Managing Your Career

Here’s what editors learned a Los Angeles chapter event.


Nancy Haffner
Job-search specialist Nancy Haffner offered advice at the most recent chapter meeting.

In today’s job market, candidates need more than an impressive resume to secure a job. The most important way to stay ahead of the competition is to focus on improving your interview skills, says Nancy Haffner, founder and president of The Haffner Group Inc., a search firm for lawyers.

Having spent 20 years interviewing companies as to what they look for when they hire employees, Nancy has developed a keen insight for recognizing quality candidates and matching them with the right position. At a recent Los Angeles chapter meeting, Nancy bypassed the usual interview tips (such as arriving on time and making sure you’re well groomed) to offer some insightful ways for editors to make a lasting impression.

Build a Rapport. “The most important thing to do is build a rapport with the other person,” says Nancy. One way to do this is to mirror the behavior of the other person. “People like people who are like themselves.” So take your cue from the interviewer and let that person set the tone for the interview.

Anticipate Tough Questions. If you’re lucky enough to land the interview, be prepared for some aggressive tactics from the interviewer, she warns. Companies are asking some tough questions, aimed at putting you on the defensive. The best way to handle these types of questions is to smile first, agree with the interviewer, and then tackle the question.

Remember to avoid saying anything negative—or at least limit negative responses to factual ones. “Speaking up, communicating well, setting limits, and holding your own” are skills that will make a difference when faced with a difficult interview, Nancy says.

Ask Questions. “Interviewing is like dating,” says Nancy. “The person who talks the most has the best time.” To make sure the interviewer is not the only one doing all the talking, ask questions sooner rather than later. That way you can find out more about the position and tailor your experience to the company’s needs. This will also give the interviewer a chance to visualize you in the office.

At the end of the interview, leave the interviewer talking about himself or herself by asking questions about his or her position. People love talking about themselves, says Nancy, and this will give you an opportunity to learn more about the work environment as well.

Get Creative. When preparing for the interview, get creative about your strengths. “Think about your accomplishments at your present job that show something personal about you.” Always put a personal interest on your resume and be prepared to talk about it.

Be Honest. “It never pays to misrepresent yourself,” says Nancy. Be honest about your past positions and qualifications. If the interviewer points out that you are overqualified, for example, admit it and then emphasize that you will do a good job. Ask the interviewer what his or her expectations are. Hopefully they will be as truthful with you as you are with them.

In closing, Nancy offered a few tips on writing resumes:

  • It’s important to list all of your experiences—don’t worry about the length of the resume.
  • Start with the part that sells you best and feel free to change it depending on the position you’re applying for.
  • Make sure that your references are prepped beforehand and that they’re enthusiastic.
  • And finally, make sure there are no typos. “If there’s one typo, they’ll throw it out.”

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