Are you going to a job interview, or are you auditioning for the job?
An audition is where you present yourself in as best a light as possible
In this fascinating podcast about an “historical” event (the downfall of Gawker in the mid 2000s) there’s some valuable ideas about finding jobs (or approaching powerful people about internships, sponsorship or assistance in any way). To give a little context, the downfall of Gawker relied on a 26 year old approaching a billionaire who had an ax to grind with Gawker and show him a plan that would bring them down, and only required a couple of million dollars. His bid was successful. Gawker fell.
Ryan Holiday and the host of the podcast (Econ Talk), Russ Roberts talk about this around 53 minutes into the podcast. Here are some quotes:
he went in there, he had a plan, he had researched it: he had mapped out what he hoped to achieve… in football they talk about this: the coach that comes in with a binder which describes exactly how they’ll do the job, what conditions they want the job under, what sort of budget, what their time line is etc… the owners may not like that idea, but there’s a meticulousness that impresses…
So many times we go into an interview… I’ll wear a good suit, make sure my hair looks good… but what you don’t think about is two things: how much research do i need to do before this meeting, and secondly, what do i have to do with this research to be appealing to these folks.
so many times young people write job letters where they talk about how much they want the job. As if their urge, their desire, is a selling point. When in fact they should be talking about why it’s good for you..
i get a lot of emails… they go “Hi Ryan, I want to do what you do… please hire me I’ll work for you for free…” they’re thinking the lack of payment is what makes them a compelling candidate… it’s not like there’s a whole stack of tasks over here that the company isn’t doing because it can’t afford to pay someone… it’s that they don’t know that they have anything that needs to be done, or there’s a shortage of good people that they feel like they can trust. It’s not about how little you can be paid, it’s about what expertise do you bring to the table.
it’s not what comes out of the research, but [by doing it] you signal in advance that you’re a hard worker and that you will persevere.
when you go into an interview, as a young person, you want to have some questions that you want them to answer for you… and to show that you’ve done some research on the company in advance…
George Clooney… it wasn’t until later in his career that he realised that the audition is a problem for the people running the audition – that they want to find an actor for the role… if i present myself as the solution to your problem, rather than the person who is dying for your approval that’s going to come off very differently and increase my chances of success.