Category: job interviews


July 28th, 2013 — 8:42pm

There are some moments that remind you everything happens the way it’s supposed to. Since joining Starwood Hotels nearly one year ago, I’ve felt this time and time again – and Thursday that happy sentiment resurfaced in a big way.

The occasion – Starwood Preferred Guest’s Gavin DeGraw concert at the Sheraton New York Times Square.

Ready for his closeup: Gavin DeGraw in the Sheraton’s Penthouse Suite

Part of SPG’s Hear The Music, See The World series for members, Thursday night’s event reinforced how fortunate I am to be in the hospitality industry. And I know it’s not just because I’m a relative newbie. At one point, one of my seasoned Starwood colleagues said  she’s still amazed by the great experiences we get to be a part of and help bring to life.

I couldn’t help echoing her sentiments, as we observed a wine tasting in the Sheraton’s Penthouse Suite for a handful of journalists – and Gavin DeGraw. The singer/songwriter couldn’t be more adorable or gracious. He made it a point to introduce himself to everyone.

“Hi, I’m Gavin,” he said to me with a smile as he extended his hand.

I somehow managed to resist the temptation to respond, And I’m seriously swooning over here.

Accompanying me for the evening’s festivities, PR consultant and longtime friend Jen Maguire.

All smiles: Jen and me with our staff lanyards

Jen was my initial entré into Starwood when she forwarded me an email from one of her marketing contacts in the company. I finally got to meet said contact Thursday night and thank her in person for getting me an interview last summer. Talk about a full circle moment.

The event officially kicked off with Sheraton Social Hour, a branded experience featuring a selection of premium wines – and for this special night, paired with mouth watering hors d’oeuvres.

Standing room only: the SPG crowd at Sheraton Social Hour

On the menu: scallops with truffle butter and creamy polenta, mini caprese sandwiches, a selection of pates and bacon wrapped shrimp. In a word, sublime.

My favorite surprise of the night – an appearance by actor and known oenophile Stanley Tucci. We chatted briefly about how much we both love London, as he’s about to move there. Love him.

Stanley Tucci and me!

Finally, it was time for the main attraction. I joined about 200 SPG members in Metropolitan Ballroom, transformed into an intimate lounge setting with white couches and purple lighting. As soon as Gavin took the stage with his band, the crowd was on its feet for his hit Sweeter.

Gavin DeGraw brought the house down

Speaking of sweet, Gavin brought his effortless charm right into the audience and took multitasking to new level, singing as he shook hands, posed for pictures and made his way around the entire room. During his 75-minute set, he mingled beloved hits (Chariot, Follow Through, I Don’t Want To Be) with songs from his upcoming new album (Best I Ever Had, Make A Move). He ended, not surprisingly, with the transcendent, Not Over You.

As I stood there singing right along with him, I couldn’t help thinking how I’ve finally found my professional home. And the funny thing is, it literally came to me through that aforementioned email from Jen. I put out to the universe what I wanted in my career and, after a long and winding road of many jobs, I finally got it.

Who knows? Maybe there’s a lesson in that about finding Mr. Right. After all, if I could go from a wart-covered frog to the Prince Charming of jobs, that same trajectory just might be possible in my love life too.

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September 5th, 2011 — 4:41pm

Readers of this blog know that I’ve been pounding the pavement for awhile now. I’m happy to report that after 30+ interviews over the course of five months, I have landed a job with respected PR agency .

Much like the job search process itself, this happy ending has had a lot of parallels to dating.

Fairy Jobmother: my good friend and soon-to-be colleague Andrea got me the interview at Evins.

The conversation doesn’t feel strictly like an interview: There’s nothing worse on a first date than being interrogated like you’re applying for a job. Though tough questions are to be expected when you are seeking employment, the interview should also allow for some give and take. All 3 of my interviews at Evins were engaging conversations that went much deeper than the standard “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” fare. 

Both parties aren’t waiting to see if something better comes along: When you’re just not that into someone, you can’t help wanting to keep your options open. During my job search, I had multiple companies follow up with me more than once then fail to close the deal. It took just five days for Evins to extend me an offer, a reminder that…

You know when the chemistry is mutual: So many times during the dating process, you try to convince yourself that there’s a spark even when all the indications are otherwise. But you can feel if chemistry truly exists, because it just flows. I had that feeling with each person I met with at Evins.

I can’t wait to work with them when I start my new job on Thursday. Let the new professional chapter begin!

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July 13th, 2011 — 4:19pm

Last week, I blogged about some dating dos and don’ts that also apply to job interviews. In the course of pavement pounding, I’ve encountered my fair share of faux pas from those on the other side of the desk. Here are the worst offenders – and lessons to be learned from them.

Do Put Your Best Foot Forward (i.e. Appearance Matters):  On a date or a job interview, you’re expected to look your best and put some thought into appearance. The hiring rep at one Soho-based PR agency clearly didn’t agree – she elected to interview me while sitting on top of a milk crate. More confounding still, the colleague of hers who alternated between typing away frenetically on her computer and staring at me as the conversation unfolded in her office.

Don’t Pull A Disappearing Act:  Rejection – both giving and receiving – is par for the course in dating. If you decide after a few dates, you’re not that into someone, the kind thing to say so instead of pulling a disappearing act (admittedly, I’ve been guilty of the latter many times). It seems many companies don’t agree. One publishing house I interviewed with twice said it was down to me and one other candidate. It took me emailing them after two weeks of radio silence to find out they’ve given the job to someone else. Even more offputting was the popular accessories brand with which I also interviewed multiple times. The CMO even followed up via email to say there was an additional role I was being considered for. One month later, I received a generic form letter of rejection in response to my initial online application – as if I had never had any human contact with the company. Tacky.

Know How (and when) to Wrap Up:  The art of making a graceful exit often seems to be a lost one these days. Case in point – the above-mentioned milk crate-seated interviewer who asked me three times if I had any more questions. Um, here’s one: why are you asking me the same thing over and over again? Then, there was the CFO of a legendary boutique PR agency who prattled on about his most recent breakup. The guy also illustrated a very important thing to remember on first dates and interviews…

Don’t Get Too Personal:  In my resume, I mention that I write about dating and relationships, so I’ve come to expect that a certain amount of curiosity about that goes with the territory. What I don’t expect is to have an interviewer spend twenty minutes giving me chapter and verse about his most recent breakup, why anyone who’s over 40 and single is ‘a loser,’ and his theory about the biggest difference between men and women:

“Women need a relationship to feel complete because they have vaginas, so they literally have holes that need to be filled.”

I’m reasonably certain that female genitalia isn’t appropriate in any context on a job interview. Nor, I suspect, is being asked out for a drink by the interviewer. 

Another reason I’m enjoying my current dating hiatus — bad dates and bad interviews are too much for even the strongest cocktail to make palatable.

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July 7th, 2011 — 5:54pm

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been pounding the pavement for my next full-time gig. In the course of doing so, it’s occurred to me that many of the rules about first dates also apply to job interviews.

I’ve also found myself thinking that, just as most of the dating advice out there is geared toward women, most interview tips are designed for job seekers. After all, in this tough hiring market, the pressure is on the potential employee to make a good impression, right?

Wrong.

Much like a first date, a job interview is a two-way street, requiring preparation and engagement from both sides. Employers would do well to keep the following dos and don’ts in mind:

Do Your Homework: As a job candidate, I would never show up to an interview without having researched the company first. In this age of the Internet, it doesn’t take long to be prepared — just like it doesn’t take long to scan someone’s resume beforehand. During a second interview with one company, the executive clearly knew nothing about my background, nor did he even know what position I was being interviewed for. An hour later, I received a call from him saying he had spoken with a colleague who clarified things and would likely ask me back for a more focused third conversation — one that would have been unnecessary had this conversation taken place prior to my second interview.

Don’t Be Late:  This seems like an obvious one. Because as a job seeker or date, tardiness usually disqualifies you from being taken seriously and getting to round two. And yet, I’ve been on a handful of interviews that have started more than 20 minutes late — without any apology from the person conducting it or any visible sign that he or she was rushing from a prior appointment.

Do Pay Attention: On a date or an interview, there’s nothing more frustrating than when the person you’re talking to isn’t listening. During a phone interview with the VPO of a popular men’s lifestyle website, he asked a fairly involved question. After giving my three-minute answer, the guy told me–

“Could you repeat what you just said? I was checking my personal email and a friend of mine got engaged — it’s not every day that happens — so I didn’t hear anything you just said.”

I don’t know which was worse. That he admitted to this, or that he said was “too busy” to spell out his email address when I asked him for it so I could follow up. Ugh.

Up next…the most inappropriate job interview tangent ever and worst faux pas when it comes to closing the deal (or not).

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