How To Survive Your First Job Interview

How To Survive Your First Job Interview

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So you’ve applied for your first job and got an interview.   What’s next?  As an experienced manager having interviewed many candidates I have complied some do’s and don’ts that can make or break your interview:

Do: Research The Company In Advance

When you submit your interest to a company the first thing you should do is learn everything you can about them:  What do they do?  How long has the company existed?   What’s the mission statement? etc.  Doing this research well in advance of the interview is crucial.  The last thing I want to hear from a candidate when I ask what they know about the company is “I don’t know” or “I hear good things.”  Be specific.  The interviewer wants to know that you are truly interested and not just going through the motions to try to secure a job.  Chances are the recruiter and/or hiring manager will ask “What do you know about this company?”

Do: Dress professionally

First impressions are key in an interview.  It’s your prime opportunity present yourself to the company and show you are serious about the job opportunity.  Professional dress is different than business casual.  Comb your hair, brush your teeth, iron your clothes. These little steps go a long way in demonstrating a professional demeanor. Showing up in jeans or sneakers almost guarantees you will get passed over for the job. It seems like common sense, but I’ve had candidates come well under-dressed for the interview.  Dress to impress!

How To Survive Your First Job Interview

Do: Update and Proofread Your Resume

This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway:  Update your resume and proofread for spelling and grammar.  Nothing says “I didn’t spend much time on my resume” than spelling errors, poorly worded and terribly formatted resumes. Often times I discard the resume and move on.  If there are spelling and grammar errors on your resume chances are you are going to make the same mistakes on the job.  The purpose of your resume is not to list all of your job duties in a pretty format.  You are marketing yourself to a company that knows nothing about you.   Cater your resume to the job you are applying for. The resume should support how well you qualify for the position in which you are interested.  If you just applied to a fast food restaurant and are now interviewing with a bank, I am not interested in your daily tasks that only applied to the old job.  Make your resume easy to read and don’t use outrageous fonts.  Recruiters only spend a few seconds skimming resumes.  Your resume should contain key words that pertain to the job. Doing so will allow the recruiter’s software to flag your resume for consideration.

Do: Study Common Interview Questions

Almost all hiring managers will ask similar, if not identical, questions. Interviewers can tell when candidates have done their homework and prepared great responses.  Never say “I don’t know” or “I don’t have any weaknesses.”  We all have weaknesses!  The key here is to show the interviewer that you identified the weakness, put a plan together to improve and it is now a strength.  If your weakness is math and you are interviewing for a banking job, chances are I’m going to pass on you unless you can show that you have taken the steps to improve.   Some interviewers will use behavioral interview questions.  Be prepared to go into detail as to when you had a challenge and what you did to get through it.  Keep these stories to the point and keep them work-related.

Do:  Arrive on Time

This is common sense, but I’ve had candidates show up 30 minutes late or even longer. You want to make a good first impression even before you walk into the building.  Arrive early and know where you are going.  We want you to be punctual every day should you get the job so showing up late doesn’t present a positive image.

How To Survive Your First Job Interview

Don’t:  Ask About Salary

This is a big turn off to companies.  You should never ask about the salary during an interview.  If the interviewer asks you what your salary expectations are then you can talk about it, but even then gear your response towards talking about what is best for the company and not what your needs are. After all, the whole reason the company is interviewing you is to find out how well you could fit within their organization. Definitely do not put the salary expectations on your resume and do not be the first to bring it up in the recruiting process.  Have an idea of what the salary is for the position and don’t provide an unrealistic number if you aren’t sure.

Don’t:  Bring Food, Drink or Gum

Common sense!  An interview is not a time to smack  your gum, snack on food or guzzle down a pop.  Save it for after the interview.  If the interviewer offers you something then you may partake.

Don’t:  Use Foul Language

Again, another common sense item but I have had people use words that I would never dream of using in an interview.  This is totally unprofessional and will guarantee that you won’t get the job.  If the position requires customer interaction you should demonstrate professional and courteous communication from the beginning.

Don’t:  Lie

Never lie about your work history, prior performance reviews, salary history, interview answers or references.  The prospective employer will do a background check and will know the answer before they ask you the question.  Honesty is always the best policy.

Don’t:  Forget a Thank You Note

This small extra step that requires almost no effort is so important.  If you have the hiring manager’s email address, send a thank you email no later than 24 hours from the time of the interview.  Make it about how well you fit in with the company goals – not about how the job would improve your income or experience.  These things are important, but not to be the focus of a thank you note.

The Best Ways To Respond to Criticism About Your Parenting

The Best Ways To Respond to Criticism About Your Parenting

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Like many parents, I’ve had my share of my parental criticism. As my kids get older, and I get more seasoned as a dad, I’ve learned to just ignore the morons who think they have it all figured out – especially those with NO kids.

So what do you do? It’s so easy to call out the person for criticizing you parenting skills, but it’s also easy to walk away.  With 4 kids now, I just don’t have time to stop what I’m doing in a public place to listen to them.  Walking away for me is the best answer.  But you may take it more seriously than I do.  It all depends on you and how open you are to listening to a stranger.

Here are a few stories I’d like to share today where I received criticism and how I handled it.

The Gatlinburg Hag

Being a parent means that there are going to be unavoidable times when someone outside the family (or many times from within) will criticize your parenting.  I can remember years ago when my kids were younger we were at a pancake house in Gatlinburg enjoying our vacation.  We don’t get a lot of vacation time so this was very special time for us. The kids were having a great time. They were eating, laughing and enjoying each other’s company until along came an old witch whose intention was to judge us and criticize us.  She and her husband had been minding their own business (so I thought) until she decided to say something to us when my oldest was quietly walking around the restaurant.  The restaurant was nearly empty and he was just exploring.  My wife and I had our eyes on him at all times and even walked over to escort him back to our table several times.  This mean old lady decides to tell us that we need to control our children.  I decided in that moment that I was going to get up and go say something to her – which I did.  I told her that she best finish up her meal and leave the restaurant before it ended up all over her face. I also said that she needs to mind her own business when it comes to judging our parenting.

Looking back on that moment years later I realize now that I should have probably ignored her and just focused on enjoying my family’s vacation. It stressed us all out and almost ruined the whole trip.  Nothing was gained from what I said to her and I can almost guarantee the lady (if she’s still alive and kicking) doesn’t even remember the incident. Why do I remember this so long after the fact?  Why do I let this continue to bother me?  As a parent we don’t like it when others tell us that they have a problem with the way our kids are behaving and how we choose to parent them.  It’s personal. It hits us below the belt. But, it’s how we react and respond that our kids will remember above and beyond the actual criticism.

Guy In Need of a Chill Pill

Several years ago, when my wife was pregnant, we had gone out to eat at a local Chinese restaurant.  As you get to know me you will learn that we have Chinese just about every week.  Anyway, it was raining hard and my wife was in a miserable condition.  I decided to pull the car right up to the entrance so all that she had to do was step right in and not get wet.  Go figure that a car parked directly across from where I was sitting needed to back out to leave the restaurant.  I backed up as much as I thought I needed to to let him out but he kept blowing his horn at me.  Out comes my wife and I pulled back up to let her in the car. She was priority because she was pregnant.   What does the guy do?  He gets out of his car and pounds on my window and yells “Don’t you know that it’s common sense to back up and let a car out of a parking space?”  I left the window up and ignored him to focus on helping my wife into the car.  The guy yelled some obscenity at me and then gave up. Ignoring that man was the best thing I could have done. I didn’t let his behavior distract me from what was really important – the safety and comfort of my pregnant wife and mother of my kids!

There are good stories that come out of being a parent.  So many people love talking to our kids when we are out and about.  It feels so good when they tell us how well behaved they are and how beautiful they are.  Our kids are good kids and they are the sweetest human beings on the face of this earth.  But, they are kids, and all kids misbehave from time to time.  Does that make us bad parents?  Of course not.  But, we need to realize that there are proper ways to handle criticism.  Remember, our kids are still watching even when we are trying to defend them and the choices that we make as parents.  Learning how to handle both the positive and negative that comes from being a parent only makes you stronger and it shows your kids just how committed you are to raising them to respect others regardless of how they treat us.  It’s the right thing to do.

Ways to Respond

  1. Would you be interested to know why I do XYZ instead of ABC as you are pointing out?
  2. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.
  3. I’ve tried doing it the way you are suggesting, but it doesn’t work well for my kids.
  4. Why are you asking?
  5. How do you handle situations like this with your kids?
  6. My kids are happy, healthy and well-parented. Thank you for your concern but I can handle it.
  7. Ignore them.

Do you disagree with how I handled either of the above situations?  Do you have examples to share with  me?  Any additional suggestions to add to the list above? I would really love to start a good discussion!

5 Mistakes You Must Avoid As A Parent

5 Mistakes You Must Avoid As A Parent

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I’ve been a daddy for 10 years now so I have learned a lot from my mistakes along the way. By no means am I perfect. By no means am I a failure. I enjoy being a dad in every moment of the day.

Every parent makes mistakes.  Geez, if we didn’t make mistakes, we’d never learn how to parent our kids the next time the issue comes up.  There are several mistakes that are avoidable. Here are 5 mistakes I have learned that are completely avoidable. I hope they are valuable to you!

4 Signs You Are Doing This Parenting Thing Totally Wrong

Mistake #1: Putting work first

Our jobs have lots of demands on them and we often spend valuable family time every day working and preparing for the next day.  I learned a long time ago that the best place for work is at work.  I found that 99% of the work I was doing outside of work could have been saved for the next day.  Our kids will never be the age they are at today ever again.  Babies grow up and learn so quickly that the blink of an eye can cause us to miss something important.  Put your family first and enjoy the ride.  Work is work but it can’t replace your kids.

Mistake #2: Allowing co-sleeping

We did the whole co-sleeping thing mainly with my now 9 year old.  He never had the opportunity to really develop solid sleep patterns.  He now sleeps in his room all night, but it hasn’t been easy getting him in the habit.  I’m not a fan of co-sleeping as I believe that it prevents the child from gaining independence and falling asleep on his or her own. Parents need the marital bed as much as the kids need their own bed.  The occasional crawl in the bed for a few hours in the morning is okay, but all night is something I am completely against.

Mistake #3: Give in to a screaming child.

Children have wants and needs just like the rest of us, but haven’t fully developed a way to properly deal with being told “no.”   When my kids scream in response to something I’ve told them no to I always try to keep a level head and avoid giving in just to end the screaming fit.  Giving in is a big no-no because it teaches them that by screaming at mommy and daddy they can get their way.  My daughter tried it this morning when she was not being very cooperative about what she wanted for breakfast. Don’t find yourself in a position where you are becoming an over-negotiator.  Your kids need to know that you, the parent, establish the rules and consequences and they do not.

Mistake #4: Arguing in front of your kids

We all have disagreement from time to time and is impossible to never argue.  Since we can’t avoid arguing, we need to practice healthy ways of communicating and resolving the issues at hand.  Our kids are watching us 24/7 and will learn our behaviors so modeling how to calmly discuss, compromise and resolve arguments is very important.  Raising our voices, calling names and belittling our spouse only teaches our kids that the behavior is acceptable.

Mistake #5: Avoiding travel

It’s hard to go 10 minutes down the street let alone on an 8 hour journey to grandma’s house.  We used to avoid long distance travel because we knew it would end up taking twice as long to get there.  Flying is almost impossible for us today simply because 6 plane tickets would break our bank account and then some.  I have learned that kids need to experience new places and cultures.  Don’t stop or avoid traveling because of the hassle.  Let the journey to your destination be a part of the adventure!  We have taken several cruises, trips to Gatlinburg and Georgia to visit my parents and countless trips to the beach.  Even though they may have been very young, it surprises me how many times one or more of my kids will say “Hey dad, remember when we went on that trip to…?”

What are some of the mistakes you are trying to avoid?  Feel free to share in the comments!


Gymboree Sale On Now!

We’re Not Vile, Just Misunderstood

We’re Not Vile, Just Misunderstood

This evening I am pleased to have my very first guest blogger on Go Ask Your Daddy! Margaret from Laughter is Better than Prozac was kind enough to blog about her frustrations as a Philadelphia Eagles fan.  As a Bengals fan I can truly relate!  Please check out her blog and be sure to follow her on Facebook:

 We’re Not Vile, Just Misunderstood

We’re Not Vile, Just MisunderstoodI look like your average American mom waiting for the school bus in my yoga pants, sipping my coffee. But I’ve got a secret and I’m pretty sure if the other moms knew, they’d never let their children come over again. I’m a devout member of the most despised football fandom in the US, the fans that boo injured opponents and pelted Santa with snowballs. I am Philadelphia Eagles fan.

It’s hard to be an Eagles fan. It’s even harder to be an Eagles fan when geographically displaced. I know. I’ve been temporarily relocated to Indianapolis for three years now and middle America is a lonely place for an Eagle but my loyalty had not faltered. Perhaps you saw me last year at the Monday Night Football season opener. I was one of two Eagles jerseys in the sea of blue at Lucas Oil Stadium. (The other was my husband and he was there under duress.) My children are the ones on the playground frolicking in McNabb and McCoy jerseys among the multitude of Lucks and Mannings. It’s not easy to love the Eagles but like any dysfunctional relationship, I’ve loved them so long, I don’t know how to do anything else.

Back in ‘94, when I landed in Philadelphia fresh out of college, I was a free agent. Oh, not that kind of free agent. I just mean I had no allegiances to any team. I grew up in Iowa, one of those unfortunate states void of any geographical team affiliation. Sure, depending on your side of the state you might be more Vikings than Bears but I was from southern Iowa so my fandom was ripe for the picking.

We’re Not Vile, Just Misunderstood

I knew little about Philly when I moved there but two things were certain: I was only stopping off for the two years it would take to do my Masters and I was never going to root for the Eagles. Eagles fans were horrible, vile beings and I would never become one of those. Ah youth. I ended up living in Philadelphia for 15 years, with intentions to return soon and I now bleed green.

When you move to Philadelphia, it doesn’t take long to know if you’re meant to be there or not. It’s a love it or hate it place, no in-betweens. It’s a surly, working class city with middle child syndrome, (Stuck right between it’s classier siblings New York and DC) where no one will sugar coat anything and if you don’t like it, no one cares. (My kind of people.) It’s a city where things tend to go the opposite of how you’d hoped and nothing is ever easy. But, if you love Philadelphia, it will love you back, (even if that love does come in the form a stanky, sweat, pee and cheesesteak infused embrace). Once you’re in, you’re in and it’s the same with the Eagles.

It only took one season for Ray Rhodes and Randall Cunningham to suck me in, just like it only took about two months for me to realize I was meant to be in Philly for the long haul. Eagles fans aren’t vile, we’re just passionate but much like the city itself, we tend to be a little rough around the edges. It’s hard for us to show our love without a slug to the chin. (Which is pretty much why in 1998 Judge Seamus McCaffery had to open an actual jail and courtroom right in the stadium. Can your football team say that? I didn’t think so.)

We’re Not Vile, Just Misunderstood

Are we loud? Yes. Are we overly-aggressive? Sure. Do we love our boys even when they suck? (And thanks to Chip Kelly, there’s been a lot of suckage lately.) Yes we do, but we make sure to let them know we’re not pleased. And as proven recently in the case of the aforementioned Mr. Kelly, fan displeasure can mean a coach’s demise. (Farewell Chip.)

Sure, we are the fan base that booed Santa in 1968 but in our defense, there were extenuating circumstances.  (Yea, ok, even I can’t try to spin that in a good light. Yo sorry Santa. Wrong place, wrong time.) And yes, Sports Illustrated named us worst fans in the NFL for 2015 but there is a sense of pride in being the most despicable. Ultimately, Eagles fans are just a manifestation of Philadelphia. We’re a bunch of Rocky Balboas, a little rough and a little raw but filled with immeasurable passion and determination. Just like Adrian had to learn to understand Rocky, America will someday learn to love the Eagles fans.

Until that day, I will keep flying my Eagles flag in my neighborhood of Colts. I will tell my young sons of the good old days when we actually made the playoffs and I will continue to reassure myself every August that “this year is our year.” For I bleed green. I am an Eagle…and I’m used to disappointment.

Winning the Video Game Battle With Your Kids!

Winning the Video Game Battle With Your Kids

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Do you have video games in your house?  I do.  And I’m one that likes to play sports games like crazy.  What guy doesn’t, right?  I can’t count the number of times my kids have fought over whose turn it was.

How do you manage a house that has several video gaming consoles and still keep the peace?  As a daddy of 4 it can be challenging to keep everyone happy when it comes to video games.  Here are 10 tips I came up with to help others in my situation:


Tip #1: It’s a Privilege

We teach our kids that video game time is a privilege and they have to earn it.  Homework, chores and family time come first.  Those things are necessities.  We can survive without video games.  Nothing we do with video games directly impacts our survival.

Tip #2: Set a Time Limit

If we didn’t set a time limit, our kids would probably play all day and all night.   Use a phone timer or the microwave timer to provide a reminder that time is up.  Don’t extend the time!  If 30 minutes is the limit you have set then stick with it.

Tip #3: Add In Educational Games

There are many different types of educational games out there so it’s a great idea to try to incorporate these into your household.  There are trivia games that the whole family can play together.  Yes, it is possible to play video games and have quality family time at the same time!

Tip #4: Permit Only Age Appropriate Games

Limit the genres that your kids are allowed to select when buying new video games.  A 6 year old should not be playing Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto.  My kids usually play Lego games, sports games and Barbie games.  If you would play it during a guy’s night out it’s probably not appropriate for kids.

Tip #5: Promote Patience, Sharing and Helping

Even playing a video game can give your kids ample opportunities to practice patience, sharing and helping.  Take advantage wherever you can! Your 6 year old may be dying to play his game, but his sister still has 30 minutes left with her turn.  Having patience is a skill that should be taught at an early age.

Tip #6: Teach Organizational Skills

The fun is over so now what?  It’s time to take the game out of the console, put it in its case and back in storage.  Teach your kids that a condition of playing the game is to take care of it and store it properly. This also prolongs the life of the game by preventing scratch and dirt from destroying it.  There’s nothing more frustrating that a game that won’t work when you are itching to play the game.

Tip #7: Recognize Achievement

Your child wins the World Series or the Super Bowl in their video games. Just like anything else, he or she gets excited and seeks out recognition.  Celebrate with your child and congratulate them on a job well done.  This goes beyond it just being a game. It’s becoming more about sharing successes with them.

Tip #8: Teach Them How To Cope With Failure

Your child is not going to immediately win every game he or she plays.  Mine get easily frustrated and tend to try to restart the game or quit altogether.  If they try to quit at a video game chances are they will try to quit at other things in life.  Teach them to play the game until the end.  Down by 50 points?  Teach them to keep trying and play it out.  This scenario could definitely happen to them in real life.

Tip #9: Promote Games That Require Physical Activity

The Wii is good at requiring the user to get up and do some sort of physical action.  Back in my day it was a pad made for running on and jumping on.  Kids seem to like these games a lot and at least they are not being still for 2 hours!

Tip #10: Buy Used Games Instead of New

There are many stores today where you can buy games at a deep discount.  We’ve bought many sports games from the previous version year $20-$30 less than the most recent version.  This will help save money in the long run. You can also sell games back when you are done and get cash back!  Some stores have rewards programs.  Take advantage where you can and score free games!

Believe it or not, you CAN have video game consoles in your house and still keep your sanity!