The Ins and Outs of Telephone Interviews

When a possible job opportunity is on the line, the telephone line that is, it may seem that ‘normal’ interview rules don’t apply, but you’d be wrong!

 As they say “the more things change the more they stay the same!” Although the technology and the medium is different, the same rules apply but with a bit of a twist. So how do you avoid some of the common miscommunications, confusing connections or voicemail mayhem that come with the new medium? Here are some tips to make for a smooth process:


 ImageIf the technology is new to you (like Skype for example) let the employer know, sometimes the HR person can get you in touch with IT and they can talk you through the process of setting it up.  Also make sure you do a test run before hand to make sure it works! I once had a client who found out a few minutes before his interview that the phone he was using didn’t have a long-distance calling plan making it impossible to call an employer in the U.S. If you run into this problem, check the company website to see if you can call a 1-800 number instead or if they would be willing to call you directly.


Pick your place


If you have a rough idea of when they will call you, or when you are need to call them, prepare your spot ahead of time. Have your resume laid out and a piece of paper and pen for possible questions. If you have children at home or a pet that could interrupt during the conversation make sure they are out of the room. I know it sounds strange but even if you’re not using Skype, dress up in formal attire; it will automatically put you in a more professional mindset.


Be honest


Often telephone/online interviews are a prerequisite to in-person ones. It is a way for employers to filter out unsuitable candidates and it’s a chance for you to ask questions. Therefore, make sure you do your research on things like wage expectations beforehand since this is most certainly going to come up.


If the timing of the interview doesn’t work or they catch you off guard let them know, don’t try to wing it you’ll end up sounding scattered. Just politely ask them if you can call them back in a few minutes so that you can give them your full attention.


 Have you ever talked to someone on the phone, like a customer service rep, and it’s obvious they weren’t happy? Well chances are your hunch was right! Practice smiling in the mirror beforehand it will come through to the listener and convey a friendly and open attitude.

 Now don’t forget to practice as you would for an in-person interview, you don’t want to miss the chance to connect and land that job!

Elaine Logie is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College and a MCACES Blogger. MCACESBlogs helps readers with all sorts of job search and career development tips and tricks!


2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Networking Tree

Networking. What kind of image does this word conjure up for you? If you’re like me, you probably imagine having to schmooze with higher-ups in suits at stuffy after work functions. Not exactly fun! Now before you break into a cold sweat, I’ll let you in on a little known secret, networking is actually not that hard or scary.

It’s all in your approach. Just think of each part of the process as corresponding to the growth of a tree. First, you need to plant your seed, take care and nurture your tree, then through persistence you will be reaping the fruits of your labours!

1. Research (planting the seed)

2. Cultivation (tending your tree)

3. Persistence (harvesting your leads)

Planting the seed

Think of research as the beginning stages of growth. Take for example the field of medical administration. If you are interested in getting into that field, you will need to research medical establishments then find the administrators or HR persons’ contact information at those companies. Once you have collected several contacts, you will need to make a cold-call. This is the hardest part of networking, but fear not most contacts will appreciate your efforts and may even be flattered that you view them as leaders in their field. When you are ready to call keep the following in mind:

Introduce yourself and explain why you are calling i.e. For advice regarding getting into the medical admin field. Make sure you are not interrupting your potential contact. If the person doesn’t have time ask when they may be available. Don’t push and always be respectful!
If they are available to talk, make sure you have some well-researched questions ready to ask. You are making an impression so make it positive!
If the conversation goes well and the contact is helpful thank them for their time. You can also send them an “official” thank you card or letter if you want.
Tending your networking tree

Now that your contact is no longer “cold” you’ll need to cultivate the relationship to keep it “hot.” This is accomplished through staying in touch. You need to remind your contacts that you are available and still looking for work. Do this through follow-up emails or calls for advice or answers to any follow-up questions you may have regarding the field. Be careful not to call too much…you don’t want to become bothersome!

Harvesting your leads

Contacts or leads may bear fruit through persistent cultivation. Even if a contact may not have job leads at their company, they may hear of positions opening up at other companies and let you know. When you have a positive relationship with your contact they may even be willing to be a reference person, which will prove very handy especially if you are a new grad or changing careers.

Whether your networking tree is a sapling or a mighty oak, it’s important to set aside your fears and start the growing process!

Elaine Logie is a recent graduate of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON. For more information on how MCACES helps students with Employment Advisement, please contact Lidia Siino,

Cultivate your network and watch it grow!

Cultivate your network and watch it grow!


Are you a sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane?

Are you a sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane?

Are you a sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane?

I’ll admit, this post required a bit of research, first off I honestly didn’t know what sugarplums were, apparently they were a popular Christmas treat in 16th century England and are basically stewed plums in sugar cane cooked to gooey perfection…sounds pretty yummy! So now the big question, when job searching what are YOU most like? A sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane? It’s a question for the ages! Take this sweet questionnaire and find out:

1. Do thoughts of you keep dancing in an employer’s head long after an interview?

A) No, I just hang around and see what happens

B) Yes, I make sure I send a positive thank you card and follow up later

C) I’m not sure, I can’t remember!

2. Are you multifaceted and have many different colourful skills to offer?

A) Yes, I have many skills and I’m always looking to add more to my repertoire

B) No, I don’t have a lot of skills but what I have has stood the test of time

C) I have a sprinkling of skills here and there but only on the surface

3. When you’re not offered a job do you tend to stew about it or hook up with new opportunities?

A) I figure it just wasn’t the right fit and use the chance to catch the interviewers attention and ask how to improve my skills

B) Yes, I stew and think constantly about what happened

C) I just roll with the punches!

4. Do you leave your job search space a big ol’ sticky mess or do you make sure that everything is hanging in its proper place?

A) In my space everything has it’s spot. I use a job search and network-tracking sheet. You just never know when you might get a call for an interview!

B) Yeah I have papers everywhere but my memory is good and I can recall information when needed

C) I’m a bit messy but at least it’s all in one spot!

5. Are you able to fit into many different situations or are you relegated to only one type of environment?

A) Yes I’m adaptable and can move from site to site if needed

B) No I can only be in a specific place and don’t feel comfortable in situations outside my element

C) I’m adaptable and can roll from one thing to another within reason of course!

Well this is not exactly a scientific questionnaire, but if you answered mainly:

A) You’re a candy cane; you’re minty fresh and up for anything!

B) You’re a sugarplum baby! And although not exactly current or neat, you’ve stood the test of time

C) You’re a rum ball; you know how to keep your cool no matter what!

Elaine Logie is an Employment Advisor at the Career Foundation and infamous MCACESBlogger! Elaine has just completed her Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. Congratulations, Elaine! If you enjoy our MCACESBlogs, please spread some Christmas cheer and spread the news! Merry Christmas!

Show me the $! Salary Expectations & You

Picture this. You’re at a job interview. You’re charming everyone with professional poise and company knowledge. Everything is going according to plan. Even that nasty, no eye contact person has cracked what could be defined as a smile! The session is going extremely well until the employer asks that one loaded question:

“What are your salary expectations?”

If unprepared, those 5 words can kill any chances of a job offer.

What’s in a wage?

It’s always an awkward thing, having to put a price on you, face to face. It’s funny how many people have no qualms advertising how poorly paid they are, but when asked what that number may be, they clam right up!

How does one find out their worth?  That really depends on three key factors; what you can afford to be making, your previous experience and what’s considered standard in your industry.

The following website will provide you with national wages by occupation:

This website might be a good starting point to see what the average wage of someone in your field would be. Keep these wages in mind when considering your own salary expectations.

Whenever possible, always opt for a salary range i.e. “35 000 – 40 000 per year” or rate “19 to 22 dollars per hour.” Always consider your level of experience with what you need to survive, but also something that will allow you to exist comfortably.

So, how should your expectations read within a cover letter? Show that you’ve given this question some thought; “After careful consideration regarding the position requirements in relation to my current experience relevant competences, I would aspire toward a salary range between ___ and ____.”

You could also mention how this salary range could also be negotiated upon receiving a job offer, or once a probation period was completed.

By utilizing the salary range route, you leave room for flexibility. Say if you were content to make $18 an hour and the employer was willing to give you $20 per hour, then a rate range between $18-22 per hour would be put you in a great situation.

Give your salary expectations some thoughtful consideration.

As much as you want the job, you don’t want to get a second one in order to survive.


Lidia Siino is the Professional Development & Communications Specialist for MCACES, the Mohawk College Association of Continuing Education Students in Hamilton, Ontario. She has over 12 years of experience working with adult learners and post-secondary students on their respective career development journeys. If you like what you read, be sure to follow our blog and share with your network!

That’s a wrap! “How to survive the holidays on a budget”

Survive the holidays on a budget!

Survive the holidays on a budget!

So the holidays are just round the corner and you’re not looking forward to having to scrimp and save when it comes to gift giving… but who’s to say being on a budget means you can’t have a little fun showing your gratitude to those who count?

Family and Friends

It’s important to show your closest supporters your appreciation for their patience and words of encouragement!

What to give?
You can give a personal “gift” card for various things like helping them shovel snow from their walkway or make them a special dinner or if you’re particularly handy maybe offer to do some DIY work around their place.

Your references

Why give them a gift? It’s simple; by giving a gift to your references you’ll show your appreciation for their support and remind them you’re still looking for work.

What to give?
Make it personal; place the ingredients for your favorite soup mix (with instructions!) in a reusable jar or bowl, or a hot chocolate or mulled spice mix in a mug. The bulk barn is a great place to get affordable and unique ingredients. You can make a whole care package like this by placing everything in a basket from the dollar or second hand store, then wrap in cellophane and viola you’re done! You can always hand deliver your gift or drop it off at their place of work. By making up your own basket you’ll save a bundle of money!

Your network

Why give them a gift? Similar to your references you want to remind them that you’re looking and available to work.

What to give?
For your network, it’s usually better to keep it simple. Either create homemade cards, or if you’re not particularly crafty pick up a few cards at your local dollar or discount store.

And remember by showing appreciation when it counts you’ll keep yourself off the naughty list!

What’s Your Brand?

A brand is how a person feels about a person, product or oganization.

A brand is how a person feels about a person, product or oganization.

I am not an avid Coke drinker by any means but during the holidays I cannot resist purchasing a six pack of those little glass bottles of dark, sweet, caffeinated liquid! And even though we become inundated with the holiday polar bear commercials, this is not what provokes me into making the purchase, either.

What is it then, you might ask? Well, it’s the way that those little glass bottles make me feel. That’s right, drinking soda from glass bottles elicits a feeling of sheer, unadulterated happiness that reminds me of my childhood.

Coca Cola wasn’t even my drink of choice as a kid; it was Cream Soda by The PopShop, for crying out loud! But, soda in any kind of glass bottle brings me immediately back to the carefree days of my youth when during ‘special occasions’, we popped the cap of any icy cold bottle of pop and drank in its syrupy goodness! So, kudos to Coca Cola and their brilliant job at branding!

Branding is not a product, a logo or a mission statement. A brand is how a person feels about a product, service or organization. Strong brands like Apple, Google and Coca Cola are all highly credible, high quality brands that promote a general feeling of trust and security amongst consumers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you yourself could convey that kind of feeling to an employer?!? Well…you CAN! It’s called Personal Branding. Start by developing a brief statement that communicates who you are, what you are looking for and how you can benefit an employer.

Often referred to as “the 30 second elevator speech”, this pitch is like a mini commercial about yourself! Practice this statement often so that it comes across naturally when you are networking or introducing yourself to prospective employers.

Continue to build your brand through a professional resume, a portfolio, and don’t forget your online image! Be consistent and work to maintain your brand. A strong, clear brand can help you become known for what you are good at and hopefully set you apart from everyone else!

Karen Cake is a student from the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON. For more information about the Career Consultant Certificate Program, or how MCACES helps students with Employment Advisement, please contact Lidia Siino, Professional Development & Communications Specialist at