Questions to ask the interviewer

One of the most important interviewing tips has to be examples of questions to ask the interviewer. Typically, at the end of an interview you are asked, “do you have any questions for me/us?” And this seems to stump a lot of people, it has me in the past.

I always suggest researching the company you are interviewing with, this will help you come up with questions to ask. Read over the mission statement and discover as much as you can about the company. When researching find answers to the following:

  • Are they opening a new division or beginning a new project?
  • Have they been highlighted in a recent article or received an award?
  • Did they recently celebrate a milestone such as so many years in business, etc.?
  • Is there a board, committee, executive team, etc. if so familiarize yourself with the names.
  • Do employees participate in a volunteer day or does the company support a local non-profit?
  • Is there an accomplishment or focus that the company has that you connect with or feel passionate about?

Once you answer the questions above or similar ones you are prepared to ask a variety of questions to the interviewer(s). Example questions to ask the interviewer include:

  • I recently read that the company expanded out of state, can you tell me more about that expansion?
  • I read in a recent article that the company was awarded the best place to work recognition, can you tell me more about that process?
  • I know two of the main responsibilities of this position are to coordinate travel and set up quarterly board meetings. Can you explain a bit more about who requires travel, is it every member of the board, etc.? And please describe a typical agenda for the meetings. 
  • Please provide a brief summary of a typical day in that position.
  • What professional development opportunities are offered?
  • What is your (or each committee member’s) favorite app or program that is used most often?

What questions have you asked during an interview?

Have any interviewing or career or writing questions? Contact me below or at successencourager@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!

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Personal Mission Statement

A personal mission statement not only helps you create and accomplish goals, but also focus on the future you want in a brief summary. Your personal mission statement describes what success means to you. It summarizes where you want to be in the future and should reflect your goals, values and life’s purpose. Everyone’s should be unique to them.

You can create such a statement through a few questions and a journey through personal self-discovery. This process helps you focus on the most important goals and encourages you to create a list of steps to accomplish them! Once you have a personal mission statement you can expand that into a more detailed mission and goal list.

You can create a personal mission statement by asking yourself:

  • What is important to me?
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What does my future look like?
  • What skills and experience do I have?
  • What skills do I need to learn?
  • What makes me unique?
  • Do my goals include others?
  • How will my goals benefit others?
  • What values are most important to me?

Once you have answers to the questions above, you can start to piece together a statement by combining the words that mean the most to you and create your own personal mission statement.

After a lot of drafts, I came up with my own personal mission statement:

To encourage others to set goals & succeed, share my professional and personal knowledge and create through my passion for writing.

Other samples include:

  • “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” – Oprah Winfrey’s personal statement
  • “To have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes.” – Sir Richard Branson’s personal statement
  • “Making the best possible ice cream, in the nicest possible way.” Ben & Jerry’s mission statement

What is your personal mission statement? What goal do you want to focus on and accomplish?

Thank you for reading!!

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Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

Categorize your goal

Goals are easier to focus on when you can categorize them and have a ‘why’. The ‘why’ is what you envision your future being once the goal is accomplished. I have listed some categories below.

For example learning to decorate cakes could fit into the Spirit category as a hobby or creative outlet. The ‘why’ could be to personalize a celebration cake for a birthday, shower, special anniversary or as a positive outlet since you already enjoy baking and want to expand that skill. This goal could even turn into a new full-time or part-time career.

Once you have a category and a ‘why’ it is easier to prioritize and focus on the steps. Using the example above, decorating cakes, the first step might be to research cake decorating classes, estimating cost, timeframe and what supplies might be needed. Another step could be saving for the training, purchasing supplies and organizing your home so you can hone your skills after the training. A future step might be researching the requirements for starting a small business or working for a baker.

Prioritizing and accomplishing a goal can encourage you to explore more and offer endless possibilities.

Well-beingMental and physical health; stretching, walking, meditation, conscious eating, plenty of water. Ask yourself – What are my health goals, what are my limits?

SpiritSelf-care, gratitude journaling, positive affirmations, create, hobbies. Ask yourself – What brings joy and peace? What nourishes me?

Circle – Mutual relationships that allow you to give and receive support; family, friends, work friendships, recovery groups, clubs or hobby groups. Ask yourself – Who balances with me? Who supports me and invites my support?

ProductivityDaily routine; work, volunteering, care giver, budgeting, learning. Ask yourself – What is my current daily schedule (define it). What do I want my future schedule or routine to look like and consist of?

The May giveaway announcementI’m offering a FREE goal categorizing session to the first five people to contact me that are interested in creating a beginner’s goal priority. We will work through a few questions via email focusing on a goal you’d like to make a priority with suggested first steps. Email me if interested! successencourager@gmail.com 

Thank you so much for reading! What goal category is your focus right now?

 

Professional Development Value

Professional development is key to not only successfully performing your career choice but also for enjoying the position! Continuing to learn new skills and enhance the ones you have helps you be more productive but it also brings about a sense of pride and creativity. There are several professional development opportunities available through articles, books, webinars, online courses, conferences and peer to peer communication and sharing resources.

Some resources are free or very low costs while conferences or online training can seem costly and require justification. When talking with other assistants, from a variety of industries, the cost is always a concern.

A simple justification is that the best way to find relevant resources is by attending a conference. Last year, when I attend the Accelerated Assistant conference by Office Dynamics I learned so many great tips over those four short days from the professional speakers and during the team activities. Joan Burge shared her experience and resources with the group daily. The learning did not stop there though! After returning to work, I followed up with subscribing to a few of the newsletters from the speakers and read their blog posts, which offered time-saving and organizational tips and highlighted apps and programs. I shared those sites and posts with my coworkers which offered several additional communication and learning opportunities.

So, how do you justify travel and conference fees? I did a lot of research before attending the conference including costs, speaker topics, and experience, balanced with team and networking opportunities and chose the best conference for my needs and learning expectations. I typed up a justification form to present to my manager. I highlighted several topics of interests and the speaker’s credentials and experience, relating the topics to several of my yearly performance goals.

I also detailed the costs; hotel, registration, and flight. Breaking down the total cost of an average conference which is about $2600.

  • $217 a month
  • $50 a week
  • $7.12 a day

That is a bargain for continued education that would provide resources for me to be even more productive!

Luckily, I have a professional and respected working relationship with my manager. When we met and went over the document and talked more about the conference and what was offered his only additional request was that I present my experience with coworkers after I returned. About two months after the conference I completed a presentation to about 20 of my coworkers. I shared my experience, discussed the temporary support team I had worked with daily at table 28, shared websites of the speakers, newsletter links, and books that were suggested.

Most conferences detail the agenda and speaker information while providing justification letter templates or suggested content for meeting with managers to help you through the process. Office Dynamics offers this information as well. I highly recommend attending a conference to open resource doors, to continue your education about your industry and position and to learn time-saving tips that will benefit you long after you return to work!

Almost six months after attending the conference I still utilize resources and relationships I formed during that training. I continue to share tips with my team that I receive via weekly newsletter subscriptions, blog post readings, etc. I’m also looking forward to attending this year’s conference – The Stellar Assistant. With all new speakers, additional content, learning labs and unlimited online access to the videos, participant guide, and bonus materials. I’m anxious to share even more reading suggestions, tips and speaker websites with my team!

What are some of your favorite professional development resources? What books do you suggest?

A few of my favorite reads are; Tribes by Seth Godin, just about anything from Wallace Wattles, Permission to live the Big Life by Joan Burge, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, A Beautiful Questions by Frank Wilczek, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, there are too many to name!

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions about a sample justification letter or how to talk with your manager about professional development opportunities please contact me and I’d be happy to share more of my experience!

Shine during your next interview!

You have the skills, the professional and personal experience and the passion needed to apply for the position. You’ve submitted the application, resume, references, and other documents required. You get the invitation to interview. Your palms sweat and you automatically get nervous. How can you convey that you are exactly the candidate they need to hire?

Be prepared! Simple right? Well, it can be, yes. Alleviate interview stress by being prepared and confident to answer any question the interviewee or committee may ask you!

One of the easiest ways to prepare for an interview is to study your resume. Yes, duh, you know exactly what is on your resume, most likely you created it, but it’s not just about your past positions or experiences. Study your resume along with the current job description you want to apply for by breaking down the list of responsibilities and turning them into questions (and answer those questions!).

For example

  • Position requirement – Applicant must have ability to flourish in a fast-paced environment while adapting to change as needed. Question – This statement would become the following – How have I flourished in a fast-paced environment while adapting to change?
  • Answer – Discover your answer by using the facts on your resume or the application you filled out. If you had a position as an assistant in a busy marketing department maybe you were constantly juggling tight deadlines on a daily basis with numerous projects going at one time. Define how you organized those projects and tracked deadlines, keeping your manager or team informed of progress, updates and milestone timelines as they passed. Include a particular project that changed course or the deadline was moved up due to client’s request and again state your role and how it worked out despite the challenges.

Once you turn each position requirement into a question and prepare an answer you will exude confidence and be reminded of all the hard work you have put into your professional development and why you truly are the perfect candidate!

Two more basic tips that can help you prepare for the interview:

  • Study the company. Typically, companies have informative web sites, most have mission statements, progress reports, etc. Learn about the company and talk about key points you relate to with the hiring manager or committee. Did they recently incorporate a new product or program you have experience with? Does their mission statement echo your own passion or interest?
  • Don’t forget to ask the hiring manager or committee questions. Questions such as ‘What are the top three main responsibilities or goals of the employee in this position?’, ‘What is one common company goal and what resources do employees have to help accomplish this?’, ‘What is one common personality and/or one common skill shared by past employees that held this position?’ or ‘Please briefly describe one of the team’s current projects and what role this position will play’.

Of course there are numerous articles with tips and resources about a variety of career interviews. I’m just sharing a few of the most popular that I have personally used or shared with others when editing or creating their resumes. I hope you found them beneficial!

I’d love to hear your favorite interview tip. Let me know if you have any questions about the interview process.

Thank you so much for reading!

Enthusiasm at work. Why?

What’s the point? I’ve heard this question in small groups and at a recent conference I attended. Let me boldly tell you the short answer to this – YOU, you are the point.

Of course, an employer benefits from your professionalism, enthusiasm and productivity, but your own well-being benefits much more. In a fast paced deadline driven world it’s time to view a job well done as a benefit to one’s self. Your performance is an opportunity for you to express yourself while sharing your original skills that got you the job in the first place. Be enthusiastic not just about the duties you perform, but about your own performance and amazing offerings! Once this is realized and accepted your entire work environment will change and your well-being will improve!

How so? There have been numerous studies relating mental and physical illnesses to stress. Taking care of yourself is no longer a luxury or an option, it’s a requirement. And one very important way of doing that is self-care and decreasing stress. Options include meditation and exercise, but there are also many other ways to reduce stress including positive attitude and affirmations. Bringing that positivity to your job empowers your entire being. Go ahead let your inner brightness shine blindingly. Be awesome, it benefits you no matter where you choose to shine (current position, promotion, at home, new position, volunteering, or while meeting with your trivia buddies).

Think of the last time you were stressed at work. Was it a stressful, day, week…full month? Next, break it down. Was it stressful because of another person’s view of the situation, was it work overload, maybe major changes occurring? Or possibly being too focused on the negative aspect of ‘what’s the point‘? Ask yourself how could the situation have been different if you had focused on personal care & reflection with a more positive outlook?

Aligning your goals both personally and professionally encourages you to be more confident at work, acknowledge the skills you possess and were hired to share while keeping a positive attitude that flows through your work hours and at home. I know my day flows much better when I start my mornings with meditation, self-reflection and visualization. When a stressful situation occurs at work I can focus on the actions needed to fix it while staying positive.

With a self-care routine you can…

  • Let go of the negative thoughts that creep in during a stressful day
  • Reconnect with your inner awesomeness; your personality shines through even if your position or company changes
  • Not dwell on being a good employee, but instead concentrate on bringing your unique skills to a job that craves your originality – achievement will undoubtedly come

You are not just an employee; you’re an entire being that spends a certain amount of hours providing your experiences to a work team. No matter what your title is, you contribute to a team by being yourself, sharing your skills and recognizing your offerings.

Your offerings consist of several attributes…

  • Personality
  • Experience
  • Training and/or education (institutionally or self-paced)
  • Demeanor
  • Professionalism and so on – share and embrace each one!

By carrying your offerings into your work environment you become more connected with yourself and deal with change in a more positive way by not letting it change the core of who you are. This allows you to confidently share ideas, maintain a positive reaction to negative situations and view your position as one with many opportunities that you can control, create and accept.

What offerings do you share with your team that brings joy to you professionally and personally? Do you have a morning routine that makes your day less stressful?

Thank you so much for reading. You’re awesome.

Turning resolutions into lifestyle

Even if you work full-time and average 8 hours of sleep each night you have about 6 hours each day to dedicate to your goals and passions. I’m going to share a schedule that I personally use to create a lifestyle I choose, I feel excited about and can help me achieve any goal! I have a lot to share so I will break it down over the next few article posts.

There are several popular articles with great tips on keeping resolutions and setting personal and professional goals. A simple google search will provide several!

First, I want to share my categories that help me stay focused when planning my day. I ‘assign’ a category to each part of my daily schedule to keep me focused. If I can’t find a category to fit it in, then most likely it isn’t necessary. For example, excuses and complaining do not have a category in my life (something I’m working on!). And all four categories are intertwined, so they can and should overlap, but separating them out helps me focus (which is what I personally need!)

My nourishment categories:

  • Well-being – Mental and physical health; stretching, walking, meditation, conscious eating, plenty of water. Ask yourself – What are my health goals, what are my limits?
  • Spirit – Self-care, gratitude journaling, positive affirmations, create, hobbies. Ask yourself – What brings joy and peace? What nourishes me?
  • Circle – Mutual relationships that allow you to give and receive support; family, friends, work friendships, recovery groups, clubs or hobby groups. Ask yourself – Who balances with me? Who supports me and invites my support?
  • Productivity – Daily routine; work, volunteering, care giver, budgeting, learning. Ask yourself – What is my current daily schedule (define it). What do I want my future schedule or routine to look like and consist of?

Once your categories are defined you can create a ‘schedule’ and fit it into a category. Seeing your schedule written out helps not only see how time is spent, but also provide accountability opportunities. You are the only one you need to be accountable to. This is your life, your future and remember your passion is worth your time!

Here is my schedule/routine and how my hours are spent. As you can see I have no excuses that should start with ‘but I don’t have time’. It’s right here in writing. Yes, I have time for me and my passions and goals. Excuses have no category!

Typical Monday through Friday:

  • 6:00 am – Wake up and shower
  • 6:30 am – Coffee in hand, reflection time begins, meditation (just 5 minutes), positive reading and quiet time with hubby
  • 7:00 am – Get ready for work (Makeup, hair, dressed, gather work meals to go)
  • 7:30 am – Start commute
  • 8:00 am – Clock in and begin morning work routine
  • 11:30 am – Lunch (eat, reflect, 1 minute breathing exercise via Headspace app)
  • 12:00 to 4:30 pm – Afternoon work routine
  • 4:30 pm – Start commute back home
  • 5:00 to 10:00 pm – Five evening hours. These hours include various activities such as appointments, errands and time with my mom, errands for my aunt, one on one with my husband, dinner/cooking, reading, writing, research, library events, creating lists, reviewing research and outlines, article writing and research, learning and anything unexpected that can pop up
    • between my hour or so in the morning before getting ready for work, my 30 minute lunch break and my five hours before bed, I have 6.5 hours a day I can plan just about any way I want
  • 10:00 pm (sometimes 10:30) – Bedtime

Typical Saturday (16 hour day, after 8 hours of sleep) :

  • 7:30 am – Coffee, reflection, couple time, positive reading
  • 8:30 to 10:30 am – Cook breakfast with hubby, conversations, reading
  • 10:30 am – Shower, dressed, prepare for day
  • 11:30 am – Review and/or create weekend lists, write out outlines for articles
  • 12:30 pm – Errands and drive time
  • 1:30 pm to 7:30 pm – Family time with my sister and nephew (and 45 minutes driving each way)
  • 7:30 to 11:30 pm – Couple dinner/cooking, conversation, reading, writing, research
  • 11:30 (ish) pm – Bedtime

Typical Sunday (about 15 hours after 8 hours of sleep):

  • 7:30 am – Coffee, reflection, couple time, positive reading
  • 8:30 am to 1:30 pm – Cook breakfast together, write outlines, writing research, read
  • 1:30 pm – Shower, dressed, etc.
  • 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm – Errands, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.
  • 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm – Cook dinner together, cleanup, conversations, lists for upcoming week
  • 8:00 to 10:30 pm – prepare work lunches/snacks, read, write, outlines, research, learn

I can easily fit each item into a category. For example reading and writing are spirit and productivity for me since my writing is a main focus and will continue to be (I like owning my future and goals..writing it  out helps me a lot!)

Obviously, some hours are not as flexible as others. If you work and have set hours to work or care for someone those hours are typically always the same, but several hours a day are flexible for me once I’m done at work and on the weekends. Seeing this written out helps me focus on accomplishments, not just goal setting!

I have a lot more to share, but this post is long enough! I appreciate your time reading it and I hope this encourages you to write out your current schedule/routine, so we can travel this journey together.

I encourage you to document how your spend your hours and think about how you want to spend them…If you have any questions please ask! Any additional tips? Please share!

Thanks again for reading!