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  1. What to avoid during the job interview

    March 4, 2015 by Jenna

    When a potential employer likes your CV and requests an interview it can feel like you are on top of the world. The next step is to then prepare yourself for the interview. While there are many ways to make a lasting impression, I would like to look at what to avoid doing during an interview:

    1. Don’t freeze up – While we can all be nervous at times, freezing up is not how you want to be remembered during the interview.

    To overcome this you need to practice, practice, practice. Practice your interview questions and the scenarios you think you will encounter during the interview. This is a great way to deal with nerves and build confidence in your manner and responses. It is important to have a positive mindset on how the interview will go. If you believe you will fail the interview, chances are you will. It’s okay to admit that you’re nervous, but it is important to believe that you will perform well.  How do you do this?  Practice, Practice, Practice.

    2. Don’t dominate – Confidence is essential to take into an interview, however, dominating an interview with your personal monologue is not what a potential employer is looking for. Remember the employer is making time to see you to learn specific information about you in order to assess your suitability for the role. If you are not allowing them to ask questions or cut them off mid-sentence, you will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

    Practice listening skills as well as answering questions prior to the interview. Active listening can provide you with valuable insight about the company and the role you are applying for. It shows your genuine interest in the company/potential role and helps you tailor your responses to the interview questions.

    3. Don’t be sloppy – Find out the company’s dress code standard prior to the interview. But no matter how casual the dress code – don’t be a slob. It should go without saying that whatever you wear should be clean, pressed and neat. It’s also better to be a little over-dressed rather than under-dressed. When someone comes to an interview looking like he or she has just rolled out of bed, it communicates lack of respect for the interviewer, the job and the company.

    4. Don’t throw anybody under a bus – There may be circumstances that have caused you to move on from your previous role and how you address these in an interview is very important. Describing your previous boss as ‘incompetent’ or saying that you worked with the ‘colleague from hell,’ doesn’t help you to shine as a potential candidate. Saying negative things about your past work life in an interview only gives the impression that you’re both a complainer and indiscreet.  Neither quality puts you on the ‘let’s hire’ list.

    If you have had a negative experience it may be better to portray it by commenting on what you have learned through the experience, and what you are hoping for in a future opportunity.

    5. Don’t focus more on perks than the job – When you are tailoring your questions for the job interview, focus what will be required of you in the role and where it might lead in the future. Questions such as; how many weeks can I take for annual leave, how many sick days can I have per year or what sort of computer do I get, may give the impression that you are only interested in the role for the perks. The employer, on the other hand is looking to understand what you can provide to the company and whether you will complement their culture.

    6. Don’t be opinion-free – To get the role doesn’t mean you need to be a ‘yes man’. If you need to ask more questions for clarification don’t be afraid to do so. It is important to show initiative and to have opinions as long as you can back them up with valid reasons, especially if you are applying for a leadership role.

     7. Don’t stretch the truth – Just don’t, it will come back to haunt you.

    8. Don’t be clueless about the company – In the age of the internet, there is no excuse for going into an interview not having a solid foundation of knowledge about the company. If you don’t care enough to find out about the company, it’s natural for the interviewer to assume you won’t be that interested in finding out how to do the job well, either.

    What are your experiences with interview dos and don’ts? What feedback would you provide to a candidate going in for the interview process?


  2. Writing a self-evaluation: Are you promoting yourself in the best light?

    November 25, 2014 by Jenna

    Self-evaluations are often used as part of a review process, either at the end of the probation period or as part of a performance review. They include providing a personal review of your workplace experiences and accomplishments to date. Many people find this process nerve racking. However, if you take the time to plan your evaluation properly it can be an enlightening and valuable experience for both you and your boss.

    Why do we write self-evaluations?

    Staff are asked to write self-evaluations for two main reasons; Firstly so that managers can get a staff members of perspective about working in the company or team; Secondly it gives you the opportunity to reflect on your experience in the role, your accomplishments and as well as areas for improvement.

    Where we fall short and how it should be viewed

    Errors can occur when individuals assume they need to answer the questions in the way they think their managers would like to see their review. They may also fail to ask for clarification on a question or subject or fail to elaborate when there is the opportunity.

    Sometimes the thought process of writing the review is a scarier process than actually writing it yourself and we can often put it off until the last minute.

    Self-evaluations should be a great opportunity to showcase your skills and display your best qualities as an employee.

    Take out some time in your busy schedule to block out distractions and take down points on what you have accomplished over this time period, you may surprise yourself!

    Benefits of writing a self-evaluation

    • Having your own voice: This is your opportunity to give an honest reflection of the work you have done for the company so far and outline how well you have accomplished your objectives.
    • Creating awareness: While management may provide you with assignments and tasks, they may not be fully aware of what other projects and tasks you complete regularly and what you are contributing to the company. It also increases your own awareness of what you are capable of and can build self-confidence.
    • Promoting your key skill sets: This is an opportunity to provide examples of when you had to use those skills to achieve outcomes. Perhaps even provide a list with dates to present with the document.
    • An chance to ask questions and seek feedback: Some potential questions you could ask might be: 1) Where do you see my role progressing? 2) Is there an opportunity for further training or mentoring in a particular field? 3) Are there any future goals or targets that I need to be aware of? 4) Do you see me taking on further responsibilities within my role?

     You also have to opportunity to provide feedback on your current working environment (what works and what doesn’t work). Perhaps you can even provide suggestions based on improvements within your work environment, show initiative.

    • Reflect on your personal development needs: While this can seem scary at first, establishing weaknesses can also open up the opportunity to discuss how management can best assist you to work on areas of improvement and how to further develop in that area you may be struggling in.
    • Building a closer bond between you and your manager/supervisor: By writing a self-evaluation, you can open up barriers and allow communication to flow more freely. Working collaboratively to achieve future goals and outcomes together as a team.

    Writing your self-evaluation

    Take the written evaluation seriously and consider the following:

    • Presentation – Check your spelling and grammar (as well as formatting – make sure the information flows well). If it appears like the work has been added in haste or looks rough around the edges, management may think you don’t take this process seriously.
    • Be specific when you can – include dates, examples, who you reported to (for validation) etc.
    • If there were problems or difficult situations, discuss the issue and provide feedback on possible solutions so that mistakes do not repeat themselves. Take responsibility and show your genuine interest in self improvement.
    • Re-establish your understanding of the role and how it ties to the goals and vision of your company/team
    • Highlight achievements, but make them relevant and try not to come across as arrogant or boastful.

    What feedback have you received before regarding the self-evaluation? What have you learned from writing your own evaluations?




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