Artisan Blog

3 Tips for Odd Interview Questions

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

We’ve all heard stories of strange interview questions and we’ve come up with some of our own on the Artisan Blog. Glassdoor recently published their list of 2014’s Oddest Interview Questions and some of them were definitely off the wall. Here’s our take on a few favorites:

Are you more a hunter or a gatherer?

This question from a hiring manager at Dell is interesting and we wonder which answer they were looking for. Which works better on a team? Hunters have to strategize and use each other’s strengths to succeed. Gatherers must work together and have a common goal in mind. We recommend you think for a moment and answer honestly whichever you think is true of you, and be sure to find a positive quality about your choice.

How lucky are you and why?

This is indeed an odd question, but we like it. What a great opportunity to talk positively about what you bring to the table, what you are passionate about. Are you feeling lucky? You’ve got a job interview--of course you are!

If you were a new kind of crayon, what color would you be and why?

This question is harder. You don’t want to pick the hiring manager’s least favorite color (even though it wouldn't be fair to judge you on that) or even your own favorite color since that’s not a terribly creative answer. Our suggestion is to talk about a quality you like in a color--contrast, saturation, value, etc.--and how those qualities reflect your work or your personality, rather than a particular hue.

You can never know what a hiring manager will ask. They might have a particular strange question they ask everyone or be looking for a genuinely creative response and think they have the perfect question to get one. The secret is to listen actively, take your time thinking and answer honestly. And it’s okay to laugh sometimes. A sense of humor might be just what they’re looking for.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Feeling Lucky? Pass it on!

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

There are probably people in your network who are on a job search and you are probably helping them. You have endorsed them on LinkedIn or even written them a recommendation, if you have worked with them in their field. You have introduced them to the people you know at their target companies. When they land, you will be part of why they were successful.

Those people are lucky to have you and they know it.

There are probably also people in your network who are in a field you have no connection with, who are friends rather than work colleagues, who are targeting companies you’ve never heard of. What can you do improve their luck, too?

Be uplifting - Your friend’s self-talk is most likely critical and second guessing. The best thing you can do is not add to it, even if you think he could do better. Find out what he feels is working and encourage more of that.

Do what you can - Even if you know nothing about and no one in your friend’s field, you can proofread her resume or cover letter, help research target companies, and brainstorm strategies for her search.

Network together - Networking events are never a waste of time and they are much more fun with a friend. If you go to his, he’ll go to yours. And follow up if you meet anyone interesting.

Raise awareness - When you hear your friend being negative, point it out. We often don’t realize that we are talking ourselves down and only remembering the bad moments.

Practice - The secret to great job interviews is good preparation and you don’t need to be in your friend’s industry to help her refine her answers to common interview questions.

Luck can play a role in landing a new job, but you have to be at the right place at the right time with the right mindset and always ready to bring your A game. We can all help each other with that.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Creativity Savings Time

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, March 05, 2014

We will be turning our clocks forward this weekend and although we will have the same amount of light as before, it will land in different places. We started wondering: how does changing the light affect creativity?

Researchers from the University of Hohenheim and the University of Stuttgart recently published a study about this very question. They found that drawings made by study subjects were much more creative if done in dim light than in normal or bright light. Those who worked in dim lights felt “free from constraints.” Creativity was even increased when the study subjects described sitting in a dark room, while actually drawing in normal light.

Dim light was best for idea generation, although it did not have a beneficial effect on implementation--the subjects needed good light to produce quality artwork, but their ideas were more creative when they felt the freedom which came from dim light.

Daylight savings time will add light back into our evenings--not bright light, but maybe just the right light. It will be interesting to observe the difference.

Of course, when my alarm goes off at what my body thinks is 4:30am on Monday, I’m not going to feel very creative, I expect. But I hope I will get a burst of creative energy from the evening light we’ve been missing for so long. New project, here I come!

Do you feel a burst of energy in the spring? Are you driven to start new things? Tell us about it!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Reflections: Competition

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It’s competition season all over: for actors and others in the entertainment industry, for Olympians across the globe, and even close to home as show choirs on the west coast have a contest almost every weekend for the next few months. With so many vying for honors, we have been struck with the different ways we can handle competition as creative entrepreneurs.

Oscar Style

“It’s an honor to be nominated.” But the nominees do a lot of branding and marketing to try to get more votes. The ones who sit back and let the chips fall where they may are more likely to go home emptyhanded unless their work is truly stellar.

On the other hand, they never say their competitors’ work is worse than theirs and they seem to generally get along on a personal level. After all, the actor you mocked could be across the table read from you in a month or two. And you hope he will because that means you’re working.

As creatives, we need to pay attention to personal branding and marketing and keep it positive, too. You never know whom your next client might--or might not--be.

High School Style

Teenagers can be mean, but I’m around literally hundreds of kids in active competition in the performing arts, and they surprise me all the time. They support and encourage each other. What they don’t like is injustice, for themselves or their competitors.

They’ll fight for points, but equally for the deserved points of others. They love to win but they cheer (almost) as loud for other groups. They know that the most important thing in a competition is to do their very best every single time and leave the rest of it to the judges.

We all live in a sometimes unjust world where the rules seem to change while the game is still being played. All we can do is our best work and keep our cool and hope things turn out well more often than not.

Olympic Style

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.” The Olympic Creed says it all. My favorite stories from the Olympics are not the Gold Medals, the perfect scores. My favorites are when the athletes stop and help each other. Wait for an injured athlete to catch up. Share water. The struggle is the same for everyone. Some will win, some will lose. Being human and struggling together is what makes competition a worthy endeavor.

As part of a team, and between teams, we can help each other over the finish line. Mentor, network, give advice. You might be the one who needs an arm around your shoulder next time.

Competition is exciting--it stirs the blood, motivates us and offers the potential for tangible rewards. If we rely on the quality of our own work, the energy and commitment we put into it and sometimes even the kindness of others, we can all succeed.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Leadership Lessons from Presidents

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Not all of our mentors have to be here in the room, having lunch or networking with us. If we are open to learning, we can find mentors anywhere, even in history. This Presidents’ Week, we thought we would get a little mentoring from some past US Presidents. Turns out they have a lot to teach us about leadership.

Team Building

Abraham Lincoln is well-known for creating a “team of rivals,” making sure that not everyone around him agreed with him. Instead of choosing those he knew shared his views, he chose the very best in their field, whether they agreed with him or not. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in some of those cabinet meetings, but there is no doubt that there was some great brainstorming going on in the Lincoln White House.

“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” --Abraham Lincoln

Taking Risks

I’m sure there are Presidents who didn’t take many risks, but funny, I can’t remember which. Whether in bold initiatives, controversial foreign policy or changing the direction of the country, real leaders are memorable for what they try to do, what they are passionate about, what they make others want to join them in trying to accomplish. Playing it safe is not on their list of qualities.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly …” 
--Theodore Roosevelt

Being Present

With important and sometimes lifechanging decisions to be made at any moment, Presidents have needed to be able to focus on what is going on right now, deal with it, and move on to the next thing. Leaders are fully present, listening, processing and making choices. Right now, I feel lucky that the choices I have to make are not life or death.

“Come now, let us reason together.” --Lyndon Johnson

Never Giving Up

Throughout history, some people have run around saying “It can’t be done! It will be the end of the world! Too much too fast! We’re not ready!” Great leaders don’t pay attention to naysayers or the fearful. Change is inevitable, though often uncomfortable. Some will always need to be gentled into it, but leaders are right up front, ready and willing--and persistent.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” 
--John F. Kennedy

Leadership is difficult and sometimes unpleasant. But when the risks are worthy, when decisions are made with intelligence and expert advice, when the moment is right and we are determined, we can be leaders that everyone will remember.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” --John Quincy Adams

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Loving the Freelance Life

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

As it becomes more common--and easier--to choose the freelance lifestyle, more workers are finding out why their freelance colleagues love it as much as they do. They might even be getting a little jealous. Why do we love freelancing?

  • Entrepreneurship--Freelancing is the simplest way to run your own business. It’s just you, but you are the boss. Enjoy it.
  • Flexibility--To be a successful freelancer, you must be disciplined about getting everything done well and on time, but when and how you tackle your work is up to you.
  • Giving back--My personal favorite thing about freelancing is being able to make time to volunteer for my favorite organizations, even during typical working hours--when they need me most because so many other volunteers have to be at the office.
  • Control--Most jobs require you to accomplish a variety of tasks, some of which you love and some of which you most definitely do not. Ideally, freelancing allows you to choose projects you are passionate about and pass on the ones you are not.
  • Diversity--As a freelance writer, I get to vary the topics I am writing about from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. It’s never boring!
  • Building Relationships--Freelancers meet new people frequently by necessity. The perfect networking opportunity is a freelance gig at a new company. Not only can you bond with the people you work with, you can demonstrate your skills and get referrals for more freelance work in the future.
Sure, there moments when I wish I had someone just tell me what to do and let me do it, check everything off a list, shut off the lights and go home. Only moments, though. Then I look around and remember how grateful I am to have a life that works for me, my family, my soul.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

The Active Voice

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, February 05, 2014

To those of us who pay a great deal of attention to grammar, the passive voice is at least correct. It doesn’t make our antennae go up. In fact, it probably makes our antennae go down, but not necessarily in the right way. It makes us stop paying attention.

The same can be said for hiring managers. Or rather--hiring managers might say the same.

The first sentence above is in the passive voice and the second in the active voice. Do they sound different to you?

In a job interview situation, you want to sound like a great prospect--maybe even the perfect candidate. Many people have trouble speaking of themselves and their accomplishments in the active voice. After all, you don’t want to start every sentence with “I” or sound like you are bragging. But you will never land that great new job if you cannot talk about your accomplishments as yours (or your team’s). Here are some examples of passive voice and a more active voice alternative:

Over 1000 PR packages were produced and delivered in a three day period.
Okay, but what did you do? What was your contribution? Glad to hear it. So what?

My team of 5 produced and delivered over 1000 PR packages in less than 72 hours.
Sounds like you managed a team to a challenging goal! Congratulations!

A new website was designed and launched ahead of schedule and under budget.
That’s nice. What were you responsible for on that project?

Designed and launched new company website 2 weeks ahead of schedule and 10% below budgeted cost.
I like that one--active voice and numbers. Great resume bullet point!

Facebook engagement went up 35%.

My goal was to increase engagement 20%. I posted original content daily, which increased engagement on Facebook by 35% in 3 months.
Exceeded expectations. Great work!

Most of us are more comfortable using passive voice in our interactions. We eschew talking about our own accomplishments and skills in an active way. However, a job interview is not the place for self-effacing language. If you are the right candidate--and a great fit for the role--make sure the hiring manager knows it and knows you know it, too. Tell them what you did and why.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Office Etiquette in Flu Season

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Flu season is upon us and probably someone in your office has already gone to ground this year. We hope they didn’t bring their germs to work. Many people do try to work through colds and flu, even though they probably shouldn’t. Here are some tips for keeping yourself--and your co-workers--from passing around a nasty bug:

  • Wipe down--If your office does not provide them, keep a box of sanitizing wipes at your desk. Use them to wipe off your phone and other hard surfaces frequently. Cold and flu germs can live on hard surfaces for up to three days.
  • Wash your hands often, not just after using the restroom. 
  • Be proactive--You are most contagious before you are symptomatic. If someone in your family is sick but you are feeling fine, be aware of your potential for being a carrier and do everything you can to prevent the spread of virus.
  • Use your elbow, not your hand. Most adults were taught to cover their mouths with their hand when sneezing or coughing but your elbow does a better job of trapping germy droplets. And you’re not going to use your elbow to say hello.
  • Decline the handshake--Although it can be awkward, declining to shake hands at all can make a big difference. Encourage your whole office to take a break from handshaking so no one gets offended.
  • Stay home--It’s likely you can get some of your work done if you are feeling well enough, but the lost productivity from extending your illness and giving it to your colleagues is much greater than that of your taking a couple of days off to rest and recuperate. Do everyone a favor. Take advantage of technology and keep your germs to yourself.
In cold and flu season, I am especially grateful to be a remote worker, not only for myself but for my co-workers who don’t have to be exposed to all the germs the kids can pick up at school. Sometimes Skype is really a godsend.

Do you have any special tricks you use to stay healthy at work? We would love to hear them.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Job Jenny and Why You Should Be Rethinking Your Resume

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In the first of a two-part blog, we speak with career expert Job Jenny and why we need to rethink our approach to resume writing and personal branding.

I was recently introduced to Job Jenny and her “ridiculously awesome resume service” by a candidate-turned-friend of mine who had used her services. It got me thinking about our approach to resume writing and personal branding. Resumes are essentially a marketing tool, right? So why is it that so many job seekers pay little attention to keywords, layouts and job search strategies? As recruiters we see all types; from carefully constructed portfolios to formulaic textbook resumes. I took some time to speak with Job Jenny to discuss resume writing and how job seekers should be marketing themselves to recruiters and potential employers.

At this point you may find yourself asking “Who is Job Jenny?” and wondering why she knows so much about resume writing and job seeking. Job Jenny worked for several years in marketing and communications at corporate level before moving into recruitment and starting her own agency. Job Jenny came into being in 2010 offering job seekers a support service which includes: resume writing, personal branding, LinkedIn makeovers and one-on-one consulting, job seeking and transitional strategies along with interview skills and e-books. She does it all!

If you’re faced with the daunting task of searching for a new job or if you’re applying online to multiple companies and getting nowhere, perhaps you need to rethink your resume. Are you having difficulty transitioning into a new career path? Are you wondering why you’re receiving little to no response when applying online? Take a look at these tips to get you started on the right foot:
  • Try to avoid approaching your resume as a list or a biography detailing every single responsibility and duty, but instead look at it as a marketing document that is a reflection of your personal brand.
  • Familiarize yourself with Applicant Tracking Systems if you are submitting your resume online. Does your resume contain industry-relevant keywords specific to the job you are applying for? Additionally, if your resume is over styled it could get in the way of the ATS and may not be received at all.
  • Pay attention to the job you are applying for. If you’re applying for an Account Manager position when you have a Project Management background, pay attention to the common deliverables of the job and detail your skill-set for the recruiter to see and make a connection. Do not expect them to deduce your experience from your resume without you making a connection.
  • Be consistent and focused with clear goals in mind – how do you want your resume to be conveyed? Be consistent with formatting and don’t forget: spellcheck!
  • If you’re looking at divergent roles, have a resume specifically tailored for each industry to showcase your work that’s most relevant to the decision maker. The easier you make it for HR to make a quick connection between what they need and what you do, the better the response
Your resume is your first (and often only) opportunity to sell yourself to recruiters and potential employers so investing time and effort into your personal brand is crucial. Your resume is a marketing document and a reflection on you (and often your recruiter.) Make it work! 

In the second part of our blog we’ll discuss LinkedIn strategies, social media branding and interview tips so stay tuned and if you have your own tips to share or would like to know more about resume writing, get in touch.

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition for Artisan Creative

Artist or Artisan

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Are you an artist or an artisan? Many people are very emotional about how their work is referred to and there are aspects of both for the talent we place at Artisan Creative. As a craftsperson as well as a creative myself, I have thought about it from both points of view.

An “artisan” is traditionally known as someone who uses creativity to make something useful. Ideally those creations are also beautiful, show innovative design and function exceptionally well. Are they making art?

An “artist,” on the other hand, creates for pure aesthetics, pure emotions, to make us feel, rather than use. Is art useful?

At their very best, both artists and artisans achieve the goals of the other. When we use a well-designed tool--whether it be a website, a piece of furniture or a skein of yarn--we recognize the beauty in it. We feel its rightness. We enjoy its aesthetic. We create through it for ourselves and others.

When we observe and interact with art, it inspires us to create, to innovate, to help others to feel. We also interact with each other differently, creating relationships based on our shared responses.

To me, artist and artisan are the same, when talent is used to its best potential. We use art to change ourselves and our relationships. We are inspired by using what artisans produce. There is beauty and purity in all good design.

Do you consider yourself an artist or an artisan? How do you define your work?

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

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