Interviews and Meetings

"I have ten commandments. The first nine are, thou shalt not bore. The tenth is, thou shalt have the right of final cut."—Billy Wilder

Whether the outcome is a job, and whether the setting is a formal office or informal get-together for coffee, the goal of any interview is to make a connection with the person you're meeting. By making a lasting impression as well as an effort to stay in touch, there's a good chance this person will hire you in the future (or recommend you to others). He will definitely become the newest member of your network.

Since everyone you meet is a potential new connection or link to a future job, you not only have to make the most of each meeting, you have to be able to capture the other person's attention in a very short span of time. You can't walk into a meeting without being prepared and knowing what you're going to say. There are too many people vying for that opportunity, and unless you stand out among all the others waiting in that same long line hoping to get through that same door, you won't have much of a chance.

People in positions of hiring aren't always looking for expertise and talent, and they know, especially when meeting individuals seeking entry-level positions, few of the candidates are going to have much (if any) experience. Simply put, they're going to hire people they like and have a good feeling about. They want to see something in you that will convey a sense that you're a team player, are willing to do what it takes to make it in the industry, have an abundance of stamina and won't complain, are sincere, have a willingness to learn, have the capacity to be a problem-solver and have the insight to anticipate the needs of others. They're attracted to those who are bright, sharp and intuitive. They want to hire someone who's interesting, has a sense of humor and a terrific personality—someone they'll enjoy being with during long work days. And they'll be drawn to individuals who have a passion for the industry.

These qualities aren't merely prerequisites for landing entry-level positions. They will serve you well, whether you're already working in or wanting to work in this business (or any other business, for that matter). This industry doesn't, nor will it ever, suffer from a lack of smart, ambitious, talented individuals. Some are sought out solely for their exceptional creative abilities or deal-making prowess. But more often than not, people hire the people they know, are most comfortable with and like. Sure, you have to possess certain skills relative to the jobs you apply for, but we're not talking about the level of competency needed to perform brain surgery or send men to the moon here. There are a lot of equally qualified and talented people in this industry, and the one who lands the job or role or client may have a tad less talent or ability than the next guy, but he may be more fun to have around, be more interesting, have a better attitude, complain less or be better connected.

Since you will undoubtedly be meeting and interviewing with individuals who don't know you, your goal is to make them like you and want to get to know you better. It doesn't have to take long for you to impress someone with your unique qualities, passion and enthusiasm. An intuitive interviewer will soon discover that you're interesting, bright, hardworking and determined (you are, aren't you?). And it should take no time at all for anyone to see that you have a good sense of humor and are fun to be with (you're that as well, right?).

Chapter 8 will have already prepared you for the necessity and value of developing a pitch for yourself, so if you don't already have a personal pitch, you should at least be thinking about one or practicing on friends. To reiterate something else covered in Chapter 8, don't forget that the very best way to get a meeting with someone you don't know is through a referral from a mutual friend or acquaintance.

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