Archive for October 2011

The 3 Biggest Interview Mistakes that Kill Your Chances

how to avoid them and get that dream job

The 3 Biggest Interview Mistakes that Kill Your ChancesYour resume has done its job and you’ve got an interview!  Pumped and ready you shake hands with the interviewer, smile confidently and get down to the business of
answering their questions.

But gradually it all starts to go horribly wrong.  As the interview progresses, you sense you’re starting to lose them and by the time you walk out, you just know you’ve stuffed it up.

In spite of being well prepared and confident, something went wrong in the process. While smart people follow up to get feedback as to why they were unsuccessful, they often don’t receive a complete and honest answer to learn from.

Having interviewed many candidates for different jobs and been interviewed countless times myself; here are three common interview mistakes that are guaranteed to lose you the job.

Mistake # 1: Failing to listen to the question and watch for signals.

Nerves play a key part in this.  Eager to display your key strengths and wonderful experience, you launch headlong into a lengthy demonstration of your knowledge and achievements.  Although admirable, it may be a long bow to tie what you know to the question.  When you’re busy talking, it’s too easy to miss the body language signs that the interviewer is bored with your answer.

Tip:  The best way to blitz an exam is to read the question carefully and consider your answer before putting pen to paper.  Likewise in an interview, listen to the question and watch for non-verbal cues.  If necessary ask the interviewer to clarify what they mean.  This also buys you precious time to compose your answer before you open your mouth.  Once you truly understand what the interviewer is looking for you are better able to make your knowledge, strengths and skills relevant and give a high impact, concise answer.

Mistake #2:  Insufficient understanding of the role and the company

Many candidates invest hours, $s and effort preparing their CV and practicing for interviews, yet neglect to thoroughly research both the role they are applying for or the company it’s with.  What’s written in the advertisement or position description is often not what the role is really about.

Tip:  Take time to ring the recruiter, HR manager or the person the role will be reporting
to.  Discover what’s not been written in the ad or PD before the interview.  This gives you time to prepare your answers thoroughly and ensure your responses are relevant.  Demonstrating a deep understanding of what the company does; where it’s at and where it’s heading is an easy way to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.
Weaving this knowledge into your answers shows you’ve invested time and effort in increasing your understanding before the interview.

Mistake #3:  Not asking your own insightful questions

As an interview draws to a close, the adrenalin drops, the nerves start to calm and you can’t wait to get out of there!  The interviewer asks if you have any questions. In a relieved tone you say, “No, I don’t think so, thanks for your time,” stand up to shake hands and leave.

STOP!  You’ve just wasted the perfect opportunity to nail the interview!

Tip:  Asking a few well-targeted questions leaves a great impression and further demonstrates your strong desire to understand more about the role and ability to do it well.  Great questions include:

1.  What are the three most important traits you are looking for and why are they  mportant?

The answer provides an opening for you to match your strengths and further highlight your achievements.

2. What do you believe will be the biggest challenges the [name the role title] will face in the first three months?

This answer opens up the opportunity to demonstrate where you’ve overcome a similar challenge in the past.

3.  When the person who is appointed to the role has exceeded all your expectations, what will be different and how will you know they have succeeded?

This helps the interviewer articulate the priorities which are often buried or not stated in
the position description.

Note:  This isn’t the appropriate time to ask about the pay and package, hours or working conditions.  These questions can come later if and when you are successful in moving to the next round or offer.

Remember, an interview is a two-way process and you want to find out what you need to know to decide if the role is right for you.  Acute listening, considered questions, concise answers and a thorough understanding of the role and company are often the
difference that makes the difference to winning your dream job.

Good luck with your next interview!

Caroline Cameron

 

 

 

Beat the Back-to-Work Blues

Dreading the thought of going back to work?

Beat the Back to Work BluesYou know you’ve got them when that gnawing dread that started on Sunday afternoon moves to the pit of your stomach.  As you head off to work on Monday morning there’s a sinking feeling that just won’t shift and when you think back, this isn’t the first time you’ve felt like this.

With an endless stream of back to back meetings, relentless emails to deal with and looming deadlines, the thought of going back to work on Monday is often the low light of the week. To make matters worse, researchers have found that Monday morning is the most common time of the week to suffer a heart attack and the link with workdread seems more than a coincidence.

Yet the start of the work week doesn’t need to be dreaded.  Imagine how it would be if you looked forward to Monday morning as much as you do Friday evening? Even if you don’t love your job, it is possible to convert that sinking feeling by shifting the way you think about work.

Here are some simple ways to get you started:

Identify what’s within your control and forget the rest

Many people feel frustrated about things they actually can’t or don’t know how to influence.  This includes the behaviours of others, the direction their company is taking or the tedious trip to work.  Investing energy in these is wasted.  The only person you
have full control over is you – including the way you think and act.

Decide what you want control over and take constructive steps.

You actually do have more control than you realise over many of the stressors that are driving your Monday morning dread.  This includes your workload which can be successfully negotiated with your manager and others (when you know how). Taking time on Monday morning to set clear goals for the week ahead will keep you focused on what’s important and help you achieve more of what matters. This can be as simple as blocking out a sacred hour on Monday morning in your calendar for planning.

If your job really has ‘done its day’ and there’s nothing more to do or achieve, take steps to plan and implement your next career move.  This could be as simple as identifying what you love to do and how you can best use your strengths and then researching all the options.

Notice what you’re telling yourself – it’s absolutely true!

Nothing has meaning except the one you put on it and this can be easily changed. If you believe your job is stressful, boring or frustrating, you’re right, it is.  Yet by shifting your ‘truth’ to a more empowering belief, you’ll instantly change the way you feel about it.  I used to believe that my 2 hour daily commute on the clogged freeway was a complete waste of time.  Regularly stressed about being late to work or collecting my daughter from day care, I resented that freeway like nothing else!

Yet I soon realised there was nothing I could do about how slowly the traffic moved and as the alternative routes were equally slow, the only thing I could change was my attitude.  Allowing an extra 10 minutes each day was a practical first step – if I
got to where I was going early, that was a bonus.

I also saw my twice daily commute as ‘my time’ – time between work and home where I could sit in my own little bubble, listen to my music rather than the Wiggles and reflect on the day that was.  The positive effect of changing my thinking was instant and dramatic.  I planned the day ahead on the drive into work; no longer took work problems home (they were solved on the drive home) and had regular, daily time to just ‘be’.

There are many other ways to shift that back-to-work-Monday sinking feeling.  What’s your best tip for bowling into work eager and ready to enjoy the week ahead?

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron

 

 

Too much to do, too little time – are you busier than ever?

Something’s puzzling me and I can’t quite work it out.

Too much to do, too little timeToday, we have more time-saving, convenience creating, effort reducing resources than ever before and yet we seem to be busier, more stressed and time poor.

I just don’t get it.  There’s now an app for everything and you can DIY or outsource pretty much anything so in theory, life should be getting easier, right?  Wrong!

As as an executive coach visiting clients in various city offices, I notice an insidious, entrenched and common theme.  My clients are smart people working for  corporate, government and non-profit organizations, all with very different purposes and yet one way or another, they all lament their lack of time.  Here are some of the expressions I hear often – maybe you relate to them:

  • I don’t have the bandwidth
  • I’m in back to back meetings all week so won’t have time…
  • My inbox is killing me
  • We’re really stretched at the moment
  • There isn't time (the common cry of a pressured project team juggling multiple priorities as they stare down the barrel at a ‘go live’ for their system in 3 weeks)

The ‘inbox’ one was interesting.  One guy had over 2,000 unread emails in his inbox and his way of surviving the email tsunami was to ignore them until the sender spoke to him directly.  “I figure that if it’s important enough, they’ll come around and talk to me or pick up the phone.”  Hmmm, sounds good in theory but I wonder how that works if the email is from the CEO.

Yet, he’s also onto something here – he's Filtering.  By prioritizing his emails based on a set of criteria (in his case the personal contact effort made by the sender), he’s filtering in what he believes is important and ignoring the rest.

With millions of bytes of information coming at us every second, we’d soon drown in overload if we didn’t filter it.  Our natural reaction is to distort, delete or generalise as a mechanism to keep control of our lives.  Yet, if that was an effective technique, why are we all still so busy?

If this is how it is for you, it's time to spring clean your filters.

Like every other useful resource we can call on, our information filters need routine maintenance.  Over time they become clogged with the exhaust fumes of life.  Rather than consciously and regularly sifting out the obsolete and unnecessary crud whilst keeping the important, they become blocked.

Understand what’s driving your ‘busy’.

Our actions are driven by an underlying cause that often isn’t connected to the activity or its outcome.  This can include ‘a need to be needed’, a determination to be seen to be 'on top of it all' ( superwoman/man syndrome – a common one for perfectionists and high achievers), or procrastination because we’re not sure what to do or how to do it.  This can lead to aimless ‘fluffing’ and before you know it, you’ve blown hours or days and achieved little more than frustration.

Recognising the real cause of your lack of time helps you take steps to reclaim it.  Think about it – if we valued time as much as we value money, wouldn’t we have more rather than less?  Imagine how different it would be if you had plenty of time in the bank and were time rich rather than time poor.

Decide what's important

The best way to get the ‘busy’ under control is to check in on what’s most important and ensure you’re focus is largely on your main priorities.  Do you really need to attend that meeting that you know will go round in circles or is it just that you don’t want to
miss out on being 'in the know'?

Know what matters most

Check that your priorities will make a real difference.  One of the best ways to identify this is to ask, “Of all the things I’ve got on my plate, which will make the most difference a hundred years from now?” Chances are not many, but it’s a sobering thought.  If it doesn't really matter – don't do it!  Choosing not to do something is surprisingly liberating.

Identify the best return on your time investment.

If there were no limits, what would you choose to be doing right now?  Yes, you do have a choice as to how you spend your time, far more often than you realize.  Which task is going to pay back far more than the time you'll invest in it?  This is a great way of stripping out the time wasters from your day.

Clogged filters are making us busy.  That’s my theory but I’m sure it’s not the whole story. With so much more at our fingertips to ‘save time’, why do you think we’re still soooo busy?

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron

 

 

Welcome to The Great Life Redesign Project Blog

Thanks for dropping by.  There's no doubt that 'times are tough'.  The economy is struggling, consumer confidence is dropping, everyone is 'time poor' – in fact it seems like many of us are struggling to overcome the pressures of 21st century living.

Yet, there are also those who are achieving great things, in spite of the doom and gloom. So, let's talk about everything that makes your 21st century life suck or great!  Whether it's lamenting your lack of time or celebrating an amazing achievement, I want to hear about it.

Where Ordinary People achieve Extraordinary Things

I love to hear and share inspiring Life Redesign Success stories of people who have broken free from the 21st century treadmill.  If you've kissed the rat race good-bye, beaten the Burnout Blues and are doing what you love, in a place you love, with those you love – I'd love to hear from you.

Who do you know who has achieved something extraordinary?

We all know someone we admire who has stepped outside their comfort zone to achieve something extraordinary.  If you believe their story is inspirationa. please share it in the Comments below.  Who was it (name is optional) what's their relationship to you (eg brother, friend etc) what did they achieve, why and how they did it and what it was that made it so extraordinary.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

mid-life career change, pursuing a cause, achieving success against the odds, moving to a foreign country, getting out of debt once and for all, quitting a destructive habit, breaking a record, turning your life around, recovering from a major illness or a defining moment that changed your life forever …

Extraordinary is however you define it to be.

I look forward to hearing your story :-).

Carpe diem.

Caroline Cameron