By Jamie Hergenrader
Job interviews can be stressful even when you’re not the one trying to get a job. Interviewing and selecting candidates to fill an open role comes with its own challenges. After I was promoted to assistant editor, I was tasked with doing the first interviews with candidates to fill my old EA shoes. Yikes.
This experience taught me a lot about what editors are looking for and why the hiring process is so damn tough. Whether you’re doing your first interview as the interviewer or you’re curious about what goes through the mind of the person on the other side of the desk, here are a few things I learned.
1. A resume makes a strong first impression.
This might elicit a strong “duh,” but I was surprised by the kinds of resumes I saw. I noticed that sometimes the design overtook the content, which was distracting. Another common issue: Some applicants only listed the companies they interned for and the length of their time there with no description of duties or accomplishments. I had no idea what they actually did during those internships. Another problem was that a few applicants padded their resume with skills like “multitasking” and Microsoft Word.
The takeaway: Don’t forget to describe your experiences and think twice about whether that “skill” is something editors won’t assume you already know. If you went to high school, we know you can use Microsoft Word. Oh, and avoid over-doing your resume design.
2. A resume is just the first step.
The interview and edit test told me so much more about candidates as a whole. That shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. While some seemed to have great, relevant experience, but their edit tests didn’t reflect that. Others had less convincing interviews and nailed the test.
The takeaway: Even if you get a call for an interview, make sure you prep enough to rock both the interview and the edit test. You need both to make it to the next round of interviews and eventually meet the editor-in-chief. If you’re doing the interviewing, don’t skip either step. Some companies only send out edit tests before deciding who should meet with the EIC, but that initial interview is a good way to filter out who’s best-suited to meet with her.
Psst! Ed can make over your resume. Sign up here.
3. They have to vibe with the HBIC.
This is why I think that initial interview is crucial. Even if an edit test is good, an interview shows more of a candidate’s attitude and personality. I could tell which people would get along with the EIC. After all, I was her assistant and got to know her pretty well.
The takeaway: The quality of the candidate’s work, resume, and editorial skills are all important, but their personality can make or break the job offer.
4. The candidates you pick are a reflection of you.
While there were a lot of people and opinions involved in the process (all of them further up the food chain than me), the final decision was a reflection of my choices.
The takeaway: It might seem like the candidates are the ones who have to prove themselves, but a major part of your job is to pick applicants your boss will love.