My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

My experiences with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

I have some interview tips for you today, although my own interview experience has not always been brilliant. For the most part, my stories involving interviews are tales of woe. I’m am known to be bad at interviews! Even with confidence before going in I still suddenly have issues when answering questions. A change in the tone or pitch of my voice or abrupt memory loss is a common problem I have. Luckily it isn’t normally an issue that goes past the first interview question once I’ve settled in.

Still, first impressions and all that.

My Experience with Interviews

Whilst I have yet to meet someone who declares they are good at interviews those people are out there. Meanwhile, I’m towards the bottom of the list when it comes to how articulate people are during interviews.

Planned answers often go astray for me, as I will accidentally skip ahead, panic, and then mess up the weird loop back I try to make to clear up the holes in my storied examples. That’s if I even remember the planned answer.

My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

I’m sure you’ve had it too where you have sudden onset amnesia after being asked a question. Often times making it look like you have nothing to say whilst you sit there, sipping on the glass of water provided in an attempt to buy some time, and the interviewers stare on.

Sometimes the interviewers themselves might be the problem. People you know? You become too comfortable and skip saying the bits they need to hear! People you don’t know? Those people are scary.

On the subject of interviewers, I will interject with a tip/statement on them: they often don’t really know what to expect and they are interviewing you because they have a vacancy to fill. They need someone. They are also human. It’s easy to forget they are flawed beings when they sit opposite you whilst you’re being interviewed. I probably wouldn’t tell them that though!

Recently I attended an interview and in my preparation for it, I looked at a lot of information on answering questions. The best ways to do it, tips and tricks, even example answers.

With all this knowledge still swirling around in my brain, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share it with you! I have a few posts planned but this will be the first which will look at what I found in my experience to be the 4 most commonly asked (in some variation or another) questions.

My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

Tips to answer 4 interview questions

1) Tell me about yourself?

This is almost a trick question. They don’t want to know about you as such, just about your life at work. Most importantly they want to know about your work-related skills which can be transferred into the role you’re applying for.

Make sure you study the skills and requirements of the role and talk about your job history whilst highlighting the same skills. Remember to use those cheesy words which interviewers eat up, such as loyal, flexible, adaptable, hard-working, etc.

Remember you must positively reflect on your working life even if that time in your life was not a positive one. Being negative in an interview is a sure way to not get the job. Companies are looking for happy people!

2) Why do you want to work here?

We all know what the real answer to this question is in 9 out of 10 situations: it pays better than my current job and is a step up. However, you already know you shouldn’t say that.

This is actually an ideal time to make them aware of how much preparation you have done for the interview. Link why you want to work for them to things you know about them, such as their excellent customer service. Praising them at this stage can pay dividends. If you know some big changes are coming up then use that as a reason too.

Don’t forget to focus on the skills and requirements of the role, the job description, and anything you have learnt about the company. If you manage to speak to anyone who works at the company that’s even better! Just don’t mention their names.

Also, if they mention in the job description that there are opportunities for training or progression within the role then citing these can be a boon.

3) What are your strengths?

It’s always good to throw out the usual buzzwords at this stage. Start by saying you have many positive qualities and list a few. End on one you can cite an example for. Better yet, give two examples!

With any interview question, you really need to crank out the examples if you want to “score the big marks” and actually get the job. In my experience of interviewing people, those who failed to give good examples did not get the job.

A great example of the strengths question would involve firstly a challenge – ideally set by a manager perhaps during an appraisal – a learning process, and lastly a resolution.

For example: “I feel I stand out particularly due to my strong innovative skills. For example, in an appraisal I had last year my line manager asked me to look at ways that the company could appeal to a larger audience.

I went away from this and gave the topic some deep consideration. I realised an easy way to expand the appeal of the company, as a tourist attraction, would be to make as much as possible available in other languages.

Using my own foreign language skills, as well as those of my teammates, I produced a series of documents, such as price lists and fact sheets about what was on display, which I made available to our international visitors.

Once completed I felt a personal satisfaction from completing such a task but, also, both myself and my line manager noticed improved feedback from international visitors and even some correlating sales in our shop.”

See what I did there? It’s a journey that you need to take your interviewers on!

4) What are your weaknesses?

First and foremost you do have weaknesses so don’t dare go telling anyone you don’t. Especially the interviewers, they won’t be impressed.

The trick here is to provide a weakness that is framed in such a way as to show a learning curve and an attempt to turn the weakness into something positive. Becoming irritated by a certain thing that is out of your control is a good example to give.

This can be framed to suggest you firstly got over it by focusing on your own job/working around the problem. Then you can go on to state that you are actively trying to improve the irritating thing, perhaps by assisting a colleague, taking matters into your own hands to fix something, etc.

Don’t forget to say how that benefits the company too!

Pro-tip: having too much of a positive trait is not a weakness. i.e. your weakness is not that you work too hard or always arrive too early.

My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

I’ll probably revisit interview questions in the future. There is always more to learn and better ways to do things and that is reflected in interview techniques as much as it is in any field. For now, I hope you found some good tips here.

As a final tip I must urge you to always do your research and properly prepare for interviews. I know you are because you are reading this, but make sure you are doing all you can do so you can have a strong foundation to rest on for all of your job interviews. I write about this more in this article, so check it out!

I’m interested to know what tips you have that you want to share with us? Any valuable insights you can provide for those getting ready for a big interview? Share it in the comments!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
Living my best life in 2019 – Setting goals for the New Year

Living my best life in 2019 – Setting goals for the New Year

It is that glorious time of year when (some) people make resolutions about how they are going to change their life’s over the coming year. Often related to fitness, and often failed within the first few months, resolutions and goals are often unattainable.

There are many reasons people fail. Making large fundamental changes, such as starting to go to the gym 3 times a week when you currently never go, are just too hard to stick with. People also forget what their resolutions are. Without thinking about them regularly they can easily fall by the wayside and in particular they can seem a lot less important several months down the line.

This might be because your situation changes a few months into the New Year. Suddenly saving those few hundred pounds a month may no longer be possible. This is why it is important to make your goals flexible. Breaking it down monthly is still a good idea, but maybe plan to save a little bit more each month then you would have to in order to reach the goal for the year. For example if you wanted to save £1,200 over the year then maybe it is worth saving £110~£120 a month so that if one month you can’t save as much it doesn’t put the entire year in jeopardy. Being able to reach goals early also feels amazing!

Something else to avoid is picking resolutions that you simply fail time and time again to accomplish. I really want to learn more French but realistically it just isn’t happening in my life right now, despite making it a goal for the past few years. And you know what? That’s ok. Accept the things that aren’t going to happen so you can focus on the things that will happen.

Let’s talk about my goals for 2019!

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Starting with my hobby goals let’s talk quickly about Warhammer (40,000 specifically). I haven’t had a chance to talk about this hobby yet but you can expect me to mention it a bit more as I become more involved in the hobby as a whole. My goals here are to have a fully painted terrain set, finishing painting my Tau army, and to sort out a gaming mat or board to play on. All of these things are easily achievable as long as I put aside some time to work on them.

Other hobby goals include practicing on the piano at least once a week. I really enjoy playing the piano but just often don’t get around to it for all sorts of reasons. I want to make an effort to put time aside each week to play. The last hobby goal is reading 6 books over the year. This should be doable and I want to read more. Originally I had opted for more books but decided to go with the realistic choice. I don’t want to aim too high and give up by the spring!

Living my best life in 2019 – Setting goals for the New Year

Moving on to lifestyle goals I have chosen three fundamental goals, two of which are ongoing with no set end. The first of these is to meditate at least twice weekly. Another activity which I enjoy and want to do but somehow never seem to get around to doing. I also want to walk to work at least twice a week. I work further from where I live than I used to so have gotten in to a habit of paying for public transportation which is bad for my bank balance and my waistline. Hopefully by walking at least twice a week I will be able to help myself in both these areas.

Speaking of my waistline, my third lifestyle goal is to get down to a 36” waist and weigh around 15 stone. I’ve been at this level around two years ago and I managed to maintain it for an entire year before the pounds started to creep back on. Ideally I want to lose this weight in time for my holiday in April so I’m going to be hitting it hard for the next 3 months and hopefully make some decent headway towards this goal. I’ll keep you updated on this on as time goes on.

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Lastly we have my money goals for 2019. The holiday I am going on in April (for my anniversary and birthday) needs to be financed so one goal is to save for this and another is to have saved around £350 by the end of the year to go towards a 2020 holiday.

For the last several months I have been building up an emergency fund, for those just in case situations. Currently I save £50 a month (which is the minimum in order to receive the juicy interest rates) but I want to up this to £70 a month for 2019 in order to make sure it really is a nice sum I can rely on if the need should ever arise – which hopefully it won’t! Despite only being an extra £240 over the year I wanted to make sure that this goal was easily achievable. If I end up putting more than this into my emergency fund I certainly won’t cry about it.

In general savings I also want to build up £400 which I will be able to use in 2020 to help reach the goals for that year. Again not a massive figure but one I know I will be able to meet over the year without much hassle.

My final goal for 2019 is to find a full-time and well paid job. This will undoubtedly be the hardest goal of the year as it involves actual effort to achieve! That almost sounds silly but given my bad luck at finding new jobs I’d imagine I will need to put in a lot of hours to achieve this one. Admittedly, a lot of hours is not something I’m used to doing when job searching. Seems like the instant gratification life might not be a good thing after all? I want to put real effort into the job search this year and assuming I get a new job my other financial goals will be far easier as well.

Those are my goals for 2019. What are your goals and resolutions for 2019? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading and a Happy New Year to you!

Michael

 

Making way for the Christmas goodies – ditching the excess, unwanted, and unused from your life.

Making way for the Christmas goodies – ditching the excess, unwanted, and unused from your life.

We all love Christmas but an inevitable side effect is that we end up with even more stuff! From clothes to trivia games to the latest hobby aid it all takes up space. I tried to pre-empt it this year by throwing a few things out over the past week before the big day. Although admittedly when it came to the clothes I only just got around to ditching the excess.

A few days before Christmas I made sure to get my bedroom spotless for any and all incoming items as it was unescapable that they would be hanging around in piles on the floor until they found a home. I didn’t want the place to look worse than it had to.

Something I have embraced recently is getting rid of anything that I don’t actually use, or don’t realistically have any hope of ever using (looking at you collection of journals). Keeping hold of things for sentimental reasons is fine but you can only have so much stuff. I wanted to keep what was actually important and not things that were simply aspirational in their nature.

There was one area of the bedroom I particularly wanted to tackle: the wardrobe.

I went into this grand feat by agreeing to stick to three guiding principles:

  1. Any item of clothing that is worn to the point of being damaged, is misshapen, or straight up smells must be discarded.
  2. Any item of clothing that is poorly fitting or does not fit at all must be discarded. With an exception for 3 or 4 items of clothing I had that I would keep for when I shed a few pounds.
  3. Any item of clothing that is not actually ever worn, or worn so rarely I literally forgot I had it, shall be discarded.

Here’s the before photo of the wardrobe:

Making way for the Christmas goodies – ditching the excess, unwanted, and unused from your life.

I managed to fill two large black bags full of clothing which will now find its way to a clothing bank nearby – underwear was of course thrown away.

The process did not take me as long as I had feared as I think I already secretly knew that some of these clothes simply had to go. I did not even try some on before adding them to the reject pile. I also found a jumper I had completely forgotten about which I enjoy wearing. Now I have less jumpers I can add it back into rotation.

An interesting aspect of reducing your wardrobe is that with less clothes you also have to find new ways to wear combinations of the clothes you have left. I’m not exactly a savant when it comes to style but I’m still looking forward to seeing what I can muster.

Here’s the after photo of the wardrobe:

Making way for the Christmas goodies – ditching the excess, unwanted, and unused from your life.

My clothes can breathe again!

I’ve also managed to move to using wooden coat hangers exclusively #snob but also #aspiration.

Once I have lost a little weight and before I go on holiday at the start of April I will have a small shopping trip to flesh out my wardrobe for summer but will try to keep the total number of items much lower than it was before.

I’m off to pick up a new (physical) wardrobe from Ikea this weekend which not only aided in catalysing the need to have a clear out but also will hopefully allow me to organise what I have better. A drawer just for my ties? Yes, please.

I will also add that it is a relief to finally have the clear out done. One less thing to worry about and check off of my ever-growing to-do list!

I’m eager to hear your stories of your last clear out of clothes or other bits, and how you handled finding space for any incoming presents this holiday season. Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,

Michael

This Amazing Week

It’s been a while since I have posted and I feel bad about that. I thought I would try something a little different for this post: a look at my week just been.

It’s especially exciting given the time of year we find ourselves in – the run up to Christmas! Always full of festive meetings with family and friends this time of year is one of my favourites – probably not a favourite of my bank account though!

This week I wrapped all of my Christmas presents to be given out over the next couple of weeks in the lead up to the big day. As I’d imagine most people find when wrapping presents you always realise you forgot someone! Whilst sorted now it was a bit of an annoyance given how long ago I did the majority of the shopping. I thought I had it all done and dusted. Still it is better just to have to get one more gift than the whole lot!

I’m happy that at last I am more on top of the presents side of things. No last minute rushes, no hemorrhaging of my bank accounts, no worry about people having to go without. Perhaps what I am most proud of is actually saving up over the year for the expense of Christmas. Not all people are fortunate enough to be able to do this but I was lucky I could and it has taken a huge worry off of my shoulders. Last year this was not the case as I practically ran out of money trying to buy gifts for everyone. For anyone who is able to and also struggles around Christmas time I would thoroughly recommend saving a little each month in order to buy presents and to use for other Christmas related activities – such as the work Christmas party!

This week I also had the opportunity to see the comedy performance of one of my old friends. She actually co-runs her own comedy night at a local(ish) craft beer pub. This bi-monthly event seems to be quite popular and features a couple of the organisers doing stand-up before a more well-known comedian takes the stage. The majority of the ticket revenue they receive goes to paying for this act to perform.

My Amazing Week - Comedy Act Truly I am impressed by all of the organisers for putting this ongoing event together and doing what they love as their (admittedly part-time) job! The shows themselves are always enjoyable and hilarious and this week was no exception. I went with a small group to support our friend who was also celebrating their birthday on the day. I hope they had a fantastic day!

Yesterday we had the family Christmas party. I do not often see family members outside of my immediate family so it was nice to get to see everyone and catch up. It was a smaller event than usual as some people could not make it but it was still very enjoyable! I must admit that after a long and wet day at work I was very tired and ended up retreating to my bed at half 10, before people had even left! Kudos to my mother for hosting the event for another year.

Tonight is the Christmas meal with friends. We are going to a relatively new Fish & Chip Restaurant located at the end of the pier which I have been to before with my family and really enjoyed. The location itself, and indeed the date of the meal as well, we voted on with our Facebook group to try and maximise the amount of people that could come and were happy with the venue. We have ended up with what should be a decent turnout.

Whilst these are people that I regularly see it will still be good to catch up over the busier than usual Christmas period. I know I am booked for almost every day from now until the day itself so finding time to spend with the regulars is difficult but important. Hopefully I will manage to write some cards before I leave tonight so that I can hand them out there. Otherwise I might have to run around a bit to catch them before the 25th!

Thanks for reading,

Michael

 

My amazing hobbies and happiness

We all want to do what we love. For some people that is their career. Their job. For many, however, it is what they do outside of work that brings them the most happiness and enjoyment.

I am no exception to this rule.

I enjoy my job but I do not love it. I need to do other things to keep happy and that is where my hobbies come into it. Over the past seven years or so I have developed my hobbies from infrequent instances to more regular activities.

Continue reading “My amazing hobbies and happiness”