Advertising
Advertising

Creatives: The 1 Thing You’d Better Say in a Job Interview if You Want the Gig

Creatives: The 1 Thing You’d Better Say in a Job Interview if You Want the Gig

So I’m sitting in the marketing executive’s office, finishing up an interview for a senior writer position I really want. It’s gone well so far. I’ve given more good responses than mediocre, I think, and as far as I can tell no really stupid ones. Then he hits me with this…

“Robbie, I like your work, but there are a lot of talented writers interviewing for this job. Can you give me one compelling reason — right now — that you’re the one we should hire?”

My first thought: Oh, crap.

Advertising

I don’t do well in these situations. And in terms of questions I was hoping to hear, this one ranks up there with “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “Are you really going to wear that?”

There’s no outsmarting these situations. I don’t know this guy. I have no idea what he wants to hear. So I transition immediately to my second thought: Just tell him the truth. And here’s what I say.

“I consider myself the luckiest guy in the world, because I get to write, every day, for a living. I think what sets me apart from many of the writers you’ve seen so far — and probably much of your current creative staff too — is that I see this as the dream job. I’m not a frustrated novelist looking for a copywriting gig to pay the bills until I get discovered. This isn’t a steppingstone — it’s my end game. I get to be a writer. I bring a real joy and passion to my work that I don’t think most creatives do when they work in a corporate environment.”

Advertising

Yeah, I rambled. But he was smiling the whole time, so I kept going until I’d made my point.

And apparently I made it well, because they hired me, and this exec later told me that after hearing that response he would’ve given me the job on the spot if he didn’t first have to get the okay from the CEO.

Here’s what I learned from that experience — and from conducting an ongoing (although unscientific) poll ever since with employers who hire creative talent.

Advertising

One thing businesses often fear when they bring on creatives is that they’re never going to get our best work. Employers often view writers, graphic artists, web designers, video editors and other creatives — sometimes justifiably — as frustrated artists who’d rather be doing something else. At best, they reason, we’re just biding our time with them, doing so-so work, just enough not to get fired, until our dreams come true. At worst, we resent having to work for a business at all, and we’re doing pretty lousy work while spending most of our energy on our real passions.

That presents you with a great opportunity to differentiate yourself: Show your enthusiasm for the work by making the case that it’s what you love to do. I promise you: That’s what a lot of would-be employers and clients want to know before they bring you onboard, even if they don’t ask.

As a creative professional, you have a unique advantage here. I’m sure a tax accountant or an insurance underwriter can show enthusiasm in a job interview. But let’s be honest: Not many kids grow up thinking, I want to be an associate manager of transportation logistics.

Advertising

You, on the other hand, can make the obvious case that, yes, you’ve always wanted to be an artist. So of course you’re genuinely enthusiastic about this Graphic Designer job in the company’s marketing department. It means you get to be an artist, all day, for a living — just like you’ve always wanted. Incredibly, very few creative professionals even try to make this case in job interviews.

Now, you might be thinking, Wait a minute. I’m not enthused about the Graphic Designer job in the office. I want to draw comics. My advice here applies only if you can honestly say you’re excited about a creative position. And if you don’t think that’s the case — if you consider working for any business a necessary evil until your dream job comes along — then I have one more suggestion. Perhaps the person you need to convince how incredibly lucky you are to be able to do this type of work isn’t a potential employer — it’s you.

Yes, designing marketing collateral and icon sets for a big tech company might not be as fun as drawing an animated TV series. But it’s drawing. You actually get to wake up every morning and go to “work” drawing. How close do you think the work tax accountants do all day is to their dream jobs?

We creative types are the lucky ones. Convince yourself. Then convince your would-be employer. It opens doors — I promise!

Featured photo credit: Dream Job Exit Sign via shutterstock.com

More by this author

robbie hyman

Copywriter

3 big mistakes creative freelancers make with their careers 2 Lessons in the Movie Rudy that Can Change Your Life Words and Phrases to Avoid in Your Professional Writing Freelancers And Consultants: 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t be Billing Hourly Why Money Might Not Be As Important to You As You Think

Trending in Work

1 10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them 2 10 Great Skills to Include in Your Resume When You Change Careers 3 How to Become Smarter: 21 Things You Can Do Every Day 4 7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success 5 9 Things the Most Satisfying Jobs Have in Common

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 15, 2019

10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

This is an article I didn’t want to write. Even if it appears that way on the surface, few things are black and white. Between the two colors is a world of gray. Notwithstanding the bosses who behave criminally, some of the people who carry the “bad boss” label have possibly been, or have the capacity to become, a “good boss.”

This is an article I didn’t want to write because I understand that depending on whom you ask, many of us could be labeled either a good or bad boss.

Perhaps another reason I didn’t want to write this article is because context matters. Context for the organization and context for the individual. What is happening in the organization? What is the culture? Is the “boss” in a position for which the individual is equipped to do the job? Is the person in a terrible place in life? The office culture, the relationship a team member has with a boss or board and the leader’s personal life can all influence how the person shows up and leads and how others perceive the individual.

But since I am writing this article, I will share a few signs that bosses are bad and in need of a timeout.

1. Bad Bosses Don’t Know and Haven’t Healed Their Inner Child

If you plan to lead people – well, if you plan to effectively lead yourself – you must get reacquainted with your inner child. Just because you are in young adulthood, middle age or the golden years doesn’t mean your inner child matches your chronological age. If you experienced trauma as a child, your inner child may be stuck at the point or age of that trauma. While you walk around in a woman’s size 10 shoe, your behavior may showcase an inner child who is much younger.

In a June 7, 2008, Psychology Today article, Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D., observed,[1]

“The fact is that the majority of so-called adults are not truly adults at all. We all get older … But, psychologically speaking, this is not adulthood. True adulthood hinges on acknowledging, accepting, and taking responsibility for loving and parenting one’s own inner child. For most adults, this never happens. Instead, their inner child has been denied, neglected, disparaged, abandoned or rejected. We are told by society to ‘grow up,’ putting childish things aside. To become adults, we’ve been taught that our inner child—representing our child-like capacity for innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity and playfulness—must be stifled, quarantined or even killed. The inner child comprises and potentiates these positive qualities. But it also holds our accumulated childhood hurts, traumas, fears and angers.”

Sometimes the key that your inner child needs tending to is conflict with someone else’s inner child.

Advertising

Good bosses are aware of the ups and downs of their childhood, have worked or are working to heal their inner child and are aware of their triggers. Good managers use this awareness to manage themselves, and their interactions with others. Bad bosses are oblivious to how their inner child impacts not only their life but the lives of others.

2. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Accept Feedback

Bad bosses are not intentional about creating an environment where their peers and colleagues can share feedback about their leadership. They don’t solicit feedback. Given the power dynamic that managers, CEOs and others in leadership yield, they must go out of their way to solicit feedback, and they must do so repeatedly.

Before being completely honest, most team members will test the waters and share low-stakes information to get a sense for how their boss will respond. If the boss is angry or retaliatory, team members are less likely to risk being candid in the future.

So being unable to accept feedback takes on two forms: failing to proactively and repeatedly ask for feedback and reacting poorly when feedback is shared.

3. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling to Give Timely Feedback

The flip side of accepting feedback is giving feedback. Both require courage. It takes courage to open yourself up and accept feedback on ways that you need to grow. Similarly, it takes courage to share honest feedback about a team member’s or colleague’s performance or behavior.

Since not everyone is open to accepting feedback, whether they’re a manager or not, having an honest conversation about areas a team member or colleague has missed the mark, is not always easy. Still, good bosses will find a way to share feedback, and they’ll do so in a timely fashion.

Withholding feedback and sharing it months after a situation has unfolded or in a snowball fashion is unhelpful to the employees. One of the ways we grow as leaders is through feedback. When people have the courage to tell us the truth, that information allows us to progress.

4. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Acknowledge Their Mistakes

Owning their mistakes is like a disease to bad bosses; they do not want it. Instead of being risk averse, they are accountability averse. The problem is that they can only gloss over their weaknesses or failures for so long; the people around are able to see their flaws and weaknesses, and bad bosses pretending they don’t exist is not helpful. It is infuriating.

Advertising

However, bad bosses are masterful at reassigning blame. They are unable or unwilling to accept responsibility for mistakes — small or large. But career expert Amanda Augustine told CNBC “Make It” in May 2017, that “good managers also admit their mistakes.”[2] They don’t pass the blame or pretend they didn’t make a mistake. They own it.

5. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling or Incapable of Being Vulnerable

Vulnerability is an underrated leadership skill. But well-placed and well-thought out vulnerability enables employees to see their leaders’ humanity, and it creates a way for leaders to bond with their teams.

Bad bosses may talk about vulnerability, but they don’t practice it in their own lives, particularly in the workplace.

6. Privately, Bad Bosses Do Not Live Up to the Organization’s Stated Values

Bad bosses may publicly spout the values of the organization they work for, but privately they either don’t believe or don’t embody those values.

If they work for an environmental group, they may not practice sustainability in their private lives. Their words and actions are incongruent.

7. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Inspire Others

When bad bosses are unable or unwilling to take the time to inspire others, they lead through fear or command. Neither are helpful.

A culture dominated by fear will stifle creativity and risk taking that can lead to innovation. An autocratic management style will have a similar effect in that team, members will not feel they have the space to step outside of the box they have been placed in.

A good boss is someone who takes time to share the big picture and time to inspire their teams to want to be a part of it.

Advertising

8. Bad Bosses Are Disinterested in How Their Behavior Impacts Others

They are narcissistic and focused on self-preservation. In “19 Traits of a Bad Boss,” Kevin Sheridan said,[3]

“Terrible bosses are endlessly self-centered. Everything is about them and not the people they manage or what is going on in their employees’ personal lives. It is never about the team, but rather all about how good they look. Conversely, great bosses lead with integrity, honesty, care, and authenticity.”

Rather than seeing their team’s talents and seeing people’s full humanity, bad bosses believe their team exists to serve them. Families, personal life and priorities be damned. Bona fide bad bosses believe that their comfort should be prioritized over their team’s needs and desires.

9. Bad Bosses Have Likely Received Negative Feedback

Bad bosses have likely been told that they are poor supervisors. They have likely been told time and time again that their behavior is harmful to the people around them.

Perhaps they do not know how to change or are unwilling to change. But bad bosses certainly have received clues, insights and direct feedback that their management style and behavior are harmful to others.

Even when someone hasn’t explicitly said, “Your behavior is harmful to me and others,” the absence of feedback indicates a problem. It can mean that the leader’s team doesn’t feel safe enough to share feedback, that people do not believe the leader will act on what is shared, or that people have determine the best strategy is to avoid the boss as much as possible.

10. Bad Bosses Are Perfectionists

Bad bosses are driven by an internal urge to be perfect. Perfectionists don’t just want to be perfect; they want everyone around them to be perfect as well. This is a standard that neither they nor their team can live up to.

Since perfection is illusive, they spend their time chasing their shadow and being frustrated that they cannot catch it. They are unable to enjoy the journey and often block others from doing so as well. They let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.” Rather than embracing a growth mindset that desires to learn and improved, they are compulsive and toxic.

Advertising

If you are like me and you see yourself in parts of this list, do not despair. A bad boss can change. The key is seeking honest feedback and being willing to work through that feedback and your triggers with a therapist or coach.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of your age and the mistakes you have made, you can change and become a healthier leader whom others respect and appreciate.

Conversely, if you are employed by a bad boss, do everything in your power to take care of yourself. Understand that your boss’s behavior, even if directed at you, is not about you. Your boss’s reactions, if and when you make a mistake, is a reflection on that individual, not you.

To survive the work environment, think about the lesson you are meant to learn. You can do this with a trusted therapist or capable coach. However, if you deem the work environment to be toxic and harmful to your health, seek employment elsewhere.

In the end, this is an article I did not want to write, but I’m happy I did.

More About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next