The 10 Most Common Interview Questions

Have an interview coming up?

interviewing.. its difficult on all parts.. what about this crazy question

The best thing that you can do to prepare is to think through the questions you’re likely to be asked and formulate answers ahead of time. Here are the 10 most common interview questions and how to craft a strong answer to each.

Study up to prepare a strong answer for each that highlights your skills and track record.

“Tell me about yourself.”

Focus on the substance of the role and how it interests you. Don’t talk about benefits, salary, the short commute or anything else unrelated to the day-to-day work you’d be doing, or you’ll signal that you’re not particularly enthusiastic about the work itself. Interviewers want to hire people who have carefully considered whether this is a job they’d be glad to do every day, and that means focusing on the work itself – not what the job can do for you.

Charisse: oh so true! Please focus on them and what you can do in skills and attitude!

“Tell me about yourself.”

This means: “Give me a broad overview of who you are, professionally speaking, before we dive into specifics.” You should prepare about a one-minute answer that summarizes where you are in your career and what you’re especially good at, with an emphasis on your most recent job. Keep your personal life out of it; your interviewer isn’t asking to hear about your family, hobbies or where you grew up.

Charisse: please do not add in information about you, your family or negative comments about your present/past employers, this is a biggie!

“What interests you about this job?”

Focus on the substance of the role and how it interests you. Don’t talk about benefits, salary, the short commute or anything else unrelated to the day-to-day work you’d be doing, or you’ll signal that you’re not particularly enthusiastic about the work itself. Interviewers want to hire people who have carefully considered whether this is a job they’d be glad to do every day, and that means focusing on the work itself — not what the job can do for you.

“Why are you thinking about leaving your job?” Or: “Why did you leave your last job?”

Don’t discuss conflicts with your manager or co-workers, complain about your work or badmouth employers. Job seekers are commonly advised to say they’re seeking new challenges, but that only works if you’re specific about those new challenges and how this job will provide them in a way your last job didn’t. It’s also fine to cite things like a recent or planned move, financial instability at your organization or other reasons that are true.

Charisse: now is the time to tell the future employer how you have learned from the past, keep all conversations positive!

“Why would you excel at this job?”

This is your chance to make a case for why you’d shine in the job — and if you don’t know the answer to that, it’s unlikely your interviewer will figure it out either. Since this gets to the crux of the whole interview, you should have a strong answer prepared that points to your skills and track record of experience and ties those to the needs of the job.

“What do you know about our company so far?”

Interviewers don’t want you to simply regurgitate facts about the company; they’re probing to see if you have a general sense of what it’s all about. What makes the company different from its competition? What is it known for? Has it been in the news lately? If it looks like you haven’t done this basic research, your interviewer will likely wonder how interested you really are and whether you even understand what the company does.

Charisse, we provide the overview to you, yet do your own research, learn about them and their successes, research, google, facebook them! They will be doing the same to yoU!!!

“Tell me about a time when …”

Good interviewers will ask about times you had to exercise the skills required for the job. These may be situations when you had to take initiative, deal with a difficult customer or solve a problem for a client. Prepare for these questions so you’re not struggling to think of real examples. Brainstorm the skills you’ll likely need in the job and what challenges you’ll likely face. Then think about examples from past work that show you can meet those needs. When constructing your answer, discuss the challenge you faced, how you responded and the outcome you achieved.

“What would you do in your first 90 days in this position?”

Interviewers are looking for answers that reveal how you set goals and solve problems, and whether you’re ambitious without being unrealistic. You should also acknowledge that you’ll need to take time to get to know the team, what’s working and what can be improved before you make any big decisions — but your answer should still get into specifics to a reasonable extent.

“What’s most important to you in a new position?”

Interviewers want to understand your career goals and whether this job will fulfill them. After all, if you’re looking for a job with lots of public contact and a highly collaborative culture, and this job is mostly solo work, it might not be the right fit for you. It’s in your best interest to be candid and specific when you answer this so you land in a job that aligns with what will make you happiest.

“What salary range are you looking for?”

Job seekers are almost always asked this question, but they often fail to prepare for it and are caught off guard when it comes up. If you wing your answer, you risk lowballing yourself and ending up with a salary offer below what you might have received otherwise. It’s crucial to research the market rate for the job ahead of time.

Charisse: this is so important, I suggest that you ask them… with my skills and education how do I fit into your pay range?


“What questions do you have for me?”

At the end of every job interview, you’ll likely be asked if you have any questions. At this stage, ask open-ended questions about office culture and those that clarify the role. Also ask about next steps in the hiring process and the employer’s timeline for getting back to you. Avoid questions about benefits and pay; hold those for once you have an offer.

No one wants to hire a dummy.

That’s part of what the interview process is for – it’s a chance for your hopefully soon-to-be boss to determine your preparedness for the position, and asking intelligent questions about the company, your boss and the opening you’re applying for is a step in the right direction.

U.S. News asked notable professionals what was the smartest question a job candidate asked them during an interview. Their responses have been edited.

Sara Clemens, chief strategy officer for Pandora Internet Radio

“‘If you were to rank all the people who have done this job in the past, tell me about No. 1 and why you would put them there?’”

Clemens: Why the Question Stood Out

“It demonstrated the individual was critically evaluating the fit between the role and their own capabilities and characteristics.”

Ted Rubin, social marketing strategist, keynote speaker, brand evangelist and acting chief marketing officer for the firm Brand Innovators

“The smartest question a job candidate ever asked me during an interview was something personal about my career that showed they had done their homework.”

Rubin: Why the Question Stood Out


“It was relevant, in context, and incredibly insightful with respect to me and the job she was looking to win.”

Traci Schweikert, senior director of human resources for NPR

“I was describing the organization I was working with at the time to a job candidate, who asked: ‘You’ve described this as a place that welcomes innovation. Can you tell me about a time when you failed at something, or when someone else in the organization failed at something? How did the organization deal with it?’”

Schweikert: Why the Question Stood Out

“In my role I ask situational questions all the time. The job candidate mentioned to me that she’d had friends who started working for ‘innovative startups’ that had stated they wanted good people, but those good people were thrown away when they didn’t immediately succeed. She wanted to ensure the same thing didn’t happen to her.”

Michelle Herrera Mulligan, editor-in-chief of ‘Cosmopolitan for Latinas’

“There are several questions I loved that people asked me or my team on an interview: ‘What qualities did the person who held this job previously have that you’d like to maintain?’ ‘What are the most important qualities that the person filling this job should have?’ ‘What’s your definition of success?’”

Herrera Mulligan: Why the Questions Stood Out

“I loved [the first] question because it showed she cared about what we were looking for, beyond what the job title asked for. The second is a great question because it goes deeper than the job description. It showed that she cared about whether we would be a good fit as colleagues. The third is an amazing question! It was a subtle way of asking what types of goals I would hope to pursue, and for her to pursue, in the position. I liked her right away and put her on the top of my list after this one.”

Joanne Rencher, chief people officer of Girl Scouts of the USA

“The smartest question, hands down, was a candidate who asked me to describe the skills and characteristics of those considered ‘high potentials’ at our company/organization, meaning, those who are known to have excelled through key results and behaviors. In essence, they wanted to know more about my views on the exemplars of my organization.”

Rencher: Why the Question Stood Out

“The candidate was smart enough to do two things, brilliantly and simultaneously: One, sell themselves for the job after what was carefully done homework on the organization, and two, not be satisfied that the salesmanship was sufficient enough to impress. Asking me to describe those considered high potential gave them a clear window into what I considered the ideal match – not in hypothetical terms, either. The candidate went on to sell themselves, but now with information gleaned straight from the prospective employer.”

How has this position evolved since it was created?

Cheryl Palmer, career coach and founder of the career coaching firm Call to Career, says getting a brief history on the role should clear up whether the position has expanded over the years or has been a dead end for employees.

What have past employees done to succeed in this position?

Knowing how the organization measures achievements will help you understand what the expectations will be and whether you have the skill set to meet them, Palmer says. But don’t undermine your past accomplishments just because your route to success doesn’t match up with the one embraced by the company. “You also don’t want to be too narrowly defined by what other people have done. Because you’re a different person, you may approach things a little differently,” she says.

What have you enjoyed most about working here?

Your prospective boss can relay what he or she values most and what led to his or her personal success with the organization. Then, Palmer says, you can internally ruminate about whether you share the same values and can envision yourself working there.

 What is the top priority for the person in this position over the next three months?

This question is helpful so you know what to focus on if you do get the position, Palmer says. Without a clear expectation, she adds, you won’t know what to accomplish or how to make the right impression during your first days on the job.

What are the qualities of successful ( fill in the blank with your career) in this company?

If you’re interviewing for a managerial position, you’ll want knowledge of the skills and core competencies the company treasures in a leader, says David Lewis, founder and president of Operations Inc, a Connecticut-based human resources outsourcing and consulting firm. If excellent people skills and multitasking top the list, emphasize how you’ve demonstrated those traits throughout your career.

If offered the position, can you give me examples of ways I would collaborate with my manager?

As an entry-level staffer, you may want to work with management as a means to showcase your skills and move up. But there’s a distinction between simply taking orders and actively working with a superior who is grooming you for something better. “[Finding] out how an organization utilizes people at the staff level is key,” Lewis says. “Is it a dictatorial environment or a collaborative one?”

What are some challenges that will face the person filling this position?

You owe it to yourself to know what you’re up against. “It just gives you a reality check,” Palmer says. The drawbacks may differ depending on whether the position is managerial or entry-level. As a manager, you may oversee a department that runs on a shoestring budget. As a lower-level staffer, you may work odd hours or get stuck with assignments that lack substance.

Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?

Asking a question like this lets the interviewer know you’re secure enough to openly discuss your vulnerabilities. It also signals confidence and the ability to be coached, says John Kador, author of “301 Best Questions to Ask on Your Interview.” “Coachability is a hugely attractive attribute as far as interviewers are concerned,” he explains.

Charisse: Its been a bit of a read, yet, do your homework! Research the position, the company, google and yelp them to best prepare for your interview. Dress in accordance for your position, and the next step in your career. You can only impress once! Do it well!

Trust that we have your best interest at heart, review the overview that we have presented as well, these are your tools to make you the top candidate in the market.

Now, its up to you. Only you can make this the interview that impresses the boss.


Author: Alison Green, U.S. News
Comments: Charisse Toale, Senior Recruiter








Facts and Myths for Company Holidays

With the holiday season upon us, employers may have questions about providing time off for certain holidays, how to handle pay for company recognized holidays, and how best to manage time off requests and scheduling issues. To help clarify these issues, we’ve addressed several myths concerning company holidays.

Myth: Employers are required to observe certain holidays.

Fact: Under federal law, employers in the private sector can choose whether or not to observe holidays. Some of the most common company recognized holidays include: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Note that some states require certain types of businesses to be closed on legal holidays and certain employees to be able to take off on certain holidays (e.g., veterans on Veteran’s Day). Check your state law to ensure compliance.

Myth: Employers cannot require employees to work on a holiday.

Fact: Under federal law, an employer generally may require employees to work on a holiday. Employers should remember, however, that they may need to consider providing reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs and practices. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers with 15 or more employees are generally required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs and practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship. This may include providing unpaid time off. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Compliance Manual has a number of best practices for providing religious accommodations, such as encouraging and facilitating voluntary shift swaps and permitting flexible scheduling.

Myth: Employers must pay non-exempt employees for time off on company holidays.

Fact: Employers generally are not required to pay non-exempt employees when they do not work on a holiday, unless the employer has a policy or practice stating otherwise. However, most employers do offer paid holidays to full-time, non-exempt employees.

Myth: Employers can make deductions from exempt employees’ salaries when the company is closed on a holiday.

Fact: But for a few very limited exceptions, exempt employees must receive their full salary for any workweek in which they perform any work. This means that if the company is closed on a holiday and the employee works any part of the workweek, he or she must still receive their full salary, regardless of whether the employer offers paid holidays.

Myth: Non-exempt employees who work from home on a company recognized holiday without prior authorization are not entitled to pay.

Fact: Employers must pay employees for all hours worked, regardless of whether the time was authorized in advance. The employer, however, may consistently apply their disciplinary action policy to employees who work without prior authorization, but in no case may the employer withhold pay.

Myth: All non-exempt employees must receive “premium pay” when they work on a holiday.

Fact: Under federal law, private sector employers are not generally required to provide premium pay for work performed on holidays (other than the overtime premium required for work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek). While the majority of states do not require premium pay for work on a holiday either, there are exceptions for certain employers in states such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Be sure to check your state law to ensure compliance. Even if not required, some employers voluntarily provide premium pay for working on a holiday as an incentive to employees, typically either 1.5 times or 2 times an employee’s normal pay rate.

Myth: Paid holidays must be included when determining whether overtime is due.

Fact: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime for “hours worked” in excess of 40 in a workweek. Paid time off, including time off for holidays, is not considered “hours worked” under the FLSA. For example, consider the situation where an employee works 30 hours during the workweek of Christmas, receives December 24 and December 25 off as paid holidays, and is paid for 46 hours. Under federal law, the employee would not be entitled to overtime pay because his or her actual hours worked is 30. Some employers, however, choose to voluntarily count paid holiday time off as hours worked.

Myth: If a company holiday falls on an employee’s regular day off, an employer must offer the employee another day off.

Fact: If a holiday falls on an employee’s day off, employers are not required to offer another day off, but some employers do so voluntarily. For instance, consider when an employee regularly has Wednesday off and your company offers Christmas (which falls on a Wednesday this year) as a paid holiday. You may choose to provide the employee with another paid day off (e.g., the day after Christmas) since the employee’s schedule would have had him or her off for Christmas anyway.

Myth: Employers cannot require non-exempt employees to work the day before and after a company holiday to be paid for the holiday.

Fact: Under federal law, employers are generally permitted to require non-exempt employees to work the day before and after a company holiday in order to receive pay for the holiday time off. Typically, employers do not apply this policy to employees who scheduled the time off in advance. Note: This practice may not be applied to exempt employees.


Employers should ensure that their holiday policies and practices comply with federal and state law, are clearly communicated to employees in writing, and are applied consistently to all employees.

Flu season is upon us. Here’s what you should be doing!

In preparation for the upcoming flu season, here’s what you need to know:

This year’s flu shot should work well to fight off this year’s strain of the flu, federal health officials said Thursday.

If true, that prediction will be a welcome shift from a year ago, when a strong, mutated flu strain was largely resistant to last year’s vaccine, catching doctors and the public by surprise.

“So far, the strains in this year’s vaccine seem likely to match,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two strains of influenza virus have been changed in this season’s vaccines, based on the viruses that experts believe will be circulating during the upcoming flu season.

Typically, the flu season starts in October, before peaking in the winter. But flu vaccines are reformulated months earlier, based on what experts predict will be best to fight off what they believe will be in circulation.

Public health officials said Thursday that now is the best time to get a flu shot, because the vaccine takes about two weeks to become fully protective.

“People don’t think of flu when it’s really warm outside,” said Dr. Matt Zahn, Orange County Health Care Agency’s top epidemiologist. “But it’s better to get vaccinated now so you’re going to be protected when flu season gets here.”

Doctors and public health officials say the severity of any flu season is impossible to predict.

Though the flu vaccine does not always work – in the past decade the effectiveness rate has ranged from 10 percent to 60 percent – health officials say immunization is the best defense against influenza, which can inflict cough and high fever and lead to potentially lethal complications.

Each year, those symptoms become severe enough to hospitalize more than 200,000 people in the United States.


1. Flu can kill

The flu might not just keep you away from work or school. The consequences can be serious: hospitalization and sometimes death.

For about 200,000 people, it can lead to bacterial pneumonia and ear and sinus infections and worsen chronic conditions, including asthma and diabetes.


2. The flu vaccine can make you feel bad…

A vaccine will prompt the body’s immune system to kick into action. That stimulation can cause muscle aches and fever, mimicking an infection, said Dr. Charles Bailey, medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology at Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills.

“I got the flu shot this year and really had no symptoms whatsoever,” Bailey said. “I usually do feel a little under the weather for the next day or so. People should be aware it’s a possibility.”

Flu symptoms, however, will be much more severe. So that short-term, lousy feeling, “certainly shouldn’t discourage people from getting vaccinated,” he said.

3. … But it doesn’t give you the flu.

The viruses in flu vaccines are either inactivated or weakened. The inactivated viruses are incapable of causing an infection, and weakened viruses, used in the nasal mist, can cause infection only in the cooler temperatures inside the nose.

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4. Hey, it’s contagious; take a sick day.

You can be infectious before you’re even aware you’re sick. Most adults are capable of transmitting the flu to others one day before symptoms appear, and they remain infectious for five to seven days after onset. Young children and people with weakened immune systems can infect others longer than that.

Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets sprayed when sick people cough, sneeze or talk. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are as far away as 6 feet. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it.

In addition to getting the vaccine, people should wash their hands frequently, cover their coughs and stay home when sick.

girl 1

Who should get the vaccine?

It’s especially important for people who are:

• age 6 months through about 5 years

• age 50 and older

• immunosuppressed or who have asthma, cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)

• pregnant or who will be during the influenza season

• residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities

• morbidly obese (body-mass index of 40 or greater)

• health care workers

• roommates and caregivers of children younger than 5 and adults 50 and older



What Most Employers Want to See on Your Resume

What Most Employers Want to See on Your Resume

In today’s extremely competitive job market, there are many applicants for the same jobs. Many hiring managers make a decision about an applicant in a matter of seconds, just by scanning your resume. In order to make it past the first step, the review of the resume, and make it to the second step of an initial interview, applicants need to understand what it takes to grasp the attention of prospective employers, or more specifically, what those employers want to see on your resume. According to resume writing experts SolidEssay, failure to put into writing what the employers are looking for could mean that the most eligible candidate for the position does not even make it to the interview portion. Below we will provide insight as to what employers want to see on an applicant’s resume.

Contact Information

While this may seem to be an obvious thing for an applicant to add to a resume, it is absolutely necessary that the applicant ensures their contact information is recent and up to date, any email address added to the resume should be one that is checked on a regular basis, and now many employers are looking for links to the applicant’s social media sites, such as LinkedIn, which allows the employer to research the applicant further if they choose to do so.

Summary Section

Research has shown that many hiring managers make decisions about potential employees in just a matter of seconds based on the appearance, quality, and content of their resume. It is for this reason that many experts suggest beginning your resume with a summary section. The summary section should be an attention getter for the hiring managers. This summary should be tailored and focused to reflect how you, as the candidate, have skills that fit the particular employer’s needs.

This summary section can be scripted in a few ways. If you are a recent college graduate with relatively little work experience, it is recommended that a more substantial summary section be the strong opening of your resume. Include your list of particular skills and attributes that match the skillset that the employer is looking for. If you have been in the same career for 15 or 20 years, a bullet statement summary touching on the highlights of your talent and accomplishments will be sufficient in the summary section.

Work Summary

Prospective employers want to know the potential employee’s work experience. This work experience should be in reverse chronological order. Major accomplishments and skillsets that match what the job description should be focused on when providing a work summary. If you have been with the same employer for a substantial period of time, it is not necessary to list all employers that you have worked for, unless those employers have skillsets that match the prospective employee’s hiring criteria. Use actual measurable criteria when describing accomplishments rather than word fluff.


Education should be listed with the highest earned degree listed first, and each subsequent degree listed in reverse chronological order, based on the highest earned degree. High school graduation should not be included on the resume unless that is the highest education level accomplished. Educational affiliations should be included on the resume.

For those graduates who graduated with a non-technical degree, they should include their GPA on their resume if it is over 3.5, but they should include what scale it is on; for example, a 3.7 GPA on a 4.0 scale. For those graduates with a technical degree, they should include their resume if it is over 3.2. Again, these students should include what scale it is on, a 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.

Volunteer Work and Other Relevant Activity

Many applicants are coming straight out of college, or have not been a part of the workforce due to issues such as rearing children, an illness, or other reasons for being out of the workforce for an extended period of time, this time is not considered lost time in terms of gained talents and skills. For many people, the skills that they learn volunteering could be exactly what a prospective employer is looking for. For that reason, it is necessary that those candidates with little work experience or those who have been out of the workforce for a significant period of time list the skills and life lessons that they experienced and translate those skills and life lessons into tangible skills that prospective employers could use.

What Not to do on a Resume

Do not add fluff words, or common, cliché phrases unless you have the statement in the resume to support the statement. For example, do not add the phrase “strong leadership skills”, unless later in your resume you can prove those strong leadership skills through duty responsibilities such as “served as the lead of a team of 20 to complete a project ahead of schedule and under budget”.

Do not embellish your accomplishments or take credit for the work of an entire team. Remember that the resume is just a way to get your foot in the door. The prospective employer is going to follow-up beyond just the resume. Embellishing your skills and talents will come back to haunt you later in the hiring process, as the prospective employers will ultimately validate the items that you have listed on your resume.

Today’s job market is not what it was in the past. Today’s applicants have to be cutting edge, forward thinking, and multi-tasking, outside the box thinkers in order to achieve success. These applicants have to have the ability to sell themselves and ensure they stand out in order to rise above the other potential candidates applying for the same position. They have to market their abilities to ensure that the hiring manager gives the resume more than just a simple glance. Once they make it to the interview portion of the available application, the rest is up to them.

Author bio: At Ben teaches students how to write resumes and different types of essays. One of his recent articles is on how to write an essay in Chicago style.

see you at vision expo west!

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Putting your career opportunity in front of the largest gathering of eye care professionals in the world has never been easier.
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imatters will be preparing social media engagement and advertising campaigns specifically for Vision Expo targeting an audience of eye care professionals that you wont want to miss out on.
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With multiple affordable recruiting packages, imatters is sure to have a recruiting model fit for your budget.
With Vision Expo West right around the corner, there has never been a better time to bring high quality staff on board.
Want to interview and meet candidates at Vision Expo? No problem. Background checks, employment verification, reference checking and more with a guarantee of integration? We’ve got you covered!
Meet with a recruiter today to discuss your hiring goals and strategies.
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Trouble sleeping? 7 steps to a good night’s rest.“Feeling tired should never be considered normal,” says Michael Breus, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan.

In other words, you shouldn’t settle for chronic fatigue in your everyday life, because you can help control how much sleep you’re getting.

Try these tips for falling asleep more quickly and soundly, and for longer stretches of time.

1. Exercise, but not within four hours of sleep.
Because exercise is physiologically arousing, it makes you less likely to fall asleep in the very near term, but more likely to fall asleep later. Four hours is generally enough time between working out and hitting the hay to keep you from feeling wide awake while lying in bed.

2. Keep cool.
Between 65° and 75°F is a good guideline for bedroom temperature, but you can also cool your own body by first taking a warm bath or hot shower before going to bed: Both temporarily raise your body temperature, after which it gradually lowers in the cooler air, cueing your body to feel sleepy.

3. Nighttime snack: cheese and crackers.
About an hour before bed, have a snack that combines carbohydrates and either calcium or a protein that contains the amino acid tryptophan—studies show that both of these combos boost serotonin, a naturally occurring brain chemical that helps you feel calm.

4. Easy on the liquids in the evening.
This will likely lead to lots of trips to the loo.

5. Don’t go toward the light.
The light from the screens of televisions, laptops, tablets, or smartphones inhibits melatonin production, so stop using these devices as early in the night as you can.

6. No big meals at night.
Try to make dinnertime earlier. Avoid rich and/or spicy foods that are harder to digest.

7. Down, Fido.
More than half of people who sleep with their pets say the animals disturb their slumber, according to a survey from the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center. If your puppy enjoys acting out his dreams, and his dreams are always about chasing things, it might be better for you both to retire to separate beds.

Fill your holiday season with success. Thrive, and grow your career forward.

Yes it’s that time of year again, the season to be jolly.  So why might you be starting to feel a creeping sense of anxiety and even a little bit of dread?

The truth is this time of year often finds most of us scrambling around trying to get everything done.  Buying presents, wrapping up our work and making travel arrangements.  By the time the holidays finally arrive, we’re usually so tired that in our rush to relax we forgo all the small habits that make it possible to flourish during the year.  Then before we know it the holidays are almost over and we’re starting to wonder just how we’ll get through the year ahead.

To be honest, it can be exhausting just thinking about it.

You see as our expectations rise and our routines are disrupted around this time of year, it’s easy to start spiraling down towards a place of overwhelm, tiredness and even a sense of helplessness.

So what are the small changes you can make to help you flourish during this holiday season?

Professor Martin Seligman – viewed by many as the founding father of positive psychology -  proposes that in order to flourish we need:

  • The presence of positive emotions,
  • The chance to be regularly engaged in what we’re doing,
  • The opportunity to connect with others,
  • A sense of meaning and purpose in our lives, and
  • The feeling that we’re accomplishing things that matter.

Being mindful of where you are on each pillar and the tested, practical ways you can make adjustments as required, is the secret to flourishing rather than floundering at this time of year.  Why?  Well studies have found that when you flourish, you’re able to feel good and function effectively.

To feel more consistently jolly during these holidays why not try:

  • Making time to feel good. Try to create moments of heartfelt positivity each day.  Get out into nature, maintain your exercise (even if you’re slowing it down from your usual pace), make time tomeditate (even five minutes of slow breathing before Christmas lunch can help), find reasons to laugh and listen to music you love.
  • Getting engaged each day. This is a great time of year toexercise your strengths – those things you’re good at and enjoy doing.  Spend at least 11 minutes each day over the holidays developing one of your strengths – like creativity, curiosity, kindness, hope or humor - to feel immersed in life and improve your sense of confidence, energy and wellbeing.
  • Letting yourself truly be connected with others. Be it family, friends or strangers this is a time of year when we yearn to feel respected, valued and appreciated.  To know that we matter and are worthy of love.  Take the time to practice kindness andexpress your gratitude towards others.  It’s the best gift you can give.
  • Tuning into what gives you meaning and living purposefully.Don’t just tick the days off your calendar, make each day count by having a clear “want-to” goal about what you hope this holiday season will be.   It might be: “Making time to slow down and connect with the people you love”; “Reaching out to others less fortunate then yourself”; “Restoring your energy and renewing your focus so you can flourish in the year ahead”.  You won’t get these days again, so how can you live this time purposefully?
  • Keep growing so you can prepare yourself for the year ahead. The holidays are a wonderful time to challenge the mindsets that might be holding you back.  As you think about the new-year and all you want to achieve, try to focus on the efforts you want to be making and not just the outcomes you want to reach.  This way you’ll have the grit to be able to show up, shine and succeed.

Buyers For Hire

Thinking of making a fresh start? Be sure you’re ready to go!

the job market is rallying as companies shake off the lasting effects of the long, dark recession. And as the market turns, professionals are starting to look at their options. For current frame buyers and those who want to get into the profession, we turn to an optical human resources expert, imatters president/owner Charisse Toale, for advice on hunting for your next buyer position.


The ability to manage the patient or customer. Being aware, knowledgeable, and able to communicate with the end user—the patient. The flourishing opticals look for those who have gone above and beyond with extras: thank-you notes, trunk shows, community involvement.

Understanding the financials of purchasing, inventory management, and fashion influences your possibility of being hired. Know who you are interviewing with, visit the website, read the reviews of the company, know the hours of operation, and mirror the “look” of the company.

Buyers’ Outlook

The job market for dispensers is great. A good optician will be in demand, says imatters’ Charisse Toale. “I see the biggest change in dispensing is the luxury goods. It’s a small niche of opticians, and they can be very valuable.

“For frame buyers, the chances of influencing your inventory are higher, the opportunities to manage a business is greater, too. On a smaller scale, it’s becoming a bigger fish, mistakes are limited to a smaller amount of inventory. For the most part you can recover from a few failed attempts at buying.

“To be a retail buyer requires a degree, preferably a four-year, and knowledge of trends, production costs, and the courage to risk the profits of a company. There are no second chances in inventory management.”


Know your customers first, have a good sense of what sells in your location, look for trends in eyewear that may be in other competitors that you could add to your location. Sit in on the buying if at all possible, learn from your manager, and ask questions of the sales person—what trends do they see that would be best added to your practice? Take management courses, learn your costs per sale, seasonality of your market, and prepare.

Show that you are interested in your self-improvement as well as what you have learned from your previous organizations. Sales courses, Vision Expo courses, and continuing education—they are mirrors of your respect for yourself as well as for their customers.


No-no’s: Don’t speak negatively about your past employers, don’t fill out applications and add reason for leaving: bad environment, boss yelled at me; any thoughts of misappropriation are never good. Also, don’t lie or forget jobs that you have held. In today’s market, facts are being checked, and omissions are grounds for dismissal.

Must-haves: A quick synopsis of your career is great, try to tailor it to the practice/business that has your interest. Focus on your strengths in managing relationships as well as any mentoring you have provided or has been provided to you. What you have learned—and what you can bring to an employer—is essential.

Author: Charisse Toale

How to spot a liar

How can you tell when a job applicant or employee is lying? Workplace body language expert and author of “The Truth About Lies in the Workplace,” Carol Kinsey Goman offers these tips for spotting liars at work.

1. Establish a “truth baseline”

Spotting deception begins with observing a person’s baseline behavior under relaxed or generally stress-free conditions so that you can detect meaningful deviations.

One of the strategies that experienced interviewers use is to ask a series of simple questions while observing how the person behaves when there is no reason to lie. Then, when the more difficult issues get addressed, the interviewer can stay alert for sudden changes in behavior that may indicate deception around key points.

2. Watch for stress signals

For the vast majority of the individuals you interview or work with, the act of lying triggers a heightened stress response. Blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rates all increase.

To relieve stress and anxiety, liars may use pacifying gestures (rubbing their hands together, bouncing their heels, fidgeting with jewelry, etc.) But our first response to stress (before we ready ourselves to fight or flee) is to freeze. So also pay attention if your usually animated colleague suddenly stops gesturing, has a forced or frozen smile, and locks her ankles.

3. Look at their eyes

The biggest myth around deception is that liars can’t look you in the eyes. In fact, some don’t (especially small children), but polished liars may actually give too much eye contact.

There are two eye signals that are more accurate signs of dishonesty: 1) Pupils dilate when someone is lying, and 2) Blink rates change – slowing down while someone constructs and tells the lie, and then speeding up (sometimes as much as eight times) afterward.

4. Count to four

Nonverbal cues to all kinds of unconscious giveaways tend to occur in clusters – a group of movements, postures and actions that collectively point to a particular state of mind.

This is crucially true of dishonesty, where one specific cluster of nonverbal signals has been proven statistically to accompany dishonesty. These are: hand touching, face touching, crossed arms, and leaning away. According to research conducted at Northeastern University by David DeSterno, if you see these “Telltale Four” being displayed together, watch out!

5. Notice if they aren’t really answering the question

Because of the mental effort it takes to tell a bald-faced lie (and because it triggers negative emotions), many deceivers prefer to avoid the truth with quasi-denials and selective wording. Notice how the responses below (which may be absolutely valid) never actually answer the questions.

Question: Have you ever used drugs?

Answer: I don’t take drugs.

Question: Did you steal a computer from the supply room?

Answer: Do I look like the kind of person who would steal a computer?

Question: Did you leave your last place of employment on good terms?

Answer: I left to pursue other opportunities.

Question: Did you pad your expense account?

Answer: How can you ask that? I’ve been a loyal employee for over 10 years!

6. Listen for vocal stress

The primary paralinguistic (how you say what you say) signal that often indicates lying is a change in someone’s baseline vocal pitch, which usually rises with stress levels as vocal chords constrict.

Under stress, people may also experience an increased need to drink water and to lick or moisten lips, as the autonomic nervous system downloads a rush of adrenaline, causing a dry mouth.

7. Stay alert for “undercover” emotions

Smiles are often used as a polite response and to cover up other emotions, but these faked smiles involve the mouth only. Unless someone is expressing genuine pleasure or happiness, it’s hard to produce a real smile – the kind that crinkles the corners of the eyes and lights up the entire face.

There is another way that real emotions emerge, regardless of the effort to suppress them. When someone conceals any strong emotion, chances are his face will expose that information in a split-second burst called a “micro expression.” Difficult to spot because of it happens so quickly, but that instantaneous flash of anger, dismay, joy, etc. is an indicator of someone’s genuine emotional state.

Please remember that none of these verbal or nonverbal cues are proof of lying. Truthful people can show signs of stress, have a naturally high blink rate, or give round-about answers. And both the liar and truth-teller may exhibit fear — one of being discovered, the other of not being believed. Nevertheless, these signals are strong indicators of heightened anxiety, possible deception, and of “hot spots” — areas that you should investigate further.

Author: Carol Kinsey

How to create success in your career

With two out of every three people reporting they’re actively disengaged in their jobs it’s clear many of us are functioning, but not flourishing at work.

You know that feeling where you don’t hate your job enough to leave, but you also don’t wake up eager each morning to get into work.  Instead you feel blanketed in a heavy mist of greyness that leaves you drained, dissatisfied and exhausted.

And it’s easy for this greyness to start seeping into every part of your life.

This is where I found myself several years ago.  While on the outside I appeared reasonably “successful” – big important job, loving family and friends, good health and more money than I could spend – each morning I was finding it harder and harder to get out of bed.  Despite all I had to be grateful for, the soulless shadow cast by a job bereft of personal meaning, challenge and engagement was sucking the energy, joy and light from my world.

Sadly, my story is not unique.

Eighty-three percent of men and eighty-five percent of women recently reported that when it comes to their wellbeing they are “just functioning”- or worse “languishing” – at work.

And while many employees report they would be more productive if they felt their bosses genuinely cared about them, in the end I discovered it was easier to take responsibility for my own feelings of engagement at work.

So what are the five tested, practical strategies I used to finally show-up, shine and succeed in my work, no matter what my job description said?

1. Find your purpose

Best-selling author and courage coach Margie Warrell suggests finding the intersection of your talents, your passions, your values, and your skills and expertise so that what you do every day is meaningful.  Think of it like this: I was passionate about bringing out the best in people, but after a career dedicated to marketing, I couldn’t afford to retrain in human resources without compromising my family’s financial wellbeing.

Luckily purpose is rarely about all or nothing.  Rather, Margie suggests it’s about looking at where there is overlap between what you’re good at, what you care about, where there’s value and a need in the marketplace that creates opportunities, and where you have some experience and skills.

I was able to find purpose in my existing role as the marketing director for a small team by focusing on how to use my passion for the field of positive psychology to bring out the best in my employees.  I wasn’t changing the world, but it quickly became evident that I could make a positive difference in the lives of my team.

2. Build your levels of grit

Associate Professor Angela Duckworth explains that “grit” is the passion and perseverance to stick with your long-term goals.  Let’s be honest, just because I had new hopes about the way I wanted to work, didn’t mean anyone else in my organization was rushing forward to help turn my purpose into reality.

One strategy Angela suggested I use to cultivate more grit at work was to ensure the goals I was setting were personally interesting and meaningful in the world.  When you’re able to connect passion with action it gives you a sense of purpose and energy that researchers are finding prevents burnout and promotes resiliency.

Responsible for repositioning my organization’s brand at the time, I started looking for ways to align our advertising and marketing with messages about creating positive change in people’s lives and the world around them.  As a result we delivered what appeared impossible at the outset, competitive differentiation for the first time ever and a job that I really enjoyed doing.

3. Create tiny habits to make lasting changes

BJ Fogg at Stanford University has found that by scaling back bigger behaviors into really small actions you can create dramatic shifts that last.  Initially trying to find the energy and time to make the changes in my work that would support my new-found purpose and build my grit, felt impossible to fit in to a schedule already overloaded.

So I decided to apply BJ’s formula for tiny habits by: scaling back change to one very small step; sequencing this step by adding to the end of a habit I already had – “After I (insert existing routine), I will (insert new routine)”; and then celebrating the completion of the step with a heartfelt “Awesome!” to create a jolt of positive emotion to help the habit stick.

Hungry to learn more about the science of positive psychology to use for my team and our brand positioning work, I created a tiny daily habit of exploring one new piece of research each morning when I first got to work.  I created the formula: “After I turn on my computer, I will ready one journal article”.  And while my heartfelt “awesome” was nice, I gained an extra jolt of positivity by sharing what I’d learnt with my boss or my team and exploring how we could apply the idea in our work.

4. Set clear boundaries

Best-selling author and resilience, wellbeing and productivity coach Valorie Burton recommends setting and keeping clear boundaries with your boss and colleagues if you want to remain productive and happy at work.   I doubt you’ll be surprised to learn that not everyone at the office was excited about the more positive direction my leadership style and branding strategy was taking.  Change, for most of us, can be challenging.

In order to honor the purpose I’d now chosen, Valorie suggested asking: “What are the boundaries I need to protect my own peace, joy and serenity at work?”  Then noticing the areas where I felt the most frustrated, stressed or overwhelmed currently and being honest with myself about the conversations it was time to have.

For example, my boss felt my new management approach was much “too nice” and repeatedly instructed me to be tougher on my team.  Nervously, I finally sat down and explained to him that while I appreciated this was the way he liked to work, it didn’t feel authentic for me.  As I gave him examples of how my approach was still delivering the results we needed, it became clear that my new positive style of leadership was a boundary that would finally be respected.

5. Practice self-compassion

Self-confidence expert Louisa Jewell, suggests looking at your own mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding.  Of course not everything I tried to improve the way I felt about my work was flawlessly executed.   Like a baby first learning to walk, at times I clumsily stumbled over my own good intentions.

Louisa believes it’s important not to judge yourself harshly, nor to try and protect your ego by defensively focusing on only your best qualities.  Instead, she suggests embracing the fact that to err is indeed human and to gain a realistic sense of your abilities and actions and then figure out what needs to be done differently next time.

By compassionately coaching myself – just like I would any other team member – I was able to see my near misses and mistakes as learning opportunities.  Finally freed of the fear that failure would be fatal, I was able to stop playing it safe and show up to do what mattered most in my career.

And in no time at all, the color started returning to my world.

As a result of finally finding ways to show-up, shine and succeed in my work I was able to embrace the raw, messy, magic that is work and shape it in ways that authentically and consistently brought out the best in myself and in others.  I went on to negotiate roles that better suited my interests, was given unexpected promotions and pay raises and was allowed to have every Friday free to play with my kids.

Published on September 23, 2014 by Michelle McQuaid in From Functioning to Flourishing