Preparation: How to Handle the Night before Your Interview

October 25th, 2013

There are few moments in life more exciting and nerve wracking than the night before an interview for a job you really, really want. The path ahead seems to fork in two directions, and down one of those branches, you’ll find lasting happiness and the chance to wake up each morning and throw yourself into a promising day full of work you love. It’s hard to sleep on a night like this, and if there are any last steps that can help you prepare, now is the time to check them off your list. Start with these.

1. Plan on getting to sleep an hour earlier than you usually do. A full night of sleep will be your most important ally and best possible form of preparation. Stop taking in caffeinated food and drinks before noon, and get plenty of exercise. Exercise improves circulation and oxygen delivery to all areas of the body including the brain, which can energize you in the morning and help you doze off at night.

2. If your interview will happen early in the day, double and triple check your alarm and have a few back-ups ready. This isn’t just to make sure you wake up on time—It can also provide an unconscious form of reassurance to your anxious brain, which can help you put wake-up fears aside and fall asleep faster.

3. Double check and confirm your childcare and pet care arrangements.

4. Check your interview outfit one last time for small tears, stains, lint, wrinkles, or loose threads. Hang it up in a safe place. Take one more close look at your shoes to check for scuffs.

5. Review your “elevator pitch”, or hard-hitting 30-second speech that explains why you’re great for this position and what you have to offer than no other candidate can. Practice the speech one final time on your spouse, roommate, or dog.

6. Make sure you’ve mapped out the route to your venue and know exactly when you need to leave in order to make it in the door on time. Make an allowance of at least twenty minutes for traffic and wrong turns.

7. Charge your phone.

8. Gather and organize everything you need, including glasses, directions, car keys, and printed copies of your resume (take at least five). You’ll also need your interviewer’s phone number so you can call from the road if you’re going to be late.

You’re ready for anything! Now drink a hot cup of decaffeinated tea, hit the pillow, and start daydreaming. How will you celebrate when you land your offer? Try to keep your final thoughts positive and focused on the future. Pleasant dreams, and good luck! Reach out to the staffing pros at PSU for specific help and encouragement with your job search.

How Productive People Tackle the Workday

October 18th, 2013

We all know what productive people look like. There’s the woman in the cubicle next to you who’s respected by everyone and on track to a promotion, who somehow manages to head out the door by five each day while you’re still only halfway through your to-do list. Or the neighbor down the street who has a beautiful lawn, a stable job, and three kids he’s always bicycling around with, while you’re leaving for work at dawn and getting home after dark. How do these people get so much done in a twenty four hour day? Here’s a secret: They’re not doing more, they’re actually doing less. And you can too. Consider the following moves.

1. Remember the 80/20 rule. For most of us, about 20 percent of what we do each day produces 80 percent of our results. This means most of what we’re doing throughout the day is just retreading, wheel spinning, protecting ourselves from very unlikely risks, and busy work. Go back over your to-do list and set a goal: remove item after item until you’re left with only the most valuable 20 percent.

2. Stop the glorification of “busy.” Doing things for the sake of doing things is unhealthy and out of style. Don’t humblebrag to your friends about how busy you are, and don’t encourage this behavior from others. Frantic, wasted energy is undignified. Calm, control, confidence, and a sense of priorities win the day.

3. Use the morning wisely. Go to sleep by ten, then get up early and give yourself the attention and care you need to stay focused throughout the day. Stretch, and then eat a breakfast of whole grain carbs and lean protein. Spend some time in quiet reflection before the challenges of the day begin. And when they do begin, tackle your most difficult projects first. If you aren’t a morning person, that’s okay—it doesn’t take long to become one.

4. Stop overcommitting and multitasking. Doing too many things at once doesn’t increase your productivity—it only means you’re doing each thing at a lower level of performance. Learn to say no when you need to, and focus on one project at a time.

5. Take breaks. The brain isn’t designed to fixate relentlessly on external demands for hours at a time. Every 60 minutes or so, stand up, stretch, and move around. Take breaks and think about other things on a regular schedule throughout the day.

For more on how to use your energy and time as wisely and efficiently as possible during the workday, consult with the NC staffing and career development experts at PSU.

The Difference between Managers and Leaders

October 11th, 2013

As you look out over your current teams searching for signs of potential and areas in need of improvement, you may be keeping a close eye on where you’d like to take your company in the years ahead and how your current employees can help you get there. Pipeline building and mentoring are important to company success, and it’s a good idea to groom and prepare employees for the positions you’d like them to eventually step into. So among your staff, who will make the best future leaders? And who will make excellent managers? And how can you tell the difference?

Signs of Future Leaders

Leaders possess the ability to make employees love their work and throw their minds, hands, and hearts fully into the pursuit of excellent performance. Leaders can make employees care about the fate of the company and invest their energy in company goals, even goals that require personal sacrifice. Leaders keep teams running smoothly and help employees iron out conflicts. They help groups navigate periods of chaos and transition, and they provide a single vision of success that all team members can get behind.

You can recognize strong leadership skills among your employers by looking for clear communicators, calm demeanors that don’t fluster easily, and employees who can make a compelling argument based on sound facts and intelligent reasoning. Keep an eye on employees who aren’t afraid to address groups, to try new solutions that haven’t been tested, to make risky suggestions, and to speak from the heart even when their words aren’t popular.

Signs of Future Managers

While leaders have the ability to rally and motivate others, managers are those who find the bridge to success—or build one from the ground up if necessary. As the old saying goes, leaders do right things, while managers do things right. Every great vision needs the support of a logical and realistic plan, and that’s where great managers step in. These are the people who handle the details, including providing employees with the clear instructions and resources they need to move forward.

Look for management potential by keeping an eye out for employees who gather all the necessary data before they make a decision. Managers like to know where they’re going before they head into new territory, and they tend to take details, planning, materials, and training very seriously. They don’t like to cut corners on any project no matter how small, and they don’t like to take action while questions remain unanswered. When they’re asked to execute a task, they’ll follow through no matter what.

For more on the difference between potential leaders and potential managers, and how to spot both among your employees, reach out to the NC staffing pros at PSU.

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