Category: Career

7 Questions to Ask in An Interview and Why

I absolutely hate the part of job interviews where the interviewer asks “Do you have any questions?” However I recently learnt that one of the reasons that I got my current role was because I was apparently really eager when it came time for me to ask questions.

Of course I was eager. It was my dream job! But that was what made me realize how important this part of the interview was for a candidate. This is the time to show your interviewer that you are interested in the job as more than just a paycheck. This is also the time for YOU to evaluate whether or not this job is a good fit for you. Here are 7 questions that you should be asking and why.

1) What does a typical day look like?

If you get this job, you want to know beforehand what exactly a day will look like for you? This is especially great if you are speaking to someone who held the role before you. They would be able to advise what your duties are, who you work closely with and why. Their answer will also tell you how they felt about the job.  Asking this question shows that you are serious about the role and want to know more.

2) Where is the last person who held this job moving on to?

This is something I picked up from the media buyer I interned under. Asking this question allows you to find out if the person who previously held this role was promoted (yay for internal growth) or if they left the company. If they left the company, you might want to dig deeper and investigate why. Was it just for a higher paycheck or was there more to the story? Is there an issue with staff constantly leaving?

3) What’s your favorite part about working here?

This question is an excellent way to evaluate what type of an environment you are going into. What is the interviewer’s favorite part, if any? It is important that they have something that you too can see as fun or a highlight. If you asked me this back when I was in a toxic workplace, my answer would have been “home-time”. For my Marketing interview, the interviewer seemed genuinely excited about her work and that made me excited about the job.

4) What are the next steps in the interview process?

This is a great question to help you know if you were successful, what would you be doing next. Is it a personality test? A skills test? A group interview? This is also a great way to find out when you will receive feedback on your interview. 

5) If you were starting this job now, what advice would you give yourself?

This is another way to show that you are genuinely interested in the role and would like to know how to kick ass at it. People like to give advice to new starts (or atleast nice, helpful people do) so this is also a good way to build rapport with your interviewer. Again, be sure to evaluate the answers so that you know if this role is for you. I once had an interview where the interviewer told me that lunch breaks were often sacrificed for deadlines. What they didn’t mention was that the team NEVER took a lunch break (they ate at odd hours and they ate at their desks) and those who did take lunch away from their desks were looked down on. Thankfully, I never got this specific job.

6) What kinds of challenges can I expect in this role?

Again this is more of a “I want to know how to do my best at this job” as opposed to “I want this job because I need money”. Knowing what challenges await you in this role if you are successful allows you to know what to prepare for. Do you need to brush up on your Excel knowledge? Do you need to spend more time working on your presentation skills? Now is the time to find out.

7) What is the company culture like?

THIS! This is a really important question but also it is one that is rarely answered honestly. If you get the chance to walk around or speak to other people in the workplace, this is a good idea. Another idea is to get a glance at the staff if you can. You can clearly see the difference between happy and unhappy staff. Happy staff are bubbly and chatty. Unhappy staff are…not. Keep your eyes open. And if the interviewer comes up with the old “We are like a family” line- RUN!

The most important thing when it comes to asking questions in an interview is that you show a genuine interest for the role and the company as opposed to just being interested in money. Income is important but it’s the actual work that you’re going to be doing everyday and you want to make sure it isn’t something that will make you miserable.

5 Things to Check Before Starting Your Job Hunt

It’s the most awful time of the year (Sorry, not a fan of January. It is the Monday of the year) and for those who are unemployed or actively looking for a job, January could be the start of a year that brings with it a brand-new career.

But are you really ready? Before you start sending out applications, here are a few things to check.

1. How are your Google results looking?

Before applying for a job, Google your full name and see what comes up. It is also a good idea to Google your full name and your title. You never know what you might find and it helps if you are aware of exactly what pops up when you’re Google’d. For me, I have never found anything besides my social media profiles but I do have an issue where family and friends keep finding me and my blog on Google. Yes I want readers but not people who know me. That just feels weird. Google yourself on your browser and even a friend or family member’s just to ensure that there are no nasty surprises if prospective employers decide to do the same (Trust me, this is a thing).

 2. Are your social media profiles okay?

Similar to Google, your social media profiles can tell A LOT about you. Be sure to go through all of your accounts and make sure there is nothing inappropriate such as pictures of you getting drunk/high or wearing something unprofessional. Yes, animal onesies are adorable but is that picture something you want your future employer and co-workers to see? This would also be a good time to set your profiles on private.

 3. Are all your documents updated?

This one…is pretty obvious. But do check to ensure that you have the latest copy of your resume. Back when our company was hiring for a Marketing Intern, I was horrified when my former manager told me that one of the staff didn’t update their resume with their latest role (i.e the current role that they were occupying in the company at that time) and Recruitment emailed them back to decline their application. This is a tiny error and it upset me that something so minor cost her.

 4. Do you have a cover letter?

Yes, cover letters are not mandatory for all applications. But it feels so good when you can explain to the company more about you and why they should hire you. Try to have a cover letter tailored to each of the jobs you apply for. Hack- have a cover letter template for each industry you are applying in and then simply edit your cover letter for each application.

 5. How is your elevator pitch?

“Tell me about yourself” is the ABSOLUTE worse interview question ever. And yet every time it feels like you do not know who you are. Prepare yourself for this by coming up with an elevator pitch- a one or two minute speech about who you are, what your background is (again this is to show why you are the best candidate so make sure you focus on skills you have that will be an asset in your prospective new role) and what you are looking for in a job.

Working on an elevator pitch for yourself is also great for when you start a new job and need to introduce yourself to others.

4 Job Interview Questions That are a Major Red Flag

I always say that while I still work in a call center, the Marketing department is a totally different world from Customer Care. And never was this made more clear to me than when we had a discussion on questions you CANNOT be asked in an interview.

I was appalled. I had been asked (and had been answering) these questions throughout my career whenever I interviewed anywhere. I found them uncomfortable and invasive but assumed that that was the way it went for all interviews. It wasn’t.

So to save you from the mistakes of my youth, here are 4 questions you cannot be asked in an interview:

Marital Status (Do you have children? Are you single or married?)

This has no bearing on how well you do the job yet interestingly enough this came up in every single one of my interviews. The way it was asked was “Any children?” followed by “Married?”. Looking back I feel like it was a way to judge how available I would be to work extra hours (something that occurs often in call centers)

How old are you?

This question is forbidden since it could lead to discrimination based on age. Say, for example if you are a young person with no family who is expected to work late. It sounds like I am being paranoid but a significant chunk of the first few years in my career was spent in overtime. If I refused to work extra hours, I was questioned as to why and I was told I had “no excuse” because I had no husband or children.

Do you have a car?

This one blows my mind because the question that is relevant is “do you have reliable transport” not “do you have a car”. Unless it’s necessary for the job, a car does not affect your ability to work.

Where do you live?

Honestly I think this is just asked to ensure that there are no issues with you getting to work on time however this can also be seen as a form of discrimination. Also, let us not forget that one time I waited three hours for a job interview (which never took place) simply because I made the mistake of informing the hiring manager that I lived close to the call center.

If you get any of these questions, just be wary. NONE of these questions were asked in any of my Marketing or Journalism interviews (except for that one failed freelancing attempt that I had). These questions are a huge red flag and should be a sign to proceed with caution.

What is an Informational Interview and How to Get One?

I really really wish we did more informational interviews in the world. Like it needs to become the norm in your educational career (Seriously, can I speak to someone about this?) An informational interview is simply a conversation or an interview between you and someone who works in a field that you are interested in.

Informational interviews are a great way to find out if a specific field or career is for you. I have had two informational interviews in my life and in both cases, those interviews were the deciding factor when it came to me pursuing those fields.

So how do you get an informal interview? Simply find people in the field or fields you are interested in. You can do this by using LinkedIn, social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram or you can ask people you know if you know someone who can help you. Another great option is to look for a company that you are interested in and just do some research on who works there and what they do. Once you have found your person or people, you need to obtain their contact details either to have a conversation via email, telephone or in-person.

I strongly recommend that whenever possible you go for the in-person option. It is an easier way to make an impression and be remembered.

Have you found your person? Have you scored a meeting? Great, let’s move on to the next step!

Here are some tips on acing an informational interview

Go in prepared- Read over your resume so that you are familiar with your past work experience and work on your elevator pitch. Prepare for this the way you would for any other interview. Just make sure that you have more questions than you would for a regular interview. Remember the point of this is for you to figure out if this role is for you or not.

Research the company, the field and the individual– You want to show that you are familiar with the industry and you do have some sort of background knowledge on the company. Basically the golden rule of informational interviews is to prep the way you would for a regular interview but maybe prep twice as hard?

Come prepared with questions– You are meeting to gather information so come prepared with 3-5 questions on the role or that specific field.

Do not ask for a job– Remember that the point of this interview is information. Do not directly ask for a job.

An informational interview is an excellent way for you to learn more about a field, gain contacts in the field and in some cases even get your foot in the door.

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Switching Career Fields

  1. It’s a challenge: Considering the fact that I studied two Marketing modules in university and four different Marketing short courses, I was pretty confident that I would be able to grasp my new job easily. I was wrong. There were days- scratch that, there are still days when I struggle and wonder if switching career fields was worth it (I’m proud to say that recently though, whenever this thought pops in my mind, I answer “YES!!!” without having to think about it)
  2. The internet has resources for everything: As someone who lives on Google this was shocking to me. Yes, I knew that you can Google pretty much everything but I had no clue that the internet could EDUCATE YOU! My mind is blown away by the amount of resources I’ve found online. But also
  3. I will not know everything: This is hugely upsetting and something I struggled with in my first few months. Back in Customer Care, I knew ALOT! Of course I did. I spent three years there and besides some basic process changes, things remained mostly the same. In Marketing, not so much. There are always new Marketing trends, new data on consumers or spending habits. You have to keep reading and studying in order to keep yourself up to date. At first I found this disheartening. I wanted to know everything and I wanted to know it NOW! Over time however, I accepted that I will not know everything. But with a little hard work. I can learn a bit about most things.
  4. Speaking of trends, I wish I knew the importance of keeping up to date with important industry information: Previously, I did not pay attention to any additional information if it didn’t directly impact me or my life. Like when Huawei stopped making phones with Google. Which then led to countless customer queries about that. Now however, I read every email link, Hubspot report or social media survey that lands in my inbox.
  5. Failing is a thing…and that’s okay: Keeping in with my perfectionist tendencies, I did not expect to fail. I don’t like failing. I’ve mentioned before that failing is (was?) a foreign concept to me but when you’re in a new field, failing happens and honestly it’s just a part of life.
  6. Lastly and certainly not least, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable: Growth is uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable. But when it’s the right field or the right job for you, you won’t even mind. There are certain days when my anxiety skyrockets and I get really uncomfortable with a task but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Did you change careers or start a new job? What was something that you were not expecting?

7 Signs Your Workplace is Toxic (and What to Do About It)

Girl in toxic workplace

A toxic work environment can affect more than just your workload. It can affect your mental and physical wellbeing. Worried that you might be experiencing more than just a “stressful time” at work? Here are a few signs that your workplace might be toxic.

1) There is little to no growth: Okay so this one is kinda understandable considering we are in a global pandemic and at this point we’re lucky to even have jobs. But if your company usually has slow or very little growth, this is not a good sign. Businesses (in non-pandemic times) should be growing and so should their employees.

2) People keep quitting: No job is perfect. But if your job has a high amount of people coming in and leaving especially after a few days, this is a major red flag.

3) You’re constantly worried about being fired: A moment of silence for my past self because this is something that I could relate to. Being constantly on edge because you fear you might be fired for the smallest little thing IS NOT NORMAL. If you’re an honest worker and not stealing from your company in some sort of way, you shouldn’t have to constantly be worried about being fired. If you ARE stealing from the company/doing something you shouldn’t…well that’s on you and you really should be worried about being fired.

4) Staff keep getting sick: Like I said, toxic workplaces affect you physically. Headache? Back pain? Catching the flu more often than usual? The culprit might be the office itself.

5) Your workload is unreasonable: Here’s the thing. All jobs have targets. As a team, employees need to achieve targets. If you’re repeatedly not hitting targets because they’re too difficult or you feel like you have too much work to do that you can’t cope, it might be a sign that your workplace is toxic.

6) You have no work-life balance: Say it with me now, “In 2021, we do not glamorize the grind.” Occasional overtime is okay and I am always up for taking that overtime if work needs to get done. But all work and no play makes me a cranky worker. Jobs need work-life balance. It is a “job”- it is supposed to be a part of your life for a specific amount of hours, your job is not supposed to be your life. If you finding yourself working excessive hours, especially with a workload that you cannot cope with, this is another sign of a toxic environment.

7) There’s bullying and/or cliques: This one is my absolute favorite because PSA we’re not kids at school anymore. You’re an adult. Please act like one. If you noticed that certain employees are favored over others or given the best opportunities while everyone else is ignored, this is another sign.

So You Work in A Toxic Environment, Now What?

  1. If you think it’ll help, speak to a manager: If you think a manager can assist, feel free to set up a meeting. Of course, this might be an issue if your manager is a part of the problem. When I first started having issues with work being toxic, I went to the head of the department. I knew the issues stemmed from a recent change in management so I couldn’t speak to my manager, my manager’s manager or my manager’s manager’s supervisor. Yes, I skipped three levels of management in order to get assistance. Did it help? Yes, for a while. And then things worsened a few months later. By that time I had already left the business.
  2. Ask to move to another department: If there is no other way forward, ask to be moved to a different department. Be sure to do your homework and ensure it’s a department that doesn’t have the same issues.
  3. Start preparing for a new job- This is my last suggestion because jobs are tough to find on a regular basis let alone through the Covid pandemic. But if you are still exposed to the toxicity, update your CV, updated your LinkedIn and start applying for other jobs.

Toxic jobs slowly but surely seep into your everyday life and trust me, this is not something you want. If you find that you are in a toxic workplace, it’s best to leave. But whether you leave the team, department or the business itself is a decision that depends on you and your work environment.

Have you ever dealt with a toxic work environment or bad work PTSD? I’d like to know below.

A Look Into Work PTSD

Blogger’s Note: The below blog post has been in progress since 2019. As of today, 17 April 2021, I will scheduling it to go live in May 2021 in honor of Mental Awareness Month.

Person lying on bed

I didn’t realize anything was wrong until the third time I broke down.

I was in the bathroom, dabbing at my eyes with a wet tissue to try to hide the swelling.

I had learnt the trick from walking in on a co-worker crying after she had been passed over for a promotion (for the second time in a month). She had been near hysterical and at that time I didn’t understand why.

(Turns out that she had been with the company for over five years so the disappointment was understandable).

Anyway so there I was teary and sobbing and I thought “this isn’t right”. It was my third breakdown since we restructured and got new managers.

I remember thinking that the amount of time I had spent crying in the bathroom was equal to, if not more than, someone in an abusive relationship.

Except I wasn’t physically abused. No, it was just emotional. But it was destroying me all the same.

That was when it hit me. My beloved workplace, the place I sacrificed everything for, was a toxic environment.

In my mind I played it back. All the arguments, the discrimination, the employees crying in the bathroom.

Would no one do anything about it?

Our managers were awful. Would no one step up?

Turns out that no one did. Within a few months, the new normal was accepted and we went from a company who respected and valued employee satisfaction to one that is only chasing the bottom line.

I was desperate to leave. But no one was hiring. There was an internal vacancy in a different department and I applied. Maybe it would be different in another department?

But then management stepped in and the role that was initially advertised internally was given to someone externally. I was speechless. Sure the rule was that we searched externally if no candidates were found to be successful internally. But I had been eavesdropping on cooler talk and I knew that job was supposed to be mine.

I stuck it out for another two years before I finally got an opportunity. It was in a field that I was interested in and it was a job role that I was interested in a while.

I placed my notice and against my better judgement, served those 30 days cautiously, convinced that management would find some reason to either fire me or worse, keep me forever. I knew the fear was irrational but I couldn’t stop it.

Eventually time came for me to leave. I literally said goodbye and walked out. No big drama. No big farewell speech. I thought that was it. I was wrong.

When I started in my new role, I struggled for the first few months. Not just because it was a completely new field but apparently I had mental wounds that still lingered.

I was too scared to leave my desk (in my previously role we weren’t allowed to). I didn’t even want to take lunch in the canteen downstairs for fear that my manager might need me and I wouldn’t be there. The first few times I asked for permission for stuff (can I drink my tea here? Am I allowed to stick up this photo? I didn’t know I was allowed to keep my phone on me) my coworkers found me funny. But as time went on, they came up with a phase for my experience- Work PTSD,

I hated it but it made sense. For so long, I had worked in an environment where I had not been allowed to do anything, this freedom- especially in a purely administrative role- was a novelty.

One of my issues with my first job is that I didn’t make the effort to learn more about the company and it’s culture. I was not going to make that same mistake again. I made an effort to get to know how things and people worked in this new role and focused on unlearning the new habits that I had from my previous workplace.

It took time and I thought I was fine. Until a friend and I made plans for lunch and I dropped by my old workplace to pick her up. I walked in to Reception and there they were. The UNholy trinity as I had nicknamed them. My former boss, her boss and his boss. Three levels of toxic management who were always seen together laughing and talking or altenatively meeting with staff and making them cry.

Instinctively I felt my shoulders hunch over in an attempt to protect me from their attention. “Please, please don’t see me”, I begged mentally.

Desperate, I turned away and started examining the stack of brochures on the receptionist’s desks, my hunched shoulders to them. Once I heard their laughter died down, I relaxed. The receptionist, who I had known from my time there, offered me a small sympathetic smile.

I waited for my friend to come downstairs and we went out to lunch. But I never made plans to hang out with her again during the workweek. I had felt like I was finally getting better but I couldn’t see them. I was still too fragile for that but maybe one day.

7 Things You Must Do Before an Interview

No matter how old you get or how far you are in your career, interviews are an unavoidable part of life. Here are 7 tips to help you minimize your stress on the big day:

  1. Figure out where you’re going and how long it takes you-This is especially important if you’re going somewhere you haven’t been before or if the venue is situated somewhere out of the way. Take a drive to the interview venue and monitor how long it takes you. It’ll save you from being late on the day of the interview. And if the “did you have trouble finding this place?” pops up in conversation, you can show that you know how to plan ahead. I did this for one of my earlier interviews and while I did not remain in that position, this was something that impressed the hiring manager (who tracked me down a few months later for another job).
  1. Research the business and if possible the interviewers- check out the company’s website and social media pages to get an idea of their work as well as their values. This helps you to learn more about them as well as see if you fit in with their company culture. If you know who is your interviewer, try to find out more about them too. LinkedIn is great for finding who knows who but you can also try social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Maybe you and your interviewer went to the same university or have similar interests which you can use as a talking point during the interview. However I do recommend confessing to cyber stalking. Remember you are trying to build a connection, not get a restraining order.
  1. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep- Ensure you’re well rested before an interview. If necessary do something the night before to ease your stress such as a workout or meditation. I have a bedtime ritual of tea, face mask and then colouring that always calms me before an interview.
  1. Revise your resume and cover letter- Go over your cover letter and resume, paying special attention to what projects or job roles may help you in this interview. Have you demonstrated teamwork? Excellent leadership skills? Figure out how you can tie your past and present experience into this job role. This is also a great time to practice your elevator pitch.
  1. Pick out a professional outfit- be sure to pick out an outfit that looks professional but is also comfortable. The last thing you want is to be tugging and adjusting your clothes throughout the interview. It’s uncomfortable for you and distracting for the interviewer.
  1. Promote yourself to yourself- An important part of an interview is to project confidence. Remind yourself of all of your amazing accomplishments both in and out of work. Keep a list of everything you’ve done that you’re proud of. You want to project confidence in your interview so it’s important that you remind yourself why you’re so great. 
  1. Prepare questions and your answers- Do your research and prepare answers to some common interview questions. I like to look for general interview questions and as well as questions specific to the field that you’re applying for a job in. Be sure to also make a list of any questions you might have (and make sure they show your sincere interest in the position).

Interviews may be nerve-wracking but with enough practice, you can train yourself to be calmer as well as more prepared.

7 Life Lessons I Learnt from “The Bold Type”

I discovered “The Bold Type” during a tough time in my life. I had just screwed up an interview for a job that I knew would have been perfect for me and I was in desperate need of a pity party. Now, a year and three seasons later, “The Bold Type” is still a source of constant comfort for me. Whether it is personal or professional, there are tons of great life lessons I picked up from the show.

The Bold Type
  1. Stand up for what you believe in– Kat is one of the most outspoken females I have ever seen and does not shy away from confrontation. She is always comfortable expressing herself and her beliefs no matter what.

2. Failure is a thing. It happens. Move on– As a perfectionist, this really hit home. In life, people fail. It is just a part of life. Onwards and upwards. Just because you failed at something doesn’t mean you can’t try again or there’s something else out there for you.

3. Find Yourself a Mentor– Watching the amazing Jacqueline Carlyle motivate and support the girls of “The Bold Type” has really made me appreciate the great female leaders in my life. I specify “great” and “female” because I have only just realized both how rare and amazing they are. Find yourself a kickass mentor who will help you to be your best self.

4. The Importance of a Support Group– Kat, Sutton and Jane support each other through everything (the girls even accompany Jane to a mammogram which is both over the top and against the rules). Get yourself friends that are there for you no matter what. Everything is a million times better with a great support group. Take it from me. 2019 would have been hell if it wasn’t for my girls.

5. Do it if it scares you– My former manager is always saying that “nothing grows in comfort zones” and this is something I believe in 110%. If something scares you, you should seize the opportunity and do it. There is so much that you could learn and so much growth that you can experience.

6. It’s Okay to Be Undecided About Your Career– Over the course of 4 seasons, Sutton has gone from personal assistant to fashion assistant to aspiring designer to stylist. She admits that she is undecided but is also willing to try out new opportunities to see what suits her. As the girl who decided on her career path at 12 years old, I love this!

7. You have to start at the bottom– From season 1, I loved that the girls knew where they wanted to be and they were on the way there. However the flashback episode in season 3 showed us that Jane started as an intern, Sutton was a temp and Kat worked for someone who had no clue how to make hits on social media. I loved taking this look back and seeing where the girls started. This was a great reminder that everyone- even in glamorous TV shows- starts at the bottom.

Do you watch “The Bold Type?” What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt? Let me know below.

Anatomy of a Cover Letter

I detest cover letters. Is there anything more difficult to write? Thankfully, cover letters are one of those things that get easier to do with time. Below, I’ve listed a short guide to what your cover letter should look like.

tablet

Address to who you’re writing

Dear Sir/Madam
(it’s always a good idea to know who’s going to be receiving your application and then addressing them here. It shows that you have done your research on the business).

Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself. State your name, where you go to school and what you’re studying. State why you’re applying. Make sure you catch the readers attention so that he or she is eager to continue reading.

Paragraph 2: Highlight anything important you think they need to know. For example, have you have previous experience in this field?
Do you have a skill that makes you excellent for the job? EVERYTHING is important. Jobs teach you skills that can be used in any field.

Paragraph 3: Make it clear that you will be an asset to them. Whether it’s because you thrive on pressure and deadlines or because you have amazing qualifications, show the company that they should want to hire you.

I look forward to your response

Sincerely,

Enter full name here

Follow

Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: