Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ category

Five job interview tips you must follow

30 November 2015, in Miscellaneous | Add a comment »

Almost five years after I wrote Stand out from the crowd, I find myself surprised at how some of the candidates my colleagues and I interview fail to follow basic interview practices, so I guess it’s time to share some tips with anyone trying to do well at their next interview.

These tips apply to face-to-face interviews: Skype and Google Hangouts are fundamentally different. Except for my number one tip, which is:

Be on time

Account for traffic, public transport meltdowns, too many red lights, slow tourists walking in front of you, getting lost, doing a pee, and at least 5 minutes to get through reception at any medium to large building.

Bring your portfolio

Do not assume the person who will interview you will have a laptop or tablet at hand, or even reliable Wi-Fi access. “But how can a respectable business not be supplied with reliable Wi-Fi access?”, you might ask. That is true, but unexpected cuts do happen, and you might just be unlucky enough that it happens at the same time you need to open your website.

Don’t be a lazybones. Bring your laptop or a tablet loaded with examples of your work in a PDF, or running locally. The sight of a good old-fashioned printed portfolio, while quaint, is also quite exciting.

Listen, do not interrupt

Interrupting is okay in very few circumstances. Be polite, wait, and listen carefully. When you don’t interrupt, and wait before you start talking for a second or two, the person who is conducting the interview might speak a little bit more, giving you precious cues on what they want to hear from you.

Let yourself be interrupted

Build pauses into your speech. Being stuck in a room with someone who will not stop talking can be anxiety-inducing. Don’t assume the people you are meeting have all the time in the world. They might be hungry and only have 10 minutes to grab lunch before their next meeting, or they might have to get back to their desks and do some super urgent work right after talking to you. You might have gotten off-track and be talking in circles. Let them stop you without it being awkward.

You can practice doing this with anyone you have to talk to. Pay attention to the way you speak, and add subtle pauses to your speech at key moments.

Make sure you understand the question

This follows on from the previous point. Ask the interviewer if you’re answering the question they’ve asked you, or if they meant something else, when you’re not sure. And even if you are sure, sometimes you understood things incorrectly, so, again, if you build pauses into your speech, it will be easier for them to swerve you in the right direction.

The other side

I would say that these tips apply not only to the candidate, but also to the person conducting the interview. If you are the one running the interview, on top of the tips above, I think that making sure you know what role the candidate is being interviewed for, and taking the time to read through their CV and look at their portfolio are pretty basic requirements.

Final words

There are so many more things you want to make sure to avoid during an interview, like being completely distracted or looking at your phone, but I guess if you go that far, you’re probably not interested in the job.

For me, the tips listed here are no-brainers. Surprisingly, candidates repeatedly fail to follow them, sometimes forgetting about more than one or two in one go.

Did I miss anything important? And what about golden rules for someone conducting an interview? Let me know in the comments.

(By the way, as usual, we are hiring.)

386 days later: returning to work after maternity leave

7 October 2015, in Events, Life, Miscellaneous | Add a comment »

On August 19th this year I returned to work after being on maternity leave for over a year.

It didn’t feel weird. I think I was lucky: I knew my team was looking forward to my return; I knew I’d have plenty of things to catch up on but I also knew the ropes. Things change in one year, but a lot of things stay the same.

I wasn’t scared, or sad. On the 18th, I mostly worried I’d forget I had to go to work the following day.

My son was (and is) at a stage where he moves about a lot, but needs constant supervision, distractions, things to play with. It’s important for me that he meets other babies and broadens the number of people he knows. I felt excited for both of us. And particularly excited that it was up to my husband, and not me, to do the settling in at his new daycare — that wasn’t so easy.

Looking back

I had big plans for my maternity leave, most of which I didn’t follow through.

Firstly, the three weeks I had planned to hand over my work vaporised when my son decided to be born 6 weeks prematurely: no hand over document, no final catch ups, no farewell lunches. Also, no time to even get a hospital bag ready, or make those final purchases you won’t have time (or brain) to think about once you’re handed a newborn.

I decided eventually to put my Open University Creative Writing module on hold until the following year. They make you write. A lot. Every day. Several times a day. I would wake up every morning already feeling frustrated that I wouldn’t be able to do my module work for that day. I hadn’t gotten out of bed and I was already procrastinating. (You’re supposed to write for a few minutes upon rising everyday… Yeah.) Just a few months before, I was debating whether I should sign up to two modules: I was going to be off work for a whole year, what else would I be doing, right?! But it felt good to quit. When I told my husband about my decision, it was like a dark cloud suddenly stopped hanging over my head.

I did somehow managed to complete a few Code School courses over the last few months. It felt good to learn something.

On top of things

I must confess I kept my work inbox clear — that’s how I roll. I’d frequently delete or archive emails I knew someone would have to deal with immediately, and kept the ones I thought might still be relevant when I’d come back — there weren’t many of those. If you wait long enough, requests have a tendency to go away.

For some reason, I received several invitations to speak at events during that year. When I was 6 months pregnant I spoke at Responsive Day Out. In May this year I spoke at Front-Trends, in Warsaw. Last month I spoke at London’s Generate and Oslo’s makingWeb. Next month I’ll be at View Source, in Portland. In January I’m going to Awwwards, in Amsterdam. And more.

It wasn’t super easy to prepare for these events, but the sense of accomplishment was, and is, great once you’re done.

Final words

I can hardly believe we’re now approaching Christmas 2015. I’m back at work, my son is in nursery, and my year off has come and gone. It was extraordinary to have had this time with him, and with my husband, when he could. And I’m also very happy to be back at work, and to settle into a new routine.

I find it interesting that I don’t see this topic mentioned amongst our industry (are we calling it ‘industry’ now?). I follow several parents on Twitter, Facebook, but rarely I see accounts of how being away for a few months or more has affected them (mums, dads, and other carers). I would like to know what other people’s experience has been. Did you keep in touch with work? Did you tune everything out? Did you cancel personal projects? Did you read a lot? Did you watch the news? Did you do freelance work? How did you pay the bills? I’d like to know everything and there’s so little out there that is specific to us.

The Pastry Box Project

22 January 2012, in Inspiration, Miscellaneous, Rants, Resources | 1 comment »

I wanted to call your attention to The Pastry Box Project, which started this year on 1st January, and aims at collecting thoughts from 30 individuals that are “influential in their field”, one thought per day — I can say I’m happy to have been asked to participate (and do visit my thought’s page).

After a restless start to the year, I finally had time and head to sit down and read through the first few weeks of thoughts. Some are longer than others, but invariably there is something alluring about diving in so quickly and for such brief a moment into someone else’s mind.

Project 52, or why I need a helping hand

6 January 2010, in Miscellaneous, Project 52 | 15 comments »

Sometimes you do things out of an impulse, and only think of the consequences later. That’s what happened when I signed up/pledged/signed my life away/subscribed to Project 52 (#p52) — only a few days later, looking at my already crammed writing schedule, I realised it wasn’t going to be easy.


A quick note about my interview with Ryan Taylor

20 September 2009, in Miscellaneous | 1 comment »

For those who’d like to know who’s behind this website, now you can: I’ve done an interview with Ryan Taylor—from Havoc Inspired and Boagworld—which you can take a look at right here.