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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

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The Next Step!

I think I knew it was time for a change when I started to come home from work exhausted. Lifeless and drained of energy I would eat, shower and sleep. For nearly 4 months, that was the extent of my private life. Granted it doesn’t seem a particularly long period. For me however, 4 months is basically a lifetime. I’m not typically the type of person who enjoys dragging my feet from place to place. When I feel that something needs to change, I get moving pretty quick. Once I’ve taken the first step.

That’s always the hardest part. Stepping out into the unknown and starting to make a change. They’re both pretty scary concepts. On the one hand you know that something needs to be rectified. In reality, change is damn scary! How do you do it? Where do you start? How long will it take? There are infinite unknown variables.

To those of you the have read The Game by Neil Strauss, once accredited as the worlds best PUA (Pick Up Artist), you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. To those of you that haven’t read The Game don’t worry, but it really is a great read!

The hesitation before taking the first step is known as AA (Approach Anxiety). PUA’s deal with AA in only one way. They ignore it completely! You’ve basically got 3 seconds to stop thinking and take the plunge. Remove all hesitation, say yes and go for it! Essentially AA comes from overthinking a situation. She’s too pretty I don’t have a chance. What do I say? She’s not my type. There’s too many people there. etc, etc, etc….

Stop creating imaginary barriers! You don’t know anything – until you do!

Whilst I completely believe in taking the plunge into a conversation. I don’t believe that everything in life works the same way. You can’t just plunge into a new career or study law without any aptitude. There is, however, much to be said about ignoring the AA. Do not be afraid of the future. It’s time to get excited!

The question that may be tickling your brain tendrils, is how do I ignore my own mind? Well most people can’t, to be honest. If they could, the world would be a far less inhibited place. Our actions are inevitably subject to our thoughts and perceptions.  So to those people who cannot shut our their subconscious. Make considered decisions. Create a plan and work out the steps for successful implementation. With enough planning there’s no need to fear the unknown. (This may sound like a contradiction – but there is a difference between thinking and overthinking)

In anycase I’ve decided on my next step. If you read my last post (Education?) you’ll know that I was deciding how to move forward it my life. I’ve decided that I need to go back to school part time. Unfortunately I’ve missed the university application dates for this year. Now I have to apply for the 2015 season. As for the course, I’ve decided to study for an LLB depending on what options I have for subjects.

So that’s that. I have taken the next step to my future. I hope that you can do the same!

Ciao

Desh

Education?

Recently, I have been giving my future more thought than usual. I’m really not the sort of person to worry about the past or the future but then I’ll have to ponder it all sometime. So I’ve been thinking. What are my potential career paths? Likely income? When should I move into my own place? But no matter how much time I spend looking at the possibilities I cannot seem to make up my mind. There’s too much fluid in the mix. Too many “What ifs?”. If I was a naval navigator I’d be trying to map a course without knowing the currents or the weather. Dangerous business.

At least I know what I don’t want.

I don’t want to end up in an office environment. A 3×3 box that defines my daily life. I don’t want to come home every day feeling tired and dissatisfied that, in the end, I didn’t really change anything. Perhaps thats a selfish ideal, and these grandiose ideas are misplaced. Maybe that’s where I will end up regardless of my wishes.

But, I have the need to get out and create something, anything! Actually, to tell the truth, I know exactly what I want to create. I want to have my own music festival. A place for friends and family to get together and have a good time. Nothing overly extravagant, just some great music, good company and some real potential for a good time. Day to day, I want to be a planner. Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Prom nights…. I don’t really mind what the events is so long as people will go and have a great time.

You would think that knowing where I wanted to end up would be enough to decide on how to get there. Honestly the choices worry me. On the one hand, I could take on an internship and hopefully get enough experience to get hired by an events company. On the other hand theres the education route, and I’m always in favour of improving myself. But what would I study and what would be the consequences. I’ve been working in a commercial position for about 5 months now and every job offer and interview I’ve received in this time has been sales based. Which, for the record, is not at all where I want to end up.

So what everything boils down to is whether or not to go back to school?

There is no real reason that I can’t do both so for the moment that’s what I’m planning to do. In the meantime I’ll be giving the whole predicament some fresh thought, and I’ll throw out my ideas when I get them.

Ciao,

Desh

Honouring the Father of a Nation: Nelson Mandela’s Legacy

How does one prepare for the end of an era? 

Rolihlahla ‘Nelson’ Mandela is a man that cannot be described in simple words. The love that the people of South Africa have for this man is undeniable, it is unyielding, it is beyond powerful adverbs and fancy adjectives. And yet. We, as South Africans, are preparing for the loss of our Tata (father). We are trying to find the words to describe the role Madiba played in our lives, because in our hearts we believe that soon we will not have the chance. 

So I pose the question, how do you prepare for the death of someone like Madiba? What did the Indians do before the death of Ghandi? What did the Americans do before the loss of George Washington? What will the English do when Queen Elizabeth II has retired to her deathbed? 

I don’t really have an answer. At least not one that will quench the driving need to find something, anything that might lessen the loss. I don’t know if, as an individual, I can help or change the present. I probably can’t, or rather I definitely can’t. This future in inevitable and I am on the roller coaster of history speeding towards the next corner.

What do we have to build on?

(Photo Credit: telegraph.co.uk)The future of South Africa, as a democracy, has dimmed over the past 10 years. Once shining brightly at the end of Apartheid and the victory at the Rugby World Cup 1995, the future now looks to be slipping away rapidly. Corruption, crime and poverty are driving this country into the ground and I fear what will come next. Not because it is unknown, but because I  no longer have much faith in South Africa as a country. 

Instead of pushing towards a unified future, as was Mandela’s dream, the Rainbow Nation has turned into the opposite. A country that still divides itself along the lines of race. Whilst there is no longer an ‘Apartheid’ to speak of, the African National Congress (ANC) has, to paraphrase the Dark Knight, “lived long enough to become the villain”. Succinctly put, the situation is now worse than ever. 

Here are just a couple headlines from local papers highlighting the situation in South Africa:

In truth, I do not know whether South Africa has the ability to develop into a real nation once again. Since the end of Apartheid, many people in this country have developed the belief that they are entitled to whatever they want. Apartheid is over now we can have what the white people had! This sense of entitlement has, for a very large part, been responsible for the collapse of the economy around us. As not only can people of all races get the positions they want, they no longer have to work for it.

Here is a quick little dialogue detailing how the South African government acts with regards to education and employment.

  • Government: “Hello my boy, now how are you doing in school?”
  • Citizen: “Eish mister minister, the school work is too hard, I can’t pass!”
  • Government: “Well how hard are you studying?”
  • Citizen: “What is this thing stud-ee-ying?”
  • Government: “That’s okay my son, we beat Apartheid, now we can have whatever we want! We will just make the passing grade lower for you, and you can do the lower difficulty maths.”
  • Citizen: “But how will I go to university?”
  • Government: “Don’t worry we have BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) so the universities must take all the people we want them too, regardless of marks! We will also give you a top paying job with the government, even if you don’t finish your degree! Then you can embezzle all the money you want as long as you can come up with a ‘good’ lie about where the money is. And the best part is that you don’t have to do anything!”

Granted that may have been a little scathing and I’m probably a little biased, but unfortunately, in a very condensed form, that is how the ANC is acting towards South African Citizens. If we wanted an Apartheid-like system of degradation based on race in this country, then we wouldn’t have voted ANC in this first place. This ANC is destroying the country and at least the National Party wasn’t corrupt and incompetent. 

With the current state of affairs in South Africa, the loss of Mandela may be enough for total panic. This idea, quite understandably I think, worries me. The last thing that Mandela wanted for this country was a violent future and whilst violence may have been involved in the past, it should not hamper our growth anymore. If South Africa continues developing in the current shape, then there is no hope that we will see Tata Madiba’s dream realised.

If we truly love Madiba, and I believe that most of us do. We need to take steps, strip off these individualistic and greed ridden traits that have haunted our government for too long, and move forward. No more procrastination, no more laying about waiting for time to change everything around us. Pick up a pen, or a keyboard and make a plan to create the type of country that we truly want it to be. 

What better way could we honour Tata Madiba on his birthday?


Ciao

Desh

P.S. in the upcoming weeks I will be posting an interview with an ANC freedom fighter giving you a detailed image of living under apartheid. Keep reading!

P.P.S. on another sidebar official news states that Madiba is recovering, we’re hoping for the best!

Growing up? Lets do more than that!

Who am I? 

This is the one question that almost everybody asks themselves at some point in their lives. Maybe many times. This certainly has been the case for me. Throughout my life I have reinvented myself depending on the situation, the circumstances, the friends I keep. But now that I have completed university and am preparing to enter “real life” it seems that I should become more than I was yesterday. 

More?

The idea of ‘more’ can be seen as a pretty obscure subject. ‘More’ can refer to simple quantity, so maybe I should gain more skills. ‘More’ can also mean get better, so I’ll run in place until I can run a marathon. Maybe ‘more’ is spiritual, or philosophical, maybe its only a simple placeholder that means “insert personal definition here”. Personally I feel like its a combination of everything, a simple conglomeration of mini improvements. 

Improving Myself

So back to my original idea. Change. In primary school I was the ‘chubby’ kid that, whilst generally liked – I believe, was never all that popular. I played sports, soccer and cricket mostly, my fitness was lacking but in the end I wasn’t half bad. On the whole though that was my existence, thats who I was. A simple kid, nothing special, who went to school achieved decent grades and played sports. It wasn’t enough. I moved to a new school for my senior years and I vowed things would change. Moving to a new school represents the perfect opportunity to reinvent yourself. In actuality, I think it’s harder, whilst building yourself over you need to maintain an everyday life, but with a little determination you can succeed. I wanted more, maybe I just wanted to be more.

Keeping busy is the easiest way to stop your mind thinking about what it really wants.

I started my days at 6:00 ended them around 9:30, in hindsight it’s surprising how much work you can actually do whilst in bed. I jumped from one activity to the next for days on end. I learned how to SCUBA dive and play the bass, I learned first aid, took up debating and even joined the Nature Awareness club. I was constantly busy, and more often than not too tired to think. At the end of it, sure I made a contribution, yes I had helped and changed some peoples lives, including my own. But I wasn’t really satisfied, at the time I thought I wanted recognition. Now thats its just a distant memory, recognition doesn’t really seem all that important. Who honestly still cares what your final English grade was or whether you received a distinction for Accountancy. Who genuinely cares about colours or merit badges; don’t get me wrong I feel proud of my achievements, but they really mean very little in who I am as a person and, more importantly, who I want to be. 

Make a choice. “Making up your own mind, is the one thing you can do for yourself. So try it sometime.”

I think what it really comes down to is that I want to keep improving. I don’t really have a particular goal in mind but I am continuously growing and doing things that make me happy. Fire-spinning wont help me in my career, since I have decided not to join a circus, and speaking Italian won’t necessarily be as useful as Hindi or Mandarin, but fire-spinning looks cool and Italy is an incredible country that I would love to visit again. I have decided to grow and keep enjoying my growth whatever it may be. I won’t grow up to a schedule or try to become something “appropriate”. I think people should make a decision and improve themselves, in anyway that they want. For the moment, I’m learning about blog writing but who knows whats next. I suggest you try and do the same.

 

Ciao

Desh

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