(Photo by Koby Wexler)
“So, tell me a story. Any story.”
When prompted with this task during an interview, Jonathan Zwas Amar decided to tell a story most people would probably shy away from: his recent breakup and dating history.
Amar is the cofounder and head of growth at remodelmate, but he didn’t start there. Amar previously worked for two years at a boutique public relations firm called Chase Communications as a strategist, account manager and PR specialist, where he primarily represented regional and national real estate developers, investors and property management companies. He decided to take an interview with digital public relations firm Connections Media for an account manager role even though he expressed that he was comfortable in his current position, with hopes to progress his PR skills.
“I applied for the job at Connections Media because I really wanted to hone more of my digital PR tactics – websites, digital marketing analytics, app development, and animations. Chase had the ability to do those things through our partner networks, but their bread and butter was primarily traditional PR tactics,” Amar told Technical.ly. “I felt like my career could really benefit from being with a firm whose sole expertise was digital strategies.”
Since he was so comfortable with his Chase Communications job, Amar said that he had no worries when Connections Media’s Chief Creative Director Andy Weishaar prompted him with the storytelling question during his interview, so he wanted to deliver something entertaining.
“I was shocked at first. I had never been asked such a frank, seemingly non-sequitur question during an interview. I panicked because I wanted to deliver something entertaining and funny, but what came out was a tell-all about the past three years of my romantic life — the ups, downs, and everything in between. I spilled the beans to this guy,” Amar said. “I just felt an immediate connection with the folks who interviewed me, especially with the creative director who asked me that question. The office had a real startup-y, creative vibe, and everyone was relatively young, so I just felt like I could get away with telling that kind of story.”
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Weishaar told Technical.ly that Amar put himself out there when he answered the question with a breakup story because he was able to relate to it. In other words, it wasn’t a mundane answer to the usual boilerplate questions of an interview. Weishaar had been involved in the company’s hiring process and worked as CCO for 14 years before leaving for a new venture, and is now the cofounder and principal at digital studio BoxFort Design Group.
“Hiring is a bit of leap of faith, and if you’re successful you’re likely to spend more time with the people you surround yourself with at work than your friends and family. Hearing ‘Tell me a story’ is unpredictable and gives me a better idea about the ‘person’ and less about the ‘candidate’ I’m going to professionally and emotionally invest in,” Weishaar told Technical.ly.
Weishaar followed up with questions such as, “Do you feel like you rushed into this or that relationship,” “What happened after you said that?,” “What happened after she did that?” after Amar told his story.
“What I realize now, though, is that it was a culture and personality test rolled into one. Andy not only wanted to test my interpersonal skills since the position for which I was interviewing was client-facing, but he wanted to see for himself if I was an authentic, genuine person who could vibe with the rest of the team,” Amar said.
After an interview with the CEO, Connections Media offered Amar a full-time job that included a good salary and an opportunity to run point on two of the company’s biggest accounts. This interview connected Amar and Weishaar in more ways than one. They worked together at Connections Media and since then, Weisharr has continued to advise Amar, including aiding in some animation projects for remodelmate.
“Looking back, it was a brilliant question that I plan on asking future remodelmate candidates! Note to future remodelmate employees: You do not, I repeat, you do not need to disclose intimate details of past relationships as I did,” Amar said.
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