My name’s Brandon Santulli and I’m an Executive Assistant (EA) here at WayUp. This is the story of what happened when I wore mismatched socks to my interview with Liz Wessel, CEO of the company.
In 2015, I graduated from The King’s College in NYC with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE). A couple years after graduating, I knew I wanted to enter the world of tech—despite my non-tech major. Once I found out I landed an EA interview with WayUp’s CEO, I knew I’d have to get creative in order to get my foot in the door.
I wasn’t about to take 30 minutes with Liz for granted, so to stand out and prove I was serious about this opportunity, I decided to learn as much as possible about her. Anyone can go into an interview and list generic information pulled from the company website. Those who are truly dedicated to making an impression need to work harder with their preparations and study up. Cue the Rocky theme.
Fortunately, after a quick Google search, I discovered Liz was involved in most of WayUp’s press opportunities. This left me with a mountain of podcasts filled with useful information. During my daily runs the week before the interview, I listened to every podcast Liz was featured on, taking mental notes of peculiar facts. Two that stood out were:
1. She never wears matching socks and
2. She studied Japanese
Fast forward to the interview. After going through the standard motions (“what’s your greatest weakness?,” “why WayUp?,” “tell me about a time you made a mistake,” etc.) Liz and I were coming to the end of our conversation.
Before parting ways, the following conversation ensued:
Me: “I was just wondering, do you still wear mismatched socks every day?”
Liz: [Taken aback a moment] “I do. Great research.”
Me: “Well, after hearing you talk about it on a podcast, I thought I’d give it a try today.”
I then showed off my one blue and white polka dot sock and one Union Jack sock. It was a hit.
Liz let out a genuine laugh and said, “that is one of the top three things I’ve ever seen someone do in an interview!” After saying goodbye, I immediately sent a thank-you email with the subject line “Arigatou Gozaimasu”—“thank you” in Japanese.
The rest is history. I got an offer to be the Executive Assistant to Liz and a couple other C-Suite leaders, and have been in the role since September 2017. Liz told me later on that I really stood out among the other candidates because of my research. After all, the best assistants do their homework and often stand out because of the attention they pay to details.
To summarize, the main thing you should take away from this is to study and prepare before an interview. As a recent grad trying to enter the workforce, you have years of experience studying for papers, quizzes, and tests. Preparing for an interview should be no different. By “study” I don’t mean the basics like what job you’re applying for and the name of the company. You need to go beyond the surface level to uncover unique bits of knowledge that showcase your passion for the company, desire to become a part of it, and appreciation of quirky socks.