Job interviews have changed. I didn’t realise this until recently when I had to recruit for the first time in years and found myself doing some surprising things. When I worked in magazines, I disliked hiring even more than firing. And this was problematic because when you spend a decade managing women in their twenties and thirties who frequently hop around between jobs, countries and babies, you want to be friends with recruitment.
Resumes? I’ve seen a few. Hundred.
(tangent: this is why I think job seekers should include a headshot with their resume, not because looks matter but because it personalises a highly impersonal process. All CVs tend to look identical and you’re not hiring a piece of A4 paper, you’re hiring a person.)
Very occasionally in a job interview, magic happens. I’ve experienced it three times in my career and each time, not only did the job work out spendidly but the person on the other side of the desk became a close friend.
My first taste of magic happened in my first proper job interview when I was 19 and went to see Cleo editor Lisa Wilkinson about a work experience placement. Well, it was certainly magic for me. I was star-struck almost to the point of muteness to be in such close proximity to my idol and almost 20 years later, I still remember every detail of that 20 minute meeting. She had me at hello and it only took me six months of persistent nagging to secure an actual job.
Years later when I was an editor myself, interviewing new staff quickly shot to the top of my Things I Loathe list. I don’t know many employers who enjoy recruitment. It’s a hideous combination of time consuming, awkward, tedious and risky. The cost of making the wrong decision is high, particularly since it can lead to yet more recruitment. But you persevere in the hope of magic. Or at least competence.
One dull day, while interviewing for a new PA, a tall, smart girl bounded into my office and it was love at first sight. Magic. Her name was Bronwyn McCahon and ten years later, that office is now hers. After throwing her a lifeline from sales to editorial as my PA, she eventually landed my job just as I’d always known she would. A few years after hiring Bron, I was looking to fill another empty junior chair. Drowning in a boring sea of CVs, demoralised by their mind-numbing same-ness suddenly, like a shining beacon, I glimpsed the name “Rupert Murdoch” and a signature.
When you’re hiring from a pool of 22 year olds, that’s unusual. On closer inspection it was a written reference from Mr Murdoch, raving about the talent and brilliance of a certain witty young writer. Except it wasn’t from Rupert, it was by the writer herself and for the first time ever while reading a CV, I laughed out loud. I knew I had to meet this girl and again, there was magic. Hello Zoe Foster. I hired her immediately, she impressed me every day and I’ve watched Zoe’s stellar rise as a journalist and author like a proud mother.