The Interview Tips Nobody Tells You

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Struggling to get your foot in the door? Gain powerful insights from HR and marketing director now financial adviser Katy Donahue

Unique tips from HR and marketing director now financial adviser Katy Donahue. Tune in for Katy’s insights:

  1. How to research and know which types of questions to ask in interviews.
  2. What your mind should focus on when interviewing, even driving in the car on the way.
  3. What HR professionals and hiring managers are looking for.
  4. Plus financial planning tips for emerging professionals and recent grads.

Watch The Full Show Below

blinking and now we’re live all right katie donahue thank you so much for joining us here on the roi and you show um career success tips so uh i posted a couple different things so sometimes it’s like okay what am i doing now but but i’m really thrilled to have you here because you have so many great insights as as a financial advisor as an hr professional as a marketing professional and would love to have you talk a little bit about your background and set up some context for our emerging professionals and recent grads that they can get a sense of who you are and where all your insights are coming from thank you very much suzanne and welcome and thank you to the recent grads and emerging professionals my name is katie and i’m a financial advisor now i love working with families businesses individuals on their paths to achieve what’s important to them financially and everyone has a different story and requires a customized plan prior to this i was a human resources director i worked for numerous years in the newspaper industry and that ended with our company being acquired it’s a condensing industry i was laying off hundreds of people who i had onboarded 20 plus years prior i knew their backgrounds i knew they did not have clear plans i knew when a employee’s spouse died suddenly in the night that she did not have life insurance

could i impact those things not necessarily as a human resources director but that’s what launched me into a career change of being a financial advisor prior to that i was a marketing director with the same newspaper got to meet lots of people lots of non-profits similarities like you are that with interviewing whether it was a professional person through through non-profit or through a new hire

learning a lot hopefully i can give back and share with you specifically as susan asks questions and imparts some insight that you guys can take away and learn from and benefit from excellent yeah i love that and uh we were just we’re just running through some of the show notes and a little some of your tips and i would encourage anyone who might be listening or watching to go ahead and check those out on podcasts but we we were talking about mindset and how important that is also resilience persistence now these are a lot of phrases that you hear about all the time and i just wonder how you would apply them to someone who’s just starting out someone who’s been in a you know in a in a school environment um in a college environment and maybe not in a professional environment how those how those terms really apply

sure so terms like perseverance resilience expectations i’ll throw in optimism dependability those are words that we hear all the time expectations and resilience in particular when you’re leaving that that environment that higher educational environment and now you are interviewing among seasoned professionals i would say think of two buckets of knowledge the first bucket would be those social cues and social graces it really is true how you dress how you look at somebody in the eyes shaking their hands not interrupting i sound like the mother that i am but those are incredibly important it is your brand you may have heard that it is your brand how you speak how you smile the clothes you wear how you your com how you comport yourself the second would be that mindset that suzanne you talked about that mindset of knowing it’s never a one-off everything we do does not result in the consequence that we are hoping for and that is okay expect that expect things to go wrong that’s where you learn that’s where you reflect and be humbled have the perseverance have the optimism and be humbled when you’re in an interview when you’re meeting with somebody your mindset should be i am going to learn we’re each going to share we’re going to have a conversation you want the conversation to be a winner for you for example it’s an interview think of it as a conversation think of it as we’re learning be humbled think of those two buckets take those two buckets with you pull from them give and take as you go through life but they are so important and just part of who you are and will help you win those successes i love it what are some because we’ve talked a little bit about mindfulness and i was just curious or mindset i should say uh i’m just curious what what would be some tips for a mindset when you are preparing for an interview i know the probably the worst time for me always was kind of sitting in the waiting room or driving there and usually i would sort of try to cram right okay what am i going to say about this what am i going to say about that right but that’s probably not the best way to approach it i bet you have much better tips

so i’ll take off my current financial advisor hat and put on my previous human resources director hat and yes your mindset be positive think of it as a conversation our mind can be our own worst enemy when we get nervous am i going to starter what if they ask me a question and i don’t know um i’m not good enough i’m never going to get this the more we want something the higher the stakes are right we want what we want when you are in that interview do your homework dress the part please have questions handy if i am interviewing somebody and i think i like them and i will go off script and ask them probing questions because i really want some insight into how they are going to fit with the existing team they don’t have a question for me i’m going to make a note that they weren’t interested enough they weren’t curious enough how is how is their behavior with me as a human resources director going to transcend to their manager to a team so please have a question ready please be engaged ask about the company you’ve heard that a million times look up the company ask them questions it is so true even if it’s about the neighborhood or the community or something that you know that’s relevant maybe maybe a ballpark just opened up in the area to come across as engaged interested and relevant are very important when you’re sitting across from that table having an interview what would be a good question to ask that would maybe reflect or what’s one thing that you could research and bring to the interview did are there any examples that maybe pop up

for the applicant for the for the grad who is sitting there uh okay i would say go beyond the city and town look into the type of business if it’s a newspaper for example where i used to work oh i saw you were recently acquired or i was reading about this annual community event that you do how do you pick your keynote speakers it seems like you have such interesting ones so get a little bit deeper um perhaps it might be a pharmaceutical company think about who their audience is is it biotech is it cancer drugs and and probe there maybe it’s something you don’t know the answer to but because you’ve probed you’re coming across as someone who’s genuine you’re showing curiosity interest and you’re also showing that you want to be a part of the culture

i love that and i’m just curious what you think about this as a question to say something along the lines of if you don’t mind i would love to know why you chose to work here to ask you know the person

your answer because a good hr team is going to ask you that they’re going to ask you why did you apply they’re going to ask you what are you looking for they’re going to ask you why this company why this role because they’re going to be making connections too they don’t know you they want you to be a good fit that’s what onboarding and your probation is all about in a new company those first three months typically are to ensure we made a promise to you about the job and what’s expected now here’s your chance to ask those questions to show us you get it and you really are a good fit so to your point suzanne practice those questions expect to be asked and practice them so that you can just say them smoothly and with authenticity

love it and it all comes down to preparation right yes yes yes preparation there is a quote um without preparation there’s no plan sorry guys i can’t remember the quote but yes i will underscore it is preparation yeah and i would say too what’s different i think probably from when you and i were first interviewing for jobs is you’d have to go to the library and look up information about that company like get a brochure or something whereas now all you can you just have to google it right how easy is that

it’s very easy um it’s it’s very easy just make sure your information is current and it’s relevant and remember this people like to talk about themselves so by having questions by researching knowing about the company and then having questions about it people like that it’s it’s a form of flattery um

just make sure your information is is correct and even if there’s a way to perhaps depending on the job finding somebody who you know was employed there and just asking them questions about about the business that might be a little trickier but be creative

yeah i love it speaking of creative what are some creative ways that candidates have impressed you in the past is there anything that stands out

what stands out to me are the applicants who are prepared i know they’re prepared by their confidence by their relaxed nature by overdressing

trust me they overdress professionally that is uh not for a cocktail party that stands out taking out a notepad in a pen and writing notes while you’re talking to me in an interview stands out of course we’ve already covered asking questions stands out if an applicant said to me katie at the end of the interview and i said you have any other questions if the applicant said to me katie i enjoyed this interview i enjoyed learning more about this position tell me why you’re here that would make that applicant stand out to me those are great tips and i think pretty easy to implement um you know like showing up at the notebook i always have a notebook because i used to be a reporter so it’s just my nature to take notes and yeah and and i don’t think i think you probably want something that would fit comfortably in your hand and maybe not not a phone let’s say you want something like a piece of paper and a pen or a pencil right i i see a lot of us migrating to the digital world which is fantastic it’s suitable it has its benefits in an interview showing that paper and pen that you are interested enough that you want to remember this information that this is important to you

gives that perception whereas sitting there without it does not and sure it need not be a padded portfolio a small notepad is fine

i would say too that it gives your hands something to do you know if you have your pen it’s it’s one less thing to have to think about what am i doing or not touching your face all these things that that would indicate that you’re nervous suzanne you’re right and for those of us who are nervous or perhaps we’re more introverted and we might have the twitching leg or to your point we’re moving our hands holding on to that pen even holding onto the pen with both hands is a way to channel some of that stress um keeping your feet planted on the floor so that you do appear more common in control definitely these are important important tricks these are so obvious yeah they and they they seem obvious but when we’re so preoccupied with i need to be on time or i have an interview we mustn’t forget those little things you know they say the difference between good to great is is often very very very small distance i believe it yeah for sure also one technique that i use you know because i take notes all the time with clients when i’m on calls and a lot of times i’ll just say okay yeah i just i need a second i’m just going to jot this down and then what that can do is it gives you time to think about what what you’ve heard how to respond you can kind of use that as an opportunity to give yourself a moment to take a breath even um so that can be a really handy technique and to that point suzanne i again not speaking as a financial advisor still speaking as a previous human resources director if i’m asking a question and i know the applicant might need a minute to think about it in other words it’s a thought provoking question i would rather hear that applicant look at me and say

i’d like just 10 seconds let me think about that let me formulate how i’m going to answer that it’s okay it’s okay to tell the person you’re interviewing with wow i need a minute to think about that let me let me pause for a moment that is okay to your point it’s putting the control back on to you and the person asking the question appreciates it of course they’re going to give you a moment they know this is important to you you’re valuing their time as well by saying this is important enough for me i want to pause and really give it due diligence

i love that it’s really that’s really key the other um question that or actually what i wanted to talk about was or transition into financial advice because that’s a really key piece for a lot of students i think i had a i think it was a financial planner when i was working a job at a hotel i ran this private lounge and i got to meet these really successful people and it was awesome but one of the things she said to me was at that time pay yourself 100 a month right and then you take christmas and the month of your birthday off so that way you’re putting a thousand dollars every year into into a retirement account but i’m just wondering what are some other we talked a little bit about planning and helping people plan what are some things that maybe an emerging professional or recent grad isn’t really thinking about when it comes to financial planning

i like that question i come across college grads or kids in college where where i’m located geographically there are about 10 colleges around me within 5 miles so we have a high college population and you’re right planning planning planning but nowadays with so much debt it’s with loans with with housing costs i think it’s hard for new professionals new grads to be thinking long-term long-term means our later bucket of money they’re too busy worrying about today when i work with people we’re always talking about where are you today and where do you want to be and you’re right planning let’s plan a hundred dollars a month or whatever it might be and let’s plan to treat ourselves twice a year by by splurging doesn’t matter what your plan is two things matter you have a plan and you’re executing on the plan lastly being consistent with the plan if you start off at 25 years old and you’re putting 100 a month away 25 dollars a week and you are investing that consistently i won’t talk investing that that’s not for today but that is what i do and again that’s not for today but you’re investing that every month for 30 years you will have achieved a later bucket fund that is going to serve you it seems

not doable once you start and you are consistent that is the key and make it doable start with 20 a week do it every day every month every year work with a financial advisor someone like me who knows this is your plan we start small there are strategies in place investing and saving are two different things i love that you said suzanne pay yourself even just we talk about mindset mindset can oftentimes just be the word choice the word choice can make it uh more achievable so try not to be overwhelmed by what you have in front of you and bills and and feeling as if it’s going to take me so long and just start work with someone to help you stay on track that’s our job keeping you on track but plan prepare execute and be consistent

i did an interview with a recent grad who had just landed a job and was on this great trajectory and one of her goals was to pay off her student loans right away and that was something that i’ve i pushed back a little bit on and i’m just wondering maybe what your approach would be um because my sense was how what’s the you have to look at the interest rates on things right and make your money work for you i’d love to hear your take on that

so that is a really good question and i’m actually talking with someone who is not a college grad she’s in her third year i believe and i’m giving her some complimentary time she has some cash what i will call emergency cash anytime we have cash ready available i call that your emergency cash because if something goes wrong you need new brakes you need a dehumidifier you need a christmas gift um you’re taking it from that emergency cash that money today that today money she asked me that same question suzanne here are my bills here’s the interest rate here’s what i am she has a gift that comes from her parents every year and she also has her savings account and her question was if i hurry up and use my savings to pay these balances is that a wise choice for me

so anyone who is listening this think about your cash flow think about your income down the road where are you in the job market how close are you to securing a position with a full-time position oftentimes you have access to an employer retirement plan your extra income might help pay off some of those those immediate debts so it’s not a cookie cutter one size fits all but think about those things before we want to deplete our cash deplete that emergency fund to save a little bit on the on the interest side is it going to be a net gain for you in talking with a financial advisor who can give you a complimentary half hour or so might be another option for you

i can’t hear you okay sorry just uh some technical difficulties working with all my equipment and gear and whatnot and um it’s hot here and temperature makes a difference so it’s always always an adventure no i’m i’m happy to hear that because i obviously i’m not a financial advisor but i wanted to make sure that i was giving her good advice and good information in terms of yeah how do you what do you do next what do you what do you focus on so i love that well we just have a few minutes left and i’m just curious katie are there any thoughts or suggestions that you might have for our recent grads in terms of their career trajectory

yes i would tell them as you and i were talking before don’t be discouraged don’t let the expectations or the the results that you don’t desire let you down and demotivate you and upset your confidence i think we have a theme here today um the mindset focusing on the big picture understanding there are going to be challenges along the way life does not even though we have a plan and our plan is pretty linear life is going to test that plan for you constantly and it’s okay learn from that learn from those areas where you feel that you’re free falling rely on people who are good to you rely on those people who know you who are going to give you good advice and care in what you’re doing really care and believe in who you are in your abilities and the person you’re sitting with across the table and the person at the gas station just be humbled be open to receive as they say and just remember you’re unique you have so much to offer as

coco Chanel said you can be the perfect most beautiful peach not everyone is going to love peaches oh I love that one I don’t think I’ve heard that before

so awesome yeah and I think to um what I guess one thing that I’d love to talk about is what industries you think um present growth opportunities for an emerging professional or recent grad um do you feel like you have a finger on the pulse of that or what does your sentence tell you

uh maybe a finger on the pulse in terms of companies to invest in I could talk to you all day long about that um but that may also yield job opportunities too right if you’re gonna invest in it they’re probably hiring and growing right so would you say there’s a conversation yeah there could be a correlation um what comes to mind I had mentioned pharmaceutical maybe I mentioned that because that’s top of mind for me health care pharmaceutical industries also technology that seems like a no-brainer but we have a lot of artificial intelligence robotics so it’s not just a category but what’s under the hood what area under the hood so the technology for me it would be more of the artificial intelligence robotics um

I would say to manufacture

would be different maybe not the oil sector at this point lots of volatility but think about those areas i suppose there would be a correlation suzanne when we look at fundamentals from businesses and publicly traded ones the fundamentals that means the balance sheets what are they doing with their profits how profitable are they are they um coming up with too many things where they’re not able to focus and keep up with competition in their industries or are they really honing in on maybe one particular area so their balance sheet their fundamentals are going to be stronger definitely doesn’t hurt to pay attention to that i love that yeah at one point when i was at the boston globe i was really religiously looking at their stock performance because i was trying to decide you know there was an employee stock option plan and i i bought into it when it was good and then as you know newspaper industry on the decline in the 15 years that i was in it and when i started the globe things were still looking okay and then you know six years later it was totally a different picture they were offering buyouts and so i took a voluntary buyout but i got in the habit of paying attention to what was going on with the stocks because we were owned by new york times at that time so what’s happening with that yeah and here’s just the track here’s something to add to that i thought if i can

disrupt my video for a moment so getting back to the interview and your and your grads um this is probably a good way to we’ve come full circle which is you just mentioned the newspaper industry I’ve mentioned it as well there was a time maybe what 20 years ago where the newspaper industry’s fundamentals completely changed because they needed to buy newsprint they need to buy the paper in order to print the news on and if our listeners want to look up the uh the situation with with paper it became tremendously costly therefore it was eating into profits of these companies so when you’re asking questions look into things like that really be creative and curious when you’re looking into the looking in these businesses and sitting there across from the table and it’s your turn to pick the brain of the hr director

yeah absolutely well that was one of the questions that i asked in my interview is you’re offering buyouts and why why am i here like why why are you hiring when you’re offering buyouts and the question the answer was we need to bring in new voices and new energy and new perspective and you know in essence those people were very costly and for them to retire in under a package they were coming out whole at the end so it wasn’t like they were just booting people out the door they had been there for decades and then after i had been there a while it was like oh okay i see if we have a moment i would also add to the listeners that just because a company is offering buyouts doesn’t necessarily mean the company is on its way out it could be that they’re expanding into a new terrain they’re recognizing their company needs to move into the digital arena for example so they’re changing how their company is operating so that could be a good thing that they’re offering buyouts in one area so they can grow to your point suzanne in another area yeah this has been super fun katie i really appreciate you taking the time to share your insights from financial planning to hr to interviewing and mindset we do have some notes that you and i sort of did our pre-call and i included those so those will be posted on

and of course, this is going on Facebook live and we’ll be sharing it on other social media channels and uh we will be starting a cohort in the fall for recent grads or emerging professionals who are looking to jump into digital marketing we provide courses that are live interactive you’re working with industry experts and then we’re placing you in internships so you’re building out your portfolio and lining students up with interviews with our agency partners who are really eager to hire and uh see hardworking students get their careers launched successfully but thank you so much Katie this was so fun thank you i had so much fun as well and thanks so much

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Meet Katy Donahue

HR and marketing director Katy Donahue serves as a financial advisor at Edward Jones. Katy helps clients navigate through the entire project process of investing.

Katy has years of experience building and leading successful financial endeavors. She also has years of experience in human resources. She knew the ins and out of both investing and how to stand out to a hiring team.