When I received an email from one of the Page Program managers expressing interest in my application, I was ecstatic. I sort of felt like there was a very small light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. I graduated Hofstra University in 2009 and the economy was TERRIBLE for recent grads looking for jobs. I was lucky enough to be one of two students in my degree/graduating year who left college with a job already lined up. I was a producer at News12 Interactive, and although it was nice to have some hands-on experience, it wasn’t the company I really wanted to work for, so it was hard to “drink the kool-aid” and get excited to work there.
The first hurdle in the run for the Page Program, at the time, was to complete a timed written email test. I was told to be available on a certain day for one hour, where I’d be emailed a list of essay questions and I’d have to answer them in under an hour and send my answers before time was up. I know they don’t do this test anymore, (I think they just do phone interviews now), but the questions were along the lines of “If you found yourself in an elevator with Jeff Zucker, what would you say to him?” My answer was simple: “I’d smile and say hello. As a representative of NBC, I wouldn’t want to strike up a trivial conversation with the president of the company, considering he’s probably much busier than I am.”
The First Interview
Although I don’t quite remember how long I waited for a response, I did hear back! I received another email, inviting me to come in for a one-on-one interview with one of the managers. I researched my brains out about NBC (I still have my notes) and found myself in the interview “playing the game.” I’d be asked a question like, “which cable properties does NBCUniversal own?” and I’d excitedly know the answer immediately, but played it cool and pretended to think for a moment. “Hm, well, I believe NBC owns SyFy, Chiller, Sleuth, USA, Bravo, Oxygen…” I kept naming all of them and the manager had to cut me off.
The interview went so well, that it was one of those rare instances where I walked away confidently knowing that I had already made it to the final round. I even so boldly went ahead and prematurly called my parents to tell them that I “nailed it” and knew I was going to be put forward to the next interview.
The Panel Interview
After the interview, it was a few weeks before I was asked to be on the infamous panel. I received an email with specific instructions on how the panel was to be broken down. It was basically a 4-5 hour mind game.
I was to meet my fellow panelists (the other applicants I was competing against) at the NBC visitor’s center. Once we were all there, someone was to meet us there and bring us upstairs to the Page office conference room.
The first part of the interview was set up so that a few hiring managers sat on one side of the conference room table, and the interviewees sat on the other side. There were 14 of us. The managers asked rapid fire behavioral questions down the row, and we had to answer them to the best of our ability. “Name a time when you had to prove your ability to someone who asked you to do something.” I talked about how I convinced a manager at News12 to hire me as a producer before I even earned my college degree.
For the second part, we were all sent into the hallway and were asked back inside the conference room one at a time to answer questions about NBC. “What is NBC’s #1 cable network and why?” “In what year was the National Broadcasting Company built?” “Who are the top network executives that answer to Jeff Zucker?” I knew all the answers.
The final round was the true test. We were all brought back into the conference room, and had to give a 2 minute (and not a second over) presentation about why we should be hired to work for NBC. Each presentation was entertaining and unique, and really shed light onto who were creative story tellers and thinkers, who were desperate and a little crazy, and who didn’t prepare at all. We were not allowed to use any electronics – no DVDs, computers, audio. We had to invent a new way to convince these managers to hire us, and those who did (and didn’t) do a good job, sealed their fate.
I left the interview and went home. I was also sick as a dog, mind you, so my judgement was cloudy and the managers were hard to read. I really didn’t know if I was accepted into the program, but I knew that I did well enough to make myself proud.
I came home and told my dad about the whole experience. He seemed to be just as anxious as I was about not knowing what to think of the whole thing. As I changed out of my suit and into jeans, my dad left for a little bit to buy some cold cuts to make himself a sandwich (we’re sandwich enthusiasts) and of course when he wasn’t home, I received a phone call from the managers asking if I could start on Monday.
Let me repeat that. I received a phone call from the managers asking if I could start on Monday. My interview was on Friday.
I said yes. Did a little dance, and waited impatiently until my dad came home so I could tell him. It went like this:
My dad with groceries in hand walked through the door.
Me: “Dad, I got in!”
Me: “I got into the Page Program!”
Me: “Yes. They just called me while you were out. I start Monday!”
Dad: (Even louder) “Noooo! (Drops groceries on floor). Really?!”
Me: “Yes, really!”
We laugh and punch things and dance and high five in the kitchen.
The Interview Experience
I walked away from the whole experience with some lessons learned.
- Always do your research about the company. Never ever go into an interview without knowing everything you might be asked about.
- Always do your research about yourself. Never go into an interview and not be able to answer a simple behavioral question, or the popular, “so tell me about yourself.”
- Always rehearse. Even if you know the answers to what they’ll ask you, ask yourself the questions and rehearse how you will answer them. Do it over and over, in front of the mirror, away from the mirror, while you’re showering, commuting, eating lunch. Practice makes perfect.
- Don’t worry about competition. Always do your best to position yourself in a way where your competition should be worrying about you. You do you. Just try to do your best to learn as much as you can, ask the right questions, and get the most out of your experience.
- In a panel interview, be cordial to your competition. If there are multiple slots open, they may hire a few candidates from the interview. Don’t even show your competitiveness or unease. Be nice, smile, and worry about yourself. You may end up bonding over the experience later on, and make a friend.
I can honestly say, I look back on my Page days quite fondly. It was a tremendous experience, and never in my life (before and after) have I interacted with such smart, talented, clever and funny people. Everything I experienced was awesome. There were some good times and some not-so-good times. Competitive times, easy times, fun and hard times. And it was all beautiful and exciting and an experience very few people are lucky enough to have.
I am a very lucky person.
Have a question about the NBC Page Program? Leave it in the comments below!