By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA
The senior writer had his site up in our conference room. Six of us walked in for our usual group probe. At NYCA, we surround candidates like Disney hyenas. “What was the strategy behind the creative? How did the work perform? What would you do now to make it better? What’s your work process with other departments? With clients? What are your thoughts on consumer generated content and also social media?” All that stuff.
Suddenly up popped an instant message from a Facebook friend: “Yo.” We all laughed; well, one of us didn’t – she was texting on her Blackberry and missed the moment. A causality of time shifting. The candidate’s instinct was to shut it off and get back to his pitch. “NO! Wait!” we said. “Tell him you’re in an interview.” The candidate good-naturedly followed the pack. We found out the fb-er was an art director in Chicago. “Ask him to tell us something about your work,” we dared. The Chicagoan im-ed back a cheeky, “Good or bad?” At our urging, the candidate wrote: “The truth.”
There was a sticky moment of tension, the kind you get when you’re on the verge of something that could go either way. We waited. “You’re a solid writer” came up. That’s it? Really? In an interview, you say “solid” about your fb friend? Maybe it’s easier to be honest or inconsiderate screen-to-screen than checking references on the phone? But what if it was a set up all along? What if the fb-er Chicago art director had raved – would that have influenced us more? More than if he’d said the same thing later on a call? What is the persuasion value of in-the-moment testimony? There are possibilities here to change the dynamic of the interview by bringing along a posse. The point is today you can.
The lines and boundaries are forever blurring. Editorial is really ads, ads show up as content, personal conversations are corporately sponsored, friends are purchased or bartered for, so why can’t intimate business meetings turn into a large social events on behalf of a business decision?
We went back and forth some more; it was just too novel to stop. We even started interviewing the art director. As for the writer, the intruder event didn’t appear to sway us one way or the other. This time.
It just shows how accessible we all are now. Even in the protected space of an interview we can be found. And perhaps be found out. We’ve all checked on candidates, future bosses, blind dates and companies through social networks before and after we meet. Guess now we can consider doing it as we meet. It’s a collision of the virtual and the real – though sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which.
I’ll never forget that interview and the writer’s work was pretty good too.