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No matter how many times you iron that navy blue suit, you keep finding a wrinkle! That wrinkle threatens to upend your interview as it mocks you with its crinkly wry expression.

Spritz a little water on it, and try again. If not, grab another pair of slacks and your favorite dress shirt, and get ready to turn up the charm and confidence. You’ve got skills to sell because you do what you do so well. Here’s every tip to succeed in preparing for interview victory.

Getting to Know the Company and Culture

First things first — you need to know what you’re walking into here. Get to know the company and culture, so the conversation isn’t one way.

  1. The Internet Knows All — Almost Everything

Scour the great wide web for all you can find out about the company, and find real folks to talk to about the company. What are their impressions of the company? Read news releases and articles about the company from multiple sources. Read reviews on Glassdoor from previous interviewees and employees.

Don’t just glance at the company website or scan the social media profiles. Dig deep.

  1. Learn More About Who

Who is the company? What kind of people work for them? Who is your supervisor, and who will make up your team?

Lean into the staff listings and search names to see if you can find articles or blogs by the leaders and staff at the company. Read up, and take notes on what interests you most. You also gain insight into what it means to excel at this company.

  1. Interview the Product

Interview the product before you head right into the meeting. Use and get to know a product the company sells, if you can. Now, you’re entitled to offer feedback and kudos.

  1. Glassdoor Reviews Don’t Dish Everything

Think of Glassdoor as a guide because previous and current employees will all have mixed feelings about their work experience at the company, and some bad reviews aren’t all they’re chalked up to be. The internet will reveal a bad egg, the more you dig. Take it with a grain of salt.

Gain Intel On the Interview Before You Go In

Don’t go into a mission — interview — blind. When preparing for interview, the first step is finding out what you’re getting yourself into before you show up.

  1. Call in Advance for an Interviewer List

Know who will interview you and other significant employees you will meet along the way, such as the person giving you the tour but not interviewing you.

Use your sleuthing skills to learn more about them, and prepare questions for each interviewer to hone in on a common interest or relevant topic, such as their focus at the company.

  1. Ask About the Interview Format

This is one of the questions you can – and should – ask before the interview.

Know the interview types you’ll participate in since many companies offer different interview structures. You may do a series of single interviews or a group interview. You may get interviewed by your team and then a leadership staff. You may have to take a test.

Take time to familiarize yourself with the style they choose.

Kiss the Evil Wrinkle Goodbye — Selecting Your Perfect Interview Outfit

It’s time to iron out your professional fashion woes. Here’s how to select your perfect interview outfit.

  1. Innovate the Dress Code

Is the company more traditional or eclectic? Consider who you will meet and the environment you’ll be in — is the company tour more of a hike? Don’t be afraid to ask: “Should I arrive in a suit, or does the company prefer a more casual style?”

While the culture may thrive on a casual vibe, you should still dress up a little more for your interview. For staunch business attire, visit a tailor to get the best cut for you. For men, style up with cuff links, snazzy shoes and a tie. Use a pop of color underneath darker clothes, or let fun patterns and colors show only in your accents. Build on basics.

  1. Polish and Pamper

Once you select your innovated interview attire, clean, press and tailor it to your perfect, professional fit. Clean your nails. Keep makeup light. One statement piece of jewelry only, please. Nix loose hems and thread. Shine your shoes. The details factor into your first impression, so take the time to pamper yourself and destress, too.

Printing and Pre-Game Preparation

You have so much paper and no idea what to do with it all. Calm down and focus on printing what you need with these pre-game preparation tips.

  1. Five Copy Resume Rule

Remember your interview list? Good. Print out a copy of your resume for each interviewer, with an extra copy or two, just in case. Regardless, a good rule of thumb is to print five copies of your resume.

  1. Make an Interview Survival Kit

Time to make a survival kit. It should hold the everyday essentials and interview musts, such as a notepad and resumes. Printed directions with parking notes are helpful in the event your GPS doesn’t work.

Don’t forget a stain stick and breath mints and a water for the ride. Organize your purse or briefcase, but leave what you can in the car.

  1. Review Your Career Timeline

Don’t stress about memorizing verbatim answers or rehearsing questions too much. Know your story by reviewing your career timeline focusing on characters and setting. You tell your story well on paper, but you need to translate that into real life. Who knows you better than yourself?

  1. Study Early and Review Briefly Late

Got technical tests to pass or questions to answer? Prepare early on, and limit the time you spend crunching beforehand. Limit reviews to an hour or two in the days leading up to your interview. You’ll stress less.

  1. Plan to Stall in Advance

You will struggle to answer at least one question. What’s your go-to phrase to skip by dead air and gain more time? Part of it is breathing and pacing yourself — don’t be a nervous talker. Say, “That’s a great question. Here are my thoughts…” If you need time to answer, just say so.

  1. Make a Cheat Sheet

Make a list of what you’ll need to remember for your interview. Colored pens work wonders for organization. Put a copy where you’ll find it, such as on your steering wheel or your fridge. Slip one into your survival kit.

  1. Sleep

Shut those weary eyes to let your brain process all of that information you reviewed. Let your mind ease itself from stress. Don’t go to the interview with bags under your eyes and your lips resembling that wrinkle in your once trusty navy blue suit.

Now, stride into that interview with confidence. Follow these tips when preparing for interview success to make your best first impression and get the call you’ve been waiting for.

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The post Preparing for Interview: How to Prep for a Successful Interview appeared first on Punched Clocks.

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You’re great at your job, and everyone knows it. That’s why people sometimes — or, regularly — ask you to chip in on additional projects. While you’ve already got a lot on your plate, you find it hard to say no.

As great as it is to be known as the hardworking, dependable employee you are, you don’t have to be a pushover to build that reputation. It’s all about striking a balance. The following six tips will help you stand up for yourself while still doing the best you can on the job.

1. Prioritize

Before you can decide how you’re overcommitting yourself at work, you’ll need to know what you want. What are your goals for this quarter, six months or year? As a rule of thumb, the things you say “yes” to should be tasks that push you toward the accomplishments you envision.

Write out all your to-dos before comparing them to your goals. For example, you might’ve committed to a project to diversify your knowledge and daily routine, but if it’s not serving your end game, then it’s worth passing onto someone else or putting on the back burner.

2. Don’t Apologize

One of the biggest mistakes pushovers make is apologizing when they have to say “no.” This implies you’re at fault, although saying yes would be a favor for the person asking for your time. All you have to do is turn the task down and offer a short explanation as to why you’re unavailable. You should never be sorry for focusing on your responsibilities first.

3. Identify the Root of the Problem

Every pushover has a purpose — you wouldn’t be saying yes to everything if there wasn’t a reason deep down inside. Do a little bit of reflection to pinpoint why you keep agreeing to do more when it’s not actually what you want.

For most, the inclination comes from an inherent desire to serve others. If you’re dropping what you’re doing to answer phone calls or emails from your colleagues and higher-ups, that’s likely the reason you’re always swamped. You might crave a promotion or recognition or more responsibility, and by saying “yes” to everything, you’re trying to make that goal a reality.

However, there are other ways to make those dreams come true — it’s certainly smart to go above the call of duty, but sacrificing all of your time and energy isn’t the right balance. In fact, it’s more likely that it will backfire by not allowing you to focus on your most important tasks.

4. Come Up With an Alternative

Sometimes, a question doesn’t require a yes-or-no answer. With a bit of quick thinking on your part, you could avoid the turmoil of having to decide between yes and no by coming up with a new course of action. Plus, being honest with your coworkers is a great way to forge better relationships.

For example, if you’re asked to prepare an unexpected presentation for tomorrow’s meeting, you don’t have to say yes and stay up all night until it’s done. Instead, tell your boss you’ll get to work as soon as you’re told, but that you have to leave the office by a specific time due to responsibilities at home. Then, you can finish the job or send it onto another team member who can finish up your slides, for example. Or, you can come in before the meeting to put the finishing touches on it.

By following this strategy, you don’t have to feel as though you’ve said no to your boss. But, you still avoid adding more to your plate and preventing yourself from getting home at a decent hour.

5. Ask for Help

How have you gotten so many new responsibilities? It’s because those around you have asked you to help. You can use the same tactics if you find yourself overwhelmed.

Instead, try delegating some of your tasks to colleagues you know aren’t as busy as you. You can reflect on those goals you’ve set before — try to delegate any to-dos that don’t fall in line with the benchmarks you’ve set for yourself.

6. Be Brave

Finally, once you’ve made the conscious decision to be more assertive, it’s up to you to make it happen. But saying “no” and prioritizing for the sake of your quality of work — and peace of mind — are all responsibilities that fall on you. This is especially true if the proposed to-do is something out of your area of expertise or unrelated to your goals. Find the courage to turn down the opportunity.

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a tough position when it comes to standing your ground. This is especially true when requests come directly from your boss or manager. If they want you to stay later or work through the weekend to get something done, you might not be able to say no. However, you can ask questions and try to come up with a compromise, so your quality of life doesn’t suffer in the process. You should be able to have a life outside of work, after all.

It’s up to you, now. Stand tall and push aside that pushover reputation once and for all — you’ll be so glad you did. Not only will your work improve, but your state of mind will, too, as you dive into tasks you want to complete, and have plenty of time to do so successfully. Stick up for yourself today to see just how great tomorrow will be.

How did you shed your pushover reputation? Let us know in the comments section below. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for even more work-related tips and tricks from Punched Clocks.


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The alarm goes off for the fourth time, and you don’t think you’re going to make it out of bed this morning. It’s food poisoning, lack of sleep, stress or all the above. Sometimes, life feels like it’s out to get you and infect you with germs and drama, and all you need is a day or two to reset.

How do you know when to call in sick? When is it appropriate, and what excuses are valid? What excuses could get you in trouble? What’s the proper etiquette? Do you email or call? What work laws apply to your being sick?

You don’t want to risk getting reprimanded or fired, but you need to take the day away. Here’s how to handle calling in sick with answers to these questions and more.

Calling in Sick Excuses

Forty percent of workers play hooky and call in sick when they feel fine. Some employers follow up with employees to check in on their wellness and call their “I’m sick” bluff. Interestingly, many employees who can take a personal or vacation day feel the need to offer other calling in sick excuses like a stomach bug. Some of the most common reasons for staying out include:

  • Going to a doctor’s appointment — 30 percent
  • Not feeling like working — 23 percent
  • Needing TLC — 20 percent
  • Wanting to make up sleep — 15 percent

Some of the craziest excuses include someone who got bitten by a duck, eating too much birthday cake, ozone deflating the car tires and being traumatized by a spider. Yes, employers hear such wacky excuses.

Lack of sleep and feeling ill are no joke — they both do a number on the brain and lead to poor performance. Sixty-seven percent of employers trust you and give you the benefit of the doubt, but 33 percent will check up on you, especially with calling in sick excuses like those.

Taking too much sick leave can come with a price — employers have threatened to fire nearly a quarter of workers for taking too many sick days. The best course of action remains staying honest. That doesn’t mean you should push through the day when you feel off, unfocused and like a work grouch. You’ll risk reprimands either way, but you could end up burning out and needing more time off than you need to take right now.

Ask yourself whether you’d be an asset or an obstacle at work. Etiquette for calling in sick traditionally means getting on the phone as early as possible to let your boss and team know you’ll be out. Try to call in sick the day before if possible, but always state your reason honestly and clearly, with an apology for your absence. Anticipate when you’ll return and if you’ll be available for any emergency questions by phone or email.

Calling in Sick by Email

While traditional etiquette entails phoning in your absence, calling in excuses have increasingly moved toward email for various reasons. Those who play hooky fear a nervous tone of voice may give away their hand, but calling in sick by email can have its advantages when you use it honestly.

Lean toward sending an “I’ll be out sick” email when your voice sounds more like a frog, if your boss checks their voicemail infequently or you need to outline or rebalance priorities with your boss. It’s best to both call and send an email.

When calling in sick by email, be concise, clear and professional. Don’t apologize for infringing on their time. Get right into the matter and avoid vague language. Interpretive word choices and long rambles waste everyone’s time.

Want to write a clear and thoughtful email? Use your subject line to state the purpose of the email and type in or mark the email as “high priority.” Follow the standard email template of opening, body and closing, and in your opening, concisely and directly state that you’ll be out. In the body of your email, address the needs for the day, priorities to be reassigned, whether you’ll be available to address questions and when you anticipate being able to return to work.

Remain concise and clear. Thank the boss for understanding and for their time. State you’ve also left a voicemail or intend to do so, if that’s the case.

Calling in Sick Work Laws

Legally, your boss can ask about the details of why you’re calling in sick with follow-up questions. Most employers will respect your privacy and prefer to give you the benefit of the doubt. It may feel like your employer is prying, but calling in sick work laws do offer some privacy and protection.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers protection for some conditions, such as those that significantly impact your life through mental and physical impairment and substantially affect the five senses. While the ADA doesn’t protect against things like the common cold or a sprain, the law does back you up if you need dialysis or to check into a mental health institution. Your employer can’t push for details beyond what’s job-related and linked with business needs, such as asking for your likely return date or limitations in performing your duties.

When returning to work, your boss might ask how they may best accommodate you as you recover and transition back into your duties.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers as many as 12 weeks of leave without pay after 12 months of employment for companies with more than 50 employees. FMLA covers your absence during a significant medical condition, applicable pregnancy needs and to look after a sick family member.

As long as company policy obeys the law, such as not discriminating, employers can set whatever guidelines and policies they like regarding calling in sick and taking leave. Honesty remains the best policy when taking time off, and many employees forget or feel guilty about taking personal or vacation days for times when they need a reset.

When calling in sick, a phone call should accompany an email for etiquette, but employer preferences and policies differ for each company. Don’t be vague or overly apologetic. Be concise, direct, informative and accommodating in your communications. Use your time off wisely to attend to your needs and health, and return to work refreshed, rather than burning out.

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When caught up in daily tasks and to-do lists, you finish one challenge and move on. Months pass, and you know you made progress and did your part — but do you track work accomplishments? Many people don’t, due to daily pressures and the constant need to think ahead.

When enough time passes, it’s difficult to remember all you’ve done. In truth, you accomplish more than you think. You will feel more capable and can reward yourself for a job well done when you track work accomplishments, and in turn, your career growth.

Perks of Tracking Work Accomplishments

With so much asked of you, it’s time to put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and keep records of what you achieve throughout the year. Here are the perks of making that list and continually adding your wins to it:

  • Responding strategically to interview questions: You may rehearse your answers, but a list helps you think strategically and objectively when you respond to interview questions.
  • Campaigning for a raise: You have to know why you deserve it and demonstrate that. Your list gives you concrete evidence of your contributions and growth.
  • Proposing new initiatives: Your past success demonstrates your ability to succeed in the future and be trusted to get a little experimental with your innovation.
  • Arriving prepared for performance reviews: You’ll have a clear picture of your last few months or year to communicate with your employer.
  • Updating your resume in a snap: When you’re ready to move on, applications will feel like less work, and you can target the job you desire and deserve.
  • Networking at your best: Share what you’ve learned and accomplished more easily, authentically and with confidence.
Suggestions for What Work Accomplishments to Track

Track what you define as success, from small to large achievements. This document is for your eyes — and maybe the eyes of others, depending on whether you post your list publically or keep it in your files at home. From awards to negotiations, here are a few suggestions for what you should track:

  • Financial goals achieved: Include results with analytics and the steps you took.
  • Interpersonal resolutions: Here’s one you may not think of — include difficult scenarios you resolved or negotiated with coworkers that ended with a positive result. This may arise as an interview question.
  • Tasks and projects: Did you meet the deadline? What did you accomplish? Include small and big items.
  • Succeeding under pressure: Include moments where you persevered while under pressure and succeeded.
  • Exceeding employer expectations: List moments where you exceeded expectations and how you did it, along with positive remarks.
  • Winning awards and earning recognition: List big and small awards, especially those specific to your company or industry.
  • Leading: Include any times that you held a leadership role, such as spearheading a project or office meeting. List nonprofit organization memberships and other responsibilities, too.
Methods to Track Work Accomplishments

Now that you have a few ideas, you have to figure out how to describe each of these accomplishments in a concise, organized and powerful way. Like any narrative, you should include the instigating incident, action and change. Well-rounded characters always change.

Interviewees often use the STARR method when asked tough questions during an interview, and this method of description offers a strong tool to demonstrate your accomplishments in a powerful way through narrative and timeline. Name the situation, and set the scene. Describe the task that challenged you and the action you took to handle the situation. What happened as a result of the action you took? Did you take a moment for reflection, and what did you learn in the end?

In what format should you store and track work accomplishments? Will you keep a journal or a file online? What about recording through audio or video? Here are a few suggestions for maintaining your records:

  • Handwritten journal: When you write something down, you’re more likely to reflect and accomplish more — 42 percent of people achieve their goals by writing them down regularly. Record the date and details.
  • Binder: Using a binder feels old-fashioned, but it provides a physical record where you can include data reports and any handwritten thank-yous that you receive.
  • Program or app: Programs and apps allow you to take your list with you on the road and update it instantly. Programs and apps like Inkpad or Evernote are great for notetaking and tracking, and Evernote lets you send your notes to your email. Include links and photos, like a digital scrapbook.
  • LinkedIn: Your resume and praise are already listed, so why not use LinkedIn to track work accomplishments? Update awards and positions. Remain professional. Using LinkedIn consistently lets others interested in you keep up with your career growth. Side note: Don’t forget to update your website or portfolio in relation to your accomplishments.
  • Voice or video record: Use a voice recorder to record your accomplishments in real time. Add to a more permanent record later on. A private vlog allows you to look at your body posture and feel the enthusiasm all over again.
  • Calendar: This provides more of a snapshot in terms of details, but it’s easier to see your timeline unfold over the course of the year as it relates to other events. Just pop in the details of what you accomplished.

Don’t let your list get too long before you add the details to your resume. Use strong verbs when updating your resume with your accomplishments, such as managed or spearheaded over handled. Zero in on statistics, facts and figures and include what’s relevant. When applying for a job, only list accomplishments related to the role you’re applying for.

It’s easy to get caught up in daily work tasks and stay on top of everything to maintain your workflow. If you don’t take time to reflect and track work accomplishments, you risk stagnancy and feeling stuck in your career.

Tracking your work accomplishments benefits your self-esteem and allows you to check in with yourself during your career growth, making sure you’re really where you want and deserve to be.

Subscribe to Punched Clocks for more tips on celebrating your successes and using your hard work to level up your career. Keep the conversation going by sharing and commenting.

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All stages of the interviewing process are nerve-wracking, but there’s something even scarier about speaking one-on-one with the CEO. They’re the boss of all the other bosses, after all — if you impress them, then you’re in pretty good stead.

Of course, that is easier said than done. Take the following five steps to prepare and present yourself in your best light so the person in charge knows just how great you are — and how great you’ll be for their company.

1. Prepare

Chances are, you already know how to prepare for an interview. You choose the right outfit, brush up on the company’s mission and stats, and ensure your resume is entirely up to date.

Sitting down with the CEO is a completely different beast, though. Keep in mind that you’re meeting with the company’s head, and their time is precious. Therefore, you should be ready to answer the questions that’ll come up. Preparing beforehand means you’ll be able to give succinct but informed answers to questions, which will undoubtedly impress the person on the other side of the table.

Of course, you don’t want to rehearse your answers to the point where you come off as robotic. Be your authentic self, but the best version of it — the one that’s prepared.

2. Interact With Grace

Your interview doesn’t start when you walk into the office or conference room where it’s scheduled to take place. Instead, you’re likely being observed as soon as you enter the building where your conversation will happen.

Kat Cole, president of the fast-food chain Cinnabon, told The Muse that she watches the candidate — and even orchestrates some tests of character. She watches to see if they’re thankful when offered a drink, as well as how they interact with those in reception who necessarily the ones aren’t asking the interview questions. She even wads up a piece of paper on the floor to see if the candidate will pick it up as a small test of character.

Cole also said she waits to see if her interviewees express gratitude through a thank you note after their interviews.

3. Ask Questions of Your Own

Another thing CEOs hope to hear are questions from you. You already know the floor will be opened for you to inquire about anything you’d like to know, so take advantage of this time to pose any lingering questions to the person in charge.

Of course, you should be careful with the questions you choose to ask in front of the CEO. If you’re asking for information clearly available on the company’s website, for example, you’ll either come off as unprepared or overly nervous. Come up with a smart set of interview questions to ask.

4. Think About the Position’s Challenges

This to-do falls under the umbrella of interview prep, but it’s a more specific to-do than simply getting dressed and polishing your resume. Most CEOs will ask behavioral-based interview questions to present you with a real-world problem that you have faced or that will come up in your new position. Of course, you won’t know exactly what they’ll ask, but think through the potential ways your new job could challenge you — and how you’d tackle it. And be ready to share examples of qualities they may want to test you on.

CEOs use this tool as a way to gauge your interest and capability in the job ahead. If you can’t answer creatively or, at the very least, passionately, then they might not get a great impression of you as a potential candidate. On the other hand, a thoughtful answer with action and an explanation of why you’d take that course is just what they want to hear.

5. Come up With Small Talk Go-Tos

Sitting down face-to-face with the CEO is a daunting task, and you might have the misconception that you’re a step beneath the person on the other side of the table. At the end of the day, you’re both people, and you can make a point to interact with the CEO as normally as possible to show you’re confident, social and, ultimately, a good fit for the company.

The best way to prep for this portion of your interview is to come up with some go-to small talk starters. Perhaps you can brush up on the company’s latest accomplishments and congratulate the CEO to strike up a conversation. You could also ask about their most recent business trip — where did they go? Did they like the city?

Even if you end up not needing to spark small talk yourself, you’ll feel a lot calmer about the potential of having to do so before entering the interview room. That will make all the difference in the way you present yourself to the CEO with whom you’re interviewing.

Nail the Interview

Most of all, it’s important for you to remember that the interview with a CEO, while seemingly daunting, is just like any other one-on-one. You can prepare more specifically, as above, but remembering that you’ve done this before and you’ve succeeded in the interviewing process already should be more than enough to help you nail it.

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It goes without saying, but technology has made communication so much simpler for us these days. Rather than simply calling our loved ones, we can use video technology to see them while we speak. Professionally, the same feature has made it possible for remote employees to attend meetings — and for face-to-face interviews to take place across any distance.

No matter how used to this type of technology we are, though, the thought of a video interview can be daunting. It’s one thing to put on a brave face for an in-person interview, but a conversation conducted virtually has its unique set of challenges.

To make your next video interview a bit easier, you can prepare in advance with the following video interview tips. They cover pre-interview prep, as well as the way you should video-interview as it’s happening.

Video Interview Tips: Before the Interview

You can set yourself up for success by following these video interview tips prior to your interview:

  1. Conduct a Test Run

Long before your interviewer calls, you should make sure all of your video chat-related technology is up and running. Dial up a loved one to ensure you have a good Internet connection and that they can hear and see you well.

There’s nothing worse than starting an interview and end up having technical difficulties midway through, so do all you can to ensure your system’s ready to go when you are.

  1. Choose a Neutral Backdrop

An office-based interview gives you the neutral backdrop you need to focus the conversation on you — right where it should be. At home, though, it’s a little harder to find a spot where you’ll be the center of attention.

Obviously, you’ll start by selecting a space that’s quiet and private — let anyone in your house know you’re interviewing, so no one interrupts. Then, narrow down your backdrop by avoiding walls with windows, lots of artwork or other knickknacks that would draw attention away from the conversation. Make sure any other visible spaces, such as your desk, are clutter-free, too.

  1. Adjust the Camera

You’ve already tested the video quality, but make sure you know the camera’s angle before you sit down for your interview. The screen should show you from the waist or chest up — otherwise, you’ll just look like a talking head. Plus, by keeping your shoulders in the frame, you’ll be able to show a bit more positive body language.

  1. Dress the Part

Even though you’re not conducting your interview in person, you’ll still be visible to your interviewer. Once you know how much of your body will be shown via webcam, choose an outfit that will project your professionalism across a virtual connection.

Your pants may not show, but make sure they are also professional and pressed so you feel your best.

  1. Calm Your Nerves

Before you log onto the video stream, do your best to calm down so you can act natural and breeze through the interview. Everyone will find different mechanisms for coping with the stress — you might exercise, meditate or practice answering questions in front of a mirror. No matter what it takes, do it before you begin your session so that you’re cool and collected.

Video Interview Tips: During the Interview

With your pre-interview process complete, it’s time for the real deal. Put these video interview tips into motion to help it be successful:

  1. Make Eye Contact

Your instinct during your video interview will likely to be to look at the screen where you see your interviewer’s face. But this isn’t necessarily where to look if you want to make direct eye contact with them — or, as direct as a video chat allows. Instead, you should look at the camera so that you appear to be looking straight at your interviewer, who will note your confidence with this small gesture.

Of course, it might feel strange to not look at the face of your interviewer, so find a happy medium. If you’re on your computer, drag the video chat window directly beneath the camera so that your eyes are fixated as close to the camera as possible. Most importantly, don’t let your gaze flit off into the corners of the screen. Close any tabs or windows that might cause a distraction during your conversation.

  1. Smile Naturally

A plastered-on smile for the duration of your interview isn’t quite the look you’re going for, but you shouldn’t hide your pearly whites, either. Smile just enough to present yourself as the confident, easy-going employee you are. A happy demeanor will show you’re easy to work with, too, which is a great vibe to give off in an interview.

  1. Don’t Fidget

The above behaviors present you as confident, but fidgeting around will negate both of them. Nearly everyone has a habit that comes out when they’re feeling nervous, whether they play with their hair or constantly or tap a pen on the table. Rein in any sort of tick you might have before you get on camera — a mock interview can help you pinpoint the actions you should stop before the real thing.

To that end, you should also stop yourself from repeating any filler words that become repetitive. Starting each answer with “umm” or filling blanks with “like” will show that you’re nervous and may even give the impression you’re unprepared. Again, practicing answers or conducting a mock interview before the big day could help cut down on the verbal fidgeting. Don’t be afraid to take a pause to think before speaking so you can articulate your answer.

Start Rolling

Mastering the art of video interviewing will make you an even more formidable force as you seek your next job. Once you’ve followed the above video interview tips, all that’s left to do is let the camera roll.

How did you conquer your video interview? Share your best video interview tips in the comments below. Also, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, which will keep you up to date with all the work-related tips, tricks and skills you need to succeed before and after you nail that interview.


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Full pot of coffee? Check. Full bank account? Well, mostly.

Remote work offers many advantages, such as the relaxed dress code and flexible schedule, but it also feels isolating at times since your company is mostly your cat or dog. With the feelings of isolation come feelings of invisibility as a work-from-home employee. Most of your communication is in the form of email or chat rather than phone calls and in-person meetings.

Others raise a skeptical eyebrow at your office digs, wondering where your real career is. You know how to share the pros of your career choice, as well as your plans for the future, but you recognize the difficulty of climbing the proverbial ladder in a not so typical form of work.

Others can lower those eyebrows, because 50.9 percent of the workforce will be freelance by 2027. With that increase, employers need to look at how they address the issue of benefits and pay raises. Workers still need to provide for their families, and evidently, freelancing isn’t a dead end way of working. To advance yourself and your income in the now, you need to help close the gap. Elevate your professional self and get the raise you deserve as a skilled remote worker.

Don’t Let Your Light Go Out

You feel invisible, but you aren’t invisible or irrelevant. You provide valuable skills and services to the company you’re working with, so it’s imperative that you turn in above-board work and do your best. Always strive to continuously learn, and get to know your talents intimately.

What compliments do your superiors give you? Did you receive standout ratings from clients on certain projects? Keep track of your successes, and reward yourself. Focus on putting that raw passion and talent into each of your assignments with your unique spin. Don’t let your light go out.

You’ve already established a track record for success. Now that you’re confident in your contributions, be proactive, and leverage that by asking for a raise to match your growth. It’s all in how you communicate.

Move Beyond One-Dimensional Communication

You’re not one-dimensional, so select a different medium for posing your case. IM and email are for typical work practices and communications. While your message matters, you need to do this through a different medium.

You wouldn’t march into your supervisor’s office and start chatting them up for a raise. IM and email are similar in the remote world. It’s immediate, and messages may also be misread or misunderstood. Unfortunately, so can voicemail, and only one person is involved in that conversation — you.

People communicate on many levels through body language and tone of voice. Cultivate a different mode of communication to best engage your boss. When you can’t meet in person to talk about your growth in the company, two mediums give you the level of communication you need — phone and video conferencing.

How to Shine Over the Phone

When face-to-face with someone, you understandably feel nervous, and that affects your confidence level. You may forget your points. Flustered emotions overtake your ability to respond rationally to why you deserve this raise. In such a case, choose to communicate by phone, and arrange a time to speak with your supervisor.

When you use the phone, your supervisor will hear the warmth in your voice, so make sure to occasionally smile while speaking. Don’t rush — speak 20 percent more slowly than you would in person, which will also help you focus on word choices and clarity. Breathe deeply between sentences, which will help with your nervousness and lend time for pauses and questions. Sitting up straight will give you more confidence.

Outlining your points and responses to questions helps, but authenticity is key to your success in this conversation. Keep evidence of your progress within reach to reference, and speak freely, though clearly, concisely and with confidence.

How to Shine Over Video

Video affords you the opportunity to use multiple forms of communication, including voice and body language. If you notice your supervisor mirroring your body posture, such as leaning in when you do, you’re building a rapport. Sit straight but comfortably, and try to have more of what you’ll say in mind than on paper. Don’t read from the page because you’re communicating with your boss, not paper. Much of this will come with comfort, confidence and practice, though it’s still perfectly acceptable to keep reference notes nearby.

Practice with yourself in front of the mirror, and schedule a time with a friend to practice over video conferencing to get comfortable with the medium as a professional form of communication. If you have a friend in a management position, that’s even better — they can offer you valuable input without coming across as condescending.

Always arrive early to test the video conferencing tools so that you won’t have any hiccups in the process. Remove unprofessional items from your setting, and close the blinds to eliminate glare. Wear neutral colors to avoid distractions over the screen. Sounds made near the microphone are audible, so remove the need to rustle papers. Speak directly in the microphone in a normal tone. If you notice an echo, you can always mute and unmute your microphone, but remain aware of your settings.

Some tips for face-to-face communication also apply to video conferencing, such as sitting up straight. Another good one for when you get nervous is to stare slightly behind or above the person. You look like you’re staring them in the eye, and you get a moment to collect yourself.

More Tips and Takeaways for Your Conversation

Conversation and connection matter in every workplace setting, even if you work thousands of miles away. Don’t let yourself feel invisible or limit your communications to one medium.

It’s okay if you don’t feel confident about asking for a raise right now. Start incorporating other tools into your communications, and ask for a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your goals and feedback. Ask if this meeting can be a monthly check-in for you, which shows your dedication to your job, the company and improvement. It’s a great primer for the ultimate conversation of requesting a raise.

If the company doesn’t have the budget for a raise, be open to alternative ideas and discussions. Your conversation with the supervisor may open the door to create bigger conversations at the top of the ladder. Be proactive. Share and celebrate your wins.

Think of your work-from-home career path like being a shining star. The universe is dark and vast, but stars glow brightly from deep in space. Their light reaches many eyes, and your boss definitely sees your value when you keep shining with confidence in your contributions. Now, go ask for what you deserve!


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The motto of many professionals is “carpe diem,” or “seize the day” in Latin. You’ve likely encountered a similar-sounding term in “per diem” as you conducted your job search. What does per diem mean? Simply translated, per diem meaning is “for each day” or “per day.”

So, what does per diem mean for your career? The career context of this term applies to per diem employment for jobs and internships. Per diem can apply to many types of positions, and it’s easy to confuse. Here are a few typical uses of per diem you’ll come across as applied to employment.

Pay Per Diem Meaning in Employment

When you work per diem, you have a job opportunity on the clock for a given number of hours for specific pay, as opposed to committing to a full-time, long-term position. Advertisements list per diem roles that pay by the day or by the shift, which is often the case when industries need workers on short notice or typically rely on temporary workers. The roles may also be on an as-needed basis.

A few per diem positions include substitute teachers and contract workers. Substitute teachers work as per diem employees, since they fill their roles on an as-needed basis and with urgency. Contract workers operate per diem, and the difficulty and pace of their job vary by the day — though they get paid by the shift.

Per diem employment affords you opportunity if you prefer flexibility or need a way to make extra money. It’s also a solid option for explorers if you’re looking for a new place to move and can’t yet commit to a full-time job. Per diem employment offers variety in some good-paying industries like health care, and you’ll never get bored.

Don’t think of per diem employment as temporary work. Per diem employment can provide a way to learn new skills quickly and get your foot in the door of a certain company. Stand out by asking for a new project to test the skills you’re growing and broaden your existing skill set. That shows the company you’re willing to take initiative.

Per diem work is not a stable option if you seek job growth, paid time off and benefits, but it doesn’t mean it can’t lead to an opportunity.

Per Diem Meaning for Full-Time Employees

Full-time employees don’t escape the term “per diem” in the course of their careers. Per diem may also reference employee expenses or the receipt of an allowance. If you’re a full-time employee who travels for business, you’ll see “per diem” applied to mileage or travel reimbursement or an allowance for meals and lodging.

For travel, that means travel expenses are typically “travel per diem.” It kicks in when your supervisor tells you to save all receipts for business expenses you incur, so your company can reimburse you per its policy. You would send in an expense report for specific costs like transportation and meals.

Flight attendants often get an allowance for meals and having to stay overnight if they have a long layover in another city. You would find meals and a place to stay that fit within your allowance as outlined by company policy and submit an expense report promptly.

Your travel per diem allowance can also shift if you travel for business frequently. Your lodging allowance for one city may be higher than another, based on reasonable cost of living.

Some employers extend allowances to full-time employees who work longer hours than usual or in general. These allowances may include part of an employee’s mileage and meals. If your boss doesn’t currently offer per diem allowances, it’s worth bringing up to optimize your productivity and assist with work-life balance.

If you ever get a per diem allowance, always save receipts and submit expense reports on time to get reimbursed. Managing all that paper gets difficult, so back up receipts electronically via Evernote or Google Drive. Some apps let you also generate expense reports for free or a small cost, but your company may already have a required template for you to fill out and submit.

Deciding If Per Diem Work Is for You

Per diem employment comes with many pros and cons. Some make per diem employment into a lifestyle the way digital nomads roam the world.

In many instances, per diem pay is better than part-time or full-time pay in high demand industries, like health care. Many shifts need filled at the last minute. One day, you fill in at the ICU, and the next day you fill in psychiatric care. You get an opportunity to work when you want and where you want. You pick extra shifts when you need them and set your own hours, otherwise.

Per diem work provides an opportunity to discover more about which part of an industry you may want to pursue. You can also test-drive a company and let them get to know you more.
While you have flexibility, per diem work also comes with downsides. Some industries offer more per diem work than others, especially if you’re a nurse. Per diem employees typically don’t receive health insurance, vacation time or paid days off, so it requires you to stay on top of your finances and budget.

You can work directly for a company on a per diem basis, but some staffing agencies also hire talented per diem workers and may offer some increased incentives and benefits.

Understanding what per diem means in a business context can get confusing, whether you prefer a per diem work lifestyle or want to know more about per diem allowances. There are many benefits to per diem work, but it works best for those who prefer flexibility and work well with finances and budgeting. Carpe diem — especially those receipts!

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Courage gathered and brighter horizon spotted, you gave your two weeks’ notice to management. You aim to push through these last 10 days and tie up loose ends with grace and professionalism.

It likely took you many months, cups of coffee and rough drafts to send that two weeks’ notice. It only takes HR an email or phone call to request your presence for an exit interview. Hello, potentially stressful conversation. Unfortunately, you can’t pack up and sneak out when your final day comes.

Exit interviews require a modicum of steel-clad nerves, clarity and reservation you may not feel you possess right now. However, answering employer exit interview questions calmly, concisely and honestly will maintain a positive relationship after you move on and inform them how to improve the company and your position for future hires. Here are seven common exit interview questions you’ll likely encounter.

1. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Role?

They want to know how you came to your decision and what factors influenced its making. Can you think of one event that swayed your decision? Has this urge to quit built up over several months or years? Why? Do you have thoughts on constructive criticism and improvement?

Stick with the one question, and try to answer it as concisely and clearly as possible with neutral language. Retention matters to every company. Otherwise, the competition keeps all the local talent.

Who knows? The employer may fight to keep you, and offer you better benefits and a less pushy boss. You don’t have to accept.

2. Were You Adequately Trained for Your Role?

What kind of onboarding did you receive as an employee? Did it prepare you for the ins and outs of your job, within reason?

Consider if the technology needs updating, training lacked, or team members and leaders were uncommunicative. Balance the pros with the cons in your feedback.

3. What Kind of Relationship Did You Have With Your Supervisor?

Your relationship with your boss presents tricky waters to navigate. For some, that relationship was a bright spot in the dark, shark-infested corporate waters. For others, their boss was the shark. You probably don’t want to say that.

Again, balance out the pros with the cons. It’s OK to say you didn’t see eye to eye. What did you think of your supervisor’s communication and management style? Your boss may have micromanaged you, but perhaps they also increased their feedback and helped you push for improvement. You became the go-to person. You never appreciated the micromanagement, but you saw where they were coming from as a supervisor.

Keep your thoughts constructive. You may help HR provide leadership with more tips on being personable and accessible.

4. What Made You Accept Your New Role?

Was it the golden ticket or the all-you-can-drink coffee, complete with a personal barista? You don’t owe all the details to HR, but the right mix of information will clue them in on how to keep their employees and improve their offers to new candidates.

Before you head in for your exit interview, consider the biggest selling point of the new position. What appealed to you? Was it the work culture or benefits package? Did the new employer outline a particular path of growth in the company that fit better with your career goals? Speak up.

5. What Was Your Favorite Part of Your Job?

This question is one of the more enjoyable parts of the exit interview and may precede or follow a tougher one. What did you like the most about your job? What did you take pleasure in doing? Did you enjoy company-organized social activities, working with your stellar team and serving a particular client?

This information helps the employer expand the positives and make the job more welcoming for a future hire. It also gives your employer positives to list for you in the future if you need a reference — “This employee brought such enthusiasm to serving our biggest client.”

6. What Was the Worst Part of Your Job?

There’s always a flip side, isn’t there? Don’t get caught off guard by this question.

You can always ease into the least preferred aspects of the job by joking about paperwork, but don’t go too far. Don’t dwell on routine parts of the job, since all jobs have these particulars. Instead, focus on giving one relevant example. This provides a window for the employer to make process improvements.

Don’t rise to the level of venting. Do professionally address ways these least favorite parts of the job might have gone more smoothly or be done away with to improve productivity and positivity.

7. What Qualifications and Skills Should We Require in Your Replacement?

Your employers think they know your job, but they don’t know the ins and outs like you do. They can’t see how the role has evolved and rely on you to inform them of the precise qualifications and skills needed to hire a successful replacement.

Some job duties are copy-and-paste acts on the advertisement. In your experience, you likely encountered a trivial or outdated duty that no previous worker in your role ever touched. Address this with the employer and emphasize the skills needed to take the role to the next level.

Don’t stress out about your exit interview. You’ll face tough questions, but you also get an opportunity help the company address areas of improvement, as well as highlight the positives.

Challenge your worst-case scenario of the exit interview. You’re on the boat out, and no one can fire you. Go to the interview with grace and professionalism, but stick with honesty as your policy.

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The process of applying for unemployment feels daunting when you experience job loss. When you apply, you increase your odds of making it through tough times until you find another position. That relief is essential to your well-being and success.

Rates of unemployment have steadily improved since the Great Recession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in the United States is at 3.9 percent as of April 2018. That number accounts for those unemployed currently in the workforce, meaning individuals must either have looked for a job in the last four weeks or been employed for at least an hour a week. What about those with other circumstances preventing them from looking?

You don’t want to become one of those discouraged workers. Many people qualify for unemployment benefits, but fail to apply, or do so with all the wrong information and face delays in receiving their benefits.

Qualifying for Unemployment

Anyone can apply, but qualifying for unemployment means fitting the requirements. The Department of Labor specifies you must meet a few simple criteria to prove your eligibility for unemployment.

Your unemployment status must occur due to circumstances outside your control, such as a layoff. Through no fault of your own, your position was terminated. You don’t qualify for unemployment if you quit or got let go due to gross misconduct — that means if you committed dangerous or illegal acts in the workplace. If you stole from your employer and got fired, you won’t get unemployment.

You must meet state requirements for wages earned or time worked. Each state differs. If you worked a steady long-term position, you likely meet the minimum requirements. In New York, you must have received wages and worked for a minimum of two calendar quarters within your base period, and the total in the base period must be one and a half times the high quarter wages you receive. For filed claims in 2018, you must have received $2,200 in one calendar quarter.

Check your state’s requirements to see if you’re qualified to apply for unemployment benefits. Each state differs on what it deems as “no fault of your own,” and the number of weeks of benefits offered to you will also differ.

You must actively search for a new position. So, if you choose to return to school full-time, you cannot collect unemployment benefits. Some states do allow you to receive extra weeks of unemployment benefits if you are seeking and receiving training for a high-demand industry, but you must make satisfactory progress.

Contractors are out of luck when it comes to applying for unemployment benefits, since employers don’t pay unemployment taxes for contract roles.

Filing for Unemployment

Applying for unemployment isn’t a universal process, and some states may require you to wait. You would need to remain unemployed for a specific time to collect benefits, as short as a week. The following week you claim — that second week — is the one you receive pay for.

The maximum benefit you’re eligible for varies by state, as do the formulas for benefit calculation. Vacation time and severance pay may also affect when you receive benefits.

Regardless, the sooner you file, the sooner the process begins. Start with contacting your local unemployment agency in your state of past employment and/or residence as your first step. The office will give you instructions on how to apply, a list of required information, how you can collect benefits and other informational resources for assistance.

If you worked and lived in different states, you may be eligible to shop around for the best benefits, but you’ll need to check with each agency to follow the specific rules. You can file your claim online, in person or by phone depending on the requirements of your state. Prevent delays in the process by gathering details about your previous employment in advance. For example, you’ll need the company’s contact information, such as the address, and dates of employment. Make sure all information is accurate.

If your claim gets denied, you have the right to an appeal and hearing. If your claim gets accepted, you must follow the rules. Keep actively searching for work each week for at least as many times as required by your state and report it. If you don’t file each week, you miss out on your benefits.

Staying on Track

Your state may require you to file biweekly or weekly, informing them of how many times you searched for a job and to which companies you applied. You must report any part-time work and times you refused work with the reasons why.

It’s easy to fall into a victim mentality during the job search, especially when faced with daunting statistics, such as how only 2 percent of applicants receive an interview. You may not think you’re good enough, since you will face rejection multiple times. You may feel underappreciated and like no one will value your work in the future, either. Stick to your guns and gumption, and challenge those victim myths. You’re a highly capable professional.

Many unemployment agencies have resource centers where you can come in to get assistance with your resume and apply for jobs onsite, with additional training. They may also require you to attend in-person meetings to update them with your job search progress. These agencies also provide referrals for other assistance programs if you need help with food and clothing.

Stay on track with all the requirements, or you risk losing your unemployment benefits. Keep strong records of your job search, and list all required information.

Keep in mind your unemployment benefits are taxable income, and you must report them on your federal return. You can also opt to have your unemployment agency withhold this tax from the beginning.

If a company with a part-time position expresses interest, take on the supplementary income to not waste away the weeks you can collect. You can’t predict how long or how short the job search will last.

It’s best to take the safety net you can make for yourself and have less time to worry about not finding a job. Keeping your mind focused on whatever work you can take will free up mental energy to put toward your job search and well-being.

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