Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, September 14, 2015

"Legitimate excuse? Don't let it stop you"/ job interviews

Jul. 21 "Legitimate excuse? Don't let it stop you": I cut out this article by Jason Selk in the Globe and Mail on April 3, 2015:
You need to develop the right mindset, starting with a positive identity statement, to perform at a high level.

Many of us don't even give ourselves a chance to win. A common dialogue that I hear from people goes something like this: "I know what I need to do to succeed, and I do well when I get started, but I just stop doing it after a while. I am just not the type of person who always follows through with things."

If you tell yourself this, what are the chances that you will actually follow through with something? Virtually nil. So why do we handicap ourselves? The answer is that it is easier to do so.

It is easier to have low expectations for ourselves. We won't disappoint ourselves if we didn't expect to perform well in the first place.

Our brain does not like our thoughts, feelings and behaviour to be out of sync. If there is a disconnect, one of the three will adjust to realign with the rest.

This is why we make excuses.

Let's say you like to think of yourself as a responsible person, yet you failed to finish an important project on time. Your behaviour of failing to complete the project does not align with your thoughts of being responsible. So you make an excuse: the workload was too much, people kept interrupting you, it wasn't an important task anyway, and so on and so on.

Excuses are a form of self-preservation. They are pacifiers for mental anguish - you don't have to feel bad for underperforming because it wasn't your fault. The highly successful, however, know that excuses lead us straight to the status quo. If you want to perform at a high level, you have the right mindset.

The first step is to start telling yourself that you do possess the qualities necessary for success.

Develop an identity statement ("i.e. a self-description designed to improve how you see yourself in relation to your goals) to remind yourself that you have what it takes to create the life you want and the goals you hope to achieve.

Is it important that you wake up early to get a head start on your tasks for the day? If so, then stop telling yourself that you are not a morning person. Is it important that you always finish what you start? Then stop telling yourself that you have a hard time following through. Is it important that you outwork your competition? Then stop telling yourself that you are lazy. If we tell ourselves that we aren't someone who does X, we feel no pressure to actually do it. This takes off the pressure to perform at a high level and promotes underachievement. These are the biggest form of excuses.

Set the stage for your success by developing your own identity statement. Follow these steps:

1. Determine what it is that you actually want to accomplish. Be specific. Do you want to make a certain salary per year? Do you want to be a better spouse? Do you want to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle? Choose no more than three things, and the more specific and measurable, the better. For example: "I want to lose 20 pounds, have more energy to enjoy life with my wife and children and make $1-million per year."
2. What qualities, characteristics, or behaviour will be required to accomplish these things? For example: "I need to have a positive outlook, I need to have strong willpower and I need to make more client calls."

3. Put these qualities together in an identity statement. State these qualities as if you already possess them. Limit this to no more than two sentences. For example: "I always stay focused on the positive, and I follow through with what I tell myself I will do. I make 15 client calls per day and return home full of energy to my wife and kids."

Commit to reciting your identity statement to yourself once a day for the next five days and pay attention to the effect this has on your motivation and productivity. Write your identity statement on a notecard and place it somewhere in plain sight to remind yourself.

Being great isn't easy. It isn't supposed to be easy. No one is born with all of the qualities required for greatness, but the highly successful have made the sacrifices to make these qualities a reality in themselves. Request more of yourself, and start by telling yourself you have what it takes. Avoid making the ultimate excuse and give yourself a chance to win.

My opinion: This is a rather inspirational article to motivate me to improve on my outlook.
 "Seven ways to slay the competition in your next interview": I cut out this article by Vicky Oliver in the Globe and Mail on Apr. 3, 2015:
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Congratulations! You did it: you landed an interview for a sought-after position at a top-notch company. You know the competition will be fierce. Who knows how many people will be competing for that coveted slot. It’s more important than ever to be at your best so that you can trounce your competitors.

In a field of star applicants, here are seven ways to ace your job interview.

1. Work your network

If you know someone who works at the company – or even know someone who knows someone – get in contact and pick that person’s brain for the inside story. Find out everything you can about the company – new management, new initiatives, general morale, even the personality of your interviewer. If you don’t know anyone at the company, scour your network for someone in a competitive or similar business. Having a deep knowledge of both the industry and the company where you are interviewing will help set you apart from those with only a superficial understanding.

2. Interview early

If you are given a choice, choose a morning time slot for your interview. Studies show that people who interview in the morning are offered the job more often than those who take afternoon interviews. (A side benefit: you will get the interview over with earlier in the day, too.)

3. Aim for the midweek

Midweek days are better interview days than either Mondays or Fridays. On Monday, everyone on staff has too many meetings to give an interview with you the attention it deserves. On Friday, most interviewers are ready to leave the work week behind.

4. Brush up on trends

Become an industry insider by going deeper and wider with your research. Read everything; you never know which research paper or annual report will reveal information for a thoughtful interview sound bite. Even if you aren’t asked the question you’ve briefed for, such as “Where do you predict this industry is going in the next three years?,” you can weave your new knowledge into other responses.

5. Don't skip the dress rehearsal

Interview yourself. Prepare your responses to any typical and outlier questions you can imagine. Then, rehearse in front of a mirror, a family member, or an honest friend. Learn your answers so thoroughly that they almost seem spontaneous. (However, in any follow-up interview, be sure to change your answers a bit so they won’t seem canned.)

6. Dress for the job you want

Dress appropriately, that is, professionally, for the interview. Depending on the corporate culture of the company, you may want to dress more conservatively than if you already worked there. Choose one item, perhaps a tie or belt, that expresses your personality. You’re better off being remembered for your winsome repartee than for your neon-colored jacket.

7. Have questions for the questioner

Never show up for an interview without preparing a list of well-thought-out questions of your own. Most often, once the interviewer exhausts her questions, she’ll ask if you have any. This gives you another opportunity to shine if you can present insightful observations on the industry or offer kudos for recent company successes as lead-ins. You can also ask questions that will help determine if the company will be a good fit, such as: “What type of employees tend to succeed here?” Make sure never to ask questions pertaining to salary or personal days until an offer is made.


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