4 Reasons Servers Deserve a Job Interview Almost Anywhere

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Respect your servers, people. Not just while they are serving you. Respect them when you meet them at a party, when you see them at the gym, and especially when they apply to work for you.

If you are asking “why?”, first… human decency. Respect everyone, please. But secondly, servers do amazing work in a high-pressure environment for hours on end. And they do it with a big, toothy smile on their face. I’ve outlined the exact skills servers bring to the table (pun not originally intended but now that I see it, I love it). For context, I’ve also illustrated some non-serving examples of each of these skills that may or may not come from my own life experience.  

Side note: Personally, I’ve never been a server (though I worked in a hotel for five years so I’m no stranger to demanding, impatient customers), and to help me paint the picture, I solicited the assistance of the person who I’ve spent the most time with in my entire life, my dear sister, Michelle Langstaff. Michelle is a long-time server, turned Kinesiologist, and she has bailed me out of more near tragedies than I’m able to count. Thanks, brosif.

 

1. Multitasking

Multitasking in everyday life: Scrolling Instagram with Gilmore Girls on in the background.

Multitasking in the average workplace: Checking your email while pretending to pay attention in a meeting that absolutely could have been replaced by at 3 minute phone call.

Multitasking for a server: You’re speed walking through a minefield of moving food and beverage to greet each new table within 30 seconds of their arrival (a strict restaurant policy). As you’re taking your first table’s drink orders, you notice another table walk in. You quickly punch in the first table’s drink orders and then sprint (without looking like you’re sprinting) to the new table to meet your next 30 second deadline. Just as you’ve punched in the second table's drink orders and gone to deliver the drinks from the bar to your first table, you notice a third table sit down. Now you’ve got table one who wants to place their dinner orders but the clock is ticking on greeting table number three.

I’m exhausted and we haven’t even taken everyone’s drink orders yet! Michelle went on to tell me all about setting the tables, running food, correcting mistakes, offering dessert, getting bills, cleaning spills, condiment fills, and a dozen other tasks that I was too overwhelmed to even write down.

As someone with a lot of event planning experience, I liken this level of multitasking to running three complex events simultaneously, without ever being able to sit down. The thought is dizzying and it inspires great confidence in former servers to deliver when things get hectic.

 

Other jobs that require this level of multitasking: project manager, supervisor/manager, detective, pilot, film or theatre director, nurse, preventative-medicine physician, teacher, event planner

 

2. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence in everyday life: Telling your friend you’re sick when you bail on their birthday party so they won’t hate you.

Emotional intelligence in the average workplace: Telling your boss that they’re being a doofus without forfeiting your ability to buy dog food… and human food.  

Emotional intelligence for a server: Your salary is determined by how much a random hungry person off the street likes you. There’s nothing to tell you what kind of a day that random person is having, how peppy or straight-to-the-point they’d like you to be, or any other factors that might influence their decision to tip you.

Servers have a split second to gauge the emotional state of the table sitting down in front of them. Once they’ve determined the unwritten social rules that the customer has established, they’ve got to adapt their serving style instantly to please the customer. It’s either that or get a lousy tip.

This kind of interpersonal awareness and adaptability are extremely valued in high-level corporate relationship building and change management projects. So let’s value them just as highly in our serving staff. Tip your damn servers, people!

 

Other jobs that require this level of emotional intelligence: psychologist, customer service rep, manager/supervisor, real estate agent, social media manager, social worker, parole officer, politician, wedding planner, marketing analyst, occupational therapist, crisis negotiator

 

3. Team Building

Team building in everyday life: Asking a stranger to watch your stuff while you go to the bathroom… the real-life equivalent of a trust fall.

Team building in the average workplace: A half-day team retreat in a boardroom with a couch in it.

Team building for a server: Some of the other server experiences I wrote about had crossed my mind before, but Michelle opened my eyes to just how precarious the relationships a server needs to build among their team can be.

As a server, you need the kitchen staff to have your back in case you need to change an order in a rush. You need strong communication with the hosts/hostesses to be aware when tables are being seated. And you need to have each other’s backs, constantly running food for each other, clearing each other’s tables, and mopping up each other’s spills. And it all happens so fast. There is no time to take a personality quiz and share your preferred confrontation approach. You are playing with live ammo and figuring out how to support each other as you go. This is the kind of attitude that is required to run a start-up or pilot project.

 

Other jobs that require this level of team building prowess: entrepreneur, corporate educator, surgeon, manager/supervisor, police officer, chef, athlete, construction manager, human resources manager

 

4. Resilience

Resilience in everyday life: Cooking up a nice healthy chicken breast when you reeeeaalllly want to order that gooey, cheesey, deep dish Dominos pizza with Brooklyn style pepperoni and garlic dipping sauce (sorry, I'm hungry).

Resilience in the average workplace: “It’s Friday. It’s 2:30pm. I know the weekend is just a couple hours away, but I’m going to stay off Facebook and finish this report."

Resilience for a Server: Your work uniform is a bit more revealing than you are comfortable with on this particular day. You have to spend 95% of your workday standing and walking. You don’t know if your shift is going to end at 10:00pm or 3:00am. As a server, you have learned to be comfortable with discomfort.

Beyond the physical discomfort, there are also very uncomfortable human interactions. Servers will regularly muscle through customer complaints, inappropriate suggestive comments (often sexual and unwanted), drunken misconduct, and all-around entitled, impolite, unpleasant people. Obviously most people who visit restaurants are generally kind and considerate; however, even one or two of these interactions in a day is more than most of us are equipped to handle.

Servers find a way to press on through all the challenges, all the uncertainty, and all the unpleasantness. When things get tough, a server will still get the job done. That is why I want former servers on my team.

 

Other jobs that require this level of resilience: entrepreneur, CEO, software developer, author, referee, performer, disaster and emergency preparedness manager, sales representative, firefighter, pretty much every challenging job out there

 

Offer Servers an Interview

Some servers are amazing at their job and want to keep doing it forever and that is awesome! If you do ever have the good fortune to interview a server who is trying to get out of the restaurant game, give them a shot, will you? They’ve got a lot to offer.

And if you are a server out there looking to make a change, don’t sell yourself short. You are amazing!   

Why Interviews are Like First Dates… and how to dress and act to get invited back

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Much like a first date, an interview is a feeling out process for both the sides. There may be some nervousness. There will certainly be uncertainty. How are they expecting me to act? What should I wear? How’s my breath?

The first impression counts for a lot.

Now, whether or not I'm a dating expert is still up for debate; however, if you’re going for an interview, here are a few essential pieces of etiquette you need to know if you want to get to a second round of interviews.

If you try any of these on a date, I would honestly love to hear how it goes (hit me up with details at greg@greglangstaff.com).

What should I wear? Wear a suit... for the interview, not the date (unless you feel a suit is appropriate, I don't know what you have planned). For the interview, a suit means your jacket matches your skirt or pants. Underneath said jacket, wear something professional, whether that be a dress shirt and tie or another professional-looking top. Regardless of your gender-expression, suits are your best bet for success. Also please wear dress shoes.

Unless explicitly told not to dress this way by the interviewer, this will be the expected interview attire regardless of what type of clothing is worn in the work place.

When should I get there? For both a date, and an interview, arrive 10-15 minutes early. If you're antsy and want to get there earlier, that's fine, but don't present yourself until you're in this time window. You don't want to show up too early, it can be a bit awkward for everyone if they're not ready for you.

Also, please don't show up last minute. It's a major red flag.

Be friendly with the receptionist (or parents, or roommate): Whoever is receiving you at the office's front desk (or your date's house) will likely be consulted to see how you behaved before the interview (or date) began.

Physical Contact? Shake the interviewers hand before and after the interview: No need to wait for them to initiate the handshake. They might be tired from all the interviews and might not initiate. If they have a valid reason not to shake your hand, they will politely decline and it will not be a big deal, I promise.

If on a date, remember, consent is key. Ask before you do anything. 

How do I follow up after? After an interview, write a “Thank You” email. Later that day or the next, write an email to the hiring manager (and the full committee if possible). Don't try to continue pitching yourself here. Just tell them it was really nice to meet them and thank them for taking the time to interview you.

As for following up after the date, totally up to you. Follow your heart.

I hope you enjoyed this ultra-romantic interview advice. I certainly had a good time writing it. Good luck on your next interview!

Starting My Own Business: Month One

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One month ago today, I officially launched Greg Langstaff - Resume Writer & Interview Coach and greglangstaff.com. But my friends, the journey started much before that fateful morning of January 8th, 2018.

A journey with 3 beginnings

In some ways, it started 6 years ago when I interviewed one million times on my quest to grad school, in America. In other ways, it began 3 years ago, when I started helping friends and family with their resumes and interviews.

But in a very real way, this journey started about a year ago, when my prototypical late-twenties urge to understand money turned into a burning desire to create a source of income that I was in charge of, outside my day job.

The past year, from idea to launch has been full of a lot of joy and frustration, and most surprisingly a recurring feeling of exhilaration with each new step.

Small Wins and Early Success

In this first month, I've been very lucky to have worked with 7 paying clients (and 3 more upcoming), and I was even was paid to speak at a conference.

I've had over 550 unique visitors to my website, 31 people sign up for my mailing list, and I've received a great deal of meaningful compliments :)

None of this would have been possible without all the amazing support I received from friends, family, and well-wishers offering advice and sharing my content, so thank you!

For all those who helped me, and anyone else who is interested, I've curated the most notable takeaways from launching this business.

What I’ve Loved

  • The feeling of creating something real: To start a business and truly own it for myself has been a very empowering and mind-opening experience. Now knowing this is possible, I feel like I could create so much more.
  • The feeling I get when I've helped someone: I get this amazing a rush of adrenaline when I hit send to deliver someone a new resume, and such an endorphin rush when they tell me how much they appreciate it. It's incredibly rewarding to see someone visibly improve their interview skills as I'm working with them. I was not expecting this benefit, but it's amazing.
  • The feeling of getting paid: It’s not a lot of money yet, but it's not nothing either. It feels great every time payment comes in. I think it's the feeling that I'm not 100% dependent on an employer that really brings me joy.

What I’ve Hated

  • My Wordpress Fail: I booked a couple days off work to create a Wordpress site and it was… a disaster. As a guy with moderate to low tech ability, Squarespace was my saviour. It genuinely was as easy and customizable as I hoped.
  • My Mailchimp Fail: I got booted from Mailchimp during my testing phase after accidentally violating several of their anti-spam protocols. I swear I only had 3 of my own email accounts on my list but apparently I spammed myself.

What I've Learned

  • Externalize accountability: Just promising myself I would do something wasn't enough. I repeatedly missed my own deadlines until I learned to create external pressure to meet deadlines. For me, negative incentives work best. I will make arrangements for something bad to happen (usually me giving away or wasting money) if I don't reach a deadline. I've used friends, enemies and a site called stickk.com to make sure I'm held to my deadlines (stickk worked well; however, shortly after signing up, I experienced credit card fraud. Not sure it was their fault, but I wouldn't recommend, just to be safe).
  • Start before you're ready: It's been a month and I'm still finding typos on my website. I still don't have a proper social media marketing strategy and I've completely run out of photos for my blogs, but hey, if I had waited for everything to be perfect, I may have never started.

What's Next?

As I mentioned, I feel like I could take on a world of new possibilities after this great start; however, in practical terms, I have a few things in mind.

  • LinkedIn: It seems like a natural expansion of the job search services. I've been working hard to become a LinkedIn guru, and I'm hoping to add this soon!
  • Building a Social Media Brand: I feel like I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to make social media work for expanding my brand. I'm taking a Skillshare course to help me gain some background knowledge… which brings me to my next point
  • Create a Skillshare course: there are a few courses on Skillshare.com that cover job search topics. I think it would be fun and I think I'd do a pretty good job at it, so I'm going to give it a shot later in the year.

Thanks for reading and I'll keep you up-to-date as this journey progresses! Thanks again to everyone who has helped me along the way. You're the best <3

Inside the Mind of an Interviewer: How I Predict Interview Questions

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Hi there! Welcome to the Greg Langstaff Resume & Interview blog. I'm here to give you a quick burst of useful information so you can build a great resume and nail your interviews.


An interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. The toughest part is often the uncertainty we feel during our preparation process. What are the interviewers looking for in their ideal candidate? What do they expect of me? What will they ask?

Thankfully, it’s not all that hard to get into the interviewer’s head as we prepare for our interview. Most of the questions they will ask are sneakily hidden somewhere inside the job posting to which we applied. That's why I save those bad boys, every time.

Here are a few quick steps I follow to help forecast the interview questions (I like the term forecast better than predict because, like the weather, you won’t get it exactly right, but it will give you a good idea what to expect). These steps are quick and easy so follow them and then get started on preparing your A+ answers!

  1. Carefully read the job description and make a list of every task, responsibility, experience, or skill they mention.

    • For example, if the job posting said “Will coordinate the annual office team-building retreat” we could list Event Planning as a skill.

  2. Add any standard workplace skills or traits you think might apply to this position to our list.

    • Examples include Teamwork, Conflict Resolution, Organizational Skills.

  3. Turn each item on our list into questions which ask us for an example of a time we demonstrated that skill or experience.

    • For example, if the skill was Budget Management, we could create a question something like this: “Tell us about a time when you managed a budget effectively.”

Most interviews will include between 10 and 20 questions depending on the duration of the interview and the seniority of the position. When I do this exercise, I generally find it’s not hard to come up with at least 25 questions. The more we have, the better prepared we will be. Don’t worry about going overboard, it can only help.

For more interview tips, check out my blog on staying calm, cool, and collected during interviews: 9 Interview Tips That’ll Make You Feel Confident, Professional, and Relaxed.

9 Interview Tips That'll Make You Feel Confident, Professional, and Relaxed

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Hi there! Welcome to the Greg Langstaff Resume & Interview blog. I'm here to give you a quick burst of useful information so you can build a great resume and nail your interviews.


This blog post is focused on how to bring the right amount of energy, personality, and professionalism to an interview. I know all of us blog readers and advice seekers are total list junkies so here are the top 9 techniques to present your best self in your next interview.

1. Don't be a robot

Yes, you need to be professional. But don't overshoot professional and go straight to robotic. Employers want to know you have some energy and interest in the work. Get excited as you are talking about your experiences.

2. Find the Professional-Personal Tone Hybrid

When searching for the tone to use in an interview, imagine you are talking to your boss about what you did last weekend. You're excited, you show some emotions, and still remain professional. That is exactly what interviewers are looking for.

3. Use a Natural Smile

Smiling shows confidence and it makes the interviewers far more likely to connect with you. Worried about holding a fake smile for a whole interview? Don't. Respond to questions with detailed accounts of positive experiences you have had and the smiles will come naturally.

4. Share the Eye Contact

If you're being interviewed by multiple people, try to spend about the same amount of time making eye contact with each person. As an interviewer it's very obvious when you're getting a disproportionately high or low amount of eye contact and it’s uncomfortable.

5. End Answers Confidently

I'm not talking about slamming your pen down on the table and yelling “booya!” after each answer. Just don't end it with a weak, “and… uh… yeah”. If you don't think you've reached an obvious conclusion to your answer, just loop back to the question for a summary statement, like this, “and that is an example of a time I resolved a conflict among my team.”

6. Bring Water

Nothing is better for buying you a moment to think, breathe and collect your thoughts than a sip of water. It's a completely natural act and interviewers will not think anything of it. Make sure you’ve got yourself a nice professional-looking water bottle and sit it down on the interview table when you arrive.

7. Be Grateful

Thank your interviewers frequently and genuinely for their time. It's not uncommon for an interview panel to interview multiple candidates back-to-back, sometimes for days at a time. For the interviewers, the experience can be gruelling. These interviewers have busy schedules and they decided you were worth their time. Express your gratitude.

8. Relax Your Mind, Relax Your Body

If you have a technique for relaxing yourself when you're nervous, keep doing what works for you. I’ll recommend you use a very basic meditation technique which simply requires you to focus on slow, deep breathing. This works for me because the oxygen helps to relax me and focusing on something aside from the interview calms the nerves.

9. Visualize the Interview

This one sounds a little bit zen to me, but I've read the research and visualization works, just ask Michael Phelps. If you know the interview space or the people who will be interviewing you, great! Add those details to your visualization. But what's important is that you close your eyes and watch yourself confidently walk into the room, smile, shake hands, and deliver great answers. Give it a try, I promise you won't be disappointed!

If you are nervous keep in mind, it's totally normal to be nervous for an interview. Everyone is! Even as an interviewer, I'm sometimes nervous for interviews.

Now that you've know how to be calm, confident, and professional in your next interview, check out this blog on answering some common interview questions: The Most Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them.

Good luck and if you need anything at all, reach out on my contact page :)

Phone Interviews: Avoid these Critical Errors

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Welcome to Greg Langstaff Job Search Mini-Blogs, where I give you a quick burst of awesome advice so you can get what you need and go continue being your awesome self.

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Normally it's more productive to talk about what to do rather than what not to do, but I've conducted 100’s of phone interviews over the years and there have been some atrocious mistakes, so I'm taking a hard stance on this one.

Location

  1. Don't do the phone interview in public
  2. Don't do the phone interview while driving
  3. Don't do the phone interview in a place where you will be interrupted or external noises could be heard through the phone
  4. Don't do the phone interview in a place with questionable reception

Make sure you are in a quiet, private, secure place, preferably over a landline or in a place with reliable reception.

Behavior

  1. Don't do the phone interview lying down or slouching
  2. Don't pace back-and-forth rapidly (or at all if you can handle it)
  3. Don't be an expressionless robot who feels no joy and has a monotone voice
  4. Don't interrupt the interviewer(s)

Sit or stand in a comfortable position where you can move occasionally to stay comfortable but your posture does not impede your voice. You want your posture to inspire professional behavior.

Be sure to smile and insert some excitement into your voice. They can't see your enthusiasm, so they'll have to hear it in your voice.

Now the “Do’s”

  1. Do have your notes on the job description and your resume out for you to reference
  2. Do write yourself fun motivational notes and reminders like, “Smile!”, or “Blow their minds!”, or “Death to my enemies” to keep your spirits up during the interview

Phone interviews are a great way to make a first impression and set yourself up for a great next interview. Prepare appropriately and you'll do a great job!

Need help prepping for your phone interview? Reach out and I'll make sure you are completely prepared!

 

The Most Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

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Welcome to Greg Langstaff's Job Search Mini-Blogs, where I give you a quick burst of awesome advice so you can get what you need and go continue being your awesome self.

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There are three very common interview questions that no one seems to quite know how to answer. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare your answers and you'll rock these questions!

1- Tell us about yourself

Possibly the most ambiguous interview question of all time. What the interviewer wants to hear about at the major transition points in your life that led you to be interested in this field of work.

A condensed example: I studied Creative Writing in school and I became the Communications Director of Creative Arts Students Association, which I really enjoyed. So I took a post-grad certificate in corporate communications and I've loved this kind of work ever since.

2- Why are you interested in this position?

This is a two part question and most new professionals make the mistake of answering one or the other. The parts are; a) why do you want to work at this organization, and b) why do you want to do the work required of this position.

A condensed example: I've always admired McDonald’s commitment to philanthropy and I had a friend who stayed at the Ronald McDonald House when she was young so I've seen first hand the positive impact your organization has. I feel the sponsorship partnership coordinator position is a great fit with the skills I developed as the Community Outreach Chair on my school’s Relay for Life Committee.

3- Tell us about a weakness of yours

Don't tell them a weakness. Tell them something you used to be bad at but have gotten better at. Then tell them how you got better and the result of your improvement.

A condensed example: I used to have trouble with difficult conversations and the cashier team I supervise had a bunch of tension I didn't know how to deal with. So I signed up for a Difficult Conversations webinar online and I applied the skills I learned there to help the team resolve the personal conflicts we were having.

Need help finding your excellent answers to these and other common questions? Reach out and I'll make you a master interviewer.

Line-by-Line Guide to Writing an Effective Customized Cover Letter in Minutes (Updated for 2019)

Cover letters are like pants. You're not going to get hired just because you wore great pants to the interview, but you're definitely not going to get hired if you don't wear any. Here’s a practical breakdown of how to write a great cover letter, line-by-line.