5 ways to get dinged before the interviewIB
All right, monkeys. Welcome to recruiting season. I am your interviewer.
No, seriously. I really might be your interviewer. This upcoming week your very own Auntie Bankerella will be hitting up several universities in a couple of different cities. I’ll be giving presentations, speaking at a panel, holding dinners, and, inevitably, interviewing a couple dozen of you monkeys.
Why would I do this when I have real work to do? Is it because I want my firm to have first dibs on the new generation of top talent? Is it because I want to fill my firm with alumni of my school to consolidate our power base? Is it because I lost a bet with HR? Is it so I can see how many monkeys post here next week saying, “Help, this [x] at [x firm] gave me her business card at a networking event and said I could call; what should I say and what questions should I ask?”
Hell no. I recruit because I’m fucking tired.
Because it gives me a chance to work a little less and get a full night's sleep. Because I get to disconnect for a few hours on planes (I get my best thinking done that way). Because for once I can sit in a restaurant and enjoy a drink and a meal without worrying about fishbowl issues. Because, alone and anonymous in a different city, I can do things I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do. Things that definitively have nothing to do with undergraduate or MBA recruiting.
And I’m sorry to tell you folks, but if you want to go to second rounds at my firm from these schools, you have to go through me one way or another. Sucks for you, but it is what it is.
Great. So how do you get past this 30-something raging douchebitch interviewer who needs another two hours to sleep off her champagne hangover and doesn’t want to listen to your carefully crafted spiel on why you are the perfect fit for her firm?
I’ll give you the serious answers to that next time. Today I’ll be discussing what to do if you really just want to get dinged quickly before you ever get a shot at an interview.
Here are the no-fail techniques:
1: The EIS hustle. You got there early to position yourself strategically: front row, end seat next to the aisle. You spend the last five minutes of the talk locked onto me like a missile, your notebook closed, your pen put away, your thighs tensed, ready to spring. When the talk ends, you leap up and elbow past fourteen people to make it to me before anyone else does. Your eyes are soulless, your shoes are polished, your hand’s extended, you’re charging, you’re ten feet from me, eight, seven, six....
I see you. I know you. I was you. You’re a douchebag.
I give you total props for trying this hard, and I may shrug off this behavior if you do everything else exactly right. After all, I have to talk to people after the session; it might as well be you. But don’t monopolize my time. Or I will ask you for your business card, write “ding” on the back of it, and stick it in the receipts pocket of my bag. (In other words, I WILL see the card again and remember to follow up with the entire recruiting team to make sure they know your status.)
2: “My question is, do you know how great I am?” The purpose of a question is to ask a question, or to show that you can open your mouth without embarrassing yourself and me. The purpose of a question is not simply to kiss my ass or show yourself off. Do not fall into the habit of “I have a question. [Insert long, completely self-serving, declarative statement here.] What do you think about that?”
What do I think about that? I think you’re a douchebag. What’s worse and less forgivable, I think you lack even the tiny modicum of social awareness you need to survive in my world.
3: The pre-interview interview. I don’t care how awesome you are, all you can get out of me before round one is a pass to round one. You’re not getting the offer today, no matter how hard you try. So don’t treat my time the way you would if we were in the interview room, with long-winded answers and endless additional questions.
If you get the interview, you get thirty minutes on my calendar to showboat all you want. If you don’t have the interview yet, every second you take from me has to come from somewhere else in my life.
So step right up to me, shake my hand, introduce yourself very briefly (less than five seconds), lob me a fast softball question, listen to my answer, maybe ask a very brief followup, take my card, and go. Don’t expect it to turn into an interview. And don’t send me a followup email asking when the next round is. You haven’t had the first round yet.
4: Awkward Turtle’s school of ass-kissing. You’re only 21. Your only internship so far has been in brokerage operations. The banker in front of you has the power to change your life. You only get one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted. (Cue the music here.) You gonna let it slip? No. You’re going to get on your knees and kiss this banker’s ass longer and harder and better than any ass has ever been kissed. And until you figure out what kind of ass-kissing this person likes, you’re going with the pray-and-spray approach: you will grovel and hang on every word the person says.
Except this banker just wants to get through the session.
Even if they love ass-kissing, it is slightly embarrassing to be seen enjoying the ass-kissing of an undergrad. More importantly, that sweaty, enthusiastic, wide-eyed ass-kissing is too high-energy. It takes too much work to even receive it.
If you're going to do it, be smooth about it. Be calm, be relaxed, meet as equals. Then throw ‘em a little smooch, real slick and subtle and down-low, like a throwaway line. More believable. Feels good. Make it something that doesn’t require a response, because responding to ass-kissing is usually awkward. But don’t worry; they heard it. No one misses a compliment.
5: The good old girl network. As a smart, hardworking girl, you’re not asking for a free pass to the head of the line, just for a little helping hand. A good word in the right ear. Is that so wrong? After all, you’ve worked hard to get where you are, and you deserve it. After all, we girls have to stick together, right?
As if you’re worried I might not notice you’re female, you make veiled allusions to a cause, to “the female experience”. You ask for mentorship five minutes after meeting me. You talk about how inspiring it is to meet a successful female in the business.
Maybe you ask me what my husband does for a living, about my childcare arrangements or maternity leave. You definitely ask about my hours. Maybe you google me and then show up with all sorts of exaggerated reasons (your sorority, your undergrad, your family background) why you’re just like me.
But, as we say where I come from, that and fifty cents will get you a cup of coffee.
If you’re a woman, your goal in handling me should be to behave like everyone else and get the same chance everyone else gets. If you try to get special treatment out of me because we share a gender, I will ding you so hard in undergrad that you’ll still be dinged when you come out of b-school five years later.