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The Most Telling Question on Our Editorial Test

How would you answer?
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Single Most Important Question on Our Editorial Test2

One of the first—and most important steps—in our hiring process is the editorial test, which is exactly what it sounds like: a series of questions aimed at testing a candidate's  editorial skills (in our case, editing an outfit post or pitching post ideas). While our own test has changed fairly drastically over the years—at one point, it was primarily editing-based; now it has a lot more to do with writing text for Shop homepages and emails—one question has remained more or less the same: Please share ten of your favorite things with one sentence about why. 

While this question may initially sound random, it's actually the first response I read because, in addition to providing insight into who the candidate is, it also tells me how well they know the blog and brand, how creative and adventurous they are, and how well they'll fit into our company culture. It's so telling that friends of mine—even those who don't work in writing-based industries—have begun asking the question in their own searches. We thought it'd be fun to share with you the answers Leslie responded with on her test over a year and a half ago (which she hasn't looked at since applying!)—along with my takeaways: 

1. Sofar Sounds Concerts: This company hosts intimate concerts in homes and stores—it’s a wonderful, low-key way to spend a night out with friends and you never know who’s going to be performing until you get there.

Emily's Take: Anytime a candidate shares something I've never heard of, it's usually a good sign that they can bring unique, compelling ideas to the table. In this case, it also shows Leslie values time with her friends and is down for a slightly spontaneous evening.

2. Skiing: Right before high school, my family moved from Los Angeles to Reno, Nevada, and while I definitely experienced culture shock, it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with skiing—it’s what I look forward to most when I visit home.

Emily's Take: Anytime there's a rather generic answer given (i.e. "puppies!" "sunshine" "fashion") like this one, I look to the explanation to see if the person is able to weave a story around it that's interesting. In this case, I learned that Leslie had spent some time in L.A., which was a bonus since it meant she had some familiarity with the city (at the time of applying, she lived in New York).

3. My bar cart: Not only do my bar cart and I share a special bond after riding the bus together from the only Target in Manhattan (I thought it would come unassembled, but it came in all its full, enormous bar cart glory), but I’m particularly proud of the collection I’ve formed on it, from all the makings of a Negroni (my favorite cocktail) to a small selection of fruity, sour beers from my favorite brewery.

Emily's Take: The idea of Leslie traveling around Manhattan on a bus with a large bar cart was comical and I appreciated her sharing that she'd wrongly assumed it was sold disassembled (and willing to admit fault). Her signature cocktail wasn't obvious—bonus points since it's also G's go-to drink of choice—and I liked that she stocked her cart with beers from her favorite brewery. It made me think of her as someone who is in-the-know and opinionated.

4. RadioLab and This American Life podcasts: My friends always joke that I start the majority of my sentences with either “This one time on This American Life...” or “This one time on RadioLab...” and it’s true—I’m always so fascinated by the stories on these podcasts that I can hardly keep myself from sharing them.

Emily's Take: This demonstrated that Leslie is knowledgable and embraces new(ish) ways of consuming media, like podcasts. I also liked that it suggested she kept up with current events and discussed them with friends. There's nothing wrong with franchises like "The Bachelor" (which we both happen to also love), but the podcasts she listens to showed me she appreciates more cerebral content as well.

5. My gold necklace from New Stone Age on West Third: My mom gifted me a necklace from this small curiosity shop when I was sixteen and it was the first piece of real jewelry I ever received—I haven’t taken it off since, and I love that it makes me think of her.

Emily's Take: This is both sweet and nostalgic and since I also have so many personal stories connected to the jewelry I wear, I felt an immediate connection to this sentiment.

6. David Mitchell: It’s almost impossible for me to choose a favorite book, but right now, David Mitchell, who wrote Cloud Atlas and, most recently, Slade House would have to be my favorite author.

Emily's Take: I'd never heard of David Mitchell and liked that Leslie came across as an in-the-know reader and didn't choose someone as obvious as say, a Dan Brown.

7. My cat, Meesh: My cat came to me by accident—I walked by an ASPCA two days after moving into my current apartment—but it was love at first sight and rescuing her was one of the best (very spontaneous) decisions I’ve ever made.

Emily's Take: This obviously appealed to my not-so-secret cat lady self and I liked that Leslie showed a more charitable side of herself in deciding on a rescue animal instead of going to a pet store. And any spontaneous decisions that are based on empathy give me a good idea about a person's character.

8. Los Angeles: Most people I know have something bad to say about L.A., but I feel exactly the opposite—I love how close it is to so much nature (like Escondido Falls in Malibu), its restaurants (A-Frame and Gjelina are two favorites), and the diversity of its neighborhoods (downtown could not be more different than west L.A., but that means there’s always something new to discover).

Emily's Take: I'd been worried that Leslie wasn't a big fan of L.A. since she'd lived here at one point, but hadn't returned since her parents had moved when she was young. I was relieved to find that she did, in fact, love the city, and would be excited for the opportunity to relocate. 

9. Running: I ran cross country in high school, and even though I’m not fast by any standards, I’ve recently started getting back into racing, and going for a quick run early in the morning is my favorite way to start the day.

Emily's Take: Even though I'm not someone who typically sticks to any sort of exercise regimen for that long, I think it tells a lot about someone who makes it a priority on a daily basis. It shows that Leslie is both disciplined and competitive, but the fact that she also isn't that wrapped up in her speed made me feel like she was easy-going and didn't take herself too seriously (both of which are very true).

 10. Panda Express: I don’t know how or why it happened, but I love their orange chicken—it’s been a lifelong obsession that I’ve learned to embrace.

Emily's Take: Leslie had previously come from Food52, a highly regarded food site that has a very polished, professional approach towards food. If I'd had to guess, I would have assumed someone from her background would list "caviar" or "foie gras," so it showed her approachability that she listed a fast food chain's orange chicken. 

I'd love to hear: How would you answer this question? Feel free to share a few of your favorite things below!

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