As a writer for the web, it’s uncommon that you’ll go on too many in-person interviews.
Even so, I found myself preparing to go on one a couple of months back. Spoiler alert, I didn’t get the job, but I did get a pleasant surprise in a thank you card a while later.
A Bit of Backstory
I had registered a profile with Elance not too long after I got started freelance writing. I didn’t do so thinking it would be my primary source of leads, but rather ran across a contact that prefered to work that way. A client was a client in my book, so I gladly jumped through the extra hoop or two to get established on their platform.
The project came and went and I actually used Elance to hire a couple of my own subcontractors. Since freelance writing was my side hustle at the time (it’s recently become my full-time gig, hallelujah!), I didn’t have a lot of extra time and decided to farm out some research via the platform.
It was easy enough to use and there was a pool of willing candidates ready to get to work. I can’t talk for every user, but I did run into a bit of you get what you pay for. I.e. you don’t pay much, don’t expect the moon! Overall I’ve had a positive experience with Elance though.
Since I had completed one job via the platform and hired others this way, I started to get unsolicited invitations to apply for jobs. Two in particular came around the same time at the end of October. They both had great potential and the buyers were based in Minnesota – the state in which I reside. I share this, as this is one of the reasons that they sought me out to apply.
The first I secured as a client and completed a large copy writing project for over the month of November. It was a great experience and I actually just started another project with the startup this month.
The second one I was invited to bid on was for an older gentleman that was very successful in his business pursuits over his lifetime. He was looking for a ghostwriter to help him write his memoir. Not to sell, but rather as a recording of his life to share with the younger and future generations of his family.
Interviewing in Person
I had never written a memoir before, but I had disclosed this over the phone with his assistant and I was still in the running for the job. They had mentioned a book someone else had put out that they liked, so I snapped that up and with my Amazon Prime membership and it arrived in time for the meeting. I also did my due diligence by researching as much as I could find out about this person via the interwebs.
I drove about 45 minutes from home for the interview and arrived as prepared as I could have been. We had a very nice chat and they told me they’d be in touch, but didn’t specify exactly when. I knew I was one out of three interviews, so I had a shot – I just didn’t know how good of one.
We had discussed a different book I had been reading during our chat, so I swung by the post office on my way home and sent my copy with a handwritten thank you note via priority mail to his office. I figured it couldn’t hurt!
Not a Word
A week passed without word, so I followed up via phone and was told they hadn’t had a chance to discuss it, but would be in touch soon. Another period of time passed, so I followed up with a an email and later another phone call, leaving a message after getting their voicemail.
At this point I pretty much gave up. I checked the listing from time to time and saw it was still open, but felt that I probably wasn’t in the running any longer and I didn’t want to bug them. After a month or so I did see that the listing was closed, so I really mentally moved on.
No, Thank You!
Imagine my surprise when I was opening up the first of the Christmas cards we received this season to find a thank you note from this individual. Not only was there a card, but there was also a check written out to me for $100.
The note went on to explain that they appreciated my time and were impressed by my interview (and follow-up), but when discussing the project with a long-time friend, the individual decided to partner with that person on the project. The check was to “cover my expenses” of coming down to interview (and probably for the book I sent).
You Just Never Know
I share this story as you just never know. You never know where your next client is going to come from, where your next paycheck is going to come from or how your effort and good karma is going to get repaid in the future.
They didn’t owe me anything, besides in my opinion a timely rejection. Not only did they send me a thank you card, they also offered an explanation and of course there was the bonus of getting a paycheck. What more can a girl ask for?
I urge you to always put your best foot forward. Give your best effort, go above and beyond (within reason) and make a connection with the people you work with. We are all just people at the end of the day – talking to others and hearing life stories is a perk of the job!
Wouldn’t a memoir service be a cool niche product offering?
Have you ever received an unexpected bonus like the one I shared?