Tag Archives: success

How to Nail a Job Interview

We have expressed before the inevitability of job interviews, but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Having read a little and having undertaken a few interviews of my own recently, what follows will be a truly outstanding guide to nailing an interview …. hopefully.

Making a Great First Impression

Undeniably one of the most crucial aspects of any meeting, not just interviews, is making a good first impression. The human mind determines a great deal about a person at a blistering speed at a sub-conscious level. You may not know why, but within seconds you’ll already possess a fair idea of whether you”ll get on with a person, as well as a good measure of their confidence and attitude. Essentially people instinctively form an opinion about you, before you’ve even had the chance muttered a single syllable.

Punctuality

It seems like the most logical place to start. Basically you need to be, as a minimum, on time. But it’s much better if you turn up a little early, were not talking about turning up an hour before hand, 10-20 mins prior is the ideal time to arrive, allowing for any unexpected circumstances in your journey, giving you enough time to find the interview’s venue and a little time to calm and gather yourself. I feel as this one is a bit of a given. Time management is important in pretty much any manner of employment and displays a lot about your organisational skills, attitudes, desires, drive, motivation and a whole lot more.

Dress to Impress

Have you ever heard the saying, there’s no such thing as being overdressed? Now, you could make the argument that wearing a three-piece suit or a dinner jacket to collect the bins would be over doing it a little. But just imagine what a scene that would be and how quickly, in this day and age, that would go viral. Launching the wearer to the dizzying heights of internet stardom, landing guest appearances with Ellen DeGeneres and all that good stuff, but I digress.

When it comes to interviews however, make sure your clothes are clean, tidy, ironed (pressed) and that you’re well presented. It’s something very simple, but it’ll make a world of difference. Imagine you’re interviewing two candidates, one turns up well turned out, crisp edged suit, neat hair with excellently groomed facial hair (we’re using guys here) and well polished oxfords on hit feet. The other arrives in a slightly stained heavily creased shirt, unkempt hair, a tie hanging loosely around his neck and scuffed, dirty shoes. Who would you choose?

Eye Contact and a Firm Handshake

This is a little more to do with body language and the projection of confidence. I’m not asking you to try and stare down your potential employer, but maintaining a solid amount of eye contact is generally a big plus.

The same holds true for your handshake, you’re not out to prove who’s the strongest or who has the firmest grip. Here you want to take a more measured approach. Whilst there isn’t much worse than a limp handshake, a bone crushing one does come in at a close second. Pay attention to who it is your about to shake hands with and from their you should be able to determine the level of tenacity with which to engage in the hand shaking frivolities.

What to Say and How to Say It

No, I haven’t got a script or outline that can 100% guarantee you a job every time it is employed. However there are a few things you can do to improve you chances and stand out from the crowd (preferably in a more positive then negative manner).

Research

Want to look engaged, switched on and intelligent in your interview? Want to be able to ask the right questions at the right time? Of course you do. How are you going to achieve that? By doing your research. I understand the task can seem a little daunting, especially if you’ve delivered your CV into the hands of a plethora of prospective employers. But a slightly more than a quick 5 minute browse of the company’s website can provide real insights in the ethos and direction of said company. Here is were you can really stand out. If you can display an understanding of the company’s goals and ambitions, whilst simultaneously showing how you could fit into/successfully integrate into the company’s culture, well then, that’s a real win-win.

Add Value

Do what you can to demonstrate what you’ll bring to the table. At all possible avenues demonstrate how you can add value to the company, tell them just how much of an asset you’ll be. Now this shouldn’t be taken as a call to shout “ME! ME! ME!” for half an hour. Instead discuss how you could solve problems (better yet issues you may have uncovered in your research), but don’t do your up-most to tear your soon to be employer’s strategies down and preach about the correct method of tackling a problem.

Show your leadership abilities and potential, highlight the manner in which you identified and overcame problems and conflicts before, in the past. Discuss programmes you could implement and markets you could engage with and so on and so forth.

Ask Questions

Form a few go to questions before you enter the ring. Don’t just grasp at anything however, but instead aim to ask pertinent questions, things that would really benefit you to know if you got the job or questions that would generate interesting conversation. After all, an good interview (in my opinion) should resemble a more natural conversation, with all that to-ing and fro-ing, as opposed to a more one sided inquisition. Here once again is another place your research comes into play, allowing you to ask more ‘intelligent’ questions about the company, your interviewer and the industry you’re looking to work in.

Most importantly of all though … don’t as questions to which the answers are obvious or freely available, it looks pretty bad if you ask a question or two only to discover the answers were there all along on their website for example, it doesn’t look good at all.

DON’T Self-Deprecate

This is possibly one of the worst things you could do when trying to convince someone that you’d make a fine edition to their team. I understand being honest in an interview or perhaps even express doubts or concerns (although a lot of people would suggest you avoid those too). But divulging nothing but negativity and constantly commenting on how you feel you can’t do this, you can’t do that, or you don’t understand this, or you don’t think you’re capable of X, Y or Z …. you get the picture.

It sends an overwhelmingly bad image, one of low confidence, an inability to do or try new things or meet challenges, throwing up huge glaring red flags for anyone general let alone your new boss. But lets be frank, after a brief discussion of all the things you can’t due, the chances are they won’t be.

Instead focus on everything you can do, be positive and have a little faith in yourself. A sprinkling of self-belief can go a long way, and hey … chances are you’re more than capable as it is.

Avoid Canned Answers

It’s one of those things that stands out a mile away, your gut tells you when someone is delivering a rehearsed bog standard answer to your question, and be honest with yourself, it switches you off you completely glaze over. If it’s true for you, why wouldn’t it be so for everyone else? Canned answers are boring, they highlight a lack of imagination, whilst almost always containing stereotypical buzzwords the interview is likely to hear 100 times during their process. Moreover, they hardly provide any element or spark of personality that your interviewer is looking for. Sure they want to know more about your experiences and qualifications, but they are also looking for clues as to the kind of person you are, so let that shine through.

I’m not saying go in unprepared, instead design a loose framework around the questions you expect to be asked, and maybe even a few more and talk more naturally around those points. You may need to pause and think every now and again as you would in any other conversation, but at least you aren’t coming across as some kind of monotonous robot.

Be Yourself

On an exceptionally corny note, I believe it’s important to enter that interview as you and you alone. Of course you want to present the best possible version of yourself as you can, but it needs to be you. People can instantly see through a disingenuous representation of character, so just be you. You’re great … right? Besides, it begs questions, such as why do you feel the need to try and be someone else, and other such detrimental questions.

Post-Interview

As a quick way to round this all off. After the interview there are a few little things you can do, but they are only small and should be treated as such.

Send a short thank you message, reiterating your desire to work at that company and in that very team. Thank your interviewer for taking in time to see you and express how much you enjoyed meeting them and how you look forward to hearing from them soon. In my experience I have generally always heard back from people I have sent this little message to, whether it was negative or positive, they still took the time to let me know (which can be a lot more than some employers do).

But make sure you keep it short, they don’t need an essay on the merits of your interview and a detailed step-by-step guide to your passion for manufacturing luminescent ball-bearings, or whatever it was you were just interviewed for.

So good luck and get out there, interviews don’t have to be all that scary.

 

The Inconvenience of Inspiration

Everyone who claims to be or considers themselves to be creative (and even those who don’t) are perpetually in search of that elusive light bulb idea. That one eureka moment that will propel them towards any manner of recognition or success.

Whether its your next painting, poem, blog post or business idea, inspiration is what we crave. I’m no different in this unending quest, but I appear to have developed a much more love/hate relationship when it comes to the notion of inspiration and I’ll tell you why.

I do happily get the odd flash of genius/inspiration, but every time I do so it always seems to arrive at the most inconvenient of moments. I’m sure I’m not alone in this frustration, whenever you don’t have a pen to hand to jot your idea(s) down, whenever you’re attention is truly needed elsewhere … etc. For me, all my ideas seem to form in the shower,  in this scenario there’s no possible measure for me to record these scraps of information or ideas that consistently float gently, seemingly on some invisible wind, in one ear and rapidly out the other. It’s almost like the giant ball of cash at the end of Crystal Maze (if you remember that, or know what it is … google it) except I don’t get to keep the money.

And here in lies the real inconvenience of inspiration. Much like that wonderful dream you were having you can never remember what you were thinking of. Despite all your best efforts, no matter how hard you try, you can never recall a thing not one tiny incy wincy morsel. These ideas your mind generates, these little gems possess, much to your own detriment, an incredibly short life span. So short in fact that by the time I’m out of the shower nothing remains but a faint glimpse, a feeling that for a moment I had all the ideas I’d ever have needed. But as quickly as they had appeared, they had vanished and I’m forced to resign myself to the fact that those ideas are gone forever. Although you may again, one day, conjure up something similar, it’ll never be exactly the same or sometimes even that close to its predecessors.

All is not lost, some of these ideas do emerge at the right time. Maybe that’s just how it goes, perhaps it’s destined, it’s meant to be or it’s fate. If you believe in all that than you can take some real comfort in knowing the ideas you are meant for will find you when you’re ready for them. For the rest of us, it’s just a matter of frustration after frustration until we hit a little streak of luck, and all the ideas we do need rush over us like a wave of brilliance just at the very moment we decide to pick up that pen.

[Image(s) from: Pixabay]

Starring ‘Into the Face of Defeat’

What do you do when something goes wrong?

Everyday I am greeted by a barrage of articles and posts from across the nether sphere that is the internet, especially from platforms like LinkedIn, dealing with the pre-requisites of success; what are the top 10 habits of successful people, what 10 things do successful people do everyday etc (oddly this advice always seems to come in sets of 10, sometimes 5s).

Perhaps now, particularly today, I am more willing to implement some of the facets I have read about. Today, more than any day in my recent history, I felt pretty defeated. A class of mine, one that I used to hold in particularly high regard has slipped further down the path to failure than I had realised. The moment when it hit me hurt, at its core, at the very root of the problem must be me, their teacher.

So facing this failure of mine, this wall of defeat, I was left with a simple but altogether daunting choice, how was I going to handle the situation? I could easily bury my head in the sand, try to ride out the storm, but that’s hardy the attitude of a successful individual, and I want to be successful, there is not doubt about that.

My response was thus to formulate a plan. I’ve often read that successful people meticulously plan their days, there time is well managed and always fixed to a particular goal. So I have planned tomorrow, what I’ll do from the moment I wake to the moment I return to the land of nod. I won’t share this plan with you, it’s a little vague at the moment and may go through a few iterations first (I know, not knowing is just going to eat you up inside, or perhaps not).

Well I’ll share a few details, I have scheduled a meeting with my supervisor and my Chinese counter-part (I’m an ESL Teacher) to discuss the class, what’s gone wrong and, in the time they have left at this level, what we can do to get them back on course. Now I understand I may draw some criticism here from my colleagues, who will firmly believe I’m doing too much. Aside from my personal sense of professional pride, I have to do a good job, I owe it to the kids to do a good job. Whilst I may only teach them for a year or so, I may end up having a profound impact on their lives, or you know at least their ability to speak English, and that is fundamentally important.

As well as taking to planning my time and meeting the problem head on, I’ve adopted another attribute associated with successful people, as the internet has told me; reflection. To really turn this class around it’s important for me to reflect on what may have gone wrong as well as where and when it went wrong. I know that classroom discipline has slipped. My classes are generally pretty relaxed, I set my ground rules early on, maintain them and only punish students when they are broken. This can, however, lead to classes becoming too comfortable with you, leading to, not necessarily a lose of respect, but to kids pushing the boundaries, seeing just how far they can go and what they can get away with. Also if a lesson gets too casual, their focus will deviate and that is a consequence of my actions.

I also believe I took for granted the aptitude and intelligence the class initially displayed. They learnt and understood grammar, how to apply it, as well as vocabulary with relative ease. It’s only now, with increased complexity, their knowledge gaps have truly become apparent. My lesson planning and execution have become too lax, I became too complacent in the manner in which I taught them, and as a result their ability to conduct themselves in English has suffered, something again I must take responsibility for.

I can’t shoulder all the blame myself, as with anything the students desire to learn plays an important role in their efforts and results. Having said that, I need to face up to my failures as a teacher, I can’t run from these missteps, but now I have become aware of them, I can correct them. In the face of defeat I have made an active choice to step up, accept my faults and address them, a statement I can be proud of.

So what do you do when something goes wrong? When you face a challenge or a problem? Do you face it head on, or hide and hope it all passes you by?