After seasons of watching as the stars of MTV reality shows like “The Hills” and “The City” flit from one dream-job to the next like the job market is their shopping mall (they even get jobs when they bomb their interviews — à la Stephanie Pratt circa 2009), MTV took a true reality-check and decided to document what it’s really like for new graduates trying to land entry-level dream jobs in the current economy.
The new show, called “Hired,” made its debut in mid-May; since then we’ve seen hundreds of hopefuls vie for positions at companies like Steve Madden, VaynerMedia, Blowfish Shoes, American Rebel Public Relations and David Barton Gym.
As expected, the show is a mixture of success and failure — while some of the interviewees knock it out of the park, others make rookie mistakes. It can’t hurt to watch the series if you’re a new grad or unemployed; however, if you can’t pry your eyes away from those job-postings, below is a recap of some of the best and worst interview moments.
Rookie mistake: In episode 1, a new graduate brings in a large, impressive looking portfolio of work — except most of it was done in a college public relations class. The portfolio proves irrelevant to the job opening and a waste of time to the interviewer, leading him to remark “It’s like opening Pandora’s Box and finding a turd in there.”
How to fix it: If you have relevant work or internship experience, or if you wrote for your college newspaper, a portfolio can be a great way to supplement your application and prove you have talent. However, while a portfolio is great if you have one, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. Hiring managers don’t expect new graduates to have tons of work examples. If you only have one or two relevant pieces, there’s no need to create an entire portfolio — just bring the examples in a folder with your other application materials. Then, focus your energy on creating a killer résumé and cover letter.
Homerun: In the episode featuring Blowfish shoes, the final interview candidates are asked to make a sales pitch about one of the company’s “classic” shoe styles. While all of the interviewees seemed moderately prepared, one girl went straight over to the company’s signature shoe and gave an accurate, confident presentation — and landed the job.
Why it worked: A rule of thumb for all interviews: you can never be too prepared. Companies often ask candidates to prove their skills by completing a project or presentation as part of the interview process. Sometimes the assignment will be given before the interview, while other times candidates will be asked to perform on the spot, like in the interviews with Blowfish shoes.
Before any interview, study the company’s website and press releases, and do a search for the company both on the web and in recent news. That way, no matter what is asked of you, you will be ready.
Rookie Mistake: In one episode, an interviewee handed a pink résumé to the recruiter. If you’ve seen “Legally Blonde,” you probably know what comes next. The recruiter asked the candidate “is it scented, too?”
How to fix it: Just because Elle Woods peddled a pink, scented résumé in her search for a law internship doesn’t mean it’s acceptable in real life. Résumés should be professional, easy to read and consistently formatted. A résumé is a “straight to the point” document, and not the right place to demonstrate your creative flair or favorite color.
Homerun: Aspiring shoe designer Courtney impressed footwear-mogul Steve Madden by wearing shoes that she designed to the interview. Madden said he liked that Courtney showed “a little ego” by wearing her own shoes, and gave her the job.
Why it worked: While you don’t want to show too much ego, confidence is key in landing any job. Employers want to hire candidates that are self-assured and confident in their skill set and abilities. To ensure you put your best foot forward, recite a confidence-boosting mantra before going into the interview. For example: “I’m here because I am a qualified applicant. I’ve had two successful internships, and killer recommendation letters to prove it. This employer would be lucky to have me.”
Have you seen “Hired?” What do you think about the candidates?