Job Interview Snippets and Tips

I’ve applied to well over 20 jobs.

I’ve had a total of 5 interviews.

There’s no question that it’s a tough job market out there right now for almost everyone…in almost every field.

Obviously, I’m still looking for another part-time or full-time job in addition to my current part-time job.  And I wish I would have had someone share their job interview experience with me at the very beginning to save me a lot of mistakes and mishaps.  Which is why I decided to share my own personal experiences with all of you fellow job-seekers out there!

SARAH’S LIST OF INTERVIEW DO’S and DON’TS

1. Buy a nice suit.

Or at least a nice outfit, depending on how formal your job interview is expected to be.  This is for several reasons: (a) You want to walk in feeling confident and looking your best.  Feeling confident will show in your attitude, demeanor and voice.  Also, (b) if you’re neck and neck with a fellow contender, they’re going to choose the person who looked the part.  Lastly, (c) it’s always expected that you’re going to dress DOWN from the interview on.  So don’t show up in sloppy attire, because to them, that just means you’ll look really bad once you’re actually working. 😉

2. Print extra copies of your resume and reference letters.

After each and every interview, I’ve had someone ask me for an extra resume which they forgot to print.  One time, HR didn’t have a copy of my reference letters and asked for this as well.  You never want to show up looking unprepared!

3. Research the company.

First of all, I know how desperate the job hunt can be.  But you have to convince yourself not to take any job that you feel uncomfortable with.  Really.  You want to find out if you’ll fit in with the company’s policies, ideas, beliefs.  Is the company expanding?  Can you grow there?  Is there room for development and growth?  Look at the company website, facebook, news articles, etc.

And, of course, it’s good to know where the company is heading.  You want to show them that if they hire you, you can help them reach their goals!

4. Know thyself.

In other words, spend a day or two just going through your past experiences.  A former professor gave me this advice, and I can not express how important this is.

You’ll never know all the questions that will be asked on interview day.  But remembering that time when you had a conflict with a coworker and how you dealt with it, or that day when you had a super busy/stressful day and how you dealt with that, will serve you well.  You can bring in your personal experiences with most of the questions that will be asked.  And, you’ll feel prepared.

5. Have a strong resume.

Keep it organized and straightforward.  Read through it time and time again.  Have good, honest people look it over for you as well and ask them what they think (would they hire you?)

6. Be yourself.

The best interviews that I’ve had were the ones when I convinced myself to just relax and be myself.  These are the ones when I was told by the hiring managers that I was an extremely close contender.  Relax.  Breathe.  Don’t be afraid to show them your personality!

7. Think of something that makes you stand out.

Food blogger?  Active in the community?  Author of a newsletter?  Involved in leadership positions?  Active at your church?  Experience working with various age groups/personalities?

Think of the things that really make you pop out from other people so that they’ll remember you come decision day!

8. Don’t talk too much.

I have this problem.  Big time.  The worst interviews I’ve had have been the ones where I gab on and on about myself, only to realize that I’ve been side tracked from the original question (gulp!…never a good thing!)  People want straight forward answers.  Keep it simple and be specific!

9. Review popular questions.

Google “popular job interview questions” and spend some time thinking them over.  You’ll go to your interview feeling prepared.

10. Shake off excess energy.

I’m always a bundle of nerves before an interview.  Going for a run or a long walk beforehand really calms me down and brings everything into perspective.

11. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Give yourself a pat on the back for doing your best.

We all have good interview and bad interview experiences (trust me on that one!)  Give yourself permission to cry a little or to vent to a friend or to get upset for an hour or two.  But then pick yourself back up, shake off the dirt, and carry on.  It takes one YES to make this all worth it.  Keep plugging away.  Learn from your mistakes.

And then, move forward.


QUESTION: What are your top interview do’s and don’ts?

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A Day of Good Eats.

The dietitian side of me is always curious to see what other people are eating on a daily basis, so I figured that it might be fun to have a day of showing what I’m eating from morning till night.

Some days are different (i.e., I like ice cream and french fries too!) but for the most part, this is a pretty typical pattern.

Especially the night time chocolate snack, which is an absolute MUST.  Chocolate has heart health benefits and it keeps my cravings at bay.  So yes.  That makes chocolate a must, must, must in my life. 😉

7:00am Breakfast

Breakfast this morning was 1/4 cup oatmeal cooked with 1 cup water and lots of spice, in the form of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.   I cooked the oats for about 3 minutes in the microwave, with 1/2 a banana.  The other half was served on top, along with 2 Tbsp. almond butter.

Plus a glass of vanilla soy milk on the side for some extra protein and a calcium boost.

8:00am Break
Gotta get my daily coffee fix!
I used to only drink sweetened coffee until discovering that the sweetness of soy milk was enough to satisfy me.  And now I’m turned on to unsweetened almond milk, which gives the coffee a nice nutty flavor (without any added sweeteners.)
10:30am Break
A cup of apple spiced tea after a brisk 45 minute morning walk.
11:00am Lunch
Grocery shopping came later in the afternoon, which meant I had to (literally) scrounge around the fridge to make today’s lunch.
Thankfully, there were plenty of mixed greens left, so I had a large plate of that with a diced carrot, about 1/4 cup salsa, 1/2 cup beans, 2 Tbsp walnut pieces and 2 Wasa Sourdough crackers crumbled on top.  Lemon juice and fresh black pepper completed the deal for a surprisingly satisfying (and filling!) lunch.
3:00pm Snack
There’s something about a parfait that makes everything seem so special.  Something about spooning crunchy sweet bits of berries, granola and yogurt out of a large jar that is just so irresistibly fun!
Today’s parfait included layers of about 1 cup plain, fat free yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon, 1 cup of strawberries and 1/4 cup homemade granola.  
Layers of goodness.
5:30pm Break
Drinking licorice tea while making dinner!
6:15pm Dinner
Thursdays can be a bit insane around here, so I made dinner simple tonight.
In a 400 degree oven, I roasted 1 chopped kabocha squash, 10 brusses sprouts (halved,) 1 large fennel bulb (sliced thin), 5 cloves garlic (peeled and sliced,) 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 pinches of crushed red pepper in the oven for 40 minutes, flipping half way through the cooking time.
Once that was ready, I simply scooped about 2 cups worth of veggies on top of about 1/2 cup cooked rice.  The finishing touch was 1/4 cup 50% reduced fat cheddar cheese and 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds.
You can’t go wrong with any combination of roasted veggies, healthy fats, protein and a whole grain underneath.
Sometimes simple really is best!
8:00pm Snack
Daily chocolate fix = handful of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate covered almonds.
Yummy finish.
QUESTION: Do your days seem to follow a pretty “set” pattern as far as your eating habits go?  I don’t follow any hard and fast rules but I will almost always (1) have some form of produce with each snack/meal, (2) have a piece of some form of dark chocolate and (3) eat every 3-4 hours to keep my metabolism humming and to keep feelings of starvation away.  These simple three guidelines keep me happy. 😀

when life throws a curve ball.

I’ve always had an obsessive personality.

When I was eight, my walls were covered head to toe in horse posters.  I owned my own lead rope, crop and tack equipment.  I read every horse book known to man*.
(*not an exaggeration)

When I was fifteen, I was so into dog training that I would spend hours reading up on things like clicker training and positive reinforcement.  My parents finally threw up their hands and told me that I could (and should) train a service dog.  That was that.

When I was seventeen, I drew out an entire map of our garden and had our soil’s pH tested and read every single magazine on organic gardening.

So it’s little wonder that I’m so consumed—so engrossed!—by my current job hunt.

Because this isn’t just an organic head of lettuce we’re talking about.

This is life.

I started to panic a little this afternoon.  Like…did I make the right career decision?  Do I belong here?  What happened to all of my goals and how come nothing is panning out like I had planned?  Why are no full time dietitian jobs opening up?

Honestly, I’ve had things pretty easy up until now.

I was accepted to the nutrition program at UMass my first time around.  I was also accepted to their internship…first time.  And now?  Everything is on hold.  And as obsessive as I am, I’m just as impatient.  I absolutely hate, hate, hate sitting on my hands.  Just waiting.  Ugh.

It’s like I expect everything to go smoothly all.of.the.time.  Even though deep down I know that’s so superficial of me.  Because sometimes?  Sometimes we have to pull on our boxing gloves and fight to make our dreams a reality.

After much deliberation and venting (and..gulp…whining) I’ve finally come to two conclusions.

(1) I’m not going to obsess.

Admittedly, obsessing is as natural as breathing oxygen.  I have an obsessive personality!  But I’m going to focus on the other things that make my life so meaningful.  I’m going to read in the Bible more and trust God with everything.  I’m going to dig in deep.  I’m also going to enjoy other areas of my life that I might not normally be able to enjoy as much once I *am* working full time.

(2) I’m going to grow and develop my career (even without a job.)

I love nutrition!  Sometimes life just throws a few curve balls and I have to learn to swing around them.  This might mean creating some new goals in the process.  Taking baby steps.

And, ultimately, I need to make myself as competitive as possible.  This means expanding my education, volunteering, and taking on each and every new experience as they come.  No more sitting back and waiting for me.  No more obsessing or worrying.

I’m moving ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have an obsessive personality like me or are you able to focus on many different things without letting the “big stuff” ever feel too heavy in your life?  What are some of your tried and true secrets for dealing with life’s curve balls?

The problem with being sort of (kind of) semi-employed.

As soon as I graduated from college with a degree in nutrition, I entered right into a 10-month internship.  People wanted to know how much I was getting paid.  (Secretly, I kind of liked the shocked faces I received when people learned that I was the one doing the paying, not the other way around!)

And then I graduated from my internship.  And people immediately wanted to know if I had a job.  When (where?) was I going to move out of my parents’ house?  And what kind of job was I seeking out?  What did I want to see in my future?  Was I dating?  And, while I was at it, what is the purpose of life?

Honestly, these questions make me feel slightly uncomfortable.  Mostly because I just don’t know how to answer them.

First off.  Yes, I have a job.  But it’s not really a full-time job.  I’m getting paid for making research calls.  It goes something like this.  “Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m calling from such and such a study.  How are you?  I’m just calling to collect some dietary information from yesterday.”  And then I walk them through the process of portion sizes and various brands, all while making sure I don’t give any biased information or recommendations.

And I kind of, in a geeky sort of way, enjoy it.

But usually when I explain this to people, they want more of an answer.  Okay, so I’m working part time making research calls.

What else? 

The truth is.  I’m still looking.  And as I’m sure many of you know and understand, job hunting is a job in and of itself..

As is cooking for the family.  Filling out resumes.  Making research calls.  Studying for the RD exam.

Not to mention, I have no idea what kind of job I would like to do at this point.  I’m pretty much set on taking any sort of clinical position, although in the long term, I’d like to have some variety and spice.  A little freelance writing, maybe.  Counseling.  Teaching a few gym classes.

Cooking would be nice.

Who knows?

All I know is that this whole indecisive, awkward, not really sure kind of answer is the problem with being sort of (kind of) semi-employed.

Yes.  This is the absolute problem of being busy, swamped, and crazy, without really knowing how to explain myself.

In the meantime, I’ll keep on job hunting.  And studying.  And working like crazy.

(And no, I’m not currently dating.  I’m in no huge rush to move out before finding a good, steady job.  And while I have some idea of the purpose in life, this would take more than one post to discuss.)

So, as always, I will continue to cook.  Because this is one thing that will always make complete sense.

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Vegetables as seen at EatingWell.com

(Serves 4)

Use this flavorful combination of shrimp and vegetables to top your linguine, brown rice, whole wheat couscous or quinoa.  And make a double batch if you’re planning on leftovers!

  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large red bell peppers, diced
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, (26-30 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, asparagus, lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl; cover to keep warm.
    2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk broth and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth and add to the pan along with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Stir in lemon juice and parsley. Serve the shrimp and sauce over the vegetables.
    QUESTION: What are you currently doing for a job?  Do you like it?

two cats and a game of hide and seek.

In a strange, familiar sort of way, today felt a little like vacation.

I’m babysitting Nicole’s cats while she’s away, and she left me with a ton of fruit, La Croix carbonated beverages, almonds, granola bars and other such goodies.

Oh.  Yes.  And two fur-babies.

Stitch and Highstreet were adopted three years ago as kittens.  Highstreet, the black one, got his name from the street where he was left, abandoned, with his brothers and sisters.  He was one snotty nosed, very sick kitty when Nicole took him in.  So was Stitch.  Both were scared and timid (especially Highstreet!)  Now they’re goof balls who will do anything for some love.

Or a game of hide and go seek, for that matter.

Stitch thought it would be fun to hide behind the grill.

We played for a good while until Stitch decided to break the rules by jumping up on the railing of the deck.  He knows this gives me a heart attack, but seemed quite pleased with himself nonetheless.

Once I placed him back down, he decided it would be fun to lean off the edge of the deck.  Again, giving me a heart attack.

So we came inside, where Stitch decided to play on top of the refrigerator, overseeing the activities of the house.

(Meanwhile, Highstreet was much too busy eating ants to take part in any silly games.)

Yes.  It certainly felt like vacation.  Walking around the house barefoot, playing with a couple of cats, not a care in the world.

But in all honesty, work had to get done!  I have an exam to study for.  Jobs to find!

Salads to eat!

  • spinach and romaine
  • garbanzo beans
  • feta cheese
  • olive oil
  • carrots and tomato
  • almonds

I figured with all the peace and quiet of having the house to myself, I’d get a lot done.

But then, Highstreet had other plans.

Stomping on the paper, nudging my head, drinking my water, and throwing my index cards off of the table.

Highstreet?

It’s a good thing I love you.  It’s a good thing you’re cute.

QUESTION: Are you an “animal person?”  What is your favorite?