Thinking Outside of the Box When Trying to Secure a Dream Job
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Have you ever been in an interviewing situation for a position that you were dying to land but knew that it was down to you and one other candidate? It’s stressful, to say the least.
I was in that situation once and knew I needed to think outside the box to tip the scale. I will share how I handled that in case my way of going about the process helps someone else in a similar situation.
The role I was interviewing for was the EA/PA to a wonderful entrepreneur. I was excited about the potential of having my hands in so many different areas of the individual’s different personal and business ventures. There was a lot to learn, but it sounded fabulous and I knew I could knock it out of the park.
I started out by going through a lengthy interview process. I had about six interviews, including a couple of them with the actual person I would be supporting. All of the conversations went fantastic and I felt like I had a clear picture of exactly what I would be doing so I was getting pretty excited about the possibility of stepping into the role.
I knew other candidates were being interviewed and it was a hard decision for the executive so I volunteered to do a trial period (check out my article about trial periods for advice on how to go about one). One plus for the trial period is that it would allow him to experience the top-notch assistance I would be providing if he were to bring me on board. Secondly, the trial run would allow me to confirm the role was as wonderful as I had envisioned it to be; after all, the interview process is a two-way street!
After a few weeks of trial tasks and feeling sure that it would be a great partnership, the executive made me aware that he was deciding between me and one other candidate. And that he would be making that decision within the next couple of days.
At this point, I knew it was time to shine even brighter. I had carried out each trial task impeccably, but I wanted to do something to show my fantastic intangible qualities. I deeply care about each person I have supported and wanted to show how I bring that extra level of care to what I do. I pondered on how to demonstrate that through a professional yet moving gift.
I reflected on what I knew about the executive and brainstormed a list of qualities that I had observed about him in that time. So many of them circled back to him valuing constant development and learning, so a book made the most sense. I had noticed a poster in his home that had many lines of inspirational quotes and some of our conversations had pointed towards him being a deep thinker, so I decided I needed to make it an inspirational book. I picked up a book that was the most moving one I had read to date which also happened to be the model for which I live my life: The Last Lecture.
Although I wrote a card tying the book to how I live my life so it was presented as more of a “handbook” on the inner qualities I possess, I wanted to incorporate some of my creativity into the gift. I decided to do that by making a bookmark to include inside the book. I went through all of the cards, letters of recommendations and thank you emails that previous people I had supported had given me and picked out my favorite quotes. I arranged those in different fonts and sizes and printed them on a nice thick white cardstock. I trimmed it down, glued it on top of a sheet of silver cardstock so there was a lovely border and added a silver ribbon at the top.
I had a third party deliver the gift to the office he worked at. He ended up receiving it the day he was making his final decision.
I ended up getting the final job offer.
The way I went about this particular interviewing situation won’t work for everyone; it was a customized solution. However, my creative approach is one that you could tweak to fit your unique position if needed. I always recommend offering to do trial tasks first and saving this inspiration on the back burner if you still find yourself needing to outshine other possible candidates. Top assistants go above and beyond, so sometimes that means thinking outside the box in normal interviewing situations.
Have you ever creatively landed a new role? Please share your experiences in the comments below!