Archive | March, 2016

5 Starters for Interview Small Talk

March 29, 2016

1 Comment

5 -Small Talk- StartersAs we’ve discussed before, small talk is a critical part of getting a job, but it doesn’t come as easy for some as for others. If you are someone who needs a bit of help in this category, here are some suggestions on how to get your small talk groove on and keep it going. Anything but the weather…right?!

  1. Comment on your commute to the interview. This could include the traffic or a local event. Just make sure that your comment is positive. “The traffic in was moving pretty well today!” or “I think the city is preparing for this weekend’s marathon.” or “It was such a quick and easy ride for me.”
  2. Ask the interviewer a question. Posing a question to someone almost always makes them feel like you are interested in them. “How’s your day going?” or “IS today a busy day for you?” or “How many people do you manage as the technical director?” Asking a question also shows you are confident in your choices.
  3. Comment on the atmosphere in the office or building. An office space always gives off a certain type of vibe. If you feel something positive from this place, mention it. Or if you’re generally interested in the function or design elements of the space, ask a question. The interviewer will see that you are imagining yourself in this space.
  4. Be enthusiastic, but not pushy. The interviewer is gauging your interest in the position by both your verbal and non-verbal communication, especially during the first 5 minutes together. Make sure your body language is appropriate and responsive. Use good eye contact, don’t fidget or cross your arms, smile when appropriate, and nod when it makes sense. If you are disappointed or frustrated by something, try not to led on.
  5. Stay positive. Keep the tone light and happy during that pre-interview small talk. The conversation will get serious soon. At the end of your interview, it’s likely there will be some closure around the initial small talk conversation. Try to remember something from that portion of your discussion and bring it back into your final thoughts with the interviewer. For example, “Good luck on your busy day!” or “Enjoy your plans with your family this weekend.” Close the loop!

Image via Canva.

Continue reading...

To Job Search Like a CEO, Think Like a CEO

March 24, 2016


69183214_46c081a122_zWhen you think of a CEO, you don’t often envision a rule-follower. Liz Ryan of Forbes will tell you it takes breaking all the rules to have the mind-set of a CEO, especially when looking for a job! First, let’s look at the characteristics of a CEO that you must tap into.

CEOs often act similarly to entrepreneurs. To do so, they must have the following characteristics. And you must build the same ones if you want to bypass the typical paths to job hunting and think out of the box for that next career move.

  1. CONFIDENCE. If you just came from the top position at a huge, mega-successful company, confidence is oozing out of your pores. While you search for your job, channel that CEO kind of confidence. Pick up the phone with gusto, e-mail like there’s not a chance you will get rejected, and speak to people with the certainty that you are exactly who they want on their team.
  2. RISK TAKING. This can be exactly what an employer wants to see in their employees. They are also looking to hire someone that can decipher when it is and isn’t a good time to take a risk. During your job hunt, think of how you can take a risk. What if you picked up the phone and called a professional you look up? What if you applied for a job that was slightly out of your reach? What if your cover letter or resume was completely out of the box? You’ve got nothing to lose…go for it!
  3. RESOURCEFULNESS. CEOs are thrifty and you should get resourceful about your job search. Have you ever been to a local chamber of commerce meeting? Have you ever joined a book club? Do all your friends know you are job hunting? Does your social network know? Put yourself out there, and don’t let any connection go untouched.
  4. COMMUNICATION. Successful CEOs and job hunters both need to excel in this category. Employers and influencers will be paying attention to your every move as you communicate with them through interviews, e-mails, resumes, cover letters, phone calls, thank you notes, and follow up. Maintain a professional and open demeanor at all times.

Image via Scott Feldstein/Flickr. 

Continue reading...

How to Manage Your Cell Phone at Work

March 21, 2016


3774825311_5b33c64daa_zWe’ve moved into a new chapter in our work world; one that includes personal devices for most, if not everyone. These personal devices will likely morph into different entities over the next 100 years, but for now we are living with the smart phone. When you are new to an organization, there are some things you should be aware of, research, and consider as it relates to their communications:

  1. Does your company have a cell phone policy? Many are instilling these because of difficulties with managing cell phone use and the productivity in the workplace. You may want to know if the  policy is the same for everyone or different based on title.
  2. What is the company’s unwritten culture around cell phone use? Observe this or even ask others who work there about their experience with this. Does your potential manager have his/her own perspective on cell phone usage? Do you see employees on their phones?
  3. Do you know your own limits with the cellphone? Can you keep from checking it all day? Are there calls or people you can’t ignore? Have you told your family to limit calling/texting you while you are working?
  4. Are there other ways you can be reached that can substitute for the cell phone? Devise the best strategy for how your family should contact you and how your coworkers should contact you. Work landline? Work cell? Personal phone? Work e-mail? Personal email? Set boundaries on when you can be contacted. Smartphones make it easy for us to get wrapped up in work life during personal time and personal life during work time.

As a new employee, or potential employee, remember that although a company may respect your use of smartphones to some extent, it is still up to you to respect the work space and time of your employer. An organization’s biggest fear is that the cell phone will get in the way of your productivity. Even if your employer has a liberal cell phone policy, they will be appreciative of your effort to use it discreetly and respectfully.

Image via Jeff Edmond/Flickr. 

Continue reading...

A Conflict Resolution Strategy For Life and Work

March 17, 2016


17150746928_976705aa17_zMost of the interview questions you will be posed with have some behavioral component to them. In other words, the interviewer is trying to find out how you have acted in your past, which may predict how you will act in the future. How you handle conflict in the workplace is one of the primary areas that employers are looking to understand.

In last week’s posting, we touched on how to create the best answer when asked how you deal with conflict resolution. But here’s a strategy that will not only help you look back at your past conflicts at work and break down how you dealt with them, but it will also give you a model for how to move forward post conflict and arrive at a positive result. It’s called STAR.  Here’s how it works:

  • Situation/Task (ST) – Give an accurate description of the situation showing the specifics of both sides, from your point of view and from your manager’s point of view.
  • Approach/Action (A) – Describe how you went about handling things respectfully and why you approached the situation in that way. Both the “how” and the “why” are incredibly important!
  • Resolution/Results (R) – Explain the results, both negative and positive. Make sure to explain what you would do differently today, and where you may have gone wrong. Learning from your mistakes and taking feedback (and acting on it!) and great skills to show off here.

The key point of all of this is your understanding of this statement: conflict is common in the workplace and you are well-versed in resolving it. The interviewer is looking for a confident (not arrogant) response that illustrates a mature and responsible employee.

As mentioned in last week’s post, be sure to focus your response on the resolution. This will guide the interviewer to the most important part of your behavior—how you resolved the conflict, plus how you grew and changed for the better.

Image via 

Continue reading...

How to Handle the “Conflict” Interview Question

March 13, 2016

1 Comment


dwight gify“How have you handled conflict with your boss in the past?”

We’re all humans. And humans don’t alway get along with each other 100% of the time. Conflict is part of life, both at home with family and at work with colleagues and managers. So it’s not uncommon to have a conflict with your boss at some point. Keep this truth in mind when you get asked this perplexing interview question.

The interviewer is simply looking for insight as to how you handle conflict. They want an idea of how you will fit into their culture and how you will solve problems. They may also want to get a peek into whether or not they feel you are a team player.

All interview questions are important but this one in particularly weighty. It could easily be used to weed you out of the interview process, especially if your answer illustrates too much of an extreme. Here are some suggestions on how to handle this question:

  1. Make sure your answer is well-thought out. This is one of those questions you need to prepare for. Don’t stall and have to search your mind for an example in the heat of the moment.
  2. Choose an example from your work history, but choose an example that wasn’t too difficult to resolve.
  3. Give a short recap (emphasis on short!) of the conflict itself. Practicing ahead of time will help keep this neat and tidy.
  4. Spend a majority of the time focusing on the resolution of this conflict and what you did afterward to move things forward and reconnect with your boss.
  5. Share any relevant steps your boss took to rectify the situation. This could show that they were willing to meet you half way.
  6. Think of using an example where you are still in contact with this former boss, and have a good relationship to this day.
  7. Do not give any more detail than necessary about your boss and their current whereabouts. Never divulge anything negative about him/her.
  8. Don’t place the blame on your boss. Again, this question is focusing on conflict resolution and how you can respectfully find a mutually beneficial solution to a problem.

If you’re not sure where to even begin, appropriate examples are those that have moved the organization and/or your work relationship forward in a positive light. For example, you might talk about:

  • a miscommunication you had with your manager, the result of that, and then how you altered your process to prevent it from happening again
  • a time when you overstepped your boundaries, the negative and positive effects, and how you apologized and grew from the experience
  • a time when you should have spoken up but didn’t, the negative results, and then how you changed your behaviors and bettered your relationship with your boss
Continue reading...

Spectrum Brands Takes on the Zika Virus

March 10, 2016

1 Comment

Spectrum - ZikaWe’re taking on the Zika virus with a new formula in 60 of our products. In connection with the CDC, we’ve donated over 55,000 units of Cutter Insect Repellent and Repel to areas and people most in need, including pregnant women in the USVI.

If you’re celebrating spring break in the Caribbean or Latin America, grab a travel-sized version of Cutter or Repel to take along with you. Learn more about how our Cutter Insect Repellent and Repel products can keep you safe from Zika virus in this video segment from Fox 2 News.

Continue reading...

How to Prepare Yourself for Interview Small Talk

March 9, 2016



We spend 95% of our time perfecting the job search tools—resume, cover letter, thank you note, e-mails, even our wardrobe—but we often leave some of those “little things,” like interview small talk, as an afterthought. It will come naturally, right?

Unfortunately, not everyone is in their most comfortable state during an interview…so the small talk may be stunted at best. Even more unfortunately—small talk is one of the key indicators as to what impression you’ll leave on your interviewers. It may even come down to the first 12 words you speak before the questions even begin, according to Resurgo Trust. Those moments between the reception area and the interview room may make or break an interview.

If this is the case, all job searchers need to be in a relaxed and positive mindset just before their interview. That’s the only way that small talk will roll off your tongue. Forcing yourself into this mindset on command is the key. How do you relax your mind and body before a big event?

Regular Routine: Try to keep your routine as normal as possible on the day of your interview. Give yourself extra time to do those things you like to do in the morning whether that be exercising, watching news on TV, walking the dog, etc.

Diet: Don’t vary from what you would typically eat, but be aware of eating anything that can affect your stomach. The last thing you want is to be running to the restroom during an interview.

Just Breathe:
 When our body tenses up, we tend to stop breathing in a normal fashion. Take a few minutes while you are waiting for the interview to begin, and do some deep breathing exercises. Breathe in through your nose, hold it for a count of five, then breathe out through your mouth. Do this five to seven times and it should reduce your heart rate.

Self-Talk: It’s not just for therapy! You can do this on a daily basis to help you through any situation. Talk to yourself in a positive manner and remind yourself of all the things you’ve done and that you are good at, why you should be in this interview, and why you will get this job.

Music: Listen to your favorite music while getting ready and on your way to the interview. Music can remind you of your own personal power and joy.

Before your next big interview, review this list and remind yourself how worthy you are! Remember that the person on the other side of the desk is human, just like you, and you’ll be ready to let the small talk roll.

Image via Martin Abegglen/Flickr.

Continue reading...

How to Best Research: Before the Application & Interview

March 4, 2016


17914262632_e298be386a_zYou’ve found two companies that have job openings and sound like a perfect fit, plus another organization that you’ve heard is a top place to work and is looking for someone with your expertise. Perfect! What’s the next step? Apply, right? Wrong.

Before applying, it’s imperative that you do your research. Not only will you discover information that will help you in the application and interview, this information can help you make a wise decision about the longevity of the organization.

Here are some ways to go about researching the companies where you’ll be applying:

The First Step: Company Websites
Peruse every page of the company’s website from the careers section to individual brand websites to the blog to the sales pages. Most companies will provide you with information you should know and can use: their recent clients, products, services, announcement, employee bios, and latest media coverage. This is all revealing information you can potentially weave into the cover letter and interview.

Dig Deeper: Industry Journals
These publications can really give you some details about what’s going on in the industry and how it may affect your potential new employer. If you can see the big picture and apply it in your cover letter, interview, or small talk, the impression you’re going to make will far surpass the other candidates. You could also scan the journal for the company name and/or executives from the company to get a perspective on the major players and the hot-button issues.

Do Your Homework: Glassdoor
This popular website shares very interesting information to consider when researching a potential company. You can browse real salaries, reviews from former employees, company updates, interview experiences, and of course, current job openings. The salary information could help you consider what the industry pays and what you can request as a result of the demand and your experience.

Get Connected: LinkedIn
Preview the employees at the company and double check if you may know some of them, or if you may be connected to them through someone else. You can find out out through your close connections if they’ve heard anything about the company or the open position, or you could ask them to connect you with someone who does. If you’ve landed an interview, you could also review the employees who are interviewing you and take note of his or her background jobs and history, which may help for small talk during an interview.

Researching is an important part of the application and interview process, and should not be taken lightly. It’s time consuming, but it’s time well spent. Not only will it help you land the interview, but it can help you land the job–and accept the offer confidently thanks to your sleuthing.

Photo credit: Damien Zaleski/Unsplash

Continue reading...

The Worst Job Interview Question and How to Answer It

March 2, 2016


13422683845_af962141b7_zOut of the entire list of difficult interview questions, one of the hardest ones to answer is this: “What’s your greatest weakness?” At first thought, we all want to say, “I don’t have one!” But don’t be tempted. Answering as if you have no weaknesses indicates even bigger issues.

So what’s the right answer?
There is definitely a correct way to answer this question, but it’s different for everyone. Although we all have weaknesses, you need to craft your answer very carefully so that your weakness ends up working for you. So it’s a weakness…but it’s not. The interviewer is observing three things when you respond to this question:

  1. How are you handling your response both verbally and nonverbally (fidgeting, nervous, confident, scared)?
  2. What type of weakness did you list, and how will this weakness affect the office or team if you are hired?
  3. What’s your plan going forward in life and in work to combat or work with this weakness? How have you learned to deal with it?

Examples of “Greatest Weaknesses”
Here are a few examples of how you can turn a weakness into a positive force in the workplace.

  • If you are very detail-oriented, this can be a fault… but in a workplace, it is a highly sought-after skill when it comes to tasks like editing or catching financial errors.
  • If you are overly analytical, this can also be a hinderance… but it could be a good skill in a team setting when you’re solving problems for clients. You could be the team member who is able to identify problems and devise solutions that others can’t see.
  • If you ask a lot of questions, although it can be considered an annoyance, your value as a team member could be very high. Playing devil’s advocate at meetings or in brainstorming sessions is something a service-oriented organization could benefit from.

Preparation means everything when answering this question. Don’t be the interviewee who begins to sweat when they hear this question. Think back to your history of experiences in the work world and how your weaknesses worked for you. Think about the nature of the organization you are interviewing with and choose the weakness that best fits their culture.

Photo credit:

Continue reading...