QVC’s HR Chief on How to Ace a Job Interview

After reviewing 200,000 resumes, she's seen it all — and heard every excuse.

Beth Rubino, executive vice president of human resources at QVC.

Beth Rubino, executive vice president of human resources at QVC.

When people find out that I’ve reviewed more than 200,000 resumes and conducted thousands of interviews, they often give me a funny look. I can see them doing the math in their heads, trying to calculate how many resumes a year that averages. I can tell you, it’s a lot!

But, I love it. I always knew I wanted to work with people, and my role leading human resources at QVC is the perfect fit. That’s what I look for when I interview a job candidate — a good fit for the individual and for the company. An interview should be a thoughtful exchange of information to explore opportunities. Remember, the company is as hopeful as the applicant to find a good match.

One of the first things I look for is authenticity. I look to see if there is congruence between how you describe yourself and what you’ve written on your resume — and how it relates to the manner in which you actually interact and present yourself. I value problem-solving capabilities, resilience and a can-do attitude.

Your personal brand should be evident and consistent. We all have a personal brand, whether we know it or not. It’s that special “thing” that sets you apart. I call it your personal superpower. It should be reflected in the way you conduct yourself and in the anecdotal evidence you offer in responses.

It’s in the Details

While interview tips won’t really help the wrong candidate land a job, paying attention to a few important details can certainly tip the scales in your favor:

  • Take ownership of your interview time by doing your homework.
    • Research the company and your interviewer. It’s a great conversation starter, and leads to natural questions.
    • Dress impeccably — the world may have become much more casual, but not for the interview.
    • Be on time. There are few excuses that are acceptable for being late, and trust me, we’ve heard them all.
  • Show me you are engaged by making eye contact, avoiding fidgeting and asking relevant questions.
  • Your phone should be off and out of sight. From the moment you leave your car to the moment you get back in, you are on display and your focus should be on the company and its people.
  • Bring excellent samples of your work if relevant. An electronic portfolio is not only a plus, many companies expect one.
  • Follow up with a thank-you note. An email is fine, although a hand-written note is a thoughtful touch. Either way, it should be timely (sent within 24 hours). I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find a hand-written note left at the reception desk the same day. It made a positive impression.

Overcoming Hurdles

If we never have setbacks, we probably aren’t setting our goals high enough. We can be hard on ourselves and it’s easy to get into a pattern of negative self-talk, but don’t take setbacks personally. Learn from them and accept them as part of your path to success and learning. Seek the solution . . . this is what I can do.

If you have been let go, just tell the truth. Explain how you responded to the situation and what you learned from it. In today’s tougher economic climate, being let go doesn’t carry the negative stigma that it once did because it’s more commonplace.

If you’ve taken time off from a traditional career path to raise a family, care for a parent, or some other pursuit, there’s no need to apologize. Simply convey why you chose the route that you did. Don’t underestimate the value of experience that you gained during your “down time” that may be transferable. But also be prepared that you may not be able to secure a position at the same title or salary level as when you left the workforce. You may also want to keep your mind open to considering different industries. After all, your values have probably changed over time. A good fit 10 years ago might not be a good fit today.

Whether you’re just starting out, or getting back into the job market, interviewing is a two-way street. Look for a work culture that resonates with you. As long as you have done your homework, the best advice I can offer is to be yourself and stay true to your values.

Beth Rubino is executive vice president of HR at QVC, which employs more than 17,000 people worldwide. Headquartered in West Chester, Pa., QVC is a video and e-commerce retailer reaching more than 350 million homes globally.

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with BizPhilly — here’s how: