Category Archives: My Methods

THE FRESH HELL OF THE PHONE INTERVIEW

It seems that everyone I know is out on the job hunt these days. And with the increasingly impersonal process of interviewing for work, the phone interview is often the first hurdle. I have a foolproof (and very thorough) process to prep for a phone interview that will leave a you well positioned to advance to the next step. Note that some of the points are fairly specific to the world of advertising and marketing, but can broadly be applied to pretty much any job search.

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The OCDelight Foolproof Phone Interview Prep

There are three categories on which to focus: your work, your personality, them.

Details on each are in the paragraphs below.

Be sure to:

  • Create a Word doc of each of the following topics and have them printed/pulled up and ready to go.
  • Have your cover and resume printed out and ready to go.
  • Have notepad and paper at the ready.
  • Place glass of water by you to avoid smoker’s cough. No gum, dumbass.
  • Don’t ramble, stick with short answers and follow up with your questions when you can. Stay focused and concise.

The key to getting to the next step of a real-life in-person interview is preparation, although the average phone interview is usually only 30 minutes.

Your Work Background (have answers or bullet points prepped for each):

Employment:

Tell me about yourself

In three sentences, how did you get here.

Short list of your accomplishments

List 3-5 with measurable (preferably financial) impact.

Job history and responsibilities

Have a chronological list ready that focuses on the points of your work history that directly correspond to the job description.

Major challenges and how did you handle?

Have 1-2 examples prepped. Problem —> your thought process —> solution.

Why are you leaving your current job?

Memorize your prepped response – stay positive, focus on the fact that this does not align with your strengths/future goals.

Salary range

I would avoid this over the phone if possible. Maybe keep it vague like “I’m negotiable and would like to discuss it in person.” If they force it, have one in mind and be able to back it up. If you can get any intel on this, even better – hit up Glassdoor.com

 

Your Personality and Attitude (some standard questions):

Strength and weakness?

Yeah it’s stupid, but have one of each handy just in case: i.e. “I brought piss to a shit fight.”

How do you handle stress and pressure?

What motivates you? 

How do you motivate others/manage a team?

How do you evaluate success?

What are your career goals?

What are your hobbies/personal stuff/etc?

 

Them: Company research – DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Find out as much as you can – in advance of the interview – about the following and do a write-up:

-Founder

-Team of managers

-Client list

-Philosophy (they have a lot of this on their site)

-Current campaigns (also have a list of 3-5 clients/campaigns that they have done that you like/that resonate with you and why)

-Recent achievements and news

Check out their website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Also connect w/ her on LinkedIn and read up on her history – it’s good to have that information.

Make your list of questions (in order of what is most relevant to the person interviewing you – tailored to his/her level and background) based on:

  1. Job listing – duties, requirements, next steps, start date, client?
  2. Company research findings (some examples below)

If you’re on with upper management, I would steer more towards big picture, company culture questions.

How would you describe your culture?

What type of people succeed at Awesomesauce Agency?

Who would you consider to be your biggest competition?

What differentiates Awesomesauce from other shops?

What’s in store for the future? What are the big initiatives on the horizon?

What’s your client service philosophy?

How does Awesomesauce handle new business – do you have an established process?

 

In the case of a founder/principal/president, you don’t want to hit her rapid-fire with a laundry list of crap over the phone, especially about the day-to-day nonsense, which she might not be as familiar with. So boil it down a top 5 list of topline/strategic questions to show her what a badass you truly are.

 

ALWAYS end the call by telling your interviewer that you want the job

“I’m interested, this sounds like a fantastic opportunity and I would be an ideal match. What are the next steps? I can go ahead and get a list of references over,” etc…

And don’t forget send a thank you within 24 hours restating your interest – handwritten notes are kick-ass, but also follow up with an email in case their office is the type that takes forever to deliver the mail.

 

You’ll kill it.

They’ll call you back to come in.

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I’ll cover in-person interviews on a future post.

 

XO

c

 

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Pre-K: WTF?

Just when I finally get some semblance of a routine going with both an entirely new way of working and having to work at home – a wrench is thrown into the works. Homework. For Pre-K.

Damnit.

I was hoping to avoid this for another year, but yes I realize the value. Today, O inked excellent likenesses of several toys (I’ve gotten really good at Disney princess dresses) and a banana for a “yellow hunt” assignment – I was actually impressed by his artistic abilities (or maybe my warm feelings were stoked by the large glass of wine).

So – now I have to remake our evening routine dry-erase checklist (which, to my delight, O loves to fill out…). Squeezing in homework between dinner and bath time. Time to fire up InDesign again and put my production artist skillz to mummy crap. Joy.

Going downstairs to check off “second large glass of wine” from my evening checklist. Cheers, Belles!

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Today’s Nemesis: Children’s Birthday Parties

I’m about to lose my fucking mind.

A stressbomb is ticking… :05 left and that sucker is about to explode – all over a four year old’s birthday party. I do this to myself, I know I do. 40 people are descending upon our little tract home tomorrow afternoon. We’re cooking everything from scratch, I’ve handmade 16 custom superhero capes and masks for decorating activity purposes. In an hour we’re about to go forth and rent a helium tank so we can blow up the balloons OUR OWN GODDAMN SELVES!

Why can’t we be those parents who order pizzas, rent a bounce house and let everyone fend for themselves? I’ve been to those kids’ parties. They’re fun. The crotchfruit have a blast, they could give a shit about artisanal cheeseplates and white sangria. I’m not critical of those parents, I’m envious… I know that no one expects us to do this stuff – well, actually they do a little bit because we set this precedent for our parties while living in NYC – but these kind Austin folks don’t know about it! This was our chance at a fresh start – at embracing slackerdom and liberating the family from our relentless, self-imposed pursuit of entertaining perfection and we’ve totally blown it.

The to-do list for the next 24 hours is now coming in at 100 items long. I’ll be whipping up homemade buttercream at 10pm and F will be up at 4am to start slow-cooking the carnitas.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH US?

I’ve said it every year and I’m saying it again. Oliver’s 5th birthday? Chuck E. Fucking Cheese.

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Stay Tuned!

Started my new job – totally new job – two weeks ago. So many things to learn! A completely different way of organizing my day is in order, and so I have a lot of work to do to streamline my workflow. Do excuse my pause in posting – I’ll be back in full force this week.

Yours in OCD.Image

Recipes: Best Friends or Worst Enemies?

The Mr and I love to cook – the ritual of preparing and enjoying a great meal (preferably shared with friends) is one of the great joys in life. What isn’t great is keeping track of the many recipes I pull out of magazines or print off the web, etc. I have a file folder in the kitchen stuffed with the most recent items that I want to try. There’s also a small accordion folder under the bar with even more clippings – somewhat categorized. Plus we have about 30 cookbooks and there’s Epicurious, etc… It’s sometimes a daunting pain in the ass to sit down and plan the weekly menu or conceive a party spread with so much nonsense floating around.

There are many apps and electronic solutions to my problem – but they mainly tackle organizing recipes that are already digital. Plus, I don’t always agree with the way they are categorized – I like to break stuff out into groupings that meet our particular lifestyle needs, such as: food for the kids, party food, weeknight meals, weekend feasts, etc. I think I’m going to go analog luddite on this one and just buy a honking binder with dividers and a bunch of plastic sleeves to protect my recipes.

I’ve been doing some research about electronic options, and while none of them appeal to me, you might find them useful.ImageI think BigOven looks like a really robust option and does allow for scanning or typing in your analog recipies. But, ugh, when do I have the time to transfer all of that data to an electronic format. Good lord – if I had like 10 hours to kill, it sure as hell wouldn’t be spent typing recipes – but I digress… BigOven.com features a 30 day free trial followed by a $15.95 annual subscription charge. I’m doing some research before I make the commitment and document my experience in a future post.

http://www.bigoven.com/?gclid=CLjF8pa6iq8CFQpjTAodxGQMDw

Lifehacker – 5 Best Recipe Organization Tools

http://lifehacker.com/5862746/five-best-recipe-organization-tools

If you’re into a more traditional method of organizing your recipes, you might give this a whirl:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/barefoot-contessa-recipe-organizer-ina-garten/1100026339

But at $100 a pop, it had better cook the damn food for me. Not sure how the Barefoot Contessa can justify the cost otherwise.

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OCD Mission Control

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The brains of the Casa Lopez operation are housed in our utility room… The magnetic chalkboard contains:
-the wipe-off chore list clipboard
-shopping lists
-a plastic envelope of current/relevant coupons
-a plastic envelope of items needed that week (a blank thank you note that has to go out, party invitations, etc.
-that week’s school activities for the boys

I love it. The board’s mere presence makes me feel content and in control. If only the wall was big enough to add our calendar so that area could truly serve as the aggregator of all pertinent family data…
Dream big, Lopez, dream big….

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I Love My: West Elm Lacquer Tray

Magazines can be a source of pleasurable reading or painful hoarders-like clutter. I think the way to avoid becoming overwhelmed by your magazines is to process them like you would your bills or receipts. My magazine “in box” is a lovely orange lacquer tray from West Elm. It houses about 8-10 magazines that I am currently reading.

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Once I have completed reading a magazine, one of three things happens:

–       I go through the book and pull out stuff I want like recipes, information, looks, etc to be filed in my tickler system

–       I keep the magazines that I collect like Foregin Affairs, Make, TX Monthly, etc in their duly assigned magazine butlers

–       I toss everything else, immediately, into recycling

Having a small magazine in box keeps me from taking in too much crap. Once the pile gets higher than the lip of the box, it’s time to purge.

Perpetual Birthday Calendar

Facebook posts and IMs are nice, but I really think a great birthday card – mailed to your home – is irreplaceable. I used to use my ubiquitous Moleskine for this task and penciled in the dates every year, but I’ve recently switched to using a perpetual calendar that sends me email reminders one week prior to each special day. I’m currently using Google Calendar for this task, just because it’s easy and I already use the application through my Gmail account. However, it doesn’t sync up to iCal because Apple and Google just don’t play nice. So those dates don’t cross-populate and the email reminder will have to suffice. The never ending battles between my iCal, Outlook and Google calendars causes me perpetual irritation, but that’s a topic for another day.

I don’t think that I want to add yet another app to my crowded iTems, but if that appeals to you and you don’t mind sharing your Facebook info, Birthday Calendar Classic might work. The interface is a little irritatingly millennial, however.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/birthday-calendar-classic/id323425199?mt=8

And if you’re using a Droid device: http://www.simplydroid.com/sync-your-contacts-birthday-info-with-your-android-phone-calendar/

If analog versions are your thing, here’s a really down and dirty printable PDF you can use:

http://www.realsimple.com/static/pdfs/birthday-org.pdf

Or, if you want something pretty – try this one from Esty.com:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/65459753/perpetual-birthday-calendar?ref=sr_gallery_3&sref=&ga_includes%5B0%5D=tags&ga_search_query=perpetual+birthday+calendar&ga_ref=related&ga_page=1&ga_search_type=all&ga_facet=

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Friday Bites – (#8) Streamline Your Mail (#9) Streamline Your Receipts

Look at this dizzy jackass, does she look happy to you?

ImageI can’t stand having a bunch of paper crap scattered around the house, it makes me batsh!t crazy. So this week’s “bites” were a good reminder to take a walk around the place and clear up some of this nonsense.

#8 – Streamline Your Mail

The goal here is to keep mail from entering the house at all

• Toss in recycling/trash by mailboxes if possible

• Opt out of junk mail (go to http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt063.shtm for more information)

• For any flyer or notice related to an upcoming event, jot it on your calendar and toss the paper into recycling

• Make your bills paperless

At our casa, all of the incoming mail goes into the in bin on the entry table. Sometimes I’ll sort it right when I get into the house, tossing the junk and putting the rest in the in-bin. The stuff in the in-bin is further processed 1x/week – into either pay, file, or to-do areas in my home office. Wherever I possible (and when I remember), we have paperless billing established on our accounts. However, and this is because I’m an old luddite, part of me still likes getting a paper statement every month that I can review and file for future reference.

#9 – Streamline Your Receipt System

If you really want to make my blood boil, just litter the house with receipts…little slips of crap jammed into every crevice of the place. Hate it. Sometimes it’s inevitable – but 90% of the time, there is NO REASON to hold on to receipts.

Only keep the following:

• receipts for large purchases that come with warranties

• medical receipts (especially if you’re on an individual health insurance plan)

• tax deductible receipts (charity donations, home office expenses, etc).

• anything you need for your business expense report

Each of these categories should have its own plastic folio/envelope and applicable recipts should go right into them. All else should go directly into the trash.

If you REALLY want to free yourself from your paper shackles, consider one of these receipt scanners : http://www.squidoo.com/best-receipt-scanners. I’m saving my pennies for one of those NeatDesk dealies (drool).

Now forge on, with your newly paper-free selves….

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I Love My: Moleskine Passions Journals

I’ve been using Moleskines for my daily to-do lists for over a decade now. I’ve been through a few different types to get to my one and only – the large, soft cover day-a-page yearly planner. Sigh. I love it so much…

So, when Moleskine came out with their “Passions” line of subject-specific books a couple of years ago, I was sold. Yep, I’m a total brand loyalist – they can do no wrong with me… I have the Books journal and the Wine journal. I have to admit that the Books journal has kind of fallen by the wayside now that I’m into Goodreads.com, but the Wine journal is still kicking.

ImageMaybe it’s because I drink a lot. Maybe it’s because I frequently don’t remember what I’ve been drinking, or anything that happens after I’ve been drinking… But jotting down notes on a new wine is supremely satisfying. It captures the moment – a dinner with great friends – and allows me to keep a reference of bottles I’ve really really enjoyed, and crap bottles like that Feu rooster piece of shit we picked up in Brooklyn two summers ago. Ugh. Like vinegar. Plus it helps me appreciate what I’m downing and really think about the different scents, flavors and varietals. I’m no expert by any means, but I know what I like…

Now Moleskine has expanded their Passions collection to include beer, chocolate, and baby journals. Although being passionate about babies is a little weird. I’m digging their style journal and would totally pick one up – if I hadn’t already started my own back in 1999 that I’m still contributing to (but that’s a post for another day).

http://www.moleskineus.com/moleskine-passion-books.html?gclid=CI69pqmK3a4CFS2htgodIgMbWA