Dear Job Applicant,
Your cover letter was great and you showed up to the interview on time. So far so good. When we sat down to talk, you exuded just the right amount of polite enthusiasm. Great. But let’s be honest with each other: This isn’t the job for you, and we both know it.
The reason is pretty simple. You don’t actually want this job. How do I know this? When I told you the role would be mostly writing, you told me about your love for making videos or making bread or making macramé. When I asked why you want to write about money (because that’s what we do here at Free), you told me it was because you don’t have any and don’t know anything about it. I waited for more—crossed my fingers under the table in anticipation of you telling me a few of your great ideas—but you didn’t seem to have any.
If you really want the job, or want to convince me that you do, take a minute before the interview and ask yourself why you want it, aside from the paycheck. Being likable isn’t enough. In order to get the paycheck you need to prove to me that you will be engaged and interested in doing the work day in and day out.
One way to do that is by giving a more nuanced answer as to why you think you’re a great fit. Give me three or four good reasons, not just one. Show a curiosity and openness to learning more. Ask better questions, like “What’s a typical day like?”, “How do you measure success?” and “What skills are most important in this role?” (Then use my answers as an opening to talk about how or why you’d excel in those areas.)
Tell me what you love about journalism or one of the stories you wrote that you’re proud of. Talk about something in the news and how you could riff off that in a story for us. Share something personal about yourself and explain why that makes you uniquely qualified for this job.
If you really want to differentiate yourself, read up on the company before we meet, understand what we do, and make a list of what you like—and what you don’t—about it. Don’t do this to impress me. Do it to educate yourself about the role, help you come up with better questions, and figure out for yourself if this really is the job for you.
In short, convince me that you cared enough to walk in prepared. Because if you can’t do that in the job interview, when faced with the excitement of taking on something new, it’s hard to imagine you ever will.
The Hiring Manager
p.s. Free is hiring!