Tag Archives | interviews

Meet a CEO for Coffee. Yes, it’s That Easy.

Are your emails to company representatives getting lost in overflowing inboxes? Well, there’s a new way to get the attention of industry executives – and even go for coffee with them.

TenThousandCoffees.com is a new initiative started by Dave Wilkin, a 25-year-old entrepreneur with a classic dream: to connect businesspeople with the next generation over a cup of coffee. And, surprisingly, it’s catching on not only with students, but with experienced executives as well. Why? Wilkin attributes it to knowledge sharing. As much as students want to hear about how people got to where they are today, top executives want to know what the younger generation is thinking.

That’s right students: now is your time to shine.

These “coffee dates” are casual and non-committal. Don’t think you’ll be walking into a meeting and walking out with a job offer. Instead, use the opportunity to ask questions, propose ideas, and get feedback from your business idols. Yes, increase your network, but increase your knowledge as well.

The website is free to join for both Experts (anyone with experience or advice to share) and Novices (students and young professionals). More than 300 industry experts have already signed up for the site – and these include well-known faces such as astronaut Chris Hadfield, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, Elle Canada Editor-in-Chief Noreen Flanagan, and even the blast-from-the-past co-founder of Bodybreak, Hal Johnson.

We’ve barely scratched the surface with these participants, who have all signed up of their own accord.

They want to meet you.

Go to TenThousandCoffees.com and you can browse the profiles of executives from LinkedIn, Cineplex, Corus, Toronto International Film Festival, Telus, Maple Leaf Foods, PepsiCo, L’Oreal, Metrolinx, TD, MLSE, NHL, Molson Coors, Canadian Red Cross, Samsung, McDonald’s, and many, many more.

The list of Experts includes comedians and actors, marketers and project managers, CEOs and Presidents, professors, lawyers, politicians, news anchors and columnists, publishers, restauranteurs, a fire chief, and an Olympian.

Can you learn from these people? Definitely.

All you need to do is sign up on the site, for free, and send a coffee request to anyone you’d like to meet with. If they accept, you schedule a date and time to meet – it can even be a video chat. Remember, all of these Experts have experience to share. Even if your one business idol hasn’t signed up (yet), get some practice meeting with other executives and listen to what they have to say.

The site is currently open to Canadians, but Wilkin has expressed a plan to expand to the US and UK in the near future.

Share your coffee experience with us on Twitter @StudentsDotOrg. Who did you meet? What did you talk about?

You can also follow @10kcoffees on Twitter and on Facebook.

Acing the Interview: Tips from the Real World

Image by buddawiggi, Flickr

Image by buddawiggi, Flickr

I recently had the pleasure of participating in a webchat hosted by @wisebread on “Acing the Interview”. It resulted in some very unique tips and suggestions that we could all benefit from. Check out the summary below (you can also search the hashtag #wbchat to see what people had to say):

Do your research
Don’t think of it as a chore before an interview. Remember that you want this job, and the important thing is that you like the job that you’re applying for. Get up to speed on the company, the culture, and the latest news and current events both within the company and the industry.

Personal Experience: I interviewed with a large makeup conglomerate and was asked to give an example of one of their recent marketing campaigns. I drew a complete blank because I had only practiced typical interview questions. I had not researched the actual job I thought I wanted.

Dress professionally

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It may seem like common sense that you should “dress for the job you want” – but what does that mean? As in @HillHouseRock‘s post above, different jobs may call for different clothing choices. The general consensus in the webchat was slacks and a blouse for women, and at minimum, slacks and a collared shirt for men. That being said, you can never go wrong with a suit, and it’s always better to err on the side of professionalism. Don’t forget to be wary of things like jewellery (keep it simple, not flashy!), makeup (natural is better), and hairstyles (pin back long hair if you play with it when you’re nervous!).

Experience from the Chat: From TNA pants to hair rollers to tennis shoes, people have seen quite a few inappropriate wardrobe choices for interviews. Be careful how you dress – first impressions are vital!

Practice makes perfect
It’s impossible to predict what questions your interviewer will ask, but there are a few that you should have prepared answers for. Questions like “tell me about yourself” or “what are your strengths and weaknesses” are pretty standard. When practicing, think of examples from past work and school experiences that will give the interviewer an idea of issues you had to resolve, and how you did so.

Personal Experience: Before interviewing, I prepared a few key scenarios from work and school, which allowed me to give fast examples for any questions I was asked. Whether it was “tell me a time when you had a conflict with a peer” or “tell me how you dealt with a particularly difficult customer”, I was ready – and could tailor my stories to fit their questions.

You can be the interviewer too

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At the end of an interview, your interviewer will almost always ask if you have any questions. As @HillHouseRock noted in the chat, you’re interviewing the company as well. Get all the information you need before you accept a new job. Asking questions will also demonstrate initiative and that you’re interested in the position, not just a way to make money.

Personal Experience: A go-to question I’ve always asked (provided there’s a good vibe with the interviewer) is “What do you like about the company?”. It tends to soften the interviewer and allows them to open up and talk about themselves. Even though it takes place at the end of the interview, it allows you to wind things down with a conversation as opposed to an abrupt, potentially awkward ending.

Follow up

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Following up with your interviewer after the interview is a great way to remind them who you are – especially if they’ve been interviewing all day. In your follow-up, point out something that you discussed to jog their memory. Thank them for taking the time to interview you, and mention what you enjoyed most about it.

Personal Experience: I’ve never mailed a handwritten thank-you note to an interviewer before, but as you can see above, @WESTconsinCU has a great tip to send a timely, yet personalized note!

The best tips
In addition to the above list, other tips mentioned included being you, being relaxed and friendly, speaking clearly and slowly, making eye contact, showing interest, being punctual, showing confidence but not being a know-it-all, telling the truth, and being conscious of your body language. Also, don’t forget to manage your online presence.

Personal Experience: It all comes with practice. The more interviews you have, the better you’ll get at them! Know the basics and become more familiar with the rest as you go. Joining this webchat was a great way to hear the opinions of many different people, and you can ask your own questions too.

Do you have a question about interview tips? Tweet us @StudentsDotOrg.