Props to PR Week
I interviewed for the position of staff writer and I met with Keith O’Brien, the editor-in-chief of PR Week. The interview went fairly well and I got the impression that he liked my credentials. I thought we hit it off and I was confident that I had a good shot at landing the gig. I met with a couple of his staff editors and when I was done with the initial intros, I was sent home with a writing test. The assignment was to write a press release on a given topic and I had two days to get it done. Without fail, I completed the job and submitted it in time for deadline.
A few days later, Keith called to tell me that he had hired someone else for the job but that he felt that he “owed it to me” to let me know.
Owed it to me. Now there’s a novel concept.
Out of curiosity, I asked if my writing test was what did me in. He said while it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. He didn’t like my lede, and overall he felt that the other candidate produced something rock solid which was clearly superior to mine.
I accepted his comments and was absolutely fine with it. Can you believe I was actually happy to hear his negative comments about my work? Very few hiring managers call to let you know that you didn’t get the job, let alone tell you what you did wrong. So when I got the critique, I was satisfied and rather embarrassed to hear that I wrote a crummy lede for my test press release.
Looking back, I know that I did not put my best effort into this writing test. I was writing it the day the news broke that Eliot Spitzer was announcing his resignation. Even then, I knew that I shouldn’t be watching TV while doing a writing test but at the time, I was absolutely glued to the set. The governor soliciting prostitutes, it was so juicy, I couldn’t turn away.
For this job, I did myself in and luckily, I had a great interviewer who pretty much told me the same thing.
Read part one in my series on job interviews done right.