One of the first big-girl job interviews I ever went on was at the Cirlot Agency in Jackson, MS. I’ve mentioned this place before: The owner/interviewer congratulated me on “breaking away from the pack” through my resume design.
After doing some research on the place, I got really intimidated. Why in the world would this awesome place hire lil ole me with my two years experience? (It was two years at the time)
Before I even pulled into the parking lot, I was sweating like a man. Please keep in mind that this interview took place in the middle of the summer. I’m talking 100+ degrees, folks. On top of that was that pesky intimidation, so I was screwed on the cool front either way.
I walk into the lobby of an immaculate building. The lady at the front desk tells me to have a seat and Liza would be with me shortly. I sit on the couch and start thumbing through a book on the table beside me. It’s a book full of successful businesses and their owners in Mississippi. I see my boss Leslie Lampton in there, so I know this is legit. Then I see Liza Looser and her husband, owners of the Cirlot Agency. I wonder if it’s too late for me to slip out the door unnoticed.
But no, I hear heels clacking down the hallway and I figure that’s her. I was right. She’s exactly what I thought she’d be. The epitome of a business woman. Off-white suit with matching off-white heels and pantyhose. She introduces herself and holds out her hand for me to shake before my brain has even had a chance to tell me to stand up.
Then she’s off. Leading me to a conference room as I struggle to get my purse over my arm and my portfolio in my hand at the same time. What was I thinking? This place is big-time. I’m country come to town in this place!
By the time we get to the conference room, I’m shaking so bad I can barely put my portfolio on the table. Why is this thing so big?!
Anyway, I go through my pieces and explain to her my thought processes on each one just like Shana and I had rehearsed beforehand. As soon as I got done she said, “Tell me everything you know about web design.”
I’d barely finished the Asphalt site’s design! I knew next to nothing!
I fumbled through my answer and gave her what, I’m sure, was the dumbest response she’d ever heard. But I finished talking and she told me she was looking to hire a few web designers in the next few years. She said I was the type of person she was looking for, but she wanted him or her to have a little more experience than I did. She was very professional and very nice at the same time. She could probably tell I was sweating through my clothes by now.
She told me she was not necessarily telling me to get more experience, but I needed more experience. She suggested I design a website for Poe. Okay, I could handle that advice. It was good stuff. It was what I needed to hear from a professional in the business.
So I did not get that job (obviously), but it was the beginning of many helpful (and some not-so-helpful) critiques I received from quite a few potential employers. I began to learn how to respond to them without sounding like a complete idiot. I’m so glad Liza was the first person to introduce me to the interview process because she knew exactly how to handle me. And believe me, I’ve worked for women before, I know how cut-throat and demanding they can be.