More interview tips — Have YOUR questions, too


As “ writer and blogger Debra Auerbach advises, “When preparing for interviews, many job candidates spend the bulk of their time researching the company and practicing answers to classic interview questions. While both are important, it’s just as essential to prepare some questions of you own.

“Remember, the hiring process is a two-way street, so,” she urges, “ask questions that will help you determine whether the job is right for you — make sure you are entering into an employment situation where you will be set up to succeed.”

Auerbach has seven suggested questions (check out The

1. What are you seeking in the ideal candidate for this position?

2. Can you give me examples of the types of projects I’d be working on?

3. With whom would I be working most closely?

4. What are the short- and long-term goals for this position?

5. What do you see as the biggest challenge for the person who assumes this role?

6. How did this position become available?

7. What do you like best about working here?

Check out Auerbach’s website.



Who or whom? Here’s a simple trick

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(From — news and ideas for communicators. Sign up for its RSS feed. It is a valuable resource.)

No need for a full semester on grammar; the clue lies in a single letter.

Do you lose sleep over rules of grammar?

I usually don’t, because I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where both parents insisted that I speak correctly all the time. My father was a writer and, frankly, a snob about English. His mother (who died before I was born) was from Oxford, and he spoke with an English accent his entire life, even though he’d never stepped off North American shores.

We were required to pronounce the word tomato, toe-MAW-toe, or get in trouble. Trust me, there were no ain’ts in our house, no sentences without verbs, and no double negatives.

As a result, I can usually count on my ear to guide me, even when I don’t fully understand the grammar rule.

The one exception? Who versus whom. I always have to think really hard about which word to use, even though the grammar isn’t terribly complicated.

I think my hesitation arises because so many people don’t bother using “whom” at all; they just say “who.” As a result, my ear (and likely yours) has never been exposed to the necessary “training” to make the correct choice.

So, here is the rule: Who is a subject, and whom is an object. If I yell at my son (because he just ate the last cupcake), then I am the subject and my son is the object. The subject of any sentence is the person doing something, and the object is having something done to them.

You use “who” when you are referring to the subject and “whom” when you are referring to the object. How do you figure that out, you ask? Well, the quick trick is to answer the question with either “he” or “him”:

Take: Who/whom were you yelling at? And ask yourself which of the following makes more sense:

I was yelling at him.

I was yelling at he.

Clearly the first choice makes more sense. Him. And because “him” ends with an M, you need to use whom (which also ends with an M.)

Let’s try another example: Who/whom won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2012? Now ask yourself, would you say:

S/he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2012.


Her/him won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2012.

Clearly, the first choice makes more sense, so “who” is the correct word.

Actually, that was a trick question. No one won the Pulitzer for fiction in 2012. The judges declined to award a prize that year.

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5 key traits of a successful PR professional

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This story first appeared on PR Daily in February 2012. 
To be successful in the world of modern public relations, there are certain essential characteristics that one must possess to fight adversity, capitalize on opportunities, maintain a positive image, encourage word of mouth, and build strategy.

While drafting this post, I jotted down 17 must-have characteristics. But I whittled the list down to these top five:

Thick skin. This is definitely not a profession for the timid or faint of heart. Modern PR pros need to develop the ability to withstand personal and brand criticism, and not be easily offended.

Resiliency. You are going to get knocked to the mat quite often, how quickly you can recover from and adjust to misfortune or change often acts as the barometer of your personal and brand image. Since you are most likely the face of your brand or provide counsel to those that are, developing or coaching resiliency is a key characteristic of a PR pro.

Attention to detail. Digital communication has placed brands on the slide and under the microscope requiring meticulous review and careful planning of all communication to media and the community. An infinitesimal error can be magnified 1,000-times and although few expect perfection, egregious errors, especially on first impressions, can shift the tides of sentiment from positive to negative.

Creativity. To say in today’s society that consumers are inundated with content and journalists receive a deluge of pitches daily is a radical understatement. Often, what tends to resonate best is creativity born of ideas outside the norm. Learn to be creative.

Relationship builder. In PR, relationships are everything. The core of our profession is the ability to build rapport and bridge communication chasms through quality conversations that build strong relationships. What characteristics would you add to the list?

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Kick Start Your Career — 10 tips to boost your interview skills

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By Carole Martin, Monster Contributing Writer. This article was taken from Sunday’s Feb. 3, 2013 “Stand out from the crowd” column in The Philadelphia Inquirer produced by the newspapers Advertising Department.

Even the smartest and most qualified job seekers need to prepare for job interviews. Why, you ask? Interviewing is a learned skill, and there are no second chances to make a great first impression. So study these 10 strategies to enhance your interview skills.

Practice Good Nonverbal Communication

It’s about demonstrating confidence: standing straight, making eye contact and connecting with a firmhandshake. That first nonverbal impression can be a great beginning — or quick ending — to your interview.

Dress for the Job or Company

Today’s casual dress codes do not give you permission to dress as “they” do when you interview. It is important to know what to wear to an interview and to be well-groomed. Whether you wear a suit or something less formal depends on the company culture and the position you are seeking. If possible, call to find out about the company dress code before the interview.


From the very beginning of the interview, your interviewer is giving you information, either directly or indirectly. If you are not hearing it, you are missing a major opportunity. Good communication skills includelistening and letting the person know you heard what was said. Observe your interviewer, and match that style and pace.

Don’t Talk Too Much

Telling the interviewer more than he needs to know could be a fatal mistake. When you have not prepared ahead of time, you may ramble when answering interview questions, sometimes talking yourself right out of the job. Prepare for the interview by reading through the job posting, matching your skills with the position’s requirements and relating only that information.

Don’t Be Too Familiar

The interview is a professional meeting to talk business. This is not about making a new friend. Your level of familiarity should mimic the interviewer’s demeanor. It is important to bring energy and enthusiasm to the interview and to ask questions, but do not overstep your place as a candidate looking for a job.

Use Appropriate Language

It’s a given that you should use professional language during the interview. Be aware of any inappropriate slang words or references to age, race, religion, politics or sexual orientation — these topics could send you out the door very quickly.

Don’t Be Cocky

Attitude plays a key role in your interview success. There is a fine balance between confidence, professionalism and modesty. Even if you’re putting on a performance to demonstrate your ability, overconfidence is as bad, if not worse, as being too reserved.

Take Care to Answer the Questions

When interviewers ask for an example of a time when you did something, they are asking behavioral interview questions, which are designed to elicit a sample of your past behavior. If you fail to relate a specific example, you not only don’t answer the question, but you also miss an opportunity to prove your ability and talk about your skills.

Ask Questions

When asked if they have any questions, most candidates answer, “No.” Wrong answer. Part of knowing how to interview is being ready to ask questions that demonstrate an interest in what goes on in the company. Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you. The best questions come from listening to what you’re asked during the interview and asking for additional information.

Don’t Appear Desperate

When you interview with the “please, please hire me” approach, you appear desperate and less confident. Reflect the three Cs during the interview: cool, calm and confidence. You know you can do the job; make sure the interviewer believes you can, too.
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Ragen’s PR daily says ‘Stop the madness! Rules for using the exclamation point’

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A recent study reported on PR Daily found that “43 percent of online daters consider bad grammar a ‘major’ turnoff.”

So I think it’s safe to say that bad grammar can affect relationships. And so can punctuation. Does anyone remember the “Seinfeld” episode in which Elaine breaks up with her boyfriend over his failure to use an exclamation point?

In case you missed it, Elaine’s boyfriend had written down some phone messages, one of which said that her friend had baby. Elaine found it “curious” that he didn’t think someone having a baby warranted an exclamation point.

“Maybe I don’t use my exclamation points as haphazardly as you do,” he quips.

When Elaine later tells Jerry about the break up, he responds: “It’s an exclamation point! It’s a line with a dot under it!”

RELATED: A punctuation mark for the mildly enthused

Oh, no, no, no, Jerry, an exclamation point is so much more than just a line with a dot under it. It is one of the most exploited, abused, overused, and misused punctuation marks in the English language. I can’t count how many times I see an exclamation point after the most mundane statements.

“Thank you for setting up your account with us!” 

“Your order has shipped!” 


“I’ll see you at the conference!” 

Why all the emphasis? Does anyone remember what we were taught in grade school? “If everything is emphasized, nothing is.” And this is exactly what our style guides tell us.

From the Associated Press Stylebook:

“Emphatic expressions: Use the mark to express a high degree of surprise, incredulity or other strong emotion.

“Avoid overuse: Use a comma after mild interjections. End mildly exclamatory sentences with a period.”

Likewise, from The Chicago Manual of Style:

“Use of the exclamation point. An exclamation point (which should be used sparingly to be effective) marks an outcry or an emphatic or ironic comment.”

The American Medical Association Manual of Style—which I use in my day job as a medical writer—takes an even more conservative approach.

“Exclamation points indicate emotion, an outcry, or a forceful comment. Try to avoid their use except in direct quotations and in rare and special circumstances. They are not appropriate in scientific manuscripts and are more common in less formal articles, such as book reviews, editorials, and informal essays, where added emphasis may be appropriate. If they are used, limit their use to one.”

In the words of novelist Elmore Leonard: “Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.”

PR Daily readers, care to comment on the use and abuse of this “line with a dot under it”?

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