#write31days – How to Ace Your Job Interview

I’ve been in some form of Human Resources or Staffing for 17 years.  That is not fun to say.  Don’t get me wrong, I like what I do; I just can’t believe I’ve actually been doing it for that long.  When you do one thing for that long, you eventually learn a thing or two.  One thing I have learned and that I feel obligated to pass on to the world is that you don’t ace an interview with what you say.  You ace an interview with what you do.

How to Ace Your Job Interview Real Advice from a Staffing Pro

 

1.  Be a little nervous – I have interviewed thousands of people for jobs.  I don’t care how long you’ve been working or how confident you are in your abilities.  An interview is ALWAYS a pressure situation and if you’re not nervous, you either don’t care or you’re arrogant.  No one wants to hire who someone who doesn’t care and no one wants to work with someone who is arrogant.  And if you are SUPER nervous, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it. A good recruiter will know how to settle you in.

2.  Arrive in the sweet spot – Don’t be late and don’t be super early.  The sweet spot for arriving to your interview is 5-12 minutes before the interview.  If you commit the most egregious sin of actually showing up late, you better have a good reason and you better apologize profusely.  And don’t even think of blaming your GPS.  No one buys that.  Interesting aside, I once had someone apologize for being 4 minutes late to their interview because they had a wardrobe malfunction.  Their words, not mine.  They did not elaborate on the particulars of the wardrobe malfunction and I didn’t ask.

3.  Talk enough and never too much – An interviewers job is to get you to talk about you.  Do some practice interviewing with a friend. Seriously, do it.  I know it sounds embarrassing and ridiculous, but it’s better to make mistakes in practice than when it is show time.  When you’re answering questions, watch for cues from your interviewer.  If they have to ask a lot of follow up questions, you may not be talking enough.  If their eyes are glazing over and they are staring blankly at you, you have probably gone on a bit too long.  If the interviewer finally says, “Let me interrupt you for a moment…” don’t continue to talk over him or her.  Yes, that has happened to me.

4.  Prepare some specific stories – In the days prior to your interview, write down and study examples of your best work.  The greatest obstacle you have overcome, the angriest customer you won over, the enormous project you pulled together.  Write them down and study them.  Because I guarantee you, if you don’t, you will sit across from that interviewer and draw a blank.  And it will be awkward for everyone.  If you plan ahead, hopefully you will avoid that .  If you do find yourself in the midst of that arm pit sweat inducing moment, smile and say, “That’s a great question. I’d like to give it some thought.  Can we come back to it?”.  Trust me, that candor is way better than the stream of “uhhh, ummm, this one time…   I did this thing… it was awesome…” that generally follows when a candidate can’t think of a great answer quickly.

5.  Do paperwork happily – Ask the person who schedules your interview how long the interview process is and whether there will be paperwork or testing that you will be completing on the day of your interview.  Then, when it is time to do that testing or paperwork, don’t say something like, “I have to do ALL of this?”  or “You REALLY need ALL of this information?”.  The answer is yes or we wouldn’t be asking you to do it. Really.  And, similarly, when you are completing an application, never, ever, ever, ever write or type “see resume” in the work history section of the application.  We know you have a resume.  You still have to fill out the application completely.  Why?  The application is a legal document, the resume is a piece of paper that may or may not have any basis in reality.

6.  Pay attention to small instructions – We have bells in our office.  When I leave a candidate so that they can fill out paperwork, I ask that they ring the bell when they are done.  I get it that no one wants to ring a bell.  I understand that it is awkward.  But, the bell does two things.  It alerts me when a candidate is done with their paperwork and it prevents the candidate from having to walk awkwardly through cubicles to find me to let me know they are done or have a question.  When I tell someone to ring the bell and they don’t ring it, it tells me that they either a.) didn’t listen to me, or, b.) deliberately ignored my instructions.  Neither one of those is a good thing.

7.  Never do any of these things in your interview:

  • Chew gum
  • Bring in your giant coffee
  • Eat your breakfast
  • Apologize for eating your breakfast and then continue to eat your breakfast
  • Yawn
  • Take a call on your cell phone
  • Apologize for your phone ringing during the interview and then proceed to answer your phone and have a conversation
  • Wear sweatpants, see through clothing or any clothing that allows your undergarments to be seen in any way.  Ever.
  • Swear
  • Overshare the crazy drama in your life
  • Bring your children
  • Ask to use the rest room and then never come back
  • Ask your interviewer if they can help you get a good lawyer

In case you are wondering, yes, all of those have happened to me.

 

#write31days – What I Like About Blogging

I’m not a thrill seeker.  I like to read and take pictures and make stuff.  I like to hang out with my kids and husband and watch tv and maybe go to the zoo now and then.  I don’t need to go on a roller coaster or jump out of a plane or cross the street when the sign is telling me “DON’T WALK” even if there aren’t any cars coming.  For miles.

With that in mind, there are some things about blogging that do give me a thrill.

The Thrills of Blogging

1.  The “Your Stats are Booming” icon in WordPress  –  This is not one I get often, so when I see those three graduated bars lit up in orange in the corner of my screen I get a rush of adrenaline.

2.  Getting a New Follower – A follower on Pinterest, Twitter, or the holy grail, a new follower on Bloglovin or WordPress is my favorite thing.  Not only is someone looking at something I wrote, they liked it enough to ask for more.  Conversely, when I lose a follower, I have a small pity party for myself. The pity party usually has some Nancy Kerrigan style “WHY?  WHY?” happening and also some “How DARE you?” and sometimes a little, “You’ll be sorry!  You don’t know what you’re missing!”.   There is a reason there is no “so and so unfollowed you” notification.  I think it is probably a legal reason.

3.  Getting an Awesome Comment – Someone wrote a comment to me once that said, “You are my Pinterest idol”. Best comment ever!  Thanks again, Sarah at Happy Go Thankful!  But I also love some of the spam comments I get.  Like this:

“A megastars beauty depend so much on muscular tone. Its sometimes really vierd.”  Totally vierd. You’re so right.

“One can enjoy pony rides and some other sea sports. Fortunately, there are companies like Galt Toys that specialize in them.  He spends hours climbing ladders and swinging upside down. I had to separate my first two cockatiels when the male became aggressive to the female in the first few weeks I bought them.  Put the idea of giving this interesting Christmas gift to grandpa aside, and think. Attitude – do you have a positive mental attitude?”  I don’t know what’s going on in the first 4 sentences, but I’m down with the positive mental attitude.

“And maybe later, I’ll stop for a burger so I can rap with my old classmates!  If well kept, a cockatiel can live up to fifteen years or more.
Then once the lines are drawn in the sand the competitors and the customers know what to expect.”  I think I could write a coffee table book of funny spam comments.  I would totally read that.

So if you want to make this kids day, click on one of those social media icons (or all of them!) and follow along!  Or drop a funny non-spam comment!

#write31days – Never Hit Snooze Again

I have a problem.  I’ve always been a person who hits the snooze button in the morning.  Usually three times a morning.  Lately, I’ve been hitting the snooze button and not even waking up to do it.  Like, I would wake up and realize it was 27 minutes after the alarm was set for.  I didn’t consciously hit the button.  It’s kind of a problem when you are responsible for feeding 3 animals and 2 humans AND dressing those two humans and getting them to school.

Once upon a time, a million years ago, I read that you can train yourself to stop the snooze button insanity.  It’s sort of derived from the  Pavlov’s dog experiments.  At least that’s what the article said.  I’m not really sure how you make the leap from salivating dogs to not hitting the snooze alarm, but that didn’t stop me from trying the method described in the article.

Train Yourself to Never Hit Snooze Again

It is a very simple process.  Set aside about 30 minutes of quiet time.  Just once. This isn’t something you have to do for several days in a row.  I don’t have the time or commitment skills for anything like that.  Just thirty minutes one Sunday afternoon.  Put on that cartoon you never let your kids watch if you have to.  Set your alarm clock for five minutes ahead.  Lie down in your bed and close your eyes.  Don’t bring your phone.  Leave the tv off.  You don’t have to fall asleep, but if you do, the alarm will hopefully wake you anyway.  When the alarm goes off, stand up, out of the bed and turn the alarm off.  Walk away for a second.  Walk back to the alarm and set if for another five minutes ahead.  Repeat the whole process a total of five times.

I know it sounds ludicrous.  I also know that I tried it and it worked.  When I woke up this morning, I was sitting up and my feet were hitting the floor before I even reached for the alarm clock.

The funny story and probably further proof that this does work is that when I was doing the practice runs last night and the alarm kept going off, my fat cat would come running in the room and meowing at me.  The first time it went off, I thought he was just being annoying, but as the alarm went off 4 more times in 30 minutes and he kept running into the room and meowing at me urgently, I realized that he was responding to the sound of the alarm.  The first thing I do in the morning after the alarm goes off is feed the animals.  So, he’s clearly programmed to eat when he ears that alarm.  And, now I’m programmed to get out of bed when I hear it.

 

#write31days – Headless Costume How To

My favorite costumes for Halloween are homemade, unique and free.  My daughters costume for a Halloween party this past week ticked all three of those boxes.  She was a Headless Hippie.  I had seen a bunch of cute headless costumes on Pinterest and I thought they looked complicated, but, in fact, it was pretty simple.  And totally free.  Win win.

Headless Costume

Here’s what you need to make the costume:

  • Backpack
  • Tall and sturdy piece of cardboad or other lightweight rectangle that will stand up in the back pack
  • 3 wire hangers
  • duct tape
  • long (like adult size) button up coat, like lab coat, or long flowy skirt with elastic waist
  • Turtle neck or button up shirt
  • gloves
  • plastic bags (like those from the supermarket) or other stuff to use as stuffing
  • hot glue gun (maybe)

Step 1.  Attach a wire hanger to your cardboard to form a torso-like structure

How to Make a Headless Costume Step1

The cardboard I used is an old presentation board of my daughters. It fit the bill, although it could have been taller.  I’ll tell you how I rectified that coming up.  That’s my snazzy duct tape attaching the hanger to the cardboard.  Make sure you bend the hook of the hanger down so you can’t see it when you put the torsos shirt on.

Step 2:  Put a shirt on your torso.  I used an adult size turtleneck, but a button down would work, too.  You want something that will hide the hole in the neck a little and will also be an obvious visual cue that, “Hey, this is where a head is supposed to be!”

 

How to Make a Headless Costume Step2

Step 3:  Give you torso some life.  Stuff the arms and some of the shoulders with some plastic grocery bags.  This will fill out the arms a bit, but you want them to be a little maneuverable, too.  This is where the other two wire hangers come.  Untwist the wire hangers so they are long wires and then fold them in half so that they are sort of arms length and then feed them into each of the arms.  I ended up sticking mine to the cardboard with some duct tape, to keep them in place.

Step 4:  I’ve seen two schools of thought on what the arms should do.  Some people have the two arms holding the head by, like, the ear area and others had one hand holding the head by the hair.  That’s what I was going for.  I wanted a hippie theme, so I wanted one hand giving a peace sign and the other holding the head by the hair.  Positioning the arms takes creativity and trial and error. I used a bunch of duct tape to hold the one hand up so that it could give the peace sign.

Torso Forming

Step 5:  Stuff your torso into the back pack.  I had to add a pillow to the bottom of my back pack so that the torso stood high enough over my daughter’s head to look realistic.  The stuffing of the torso into the back pack is kind of a pain because it is all just a little unwieldy.  I ended up wrapping duct tape around everything to make sure nothing fell out.  Also, think before you stuff.  There is a proper way for the front of your torso to be facing. I put the torso in the wrong way at first, so the front of the torso was facing backwards.  You’ll either do it right the first time and have no idea what I’m talking about, or you’ll mess it up like I did and totally get what I just said.

Step 6:  Stuff each glove with another grocery bag.  I then hot glued my glove fingers into a peace sign.

Step 7:  Add your next layers.  My next layers were the floral shirt and the long black skirt.  If you’re going with the button down long jacket, then you don’t really need a third layer.  Let me explain.  My floral shirt didn’t cover the back pack, so I needed the flowy skirt to complete the ensemble, but also to cover the back pack.

Step 8:  Put the back pack on.  I then buttoned the floral shirt so that my daughters head was sticking out around the middle of the shirt.  Then I added the flowy skirt, up to and OVER my daughters arms AND the back pack so that they were all hidden.  If you’re going with the lab coat look, you’ll put that on now, too.

Ok that was way harder to explain than it was to actually do.  It was so worth the effort. In total it took about an hour to make and I really did have all of that stuff in the house.  The skirt is mine from the summer and the floral shirt is a long story, but it’s my husbands.  The reactions she got at the Halloween party were priceless!  She had two people ask to take her picture for the paper.  It was definitely a hit!

Headless Costume 3

#write31days – Halloween Party

We had a little Halloween Party for my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop at our house.  It was super cute and it gave me an appropriate outlet for some of the Halloween fun I’ve found on Pinterest.

I made some healthy Halloween snacks.  Creepy Apple Smiles that I found here:
Apple Smiles

These are apple slices, some yogurt covered raisins and chocolate chips stuck together with peanut butter.  I have to say, these were delicious. I love the combo of chocolate, apples and peanut butter.

Apple Smiles Close Up

 

And we also had Witches Brooms, which I found here:

Witches Broom Snack

I served plain old water, but in some goofy cups.  It made for a festive feast:

Halloween Snacks

I hot glued some googly eyes onto the cups.

We needed an actual activity to make this party/meeting complete, so I decided on Halloween Themed headbands.  Last year we made Trick or Treat bags, so I wanted to try something new.  Here are the supplies:

Halloween Head Bands

I have no idea what I ended up spending on all of this, but, keep in mind it’s supplies for 5 girls.  Basically, I let the girls pick out their favorite pieces of Halloween creepiness and we hot glued them to the headbands.  We used A LOT of hot glue.  Those little black rats in the back were labeled as “stretchy” and they had some type of something on them that resisted the hot glue.  We eventually forced them into submission though by drowning and/or melting them with hot glue.  Sadly, I didn’t get any great closeups of the completed head bands that didn’t include easily identifiable faces, so I’m not going to include those.

The girls did get creative with some of the supplies though:

Eyes in the Back of Their Heads

The girls had a lot of fun. I did too!  What fun activities do you have planned for Halloween?

 

#write31days – Setting Myself Free

I’m releasing myself from the yoke that has been my chosen topic of organizing for 30 days for the #write31days challenge.  It was a bad idea almost from the beginning and it made me hate writing.  It made feel like a failure  because I was not doing a great job at organizing and it made me publish some pretty crappy posts.  However!  I am going to stick to the commitment of writing everyday for the duration of the 31 days.  It just will not be about organization.

I got the courage to quit when I stumbled upon a post on Inspired By Charm where Michael Wurm describes his failed attempt at writing for 31 days about happiness as a “hot mess”.  I love the irony of writing about happiness putting you so far over the edge that you have to quit halfway through.  There is probably a lot of irony in the fact that I am quitting writing about organizing, because, truly, I chose the topic on an absolute whim and really didn’t think it through.  An organized person would have picked a topic for the challenge that begins on 10/1, sometime prior to 10/1.

Instead of organizing today, I grabbed my camera and walked across the street to the historical cemetery that is across the street.  If I told you who used to be buried there, you would know quickly where I live within about 500 yards.  I’ll give you a hint.  He’s a Patriot.  Here are the gorgeous shots that somehow made it into make camera. I wish I could tell you that I figured out some trick to get this beauty, but, I think I just have to give all the credit to Mother Nature for the spectacular fall day we had today:

Beautiful Fall Tree with Sky

Seriously.  What is prettier than that?  All I can tell you is that I had the camera on the setting where it figures out to what to do by itself (I can’t even remember what that is called.  This pic was definitely divine intervention) and I stood underneath the tree and shot directly up.  Third most beautiful thing I have created.

A Walk in The Fall WoodsThis one is a more accurate representation of my photography skills.  It’s pretty, alright, but not quite right and I don’t know enough about photography to know why it’s not quite right.  I can tell you that I had to crop out two of those light balls that are supposedly ghosts.  And I was in a cemetery.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Fall Leaves and Cozy Boots

Those are my boots that I love.  Except for when they make my calves sweat.  Which is all the time.  But I still love them.

PS, I would consider it only an honor if someone chose to use these pics in some way.  Please let me know if you do a printable or some other creative something.  Just give me a shout out if you do!

#write31days – Organize the Office

Today I’m supposed to be an organizing my office.  I don’t have an office!  Ha!  If I did have one, I would want it to look like this:

Fall Home Tour!

via

Or this:

lights over the workspace

via

Or this:

Kendra Scott's Austin SOCO Office #KendraScott

via

three offices that make me want to work

#write31days – Organize Your Budget

The goal today was to organize the car, but, here in the Northeast, the weather has been nasty.  Which means, I’m taking today as one of the off days in the Organized Home in 30 Days Challenge.

Instead, I’m going to talk about how our family (tries to) organize our finances.  We have a very simple and customizable budget in an spreadsheet.

A Simple Budget

 

 

Income
Monthly Weekly
Net Pay 1 $4,000.00 $923.08
Net Pay 2 $3,000.00 $692.31
Total $7,555.00 $1,743.46
Expenses
Monthly Weekly
Mortgage 2,500.00 576.92
Auto Insurance 120.00 27.69
Auto Loan 415.00 95.77
Cell Phone 135.00 31.15
Cable 200.00 46.15
Electric 150.00 34.62
Water & Sewer 50.00 11.54
Gas for Cars 125.00 28.85
OIl 450.00 103.85
Groceries/Household Consumer 800.00 184.62
Spending 1,261.00 291.00
Credit Cards 600.00 138.46
Gym 49.00 11.31
Kids Stuff 700.00 161.54
Total 7,555.00 1,743.46

I created my budget in a Google drive spreadsheet and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to properly share that at the moment.  It looks much prettier in Google drive.  But, you get the gist.  Everything coming in and everything is going is accounted for.  And, by the way, in case your curious, I completed fabricated the numbers above.

Having a budget and knowing where your money *should* be going is awesome.  At least in theory. I created that document and thought, $291 a week in spending money (hypothetically), I’m rich!  But somehow every month we were dipping a little into our savings.  But, I have a budget.  How could this be happening.  There’s no way we were spending more than $291 a week in incidental stuff, right?  RIGHT??

Wrong.  I soon realized their is another important step in budgeting and that is accountability.

Budget Accountability

After several months of raiding our savings, I did a deep dive on our checking account.  I went through every penny we spent in a month and figured out why we weren’t sticking to the budget.  After I painstakingly went through every expenditure for a month, I realized that our online banking has a handy export tool that will send all of your data to a handy dandy spreadsheet that can be sorted very easily.  If your on-line banking doesn’t have this, consider seriously changing banks.  It’s an amazing tool.  I’m now able to see every penny we are spending and what we’re spending it on, sorted, totaled and even in a pie chart if I want.  I started to realize that we were spending (hold on to your hat) $400 a month on lunches. Just the adults!  The kids buy their lunches at school and that is another chunk of money that we weren’t accounting for.  This is the Accountability step.  Create your budget and then figure out why you’re not sticking to it so you can fix it for next month.

I’ve officially missed a day of writing for #write31days by 25 minutes.  Actually, I started writing well before midnight, so I suppose that still counts, right?

This is a post I’m going to hit publish on, but it still needs work.  If you happen to be reading this, check back for updates during the weekend!

 

 

 

 

#write31days – Organize Your Keepsakes

This one is tough for me.  I’m not really a keepsake person.  I guess I’m not very sentimental.  But, I get it.  Mementos of moments in time that are important.  I’ve kept some of my kids baby clothes.  I still have my high school gymnastics team leotard tucked in a drawer.  I have a shirt that is in tatters that I bought when I lived in Salamanca, Spain for 6 weeks.  I kept a scrap of a towel that my husband cut up for me years and years ago when I wasn’t feeling well.  He cut the towel up and wet a piece of it and microwaved it.  I can’t find it now, but I kept it for a LONG time.

There are many things in the house that remind me of people and places.  But, mostly, I find myself thinking about how to make the present moment memorable.  I don’t live too far in the future and I definitely don’t live in the past.  I just do my best to make a happy life for my family.  I don’t always succeed; I don’t even always do my best, but my my intentions are always good.

#write31days – Organize Home Decor

I was going to skip today’s task in the Organized Home in 30 Days challenge.  The task was to organize your extra home decor and organizing stuff.  I don’t really have a lot of decor stuff that I’m not actually using, so I thought it would be a bore.  I told myself to do it for 15 minutes and see where I ended up.  Here’s where I ended up after 15 minutes of digging up decor stuff that was stashed randomly through out the house:

Home Decor Surplus

I didn’t even make it through the whole house and I found all of that.  There is some really awesome stuff in there!

Candle Holders

I love these colorful tea light holders.  I bought those literally more than a dozen years ago when we bought our first house. I think a couple of them have passed on to the great mosaic of smashed glass in the sky, sadly.  The crystal (ish?) ones are cool, too, but I have no idea where those came from.

Vases

Uh, hello, 7 vases?  Stashed away?  Bring me some cut flowers, stat!

Glass Bowl

 

This is a stunner.  This is my mom’s.  She gave it to me.  I hope she doesn’t read this and ask for it back.  Also, the fabric underneath it is half of a pair of curtains that I forgot I had.  I don’t really have a spot for the curtains, but I think for photos like this one it will be a great back drop.  If I iron it.

Frames

This is two of about 47 frames that I found.  I think I put a bunch of frames away at Christmas time and then never took them back out.  What?  Who does that?

Fabric 2Fabric 1

 

I love these two fabrics.  The bottom one is another thing that has been with me since my first home. I see pillows in the future.

Wood

 

Remember this wood from my 70’s inspired art work?  I still have a ton of it.

Clock

This clock is getting hung pronto.  I’ve had this forever.  I love it.  It’s very me.

So, the only part of the actual organization I’ve done is the gathering of like things and a tiny bit of purging.  But basically I have a huge pile of stuff that needs a home now.  Woof.