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Be the King of the Hill – 6 tips to help you interview like a champion!

You know the thing about life, at least what I’ve found so far, is that nothing goes according to plan. That’s most especially true when looking at the job market. When I arrived back in South Africa, having earned my degree, from a pretty prestigious place I might add, I had thought that I would be able to get a job relatively easily. So far I’ve had very few opportunities to even interview. That’s been my problem, once I’ve gotten into an interview I have no problems impressing and getting a job. Getting my foot in the door with my CV has been another kettle of fish entirely.

But back to the topic at hand. Whilst I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I do know how to impress at an interview. How do I know that I’m good at interviews? Because I’ve gotten into 2 highly specialised universities. 1 of which has similar acceptance rates to Oxford. I’ve also gotten a job where, quite frankly, they didn’t want someone of my race. It may not be the most impressive resume but let me share my knowledge. Try it out, if it doesn’t work for you then comment the crap out of this page!

Tip #1 Know thy company!

The one thing that all interviewers will appreciate, is a basic knowledge of the company you’re applying to. There’s no need to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all their systems, personnel and strategies. You will however need something more than their name and product. Here are the questions you should ask. What does the company do? What are their morals? Aims? Goals? Environment? Achievements? Figure out how you will fit into the company and that’s it. Everything you should know about a company before you go to an interview.

You may be thinking… What can knowing some more hurt? I think it’s a two-way street. On the one hand, you do have the ability to seem more impressive and there are many interviewers who really appreciate a solid knowledge of the company. Anything about a company that does not directly influence your possible job is not important information. They’re hiring a Marketing Director not a product manager, don’t comment on how you can fix the assembly line! You also run the risk of looking desperate. It’s the same principle as never picking up your phone on the first ring. If you answer on the first ring then clearly you’re not all that busy.

Play it safe! If you want to ask anything about a company in an interview then go ahead. I’ve never met an interviewer who scoffed at me for being eager and curious.

Tip #2 Dress to impress? Don’t take it too literally!

There is one idea that I consistently see on interviewing tip pages. They always say you need to dress to impress. Wear a suit and tie and always look like you’ve already spent a million bucks. The other option is, dress for the job you want to have.

Honestly, if I was the interviewer and someone came in for, let’s say, a Marketing Assistant job. And they were dressed ready for a Marketing Director position. My first thought would inevitably be wow this person looks really formal. Formal is great, but it doesn’t have personality. When was the last time you went up to a stranger in a suit and said hey buddy howzit hanging! Build a relationship with your interviewer and you’re one step closer to getting the job.

In the end you need to be comfortable. Remember at an interview the only thing you’re selling is yourself. Tip 2 is dress as yourself on your absolute best day. Brush your teeth, trim your nose hairs, comb your eyelashes – whatever you need to do to look your best. Torn jeans and a T-shirt are not always appropriate but a good pair of jeans and a collared shirt is something that will just about always be acceptable.If your first instinct is to wear a suit then go ahead, as long as you feel natural and relaxed in it. Be daring – add a blazer! Your goal is to wear something that make you look and feel great!

Tip #3 Be PUNCTUAL!

The ABSOLUTE worst thing you can do before an interview begins is be late for it. There is simply no excuse short of your wife (or husband – sorry this article is just easier to write as a man) was in a car accident and they’ve got minutes to live. There’s really not much to say, you should arrive at your interview at least 15 minutes early and be waiting at the interviewers convenience. It’s about respect, show an appropriate amount of it and you’ll always come off better.

If for some reason there is no way to circumvent being late. Call ahead and make sure that your interviewer knows that you will be arriving late due to extenuating circumstances. Make 100% certain that they know!

Tip #4 It’s all in the handshake

Like a handshake, an interview is about how you present yourself. A handshake should never be an attempt to hurt, to domineer. A good handshake is solid without being painful. A good handshake involves your whole body.

Okay, admittedly the last one sounds like a weird concept but think of it like this. Imagine you were shaking the Rock’s – yes the wrestler – hand. Now if he stood over you those crazy eyes of his and flexed a peck while shaking your hand, I’m 99.99% certain that you’d be a little intimidated! If however he used the cheesy movie smile and shook hands without breaking your personal space – you’d be pretty chuffed you were meeting the Rock and would fondly remember the experience forever. A good handshake is about more than just your hands.

If you were to take my extended metaphor in the interview context. An interview is about more than your words. It should be neutral. Don’t try to be aggressive or dominate the exchange. Treat the interview as a meeting of equals. Answer questions when asked and ask whatever you want to know. You need to portray yourself in the best possible light. Smile broadly – keep it appropriate, shoulders and back straight – lean ever so slightly forward, open body position – don’t cross hands or legs, use your body – gesture to show enthusiasm (within reason, swinging your arms around like a gorilla is really not going to help) and finally maintain eye contact – don’t be creepy just look someone in the eye when you’re talking to them.

BY THE WAY a good handshake really does go a long way!

Tip #5 For the love of all things open your ears and listen!

Interviews are about communication. Plain and simple… You need to communicate your ideas, your personality, your work ethic, your knowledge, your skills… You need to be able to showcase yourself in the best possible light as quickly as possible. In the end you need to leave a positive impression! There is nothing on Earth as annoying as someone not listening to you while you are trying to talk!

Tip #5 is basically about talking when it’s your turn. You need to talk succinctly and address all the major issues.Remember the interview is an exchange. If your interviewer isn’t talking then you can put in some extra effort. Tell them how your skills are especially suited to the job requirements.

This is a bit of a risky technique, but it is one that works pretty consistently for me. Largely because I love to tell stories. If you’re feeling brave or, like me, are good at telling stories. Then you can use anecdotes to showcase your experience. Re-tell difficult situations and how you solved them or how perhaps how in hindsight you could have solved it better. Using anecdotes is riskier than simply asking questions because stories are subjective. Stories are enjoyed, by the listener, for different aspects. So not only do you have to quickly and accurately relay the details of your escapades, but you also need to consider what the interviewer is listening for and also what would reflect positively on your experience.

Tip#6 A little attitude goes a long way

This is the last tip I can give to you potential interviewees. Honestly if you’ve learnt nothing else, remember this one. Attitude is the best thing you can take into your interview, provided you use it in small doses. Show confidence in your abilities. You can write a solid business plan, or set up a budget. Even a little bit of ego has value in an interview. Why should you get the job? Because you are the best person for the job.

Keep calm and relaxed. Remember these tips and good luck! I hope these 6 tips really help you out in the near future! With the job market being as difficult as it is worldwide, we’ll need all the help we can get.

Until next time,

Ciao,

Desh

Late or Early: Make sure to arrive at the right time

I hate being late.

Throughout my entire life I can think of all the time that I’ve wasted in my life waiting for someone else. The end result?

I hate being late.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to meet someone on-time especially if they’re doing you a favour! So today I’m interviewing at a university where I hope to study next year. For those of you that are interested I am trying to get into a BA(HONS) in Brand Leadership which I’m hoping to study at VEGA.

I asked my twitter followers exactly when you should arrive for an interview. The response from my friend Bob was this “@DeshMoodliar Early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.” I have to say, I completely agree. I don’t think people should ever be late for meetings. On top of that you should always arrive first, it’s just a basic sign of respect.

Today I arrived half an hour early. Which, admittedly, may have been a little too respectful. Overall though I always thinks it’s better to seem excited and over eager than blasé or inconsiderate. So if ever in doubt, always err on the side of caution. Aim to be at a meeting at least 15 minutes before. That way if there are any accidents or delays you should still be able to arrive on-time.

Ciao

Desh

P.S. Since I have now finished my interview, I can say, quite happily, that I have been accepted. So woo hooo!

 

ZOMB-O-CALYPSE! A guide to surviving the undead!

Did you know that zombies have become the monster of the 21st century? 

The rotting, bloody, dismembered undead have wormed their way back into our hearts, inspiring both terror and some serious excitement. Well, at least the gamers are excited! Statistically speaking, there is nothing impossible in the universe. So the question becomes, how long will you survive in zombieland? 

A University of Ottawa professor is planning to answer this question in a book of formulations called the “Mathematical Modelling of Zombies“. Whilst survival is probably the most crucial calculation, this book promises to be a real cracker. 

Lucky for you, I’ve decided that I like the human race after all and I’m going help you beat the math.

Now let’s for one second assume that you’re not a paranoid shut in, with a basement full of rations, weapons and medical supplies. If you are, then great! Surviving the living dead has just become a heck of lot easier! But for the normal light dwelling humanoids there are a couple of steps you should know. For the record you really don’t want to be alone for any of this, yet the same rules apply regardless. Maintaining a small group of maximum 5 people will give you mobility and some extra hands when you need them. Last thing, this guide is only meant to inspire your creativity. By all means, use as much of it as you can should the dead start rising, just remember to think of your own situation at every junction. 

Step 1: Survival

The infection is going to spread, fast. One second nothing and then all of a sudden it’s going to be breaking down your door and trying to eat your brains. Nice image, right? So Step 1 is SURVIVAL. Yes that sounds obvious but hear me out first. When news has started to spread of the dead rising, people are going to do what they inevitably do best, PANIC. This is probably the most dangerous time of the zombocalypse. You can’t tell the difference between friends and enemies, and the whole world has dropped or is dropping into the dark ages. You need to focus on surviving the first wave of the infected. 

Oops_I_spilled_water_all_over_my_homework.JPG

Save all the water you can, use every bottle, container and bucket you can find and fill them to the brim with tap water. Remember, you can live without food for up to 70 days but without water you won’t last more than 3. 

Next you need to make a melee weapon of some sort, something with medium to long range. A spear is the perfect way to go, all you need is some duct tape, a kitchen knife and anything you can use as a shaft (e.g. chair leg). Add a counterbalance for weight and blunt striking. 

Save all the food you have and move it to the safest room, make sure to keep it all in backpacks (no plastic shopping bags or anything with wheels – you need quick and quiet). Your safe room will be the one with the least exposure to the outside, a clear entrance, an emergency exit and also be easily barricaded. A room on the second floor should work well, so long as you can escape out the window/through the door should the need arise. 

Barricade all doors and windows, make sure that windows are completely covered. You need to be isolated. Listen to whatever news broadcasts and stay informed of the situation for as long as possible. Do NOT head to refugee camps! They’re like a petri-dish for the infected. Your only job during the infection wave is to be quiet, hunker down and survive.

Step 2: Recon

Characterise your zombie

If you’re like me, you can think on the fly. Assess the situation, and react. Instinctively. On the other hand you may need to consider your options carefully and that’s what this step is all about. Accurately assessing the situation. 

  • How much food have you got? 
  • How much water is left? (Drink the open containers first) 
  • How long will you be able to hold up? 
  • What am I dealing with?
  • What is the situation outside? 

The outcome of these questions determines when you need to start scouting. Make sure you have enough remaining supplies for at least 2-3 days before you start to recon. There may be an opportunity to move safely and you don’t want to have to forage for supplies on the move. Not being able to get to return to your hideout is also a real possibility so make sure you leave a bag of supplies where you can grab them on the run.  

There are a couple things you need to consider before doing your recon. The first thing is protection. You need to protect your body however you can; remember even the smallest scratch could turn you into a walking corpse. Start by finding cardboard/magazines or any kind of hard flexible material, using some duct tape create gauntlets and greaves that protect your forearms and calves. Robust pillows and blankets will also work at a pinch. You’ll also need to protect your neck and collarbone. A thick jacket should help with this; keep in mind that you need to be agile. Make sure no material covers and impairs movement of your joints (namely knees, elbows and shoulders). Also make sure to wear high ankle hiking boots as these will prevent strains and also deter any crawlers. Strap an emergency bottle of water to your thigh, grab your spear and you’re ready to go.

Now for the tricky part. Going outside.

You need to be cautious, stay hidden and be quiet. You need to find out what attracts the zombies and therefore what you can use to distract them. Pick a target zombie and test all of their senses namely: sight, sound, smell, touch (reactivity to light/dark, cold/warm environments), taste. The last one might be a little pointless! Isolate your target zombie and test its senses however you see fit, throwing stones and standing upwind. You also need to gauge movement speed and reasoning power, this will be a little more dangerous as you need to get you test zombie to try chasing you onto a roof or around a wall. Lastly you need to find a quick killing/stunning method on the zombie. Start with blunt end of your spear, break joints and test blows to the head, test the knife and various stabs. If the zombie does not die, use the knife and test severing the spinal cord with a stab at the base of the skull. Hopefully something will work! Test your findings on other zombies if you get the chance, just to confirm your assumptions. 

Once you have a defined your zombie you can progress to the next step. If you get the chance however, forage for surplus food, weapons and survival gear. By foraging from a central base you can collect items and then analyse their usefulness in secure place. When scavenging avoid tight areas, keep in mind car and household alarms, keep an escape route in mind as well as a hiding spot away from your base. Do not break windows or doors when you can avoid it, use prying tools and take your time entering buildings. Too much haste will get you killed.

On to….

Step 3: Plan and Action

Out of all the steps this one involves the most independent thought. You need to consider what you know of the zombies. How do they react? When and how can you move safely? Can they be distracted? What would happen if you were to use a vehicle? The main purpose of Step 3 is to find a safe haven, where you can survive for as long as possible. 

In my case, my family owns a game farm where we keep herbivorous wild animals, predominantly buck. The farm is highly isolated, surrounded by a high wire fence, and is built on stilts to provide a large vantage point. Whilst there are many weaknesses, the isolation will serve as the best defence. There is also plenty of arable land to plant fast growing crops and with plenty of animals to shoot there is plenty of food. Although I should learn to hunt with a bow and arrow. There are also 2 windmills for bringing up borehole water as well as several large storage tanks. This is an ideal location with sufficient resources and space to manoeuvre. 

In order to get to your haven there are certain things to consider. You’ll need an off-road worthy vehicle fast and sturdy. Supplies to last for as long as possible, food mostly, but also anything that can be planted and cultivated. Fruit and vegetables as well as as any canned goods as you can carry. The higher the protein the better, remember to stay hydrated! You also need to consider weaponry both melee and firearms. A crossbow or compound bow would also be extremely valuable – remember not to use arrows on the undead and then again whilst hunting for food. It would be a terrible waste if you died because you forgot to clean your arrows properly. Don’t rely on fixed electricity or generators – save any fuel you can gather as this could save your life – instead use fire and move in daylight.

 

So in Step 3 this is what you’re going to need to plan for:

  • Isolation_Well_Done.PNGISOLATION (This is the big one)
  • Food (Grow, Hunt, Forage)
  • Good vantage point
  • Accessible water
  • Security
  • Weapons (Melee, Firearms, Stealth)
  • Escape route
  • Room to expand

If you understand anything about the zombocalypse it should be this: Survival depends on isolation and stealth. No matter how much high power ammunition you have or your skills with weapons, they will eventually run out. If your undead are extremely contagious and violent like rage victims (Danny Boyle – 28 Days Later…), weapons may be useful but in the end you’ll be attracting them like smokers to a pulmonologist. i.e. Not inevitable but highly likely. Stay hidden, consider your surroundings and be safe. Kill what you have to and wound the rest (enough to move safely). 

In the end you need to follow through on your plan and survive as long as possible. Everything after this point is up to you. Good luck, hopefully I’ll see you when we start to rebuild!
 
 
Ciao
 
Desh

Travel properly you dummies!

Whilst this is not something new it’s been coming to my attention that an increasing number of people are travelling each and every year. 

Great! Fantastic! Awesome!

Enjoy the world and the plethora of cultural experiences it holds. Open your mind to new experiences and learn, grow as a human being and as an individual. But please, please for the love of all things sweet and sour learn how to travel before you do. 

This may seem like a strange concept, learning about how to learn from your future experience. In truth, it’s no different than learning good study techniques and habits. 

What’s the point? 

Lets be blunt, brusque, crude, direct, curt even a little matter of fact. I know, some liberal use of the thesaurus there. Travel is pretty damn expensive. In my case, since I live in South Africa, exorbitantly so. There are so many expenses to consider when you’re about to travel that sometimes its disheartening just thinking about them all. Is all it worth it?

Without a doubt in my mind!

I wouldn’t trade my experiences in Iceland, Switzerland, Egypt, Australia, Prague, Berlin, Rome and the US of A, to name but a few, for anything in the world. Every trip was unique and special and you can experience it too! At least if you follow a few simple ideas that I truly believe are indispensable.

First of all for you new travellers, don’t ever, and I mean ever, go on a Contiki tour. In theory they are fantastic trips which should promise an all round experience of the world. In my experience, they are nothing more than over-scheduled and incredibly rushed travesty masquerading as travel. 

Let me give you an example. In 2012, after completing my degree, I decided to travel around Europe before returning home to South Africa. My first stop was Berlin, an incredibly lively city full of rich cultural experiences and some of the greatest clubs in the world. Whilst in the hostel bar,  (I stayed at the Wombats Hostel and I most definitely recommend it to anyone travelling through Berlin) I was warming up for a night on the town, I met a group of Australian students who were part of a Europe-wide Contiki. After a couple drinks and some chatting, meeting people in hostels is interesting, fun and easy (and not at all like the movie Hostel), I looked at their schedule for the trip. They were to spend 2 nights in Berlin, 1 night in Prague, 3 nights in Austria and then 2 nights in Milan. Now any way you look at it these are some of the most phenomenal cities in the world, and this group could only experience 1 night in Prague. I spent 10 days in Prague alone, and I have to say, it’s one of the most beautiful, friendly and amazing places I have ever been to, and I cannot wait to return. Granted I may be a bit prejudiced by my own experience, which was rubbish, but the Contiki Tours that I have seen are, in my opinion, a waste of time and money. That being said, if you are not a confident person who is comfortable with travelling, and you want to travel alone (two very conflicting ideals – but it happens), Contiki is probably the best way for you. 

For the rest of you beautiful future travelites. Lets get onto the real business! It sounds obvious but learn a little about where you’re going before you get there. It’s a simple rule but you’d be surprised how few people actually don’t really know much about the cities they visit. Conversely some people study so hard that nothing is a surprise anymore. 

LEARN A LITTLE!

Lets look at Rome. Beautiful city, capital of Italy, lots of people very touristy, lasagne and ice cream, Colosseum! and by extension Gladiators!, Piazza’s and Fountains, The Vatican, tonnes of art and, last but by no means least, some very pretty girls. That’s it, everything you really need to know about Rome, as a city, before visiting. Sure you can learn some names and write down some places you’d like to visit, but don’t be one of those people that schedules every last minute. Take the time to really experience Rome and learn at every opportunity, don’t just cross them off a checklist. 

Get Lost!

Getting lost may sound a little strange but I do this religiously when I go to a new city, so just hear me out. Check into your hostel or hotel, grab the nearest map of the city, ask the desk clerk or concierge to mark the hostel and the nearest public transport links and walk out the front door. Simple, right? The beauty of this is that you don’t have to know where you’re going, in fact that’s kind of the point. Follow any road that looks interesting and walk into any shop that catches your eye. Walk until you feel tired, take a breather and just enjoy the ambiance of wherever you may be at the time. I sat outside Prague Castle listening to a local orchestra band for over an hour, which even today is one of my fondest memories of the beautiful city. Keep walking until you’re dead tired and find your way back to the hostel, make sure to head back before 9:00PM as lots of public transport may shut down by then, depending on the city you are visiting.

“Watch the Fireworks, Don’t take pictures of them.”

I don’t know whether people, in general, can reach a point where they appreciate the things around them. Appreciation is really what we wish to achieve by travelling. An appreciation of beautiful arts and culture, of the theatre and even a movie, of a civilisation and their bizarre rights. Appreciation, I feel is something that really can’t be seen through the lens of a camera. Take a picture for the memory, but look and appreciate things first. 

Si Parlo Italiano!

What I find is usually the most daunting thing about travelling in a new country is the accessibility and ease of communication for english speakers. Whilst this may be a little closed minded, expecting to get around with my native language, it’s actually a pretty fair assumption. English is one of the most widely spoken languages and it is also the most universally understood. That being said, whats the point of travelling without learning and improving. I suggest that every traveller should at least learn some basic phrases for use in whatever country they are travelling to. Especially if that country does not contain many english speakers.

Build a buddy

The last thing that every traveller needs is a good friend with whom to share your adventures. Ideally you really don’t want to travel with more than one or two people. Basically it’s too hard to coordinate several people, everything takes longer from breakfast to walking to museums. This is really a negotiable, just be prepared for the consequences of whomever you choose, personally I think three people is the best. Now, keep in mind that these people may be with you for the entire length of your journey and, more than that they’ll probably be sharing everything short of your jocks and toothbrush. That’s what it’s like to be on the road with a friend. So when looking for a travel buddy find someone who is friendly, outgoing, adventurous and pleasant to be around. Anyone stuffy, obsessive is probably not going to be a great partner for travelling. Better yet why don’t you make all new friends on the road. I won’t go into the highs and lows of making new friends, just remember that its easier than you think and who knows you may meet someone who truly changes you life.

That’s all for the moment, so until next time.

 

Ciao

Desh

 

Marina Chetner

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