What Went Right: A Case Study of a Successful Hiring

by Ellen Mehling, Career Development Consultant at METRO

With many variables affecting the hiring process, applicants often don’t know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes and what leads the employer to hire a particular candidate. It is also useful to hear from the job seeker exactly what steps were taken to get the job.

This month and next we'll examine a successful job application for The Durst Organization, in the form of interviews with the hiring manager and the applicant who was hired for the position of Information Architect.

First we’ll hear from the successful applicant, Caridad Bojorquez:

Where did you go to school? What degrees and/or certificates do you hold?

I have a BFA in Photography from Otis College of Art and Design, 2006 and an MSLIS/Certificate in Archives from Pratt Institute, 2013.

Were you employed elsewhere when you applied for this job? For how long had you been job hunting?

I was working as an intern at a private photography archive during my last year of school. It later turned into a part-time summer position. At the same time, I was also interning at Brooklyn Historical Society on Project CHART and Brooklyn Visual Heritage while finishing up school.

I began actively applying for jobs around December 2012, just before I graduated in May 2013. I will say that I “never stopped looking;” that is, I continuously checked the sites here and there.

How did you learn about the position? Did you have any connections via your network to that workplace?

I believe the posting was on LinkedIn. At this point I was applying to jobs on a regular basis, so I would scour all the usual sites every day.

At first, I didn’t think I had any connections to my new job, but that quickly changed once I got to know some of the people at my current position.

What job hunting methods were you using? What job boards/websites? LinkedIn? Do you have a portfolio or professional website or blog?

Everything! LinkedIn, blogs, listservs, Inalj.com, Indeed, Twitter, friends; the list goes on and on. Because I had been creating multiple small websites for school projects, I thought it’d be good measure to create a Wordpress site for my own work.

On average, how many jobs per week were you applying for?

It was a very active process that sometimes had between five and ten applications a day. Keep in mind, though, that I had begun applying so early that jobs I’d initially applied for [and never heard a response from] were being re-posted online... so I suppose it was good to stay vigilant, if anything, to avoid re-applying.

What made you decide to apply for this position? What were the most important things you were looking for in a job?

I had initially dismissed the job posting because I thought “no way, I’m so not qualified.” But something lingered in the wording [of the job description], and so I decided to print out and dissect the posting. I realized the requirements weren’t too far off from my own skills, and after accepting that the worst that could happen is no response, I decided to go for it.

Among the things I looked for were the use of the skills I’d learned while earning my MSLIS as well as my previous background, and the hours. The internships I had taken helped me identify what I enjoyed most about working in archives. Ultimately though, it was a gut feeling.

How much time passed from when you sent the application materials to when you were contacted for the interview? During that time, did you contact the employer?

I’d say roughly two weeks. I didn't contact the employer.

Once you were contacted for the interview, how much time did you have to prepare? How did you prepare for the interview?

I had a few days to prepare for the interview. I overthought everything, from what I would wear to wondering if my hair was too red. I also re-read that printout with the dissected job posting, and on the way there listened to some energetic music. I had done everything I could on paper to make myself interesting; giving myself a boost moments before walking in the door was important.

What was your first impression of the workplace, when you arrived for the interview? What were your impressions of those you met? Did those first impressions turn out to be accurate?

If you’ve ever been to the 48th floor of any building, you know how intimidating it can be at first. The front desk receptionist and HR manager were so friendly; I almost forgot I was being interviewed. This is where I began to actually feel comfortable, because I saw that the people involved were human and not just a front for another faceless company. I’m still happy to greet my new co-workers each day, so I guess my gut feeling was right.

From your point of view, were there any surprises about the interview, or the hiring process?

There was one surprise: the second interview! Meeting a few important people can be nerve wracking, but it reminded me that this field is incredibly small. People do know each other, so don’t say anything mean! The truth is one thing, but malice is quite another.

Regarding the interviews: when they were over, did you have a sense that they had gone well? Was there a question or request you found particularly challenging? Did you send a thank you note or letter (or email)?

I left both interviews feeling pretty great. After being called, I was given a “pre-employment assignment” and turned that in before the second interview. They wanted a general strategic overview; I gave four pages of strategic details.

Prior to that second meeting, I put together an “about me” packet that had an intro, business card, examples of work (screencaps of websites highlighting how they were relevant) and another resume. Ultimately, I felt it was important to be honest if I wasn’t familiar with a program despite understanding its primary functions.

I sent two ‘thank you’ emails, one to the HR rep and the other to my current boss, thanking them for the opportunity to meet. I had also sent a follow-up email extending my gratitude to the executives that had met with me through the hiring process.

Did the hiring process go more quickly than you expected, or did it take longer, or was it “just right” from your point of view?

The hiring process was just right, from my perspective. I believe I applied at the end of July, and by the end of August was hired.

Between the interviews and the time you received the job offer, did the employer keep you informed of how the hiring process was proceeding?

No, but I knew it wasn’t personal. I think, in fact, within a week I knew the job was mine.

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently, or would do differently next time?

I am prone to severely stressing myself out, until the minute everything turns out okay. I’d really love to learn how to just relax, even for a little while. Even now, I sometimes wonder if all of this is one giant elaborate prank and I was never hired to begin with. But so far, so good.

In one sentence: to what do you attribute this successful job search?

I wish I could articulate what made the search successful, but it all comes back to that gut feeling.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any advice for job hunters?

There is nothing wrong with giving yourself a break every now and again. Job hunting is one of the most incredibly stressful things to go through. Stay active, intern, go to meet-ups, have a good cry every so often, don’t complain, and don’t give up.


Next month: an interview with the hiring manager for Caridad’s position, Ryan Anthony Donaldson. Many thanks to Caridad Bojorquez, Ryan Anthony Donaldson, and The Durst Organization for participating in these interviews.