Tag Archives: interviews

Career Stories: Coffee Beans & Good Vibes

This entry was posted in Careers advice, Interviews and tagged , on by Jeannine.

nomad_coffee_jobisjobIt’s early, 9am, but Jordi has been here in the coffee shop since 7:30 prepping; cleaning grinders, bottling his cold brew coffee and sampling the beans he’s roasted. Nomad Coffee is small; no tables, just the wooden bar and a few stools. The walls are lined with empty bottles that designer Red Pappa has created for his cold brew, with coffee grinders, beans, mugs and in the centre of it all, a poster describing the flavours of the bean. 

In the corner is Jordi’s bicycle and a green bench, and apart from the construction noise outside the window, Vampire Weekend streams through the speakers and he offers me an espresso, “Try this,” he says. “It’s from a sample of beans I’ve roasted.” I take a sip and it’s clean and syrupy and all the things you hope for in a coffee.

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How to sell your most valuable asset: yourself

This entry was posted in Articles, Job interviews and tagged , , on by plabram.

In interviews and other workplace situations, we’re often put in a situation where we’re required to convince others of the benefits we can bring to the company. Even if you’re not going for a sales position, it’s an important part of your general skills set to be able to present things in their best light. And what could be of more value than your own skills and competencies?

How to sell (yourself)

Interview photo
1. Know your product. You might think, quite reasonably, that you already know yourself quite well, but in reality our levels of self-awareness are rarely perfect. Before going into an interview, you should have an excellent idea of a wide range of skills and weaknesses you possess. Be thorough and specific, and an expert in yourself. If you need a mirror, try asking a trusted friend or family member for advice. Think about criticism and compliments you’ve been given over the years and skills and training you have under your belt. You might even consider taking a personality test to explore what you have to offer.

list_okSay: “I have over six years’ experience in product management, especially within startups and medium-sized businesses whose sales are mostly internet-based.”
list_wrongDo not say: “Erm… I’m good at organising things, I think.”

2. Respect the people you’re selling to. If you go into an interview with the mindset that your interviewers are idiots who don’t know what’s truly important in running a business, you’re unlikely to get very far. You don’t need to treat them with reverence, but you do need to treat your interviewers with respect. Try to think of five positive things about the company and (if you have any idea of what they’re like) your interviewers before you head in to fill you with subconscious positive vibes.

list_okSay: “Good question. Allow me to address that for you.”
list_wrongDon’t say: “Well, obviously no-one would ever do that.”

3. Tell the truth. “Presenting things in their best light” is a completely different ball game from lying. Unless you’re an exceptional liar, tell the truth and you’ll come across as more genuine and trustworthy – vital qualities for a future employee. And even exceptional liars get found out sometimes. You don’t have to be completely upfront, however – think of ways in which you can stick to the most appealing part of the story.

list_okSay: “I used to have lots of great ideas, but was aware that I sometimes struggled to convey to the team what they meant. I asked them for feedback and to help me practise explaining myself, and they taught me some simple tricks which mean I’m now a lot better at getting my point across.”
list_wrongDon’t say: “My greatest weakness is that I’m just such a huge perfectionist. And I work far too hard.”


4. People buy from people they like. This adage is often repeated in the world of sales, and it goes double for an interview. Employees are very unlikely to hire someone they don’t feel they would enjoy working with on a daily basis. You need to make them feel comfortable, so they are willing to take a risk. Smile lots, be positive, listen and don’t be afraid to pay the odd compliment.

list_okSay: “I do understand. The business seems to have a strong vision for the future.”
list_wrongDo not say: “Yes, the office is kind of small.”

5. Understand your buyer’s motivations. What do your interviewers need? What are they looking for? What one thing would make all their workplace troubles disappear? Jot down some ideas before your interview, and think about how you can address these needs for them. Remember that an interview is all about your potential employers and their needs, and very little about you and what you want (that part comes later, when you decide whether or not to accept the offer ;)).

list_okSay: “I can hit the ground running and am great at putting ideas into action.”
list_wrongDo not say: “I want a career where I have lots of opportunities to try different things and can do some really interesting work.”


6. Close the sale (without being pushy). At the end of an interview, don’t hesitate to ask your interviewers if there’s any final doubts they have which you can address for them. Putting too much pressure on will rarely win results, however – try to be patient when waiting for that phone call the next week.

list_okDo say: “Do you have any doubts or worries about my application, or do you feel as though there’s anything missing?” (you will then, of course, clarify these doubts and stress that you’re always willing to learn new things)
list_wrongDo not say: “Ten days have passed and I would really like an answer from you.” (it’s unfortunate, but it won’t get you anywhere).

How to ask for help with your job hunt

This entry was posted in Articles, CV writing, Job interviews and tagged , , , , , , on by plabram.

How to ask for helpHas your job hunt ground to a halt? It might be time to change of strategy. Swallowing your pride and asking others for help is rarely easy, and even less so when you’re out of work and lacking confidence. When we enlist the help of others, however, we amplify our own efforts to the extent that the sky really is the limit (especially for those looking for a job in aviation ;) ). That said, it’s important to make it easy for others to help you. Here’s some ideas of what to ask for.

Asking for help

list_okAdvertise your abilities

It’s no co-incidence that LinkedIn has become so popular – the power of the six degrees is well documented. Let your friends and family, as well as professional contacts (ex-colleagues, for example) know you’re looking for work. In the age of social networking, this is as easy as putting up a Facebook status which indicates you are looking for work. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you could put a link up to that, too, so that your social contacts have a copy of your online CV on-hand. Make sure (as always) that you focus on what you have to offer an employer, rather than simply posting a desperate “Can’t take it anymore! Need a job!”-style plea for help.
Top tip: Change your Facebook status to something like this – “The job hunt begins! Here’s a link to my LinkedIn profile, just in case anyone knows anyone looking for qualified sales professionals :)”

list_okAsk for help with your CV

The more pairs of eyes you have on CVs, covering letters and application forms, the less likely you are to make critical errors which could cost you a job opportunity. Meaning the more people you can get to take a look, the better. Help others to help you by making your CV as presentable as you possibly can first, and remember your manners – invite those who offer to help to a coffee (or equivalent) in return. Your friends will be flattered to be asked.
Top tip: Try the following line: “I know you’re great at landing jobs. Can I treat you to a coffee sometime and get you to look over my CV?”

list_okAsk for help with interview practice

If you’re often invited back to the interview stage but rarely given a job, the problem could be that you’re giving off the wrong signals in an interview. Ask someone you know to give you a practice interview (you could even prepare a list of questions for them to ask you to make it easier for them) and give you some feedback. Make sure you ask the right person – someone who will give you honest criticism, but also help build up your confidence.
Top tip: Ask this: “I’m really worried about my interview next week, and you always come across as being so confident. Would you mind going through a few questions with me?”

list_okLook for moral support

Being unemployed is not easy, and you can quickly become overwhelmed. Sharing your concerns can be half the battle. Ask friends and contacts for practical advice like ideas for how to structure your day, how to improve your skill set or how to get out of the house if you’re uncomfortable talking about your feelings.
Top tip: Try this for an opener: “I really feel as though my search for work is not moving forwards. Would you mind being a sounding board?”

Above all, remember that (however difficult it may be to swallow your pride) people really do love to help – as long as you make it relatively easy for them to do so. Make your requests specific, and never ask for anything you wouldn’t be happy for someone else to ask for from you, but do ask. We can’t all be good at everything, but we can address our shortcomings by knowing when and where to seek help.