A meeting with Wendy Doulton isn’t easy to come by. As a headhunter for high-profile clients such as Amazon, Gap and Sony, she’s responsible for finding the best talent to fill positions that command paychecks beginning in the six figures. Don’t have the résumé to land that interview? She’s also the founder of coaching service Katalyst Career Group, but be warned: She won’t hold back when your skirt suit is too tight, and she doesn’t like being bored.
Tonight, however, you can get a sneak peek of what Doulton’s looking for in a Fortune 500 executive when her Bravo special, “The Headhuntress,” premieres. While she’s the perfect reality star — successful, intense and quick with sharp, British-accented one-liners — she was more than gracious when we asked her to share some of her core career advice. Here’s how to land on Doulton’s radar — or at least avoid incurring the wrath of her tough love.
Know what you offer
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Before looking for a job, spend some time evaluating yourself. “My foundational coaching is to know who you are and know what you bring to the party,” says Doulton. “Pay very close attention to anything that affects your mood — positively or negatively — and let that inform you.”
Interview your interviewer
Interviews go both ways. “The trick here isn’t to answer the question right, it’s to get the job that’s right for you,” she says. “It’s like a date: ‘Does he like me, does he like me?’ Well, do you like him? Do you want to have coffee and breakfast with him every day of your life?”
The poor job market makes headlines, but Doulton hasn’t seen a dip in business. “I’m recruiting for companies all the time. Attitude is everything — if you want to sit around and say, ‘There are no jobs out there,’ you’ll be right. People want to hire people they like, who are positive and energetic. For good people, there are always, always opportunities. The best barista, the best secretary, the best janitor or executive — there are jobs for these people. If you’re working the system, eventually the system will work for you.”
Answer the question
Even if you don’t have the right answer to an interviewer’s question, get to the point — and don’t take your time. “I’m amazed when I ask a question and 20 minutes later they’re still talking around it,” says Doulton. “Don’t skirt around the question. People do that all the time, even when they do have a good answer. And I think it’s because they have these things that they think they need to say.”
… And answer it honestly
If your boss was a dealbreaker at your last position, or you couldn’t stand the management structure, or you just plain hate giving presentations, don’t hide it. It’s important to come across as genuine, and to put things out in the open before you get offered a position that isn’t right for you. “Now, you can’t come out and say, 'I couldn’t stand my boss, he’s such a complete a—,'” says Doulton. “But I think it’s OK to be honest. What people don’t realize is we’re all humans in an office.”
… And include examples in your answer
Be ready to provide stats and examples of what you did at your previous position and are looking for in a new one as opposed to throwing around vague industry terms. “It’s like online dating: ‘I’m 5’4" and bubbly, vivacious and I love the outdoors.’ Well, what does that mean? Do you want to look at the stars or do you want to go whitewater rafting?”