Would You Be Willing to Leave Your Family at Disneyland?

Every Sunday, the New York Times business section publishes an interview with a CEO. The feature is called “Corner Office” and is well worth following to understand what people mean when they talk about “company culture” and “fit.” Towards the end of the column, the interviewer always asks about the specific interview questions that CEO uses for hiring. Here’s the answer in last Sunday’s column, with Don Mal, the CEO of a software company,

To understand their work ethic, I do ask this question: Would you be willing to leave your family at Disneyland to do something that was really important for the company?

Some people have said no, and I haven’t hired them.

It’s interesting because I did leave my wife and kids at Disneyland once. It was to close the biggest deal of our company’s history. I left for two days. It wasn’t like I was leaving them there for the whole vacation.

To me, it’s not so much a loyalty question. It’s more of just trying to understand their work ethic.

There are a number of takeaways here.

  • To work at this company, you have to be able to answer “yes” with sincerity.
  • If your answer would be “no,” you wouldn’t get the job. But that could be a good thing.
  • It might be worth asking yourself: what is the work for which you WOULD leave your family at Disneyland for two days? A career-making writing opportunity? The chance to do some game-changing fundraising for your nonprofit? An international conflict that needs your particular skills?
  • If you can’t imagine the career goal that would take you away from a family vacation, that may be a non-negotiable core value that will shape your career decisions. Or it could mean that you haven’t yet discovered the work that means that much to you.

There is no “right” answer to an interview question — there is only the answer that accurately conveys whether or not you would be a good fit for that organization (and by extension, whether the organization is a good fit for you).

Graduating in May? How to Find a Job by Then.

choose-the-right-direction-1536336_1920In addition to the suggestions below, “like” the English Advising Facebook page and connect on Twitter so that you can stay abreast of relevant speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities. Also, read your email! The English Advising office sends out frequent updates about jobs and job-hunting events.

Also: if you have questions about ANY of this, email kwilcox@illinois.edu to ask. Chances are, if you’re wondering, other people are, too–and you might inspire a helpful follow-up blog post.

Early January:

Forget everything anyone has ever said to you about the unemployability of English majors. It’s just wrong. The world is full of problems that can only be solved with Continue reading

Alumni Snapshot: Luke Trayser, Copywriter

luke-trayserWe add new alumni to the Department of English  Alumni Mentoring Network all the time. Our newest participant is Luke Trayser, a senior copywriter at Ivor Andrew in Chicago.  Luke was kind enough to send along some advice for current students interested in careers in copywriting:

  • Even if you don’t have experience, you have your words. Your portfolio is vital. Write all the time, write for free, and put the stuff you’re proudest of in your portfolio.
  • During an interview, don’t try to be someone you think they want. That’s a good way to be stuck in a job that doesn’t fit. Instead, just be you. If you do that and get turned down, it was not the right place for you.
  • Most writing jobs require a cover letter and résumé, but it’s much easier, and more effective, to apply with your portfolio and résumé instead. It’s a hilarious little irony that the people who ask for cover letters can’t stand reading them.

Not sure what Luke means by “portfolio”?  Have a look at his!