Friday, October 09, 2009

Airport Tests

Over the past few days, I have spent a lot of time talking to consultants, learning about consulting and figuring out how to prepare for the consulting interviews.

One of the key aspects of the consulting interview is the airport test. Basically, the interviewer needs to feel confident that if stuck in an airport with you for several hours, they won't want to resort to listening to their iPod or reading the Wall Street Journal.

A while back, I blogged about my frustrations with the recruiting process. And indeed, as I started talking to my career consultant this week to go over my resume, the question of networking came up. But I discovered something this week that I think will help with the rest of the recruiting process: I don't have to fit into any sort of mould to network. Previously, I had visions of sliding into a conversation, smoothly delivering my story, asking intelligent but canned questions and listening politely to the answers. While there's nothing wrong with any of those things, it just seems like a stuffy way to spend several evenings in a row.

Instead, I have discovered that networking can be fun, after all. In the past week, I have discussed being stranded in small Saskatchewan airports, Monster Truck rallies, sore feet, how many times you can hit "Snooze" before getting out of bed to catch a plane, and the stealing of the Section B bird. One of the shining moments of the week for me was when I was asked to give a fun fact, talked about how I love road trips and had driven down from Canada and had one consultant say, "you just wanted to slip in that you are from Canada," to which I replied, "well, being from Canada isn't much of a novelty for me." To which the other consultant replied, "THAT is a great line" and repeated it back.

Anyway, what I am discovering is that the nice thing about the people I am meeting in my career progression, especially the Darden alum (though I have had some good conversations with people from other schools), is that they are fun people. There is no need to put on my serious face and figure out how to ask serious questions. These people have all passed the airport test and thus are actually fun to talk to!

No comments: