interview questions you'd prefer not to answer.

Interviewer objections and how to handle them
Nov 2014

Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, you probably don’t relish going for job interviews. For many, the worst part is knowing that you’re opening yourself up to potentially awkward CV-related questions or objections. It’s enough to make you want to call the whole thing off and focus on sitting still until retirement.

That would be a waste, though, especially if the position is one you really want. The first stage in avoiding such a scenario is prepping yourself for the type of objections your may run into.

While each case is different, here are some of the things that commonly have interviewers on high alert:

• Your CV shows a wide gap between positions
• You are over/under-qualified for the job
• You have moved around a lot job-wise
• Your salary expectations may be too high
• You will have a long commute with this role
• Your were demoted or laid-off from a previous role
• You are used to working independently, rather than in a team

And here’s how to handle them:

• Know your CV like the back of your hand
Your CV is like your product description; you need to be able to account for everything on there. Make sure to spend time going through it thoroughly before each new application, updating where necessary.

• Think like an interviewer
Work out what your CV weak spots are and anticipate the issues that are likely to be flagged up in your interviewer’s mind. Being forewarned will make any objections easier to handle.

• Get to the root of the objection
Your interviewer may well have a hidden motive, like wanting to see how you stand up under scrutiny. Listen closely and check their voice tone and body language for clues.

• Lose your composure
If a question catches you off guard, take a few seconds to think before responding. Stay calm and stick to your guns; there’s no need to be overly apologetic or submissive.

• Get defensive
Letting yourself be riled and arguing back is probably the one thing you should avoid at all costs. Remember, it’s not personal. Besides which your interviewer is probably looking to see how you handle criticism.

• Lie
Making up a story to get yourself off the hook may seem like a good get-out. However, this may well just lead to further awkward questioning or even come back to haunt you if you do happen to get the job.

The key thing to remember in all this is that an objection is not the same as a rejection, rather a relatively standard component of any job interview. Planning ahead will enable you to handle the awkward questions with grace and dignity and ensure things are as painless as possible.

It may be 2014, but many of the outdated perceptions and stereotypes surrounding female employees continue to linger. Men are considered the usual suspects when it comes to adversely pigeon-holing women at work, but could women be unknowingly perpetuating the old stereotypes themselves?

Female professionals should not feel the need to prove themselves equal to male colleagues, but they do need to consider the words they use when they talk about themselves.

A subconscious fear of being considered a “ball-breaker”, “hard-nosed” or just “not very nice” leads many women to devalue themselves subtly, often without realising it.

If you don’t value yourself, why should others value you? A few little changes to your use of language can be enough to start shifting your colleagues response to you. Here are some of the key phrases to avoid and what you could say instead:

Phrase to avoid: “I can’t”
You’re doing yourself a disservice by saying you can’t do something you’ve been asked to do. If someone has enough faith in your capabilities to ask you, then the chances are you’ll be more than up to the task.
What you should be saying: “Yes, I can!”

Phrase to avoid: “I’m sorry, but…”
Apologising when there’s no need is one of the hallmarks of a someone with limited self-confidence. Begin a conversation like this and you’re immediately subservient to the person you’re addressing. Save it for when you’ve actually done something to be sorry for.
What you should be saying: Nothing

Phrase to avoid: “I don’t know”
Admitting you don’t know is a quick way to avoid a challenging situation and avert potential failure. Though undoubtedly the safe option, this approach closes the door to new opportunities. Meanwhile, someone less able is trying their luck.
What you should be saying: “Let me look into it”

Phrase to avoid: “I’ll try”
Offering to give something your “best shot” hardly instills confidence. At worst, saying you’ll try is likely to raise severe doubts as to your ability to get the job done. Be a doer, not a tryer.
What you should be saying: “I’ll get it done”

What successful people do before breakfast…..

What successful people do before breakfast
Oct 2014
wellbeing, motivation, behaviours, time management,
Reference: Business Time; Life Hack; Forbes
We can all sympathise with what it means to not be a ‘morning person’. After all, what sane individual genuinely relishes swapping the sanctuary of a nice, warm bed for a hard day at the coalface?

That said, few would deny that there’s a correlation between high achievers and those who use their pre-breakfast time productively. Having somehow resisted the temptation to put the alarm clock on snooze, the real question is just what are these superhumans up to during these ungodly hours. Here are a few early morning rituals you could adopt:

1. Exercising
Natural endorphins and improved blood-flow to the brain perhaps explain why early morning exercisers perform so well throughout the rest of the day. Boshing out a 10k run and a swim before sunrise is probably unrealistic for many of us, so start with things you can do easily at home and build from there.

2. Planning
Early morning is the perfect time to put together a to-do list and map out your day before work and other unwelcome distractions start piling up. Half an hour of careful (post-coffee) planning can make the rest of the day run more smoothly.

3. Prioritising
Start with the most unpleasant, gruesome task on your list. If you can’t face doing it now, you’re unlikely to be any better disposed after a full day of hard grind. Getting it out the way will help you start the day with a sense of achievement… and relief.

4. Focusing
Unless you’re a lighthouse keeper, how much time for quiet reflection can you realistically expect to have during the day? A few minutes’ meditation or deep breathing can help focus your thoughts and better equip you for the day’s challenges.

5. Family time
Surprisingly, end of day fatigue and quality time with spouse/children are not always a winning combination. Spending time with your loved ones before the daily rush makes for a happy home and a rewarding start to the day.

Of course, as any successful early riser will tell you, the first pre-requisite for joining the pre-breakfast club is a solid night’s sleep. Failing this, your early mornings are more likely to be spent zombiefied than energised, so set yourself an early bed time and stick to it.

The importance of relevance in your CV/resume

08 Oct 2014
CV, applications,
Reference: LinkedIn; Inspiring Perspectives; Forbes

Fact of life: when it comes to job applications, rough diamonds rarely outrank professionals with a proven track record. Selling yourself as the most ambitious, willing candidate on the market is all well and good, however, in the eyes of most employers, it ranks a distant second to actually being able to get the job done.

If you fall into the first category, it could be your CV that’s to blame. Far too many applicants focus on crafting the perfect covering letter, while turning in a generic, ‘one-size-fits-all’ CV for each position they go for. The trick is to put yourself in the shoes of an HR manager or recruiter and imagine your CV was one of hundreds floating across your desk. Will a quick, two-minute skim convince that person that your application warrants further consideration?

Fortunately, a few carefully considered tweaks can make the difference in transforming you from hopeful protégé to experienced, hirable professional. Here are some dos and don’ts for ensuring your CV is relevant to the position at hand.

• Go through the job description line, by line before starting work on customising your CV.

• Tweak your description of previous roles to highlight relevant experience.

• Include the key words that the person doing the vetting will want to see.

• Use bullet points to clearly highlight relevant skills and experience.

• Send in a previously used version of your CV from a different application.

• List the duties performed in each role without underlining specific achievements.

• Rely on generic attributes such as “strong communication skills”.

• Feel you have to include qualifications or other details that aren’t relevant to your prospective role.

Once you’ve finished giving your CV the revamp it needs, read back over it and double check it against the job description. Using the ‘ROAR’ acronym (Results Oriented And Relevant) can be a good way to remind yourself to make sure your resume is specifically targeted to the position you are going for. Now, there’s just the small matter of the interview to concern yourself with. For support contact Claire or Margaret on 07771 332204


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