Tag Archives: Interview

Six Lessons I Learned About The Job Interview Process.

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After being unemployed for almost five months, I had my fair share of interviews and it was incredibly frustrating because I simply wanted a job, and I kept getting so close but just missing out on the opportunity or sometimes, it wasn’t the right fit. In today’s post, I’m going to share what I think are my best tips in order to come across the best in a job interview and throughout the looking-for-a-job process. 

Learn about the company. 

At first, I thought this was the most obvious advice but I have heard quite a few stories of interviewees going into job interviews with their possible employer, and when asked “What do you know about our organisation?” They have simply said, “Only what’s on your website.” As respect to not only yourself, but to your potential employer, you should do your research. They have probably filed through dozens, if not hundreds of people to offer you an interview, and for you not to do your research; that opportunity could have been given to someone else. Even if you don’t understand what the company does, you could say that you have looked online and conducted research, but you would like a better understanding of what they do. That shows that you are interested in learning more. 

Ask at least one question at the end. 

Asking a question at the end of the interview is advice I got constantly, from people in real-life to online resources and when you put it into practice, you can see why. Your interviewer hasn’t necessarily have a wall built up because there’s a change when you turn the tables on them. You don’t have to ask anything complicated nor should you make it completely personal but I think it’s important to ask something which is relevant to the company. I prefer to ask “What do you like about working here?”, “Where would you like to see the company in five years?” or “Is there anything on my CV you would like to ask me about?” This also gives you a little break towards the end, to take a breath and breathe, because interviews are nerve-wrecking and it’s nice to have that little moment of space while they’re answering YOUR questions. 

Dress appropriately. 

Dressing appropriately can be a tricky one sometimes because if it’s smart casual; it’s easier for men (I believe) than women. I’m not saying you have to go out and buy yourself a brand new wardrobe but dressing appropriately for the job you have applied for, will come across to the employer that you are taking an interest. I wouldn’t turn up in a pair of trainers and tracksuit bottoms but I’m not going to turn up in a pair of heels that I can’t walk in either, in order to seem professional because it might have the opposite effect. 

Bring your experience into your answers. 

You can Google as much as you like about a certain job role, but if you can’t describe on how you would either handle a certain situation or how you have tackled a similar situation before, it can be hard to persuade employers. They’re looking for experience and I know it’s tough if you don’t have any but you can usually think of something in your life where you have been in charge. For example, if you’re coming out of school and straight into a job, you can use your role in a team for coursework to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of being in a group and how you would handle it differently next time. If you volunteer, you can talk about some of the issues that can come up during this, or if you’re coming from another role, you can talk about taking on the responsibilities in that job and how you were able to take control. 

Show your personality. 

I remember some of my first interviews and while I don’t think I necessarily did a bad job at presenting myself, I know the reason why I wasn’t at the top of their list. I was too tense; I was too concentrated on the answers I was giving and I didn’t give myself time to think about the answers. I constantly had a dry throat and one time I was so nervous, I had the bottle of water poured into the cup before the interviewers even said “There is water there for you if you need it”. You can bet, I felt really embarrassed at that moment. I was starting to get through to the interview stage more and more so that enabled me to feel better about going in each time; it helped that I had a really nicely presented CV that was colourful but not too over the top, I wanted it to reflect my personality. In my interests, I wrote (amongst others things) “eating vegan pancakes” and “drinking all the tea”; now that might not be appropriate for certain jobs but I wasn’t applying to be a doctor or a lawyer so I felt that was suitable. You can be qualified for a role but companies most of the time are also looking for someone who is going to fit into their work environment and be a team player so by showing your personality in a really fun but professional way, I believe it helps in a big way. 

Have standards. 

Having standards for yourself is something that can be quite hard to balance out especially if you are unemployed and you simply want a job. A problem I had when I was going through this stage, and my boyfriend disagreed with me at the time, was my standards. Now, I’m not saying that I was looking for all the money in the world and thinking I deserved that, because that wasn’t the case. It came down to money and while you might think (and my boyfriend even said this) “I don’t think you’re in the position to be picky about a job when you don’t have one” Fair enough point absolutely but I’m not willing to work for less than what I know I’m worth. I’ll give you an example; there was a job interview I went to that wasn’t very close to where I live so it would require four buses a day so instantly, I was thinking about the commute time and knowing how the Northern Ireland public transport system works, sometimes it’s not on time so you have to factor that in. Another thing was that is was minimum wage; now let me say that I don’t think there is anything wrong with minimum wage but my previous job was higher than the minimum and I also had to think of how I would survive on that. I have my own house which is rented so I have to pay someone each month, I have bills to pay, I have a little kitty to feed as well as myself and I also have to take care of other things around the house. Minimum wage wasn’t going to cover me and at the time, my boyfriend said “it can be something until you get a permanent job” and yes, that’s a perfectly fine point but why would I waste my employers time and more importantly, my own time training up for a job that I wasn’t planning on staying at for less than I could afford and adding in transport costs to that too. It didn’t make sense to me, and Scott disagreed with me greatly on this, but now I’m glad I stood my ground with my point.  

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Would you agree with me? What would you advice others to do in a job interview? Let me know either on my Twitter, my Instagram or let me know down below! Thank you so much for reading, I really do appreciate it! 

Entrepreneurs and Mental Health: Michaela Pontiki

I’m back this week with another interview facilitated by FPComms with the wonderful Michaela Pontiki as part of my Entrepreneurs and Mental Health series. If you missed my interview last week with Latoya Lovell, I’ll link it right here. 

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(Photo Credit: Mi Business Mag)

First of all, for those who don’t know, can you tell me who you are and a little about your background in your career so far? 

I am Michaela Pontiki, the founder of Arapina bakery. I am an architect with a Masters in sustainable design and having worked in both industries, I decided to start my own business in the food & beverage sector.

Can you tell me the philosophy behind “Arapina“? 

We are an award winning Healthy Lifestyle Bakery, based on Mediterranean cooking, offering free from and low in options to a sophisticated clientele. We are here to offer food to those who suffer from various intolerances and or have physical or mental diseases. We believe that food can be your medicine.

There is so much information out there, especially online, about food. Do you think that there is too much information that people are overwhelmed when it comes to making the right food choices, especially if they are being told conflicting information? 

Definitely, companies are fighting for their own reputation and companies get it wrong a lot of the times, especially in today’s world when masses can be easily influenced by TV commercials and social medias platforms. And they get it wrong because they either don’t have the right information themselves or purposefully manipulating concepts for the sake of their personal profit. Either way is unacceptable and one should cross referenced sources of information that is readily available out there.

We talk a lot about super foods but unfortunately, we know that if people are overwhelmed, the benefits of certain foods may not be important because they may not know what information to trust. So, I want to know two of your favourite meals that not only have the nutritional benefits that your mind and body love but are a joy for you to make too? 

I don’t have much time in my hands so I need to be creative and seek easiness with my meals. So quick breakfast is natural greek yogurt, with organic blueberries, raw almonds, honey and cinnamon. Second best is almost any type of grilled fish with a vegetable ratatouille next to it.

Why should entrepreneurs be thinking more about the food they eat? I know that I’m guilty of saying “Oh I don’t have time to eat, I’m too busy” and I’m not even an entrepreneur. Talk to us about the remarkable impact food can have on our minds as well as our bodies. 

Imagine you own a fast car, but every time you try to speed up, the car does not accelerate to the level you want it to simply because the fuel you are putting to it is of poor quality. It is exactly the same with ones body. You want to “run”, physically and mentally but you probably can’t simply because you have not taken care your body and mind. One cannot fulfil their full potential with an underperforming fuel which in this case is food.

What do you think of the “busy” excuse? Is there such a thing? By saying this, are we not making ourselves a priority? 

It is a fact that we live in a society that keeps us busy and activated, so in a way yes, we are busy, but I would say that it is more of a matter of priorities, and that applies on many aspects of our lives. When we fail to call our friends, spend time with our family or not properly plan our meals, it simply means that this task is not high up on our priority list, because I am sure the same person would find the time to watch the new series on Netflix if this is what he/she would value more. So it is a matter of changing your mentality to change your priorities to help your body.

I can only imagine the pressure that you are under having your own business, do you think that that is something quite a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with? 

There are different types of businesses, businesses with different demands as well as businesses with different starting points. If we had to generalize business is not easy and yes, the pressures are high when running one.

For you, what is the difference between being stressed while starting your own business and your mental health slipping? 

Stress can be activating or stress can be destabilizing. It really depends on the space you allow stress to occupy in your life, the grade of stress you are suffering from and the way you approach stress itself. Sometimes it is a fine line between stress and mental health slipping.

If someone is finding it hard balancing their mental health while running their own business, what tips would you give them? What do you do when you are in their situation? 

Quit business, life is more important.

Finally, if anyone would like to find out any more information about you and the work you do, where can they go to do so? 

Follow us on our social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) and keep an eye for podcasts and more interviews. If you are lacking this physical contact as most of us are in today’s world, come down to the bakery and ask for Michaela (by appointment only).

Again, a massive thank you to Nicola from FPComms for facilitating this interview and to the wonderful Michaela for taking time out of her day to answer my questions. I also got sent the most gorgeous chocolate covered almonds and bergamot preserve from the Arapina Bakery, so thank you so much for the treats!

 

Entrepreneurs and Mental Health: Latoya Lovell

As a society, it’s very clear we are talking more about mental health which for me, I couldn’t be happier about. With May being known as Mental Health Awareness Month, FPComms got in touch with me to see if I wanted to interview two entrepreneurs who champion the topic of mental health. Over the next two Sunday’s, I’ll be posting two interviews I conducted with two entrepreneurs. First up is Latoya Lovell! 

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If you’re not familiar with Latoya, she is an influencer, a soon-to-be novelist and a freelance writer from London. She has a new book coming out towards the end of 2019 which uses her experiences of her depression to bring her villain characters to life. She tells us where you can find her on social media at the end of the interview so I hope you enjoy!

(Disclaimer: As a warning before reading on, depression is one of the topics discussed and there could be a number of triggering words for some, so please take caution before reading.)

First of all, for those who don’t know, can you tell me who you are and a little about your background in your career so far? 

I started doing interviews for a magazine called We Are Collision and after realising how much I liked media working for them, I decided to master the Media Industry.

I believe you went through a stage of depression, in as much detail or as little as you would like, can you tell us about this? What’s your story with depression?

After a few years of working in the media industry I started to feel like I was letting people down when things went wrong. I was in a bad situationship with a male friend and when we stopped talking to me, he said it was because I disappointed him. At the time I never realised it was a trigger word for myself but it made me feel like I was disappointing everyone. I convinced myself I was going to disappoint my son and so I decided he would be better off without me. I wanted to complete suicide and I went and got my hair done and wrote a letter to him and sent messages to everyone saying goodbye. I left the salon and when I arrived home, my friend was sitting on my stairs waiting on me. She collected my son from school and looked after me for several days. We identified what I wanted to do over those several days and it also made me realise my triggers.

After this experience, you started to write your own series of books. Now, I know that they aren’t released yet but can you give us a sneak peek on what the first one is about and an insight into some of the characters? 

The book is based upon myself and my 2 best friends. We are a diverse bunch and I wanted to highlight how 3 different women from different cultural backgrounds still loved and embraced each other. How women empower each other but I decided to make us 16 with superpowers. I realized by showing the lead characters as how me and my friends look I could show younger girls that being natural is fine.

Did you find it healing writing about these experiences or did you find that initially it was hard having to look back to the battle you were fighting at that time?  

I actually used the book to write about how I wish my life had progressed with certain situations. Like I never spoke to my Biological Father before he passed but in the first chapter, there is a letter to myself from him. I guess it’s what I would’ve liked him to say to me but now I realise that even that isn’t needed because I am ok.

Social media plays a large part in many of our lives now, how much do you choose to share online? Do you share the positive and the negative, or do you still struggle (like many of us) to find that correct balance? 

Before I was someone who only wanted to highlight the positive because I believe in focusing on solutions. However, recently I have decided to show the negative but how I follow through to my solutions in hopes that people may use tools I am suggesting and it will help them live a better life mentally.

What do you do as a form of self-care when you start to notice that your mental health isn’t as balanced as you would like? 

First, I look at my environment and whether I am allowing the wrong people or putting myself into the wrong situations and I withdraw. As someone who likes to please sometimes, it is hard to say no but my mental health has to come first.

I have also learned how to do things alone like go to restaurants or the cinema things I would never have done before because I cared too much that people would judge me.

Lastly, I do activities that I know will release endorphins like exercise or eating chocolate because sometimes the little things really help.

How important has it been for you to be open and honest about your mental health with your children?  

My son now understands that I am human too and I make mistakes. However, in my household I say it’s like a job so he still understands that there are certain behaviours that are still not acceptable to a boss. I also try and show him that it is not an excuse, it is something to survive from and grow from. Mental Health will only stop us if we allow it.

For a parent or guardian who is currently experiencing their own mental health problem at the minute or have come out the other side, what advice would you have for them in order to be able to be open with their own children? 

To be honest, we give children a false perception of an adult and then when they go into the real world, sometimes they are not prepared. I try to make sure my son knows what the world is really like because otherwise he could fall into the trap I fell into and feel not good enough.

Finally, if anyone would like to find out any more information about you and the work you do, where can they go to do so? 

@LatoyaLovl on all the socials and www.latoyalovell.co.uk

Thank you so much to Nicola from FPComms for facilitating this interview with the lovely Latoya and thank you again to Latoya Lovell for taking the time out of her day to answer my questions.