3 Interview Mistakes No Company Should Make

Quick note: As you’ll see if you note the date of the “What Sam Wore” at the bottom of the post, I wrote this back in March. I held off posting, though, because I was worried it might be too sour-grapes, fresh off the interview process, but more than half a year later, I feel like it’s still worth a publish

Before I jumped in to the job market last year, I read a lot about preparedness and protocol. Did you know that using Times New Roman on your résumé is “the typeface equivalent of wearing sweatpants to an interview?” Have you considered how you’d answer the newest brain-busting interview questions? Bullet points! Elevator speeches! The right interview outfits! I clicked through way too many stories and slideshows about how to impress recruiters.

After a few early interviews, though, I reframed my mindset to include this incredibly important component: What were these recruiters doing to impress me? I’m great at what I do; my skills are stellar, impressive and wide-ranging. Most companies would be lucky to have me on board. If I’m bringing this much to the table, the company’s recruiters and interviewers should, too.

Job hunting and dating have a lot in common: You’re dressed up, maybe a little nervous, trying to make a great impression on someone. In dating, each person’s opinion of the relationship is equally significant and either one has the power to call something off. Well-qualified candidates treat job hunting the same way. (After all, my goal wasn’t to land any old job in my field, but to land a better one than I had.)

People tell their friends and families about what happened on their bad dates, and stories about bad workplace experiences get out, too, via sites like Glassdoor as well as through word of mouth. In each of my more atrocious job-hunting ordeals, the recruiter or interviewer had done something that would’ve been a surefire dating deal-breaker.


Let’s get specific, with three real-life examples of why I decided companies weren’t good workplaces: Continue reading

A belated ode to my friend Vicki

Vicki Serna managed to set me up on my first ever date with a guy.

Sure, the date went as abysmally as anyone who knows me would have expected: I treated it like an interview and asked a lot of questions — A LOT of questions — without ever actually expressing personal interest. That’s not her fault — in fact, it’s borderline amazing that she managed to get me to agree to meet a co-worker socially in the first place.

When I moved to Arizona in 1997, I was pretty much starting life anew. I knew exactly one person—a former Colorado co-worker who’d recommended me for the job in Phoenix—but we worked different hours on different teams, and so I hardly saw him. But I met with Vicki freakishly early every Saturday morning as part of my job, to put together a layout for every issue of the entertainment magazine I worked on.

Man, she was amazing to be around: as outgoing as I was introverted, as boisterous as I was reserved. And somehow she learned that one of the sales guys had noticed “the new guy,” and took it upon herself to engineer a date. How Vicki persuaded a newly out, overly skittish me to such a thing is testament to her rapport with people (and her ability to imbue them with the same DGAF attitude that seemed to course through her veins).

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Electing not to pay attention

Tonight I’m thinking about Election Night 1996, when I happened to be on a vacation in Martinique that my brother sprang for to say, “Happy high school graduation! Happy college graduation! Happy every birthday and Christmas I missed! [Also, I want a single person to go on vacation with!]”

Anyway: Instead of working on the news desk (an Election Night rite I never enjoyed), I played volleyball, won a drinking game and didn’t pay attention to the news. When I went to bed that night, I remember thinking: “Well, if I find out that Bill Clinton won, I’ll be happy. And if I find out that Bob Dole won, at least I’ll be in Martinique for a few more days and able to shut it out.”

I should revisit that decision. It sounds just as brilliant even 20 years later.

Digging through old history on Facebook

Last week while everyone else was excited about the World Series, I found myself deep in a Facebook spiral that had me peeking into the lives of people I hadn’t thought of in decades. (Or at least into their photos.)
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3 Things I’ve Already Learned at My New Job

not sure if smart

My new job — is it still a “new” one if I’ve made it to the second month? — comes with a whole new vocabulary: CAD/CAM. Cone-beamGutta-percha. And edentulous, which I saw first in a headline and thought it was a play on the name of the woman pictured. (It wasn’t; it means “having no teeth.”) I keep going in to my boss’s office and asking, “Is this a stupid question?” before I hit “send” on emails to dental professionals.

But then again, one of my “stupid?” questions stumped the reps of a company that supplies dental instruments: While demonstrating a scaler made of a new, supersharp material, they mentioned that when these tools are being cleaned and sterilized, they shouldn’t be in the same batch as traditional stainless-steel tools, “because of the risk of a galvanic reaction between the materials.”

I looked down at the tool and pointed at the handle, which is book-ended by the sharp, curved points: “What’s this made of?” I asked, thinking it then must be some amazing white gold, or titanium.  “Stainless steel,” they said.

“So the handle … doesn’t … touch … the ends … somehow?” I asked, perplexed.

It does. Nobody brought that up before. They said they’d get back to me about what that means for the recommendations.

So, emboldened by that, I bring you: 3 more things I’ve already learned thanks to editing dental magazines.

1. Not everyone loses their primary teeth.

Parents shouldn’t be all, “Well, no problem with this one getting a cavity — it’ll fall out soon and be replaced by a permanent tooth.” A baby tooth only falls out if there’s a permanent tooth underneath ready to replace it, which is why it’s important to take care of baby teeth, too … just in case.

2. Fluoride toothpaste isn’t as essential as you might think.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening teeth and remineralizing areas where bacteria have created acid. (Fluoride is a mineral, after all.) But systemic fluoride, consumed through food and fluoridated water, does most of the work, and topical fluoride really just bolsters the effect of the fluoride in your system. The physical process of tooth brushing is what removes the plaque from teeth, not the fluoride in your toothpaste. Plus, when you think about it, how long is that paste in really in contact with your teeth? Two minutes is the recommended length of time to brush, but few people reach that, and then they rinse … with water or, like me, a mouthwash. (They call them “mouth rinses” now — look at the label! — because the “cleaning” implication of the word wash was writing checks that the products couldn’t cash.)

The ADA still recommends using a fluoride toothpaste — and fluoridated mouth rinse — because it can’t hurt to have that booster in place. But now I don’t feel as bad about wanting to occasionally swap in some Marvis toothpastes — cinnamon mint! jasmine mint! even licorice!

3. Don’t try to eat at work.

Two main reasons for that:

(1) Because all you can think about is brushing and flossing right after.

And …

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Goodbye, old job. Hello, new one

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 12.43.28 PM

I even got a commemorative magazine cover!

I started a new job this month.

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Clearing Kitchen Counter Clutter

Click the image to go to the post on Delta Faucet’s “Inspired Living” site.

A few months ago, I came home and thought we’d been burgled.

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