feed mouths, day to day.

Meanwhile, she notes: At my company, those in manager positions and above enjoy a higher autonomy.   They don’t have to ask permission to work from home.  They also have the money for nanny and cleaning help, something that my household has paid for but at a great sacrifice (and only temporarily).   They can still enjoy many luxuries like massages, travel and dining out.  True, they have greater responsibilities, too, and they’ve earned it.  But their solutions often aren’t applicable to those those in lower income brackets.  In other words, they can buy some balance while many people don’t have that same privilege.

I very much agreed.  Having worked many years in retail and other similarly low-wage environments while going to school, I’d observed very early on the vulnerabilities of being in the middle and lower tiers of any organization. One typically has less negotiating power in terms of responsibilities, is considered more expendable or is less valued as an asset to the company, and blends in with the rest of the equivalent employees holding the same role.

In that position, an individual’s power, and the choices one would like to make for oneself tend to lie in the advocacy and kindness of an immediate superior and his or her ability to persuade at least one or more rungs above if flexibility isn’t part of the company policy.

***

In the long-term, that was far too slim a reed for me to rest my life and my family’s lives on, particularly when I had the additional concern of a chronic illness for which there were no immediate prospects for improvement.

Superficially, need and circumstance dictated that I simply earn a living but I was compelled to steer my career trajectory as steeply as I could, as early as I could, while building a strong reputation in my chosen field. My theory was that should I be derailed for any length of time, for any reason, that reputation would serve to smooth my way.

Cloud, of Wandering Scientist confirms, whatever choice you make to take a break for family reasons after you’ve established yourself, you’re usually starting from a better place:

Once you have kids, you can decide whether or not you want or need to ease up on your career, but whatever you decide, it will be easier to keep your career viable if you have a strong reputation built in your earlier years. Whether you keep working or take a break, that reputation will serve you well. I think that one reason I haven’t suffered from much “working moms are slackers” bias in my own career is that I have a sterling reputation for productivity- and have maintained it. But we are also actively recruiting someone right now who is coming back after about 5 years off with young kids. We actually sought her out and asked her if she was ready to come back, on the basis of having been impressed with her work before she took the break.

Details will differ a bit across industries but the basis makes sense to me – someone who had a solid reputation before taking a break would have a leg up on someone who hadn’t established one.

***

My personal net worth has gone from -$50,000 in family debt to around $100,000 in assets over the course of nine years in addition to paying for all living expenses for a family of four. While it’s no great shakes, it’s certainly a fair start at a real financial basis with which to start a family.

I haven’t taken a break yet, and I don’t know if and when I (or we) will decide that it’s time to, but right now, I’m in a strong building phase of my career and striving for higher earning power. It’s only partly a joke that I’m trying to outearn PiC before the end of this year. That’s partly ego, and partly practicality. If I’m the higher earner, and we start a family, there’s a stronger case for him to stay home with the kids! 😉

In the end, my choices throughout my twenties were tailored to setting the scene and creating opportunities for freedom and better choices in the future.

This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2012. For more posts about Money in Your 20s see Money in Your 20’s/30’s/40’s/50’s/Retirement Roundup

October 20, 2011

How to Unlock Your Achievements

Pardon, you might think you’re at the wrong blog today.  But I’ve got to go on another career-related rant.  My colleague told me today that someone was “upset” at the organization.  When I asked why, I was told that the someone had wanted to apply for a promotion but wasn’t allowed to because of a lack of a specific key qualification.  That someone was upset: I’ve been here for years, and I’ve never been given the opportunity to do that!

……..  Really?  Really??

Ok. Nerve? Torched.  Because honest to Jeopardy, darling, that’s just it, isn’t it?  You’ve been here for years and that’s the end of your response?  No one took care of you?  Did you do anything about it?   Or did you sit there like a limp noodle the whole time and then jump at the chance for more money without considering what you needed to do in order to land that peach?  [I can answer that. No. Didn’t do nuffin’.]

And now you’re upset at the organization that wronged you.  Honestly. 

“I wasn’t given an opportunity.” 
“I didn’t get a chance to show you what I could do.” 

I’ll give you a hint:  These are not the phrases to use when you want a job or a promotion and you’ve been told that you’re underqualified because of some missing skill or qualification.

In fact, I will heartily tell you that I am sick of hearing them.  Don’t even think it.  Imagine your upcoming job or career opportunities.  Imagine what the recruiter, hiring manager or resume screener is going to think when he/she/it looks at your resume and compares it to the list of what they want or need.  If you find yourself reverting to those up there as your only answer (aka: excuse) when your hiring manager disabuses you of the notion that you’re going to get the job, I want you to Shake Yourself.

Non.  Non.

Not only will that not get you the job, it will, in certain eyes, reduce any respect they might have had for you.  Like mine.  

Tell me, why do you need the opportunities given to you?   

Let me tell you what I’ve discovered that phrase and the utterers have in common: a need for spoonfeeding.  It says to me, on your behalf:  When you hire me, I’m going to ask you basic questions to which I should know the answers or should be able to find myself.  And when you don’t have time to feed me, I’m going to do something else without bothering to try to find out the answer myself.

As it turns out, Google is your friend. As it turns out, there are tons of other resources available and when it comes to allocation of resources, do you want to waste our half hour on: “How do I write my review? How does this process work?  What should I write?”

Or do you want to spend it talking over which skills you need to set you up for a cool new project and in line for a promotion?  Because I will answer the question you ask. But if you want to throw away what I can do for you, then you are throwing away your own opportunity. And frankly, I have too many other people asking for time and attention to mollycoddle anyone who won’t do anything but flip their hair and flap their hands until the next question.

I’m inclined to helping people grow and learn but there’s only so much pushing I can do.   I’ve learned my lesson – I’m not going to hire any more people who display that lack of savvy and initiative if I can help it.

Sometimes, it’s valid 

Granted, there are certain things you need the support of others to do, you need the authority to do, or you plain cannot have without someone giving something up.

Very true, you must be given some of those things.   However.  You can show your initiative by learning about the things you want to do even if you cannot whole-cloth have them.  You can take classes, you can shadow people who are doing the job, you can ask them to mentor and teach you, you can volunteer elsewhere to pick up the experience you want even if it’s not in the same place or environment.

If it’s an internal promotion you have your sights on, you should, without being obnoxious about it, express your interest clearly in the kind of advancement or experience you would like and why.  In general, you should always be doing that anyway!

If you’re going for a new job and it wasn’t your job to do the work in question but you’ve gone and learned it anyway, you bet your boot nails I will rate you more highly than a person who did have the work and was not distinguished in any way by how they did it.

Think about it: who looks better?  The one with fire in the belly, clearly has special interest and has done something about it?  Or the one who has been flapping hands around in a puddle looking like doing a job?  I’m no idiot – I want the fire-eater, every time.

That’s not to say that someone who already does the job always gets trumped by an up and comer, I’m just saying that there are clearly mediocre lifer-type candidates who barely do their job.  We know they shouldn’t get promoted over someone with real potential because they aren’t capable.   But — you can’t be that newcomer if you don’t realize your own potential.  No one can do that but YOU.

Potential is just resting, potential is possibilities.  Don’t tell me you have potential.  Show me what that potential can be. Get out there and show what you’re capable of with every possible tool at your disposal.  Ask for support and learn new things.  Don’t just sit there waiting for opportunity to present itself.  You’re just kicking opportunity in the face.

Show me your will, that is the way.

Ironically, as I write this, I clicked through an email notifying me that Erica.biz has posted on her blog, writing about her journey of the past ten years.  I keep an eye on people who have the same drive to succeed that I do, even if my path is nowhere near like hers.  And you know what?  The essence of her message is very much the same: 

This world does not hand you success. It certainly doesn’t hand you a job. I’ve had to fight for everything I’ve had in this life. I’ve taught myself what I need to know to be successful. And, if you see yourself in any of this, my message to you is: You can do it, too. Just don’t expect it to be easy.

[For the record: I passed along a message to my colleague. If that someone did something like take initiative, I’d do a solid in return and recommend that a future application be considered. I may have learned my lesson but that someone should learn one too.]

August 26, 2011

It’s rarely Take Your Parents to Work Day

Early career talk: Don't bring your parents to work. Read on to see what I mean.Let’s talk careers for a minute. My experience with this has been specific to the younger crowd in their 20s and 30s, but I don’t know if it applies across the board with other personalities as well.

I’m declaring a moratorium on bringing your parents to work.  

In person, I have no problem with parents in the workplace. And I’m not talking about as employees, employees who are parents are a-ok with me. I mean parents of employees. In fact, it’s kind of fun when parents want to do the Open House sort of thing and show up to see where their kids work for a short visit and say hello and that sort of thing. It’s not only fun, it’s cute. It shows they care. Take an interest. You know.

The once in a while, planned, or drop in for a quick hello and appropriate to the occasion, visit is not the topic of today’s conversation.

What I’m talking about are today’s employees who bring their parents with them mentally as backup into professional conversations, not just casual conversations.

I’m finding that more and more employees quite naturally make requests for special accommodations, raises or promotions or are engaged in some kind of career decision-making, for some reason, think they should cite their parents in the doing.

“My parents think it’s a good idea.”
“My parents think I’m really good at this.”
“My parents want [me to do] this.”
“I need to discuss this with my parents and get back to you.”

………………….

Why would you do that?  Why would you say that?  I’m not quite sure if the manager is meant to attribute more weight to the request because your parents thought it was a good idea but I can tell you that it doesn’t entirely paint you in the light that you might intend.  What it does do is that it makes it very hard for someone new in their career to be taken entirely seriously.  It makes it difficult for an adult to be taken seriously as an adult who can think for him or herself.

In all honesty, I’m sure that most who have a good relationship with their parents quite possibly use them as a sounding board.  And there is absolutely no shame in that – it’s the smart thing to do if your parents are sensible, in touch with the professional world or give good advice or love you or whatever the rationale may be.  Heck, even if they give bad advice and you just don’t want to hurt their feelings!

But that is a very personal relationship: they are your parents, and if you are using them as your primary justification for your request or suggest that the rationale came from them, it will give the impression that your professional decisions are driven in large or equal part by your parents.  How firmly that impression sticks depends on how much you belabor the point.

Don’t.

It’s much like referencing your friends in your decision-making.  It’s far too casual, it’s irrelevant, and it’s diminishing your judgment capabilities. Would you really want that?

It’s also somewhat akin to using your parents as a reference.  I really doubt that any hiring manager worth his or her salt would accept that because of the clear conflict of interest in that – once again – this is a parent we’re talking about.  Go on, Ask A Manager.

But in the meantime, please, please don’t bring your parents to work, and don’t let your friends do it either.  It’s not good for anyone.

August 1, 2011

An Annual Evaluation, Belatedly

It’s been over a year since my big move: the new job, the new home, the new life.

And I’m reflecting on the career part of it now that we’ve passed the big milestone: the performance evaluation.

Having to pull together a comprehensive report of my own accomplishments was a chore. I hated it.  I shouldn’t. It’s my opportunity to toot my horn because I work incredibly hard, well and above my job description with three times the number of people to manage and many more times the amount of work to shoulder than most, so I should have been jumping at the chance to rectify the salary situation.

You see, when I accepted the job, I wasn’t offered an amount that was commensurate with my level of experience and history of performance.  While peeved, I wasn’t terribly surprised because HR doesn’t make offers based on performance unless you’re long on obvious achievements and come highly recommended by people they know.  At least not this HR, as far as I can tell.  While I’m a high-performer, it’s not obvious on paper, nor does my youthful appearance do me many favors in this department.  As well, the industry, the role and the company I was dealing with isn’t known for a generous offer at this level. I did negotiate and came away with a single concession, but they wouldn’t budge anywhere else.

In such a situation, I used some of the following variables to figure whether I should stay or go:

Leave it: 

– You’re confident you can close the deal elsewhere in a short enough period of time that giving up this offer won’t hurt you (financially, reputation/burning bridges)
– The offer is below your baseline (you should always know your baseline lest you take an offer below that and find that it hurts you more than it helps you)
– You have a competitive counter/other offer on the table instead
– The culture is a poor fit

Take it: 

– Decent alternate offers aren’t forthcoming and the money is enough to live on
– You know there is room for growth (financially, the people you’d make connections with)
– The culture is a good enough fit that it’s a good stepping stone for the time being
– It’s a good company to work for and the experience will be valuable on your career path (in combination with the money not being so bad that you can’t live on it)

My considerations: it was near PiC, the offer wasn’t so low that I couldn’t knock their socks off and bring it up to my standard fairly quickly (I thought it’d be sooner), the job was bound to be interesting and blow the rust off my skills so I could more easily find something else if I weren’t happy there, and from my read of the economy, I was still looking at a prolonged job hunt over several thousand dollars a year if I was at all unsure about moving to the East Coast.

So I took it. (Little realizing the angst those dollars would cause my psyche.)

Several months ago, my boss and I had a conversation where we reviewed my goals, achievements and expectations, and performance to date.  I broached the topic of an increase at that point and while they weren’t willing to budge at the six-month mark, they were on notice that I wasn’t letting the salary matter lie.  That was Step One.

Throughout the year, I carried more than my weight and became the go-to person on several fronts. Aside from the incredible challenges within my own team, and there were oh-so-many, I worked across departments and with upper management on a regular basis.  After several months, my role expanded far beyond the original scope and I’m now active at a higher level than any of my peer group who have been with the organization as long as or longer than I.  None of this was easy, of course, and very little of it was fun, but I was bound and determined to win back my salary.

At judgment time: the value of recordkeeping 

With that in mind, when my annual review came around, I drafted a self evaluation that laid out the expansion of my assumed responsibilities. It took weeks to get it right (the price of doing a stellar job here is you never have personal time) but that was critical. That was Step Two.

We had a conversation about my performance over the year after my boss reviewed and responded to my write-up and no surprise, was very positive about everything.  Step Three: Boss then wanted to know my expectations with regard to salary.  Because of Step One: On notice.

The end result of that conversation was that, on the basis of my performance and my initiative throughout the year, using my write-up which was fully Boss-endorsed and the assurance that I expect them to Make Right, Boss secured a very healthy raise for me bringing my salary up to a less embarrassing, and more liveable level.

I still can’t afford to indulge, I’m still budgeting carefully and half that increase will be going to bills, the other half will be going to savings but it’s a step.

*****

I’ll admit that I still have been second-guessing myself a bit ever since, thinking that I should have stated a number or pushed harder for a better increase.  I feel like I dropped the ball when asked what my expectations were. I didn’t give a number and I should have.  I know why I didn’t; I was asked but it was phrased as “will you quit if you don’t get [insert outrageous number here] raise” and so my response wasn’t to set an expectation as a number, it was to say that I expect I will get a better than average raise but I’m not a hostage taker. (After discussing with a mentor, this was somewhat close what I was advised to say.) Still, second-guessing a bit.  Also, I do wonder if that careful phrasing works differently coming from a male to a male VS. from a female to a male VS. from a female to a female VS. from a male to a female boss.

And part of that second-guessing is an emotional reaction because I’ve gone a year on a lowballed salary.

I’ve been alternately angry and embarrassed all year about accepting that original number even though I thought I had made my peace with it in the first place. In feeling the pinch, I felt like it reflected poorly on me in so many ways:  that it diminished me as a breadwinner, that it prevented me from carrying my weight in this household, that I was a poor negotiator, that I’ve failed in my career aspirations and taken steps backwards. That has been a difficult cycle to handle this year on top of my health spiraling and needing to prove myself at work. I’ve kept it to myself until now, but I’ve not liked feeling this way one bit.

Objectively, what played out is not poor at all and in this economy, really good, in fact, and I’m appreciative of the effort Boss must have gone to in order to make that happen.  And I have my sights set on the next goal.

So that’s Year One down.  Hello, Year Two.

October 6, 2010

How will you earn that raise?

I was reading this article, Five People Who Will Get A Bigger Raise Than You Do, that makes the point that your raises depend on making specific kinds of contributions to an organization.

Sara suggests that there are five categories of people who make themselves seem indispensable to a company, and therefore more valuable: The Learners, The Pushers, The Changers, The Builders, and The Teamers.

The Learners gather and store institutional knowledge; the Pushers are results-driven; the Changers are problem identifiers and troubleshooters, tinkerers; the Builders are visionaries who can do everything to launch a new project; and the Teamers are consensus builders. 

Offhand, I can clearly identify at least one key management individual who happens to be highly capable in each of the above areas, except for Learning. I think that the value of institutional knowledge in some organizations will vary.  For myself, I think I’m still naive, green or young enough to think that I can be strong in all those areas.  It may just be phasic, though.

Several years ago, I was definitely a Learner. Now I’m cycling through the other four sorts of skills, nearly on a daily basis, depending on the project and I wonder if it wouldn’t be more valuable to focus on one or two skills. Is this similar to multi-tasking, am I just diluting my ability to be effective because the brain can really only manage one task at a time?  Or is it a case where the more skills the better? 

Do you see any of these traits in yourself?  Do you think that growing any of these abilities or tendencies would benefit you in your current organization or your future plans?

September 11, 2010

Forebearing Fridays: Warning signs during an interview

Ok – though I’d promised Week of the Geek, I ran out of time because some candidate interviews crept up on me.  My boss has been incredibly busy and so I was scrambling to rearrange the whole interviewing schedule on the fly while trying to hide the fact so the candidate didn’t think I and we were complete idiots. We’re not, we’re decent people, honest, but it’s been chaotic because 80% of the company is undergoing a systems change in a week. (*gulp*)

It turns out that it didn’t matter so very much.  While I usually choose not to talk about my work here on the blog, I felt like so much of what I learned this week during the interview process was worth a mention.

Do you remember when “they”say: be nice to the secretary?  That’s all very well and good, but I would like to extend that to a General Corollary: be polite to everyone. In my company, the semi-crazy looking dude in a weird t-shirt is the CEO.  Some days. Other days, he’s pretty spiffy. But Upper Management does not feel compelled to wear their titles so no matter who you meet, no matter how dressed up or dressed down they are, if you don’t know their names and who they are, it’s not safe to assume they’re a nobody and treat them accordingly.

LISTEN.  And Do Your Research. 

Candidate No-Way never did either.

We’re a small enough company that my name is not repeated so a quick check of the company website would have given any candidate a good idea of who I was. CNW both ignored my self-introduction as a member of the interviewing panel and didn’t have any idea what I did in the company. Had CNW bothered to do any background research or listened to my explanation of the structure that she requested, CNW would have realized that her prospective position would be partially managed by … me. 

Never mind that, though, I enjoy observing people’s behavior when they think I’m either monolingual, a teenage kid with no role, or an assistant. CNW was pushy, aggressive and ran right over me in conversation when given the opportunity.

I manage a large group that would be two tiers below this one, and there’s no way I’d recommend a candidate who’d treat me in that aggressive manner without knowing who I am during an interview; how do you suppose she’d treat my staff?

That was just my first impression.

My ruminations later covered our actual interview over lunch and her multiple gaffes there, again very much variations on the above themes:

A) Despite having interviewed with the hiring manager and her prospective boss, she couldn’t remember his name;
B) Despite having interviewed with my boss, and her boss’s boss, she couldn’t remember either of their names;
C) Despite having been told more than once who reported to whom, she asked me if the BiggestBoss reported to her prospective boss;
D) She mistook my boss for the office manager after spending an hour with him.
E) She took the lunch interview far too casually, acting like we were just friends on a lunch date

I have the feeling, after she dropped mentions of job offers in the East Bay and the considerations of San Diego that she didn’t actually want this job much anyway.  After all, she couldn’t be bothered to do much preparation so I’m sure it won’t break her heart that we’re extending an offer to the other candidate instead. 

But if you actually care about landing a decent job with a company you think “is incredibly cool with a great mission,” I cannot recommend any of the above techniques.

Hat-tip to Alison Green at Ask A Manager for articulating so much good hiring advice that CNW’s smooth attempts to hide her poor candidacy through constant, dominant conversation was obviously a snow job even to this less-experienced interviewer. She does boot camps!

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