Freelancers Workshop

Corporate Angels

Donations Sought

Grant Applications Sought

Media Watch

Corrections or additions?

This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the February 19, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

When Interviewing For a Job, Act the Part

Acing a job interview involves getting comfortable —

but not too comfortable. "It’s like acting," says Julia

Poulos, an actress and management consultant who looks at the interviews

from both sides of the desk. The principal in All the World’s a Stage

( at 20 Nassau Street, she advises corporate

managers on how best to communicate in every situation, including

interviews with job candidates, and she consults with individuals

who need to excel at business communications — including job interviews.

It is important to be relaxed and friendly during a job interview,

Poulos says, but at the same time it is essential to remain focused.

"You have to remember where you are," she says. "This

is a business transaction." Poulos speaks on "How Interviewers

Interview: A View from the Other Side of the Desk" on Friday,

February 21, at 10:30 a.m. at Mercer County College’s Kerney campus.

Call 609-683-8824.

Poulos, who holds a master’s degree in theater from Penn State, is

finding that managers are looking for "soft skills," but often

find it hard to figure out whether a particular candidate has them.

Evaluating technical experience and skill is a snap compared with

determining whether a candidate has the more elusive qualities that

the job requires. Right now, managers are telling her, these qualities

include a good work ethic, flexibility, a high tolerance for stress,

and the ability to multi-task and to work well on a team with colleagues

from different cultural backgrounds.

It may be up to the job candidate to bring a discussion of these qualities

into the interview. This is part of the process of acing an interview.

Some of the other pieces are:

Preparing carefully. Just as an actor memorizes his lines

before he steps onto a stage, a job candidate needs to go over the

points he needs to make during an interview. Just reaching the interview

stage may be the culmination of months of intense job hunting. It

is vital to be fully ready to do well.

Establishing rapport. This should be the interviewer’s

job, but Poulos says that not all interviewers are good at it. It

may be up to you to establish a connection. Be friendly, she suggests,

but not too friendly. While opinion splits over whether it is a good

idea to quickly scan the office, choose an object — perhaps the

picture of a pet — and make a comment, Poulos says this is risky.

"What if the dog just died?" she asks. Beyond the possibility

of bringing up a painful subject, admiring a finger painting or a

model sail boat could be tiresome. You have no way of knowing whether

the five candidates ahead of you made the very same comment.

Better, says Poulos, to indicate how happy you are to be at XYZ company

and perhaps to make positive mention of the company’s website or to

praise one of its products. Don’t get too personal.

Being conversational. Interviewers look at your whole

communication style, although they may not be conscious of doing so.

Adopt a conversational style, but "don’t be too overwhelming,"

says Poulos. Make eye contact, but "without eye lock."

Pause before answering a question. "Take your time," says

Poulos, explaining that this lets interviewers know that you are carefully

considering your answer.

Asking for clarification. Interviewers frequently ask

questions that are overly broad. Try to narrow the question. Does

he want to know about an individual project or a team effort? Is he

looking for insight into how you handled a personnel crisis or a crisis

involving damage control with the media? Focus the question and there

is a better chance you will deliver exactly the information the interviewer

is seeking.

Telling stories. Everyone loves a story. Prepare several.

For starters, Poulos emphasizes, these tales should be true. They

should illustrate how well you achieved a goal at another job, in

school, or perhaps in a community project. The stories — prepared

in advance of the interview — should include mention of the key

soft skills. Perhaps one story could mention long hours of juggling

several projects — easily tolerated because of the rapport within

your team.

Including lots of details. Whether answering a question

or bringing up a success story, include specifics. "Details increase

credibility," says Poulos. "They make it real for the listener."

Being assertive. Don’t be aggressive, but says Poulos,

"managers expect you to be assertive." Don’t sit back, waiting

for the questions to come. There are points that need to be made,

points that demonstrate why you are the best person for the job. It

is up to you to make sure the interview doesn’t end before all the

important points are made.

Remembering the interviewer’s concerns. The biggest mistake

candidates make, says Poulos, is thinking only about themselves. Don’t

pepper the interviewer with questions about benefits. Don’t regale

him with tales of family obligations that will make it impossible

for you to work late on Fridays or travel internationally. The interviewer

is focused on what the company needs. It is your job to demonstrate

how well you can fill these needs.

Save questions about dental coverage and company day care for after

an offer has been extended.

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Freelancers Workshop

The New Jersey Society for Professional Journalists

(NJSPJ) is reaching out to freelancers at its annual Freelance Workshop.

"It’s a really nice event," says Patty Murray. "Last

year we had 65 or 70 participants." Murray is principal of Milltown-based

Murray Communications and vice president of NJSPJ.

The half-day event takes place on Saturday, February 22, at 8:30 a.m.

at the Camden campus of Rutgers University. Cost: $40. Visit

for registration information and directions.

Designed to bring freelance writers — fiction as well as non-fiction

— together with editors and publishers, the event provides networking

opportunities and a number of workshops on all facets of the profession.

The first of two concurrent workshops, beginning at 9:45 a.m., addresses

the business aspects of freelance writing. It is moderated by Stephanie

Overman, president of NJSPJ. Panelist include Susanna Dodgson

of the National Writer’s Union, media attorney Steve Schecter,

financial planner Meghan Shannon, and Roberta Frizer,

a home office specialist.

The second 9:45 a.m. workshop takes on the how-tos of getting a book

published. On hand to give advice are columnist Mary Mitchell,

essayist Mimi Schwartz, and Niels Nielsen, a Princeton-based

consultant and author of Princeton Management Consultants Guide to

Your New Job, published by John Wiley & Sons. Representatives from

Xlibris, Running Press, and Temple University Press also are expected

to attend.

After a coffee break, a combined 11:30 a.m. session looks at "Print

and Electronic Opportunities." Panelists include Vikki Monaghan

of the Trenton Times, radio freelancer Steve Taylor, Philadelphia

Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky, Philadelphia Daily News

managing editor Ellen Foley, webzine editor Mary Chollet,

and Tim Whitaker, editor of Philadelphia Weekly.

Murray says NJSPJ holds its events around the state for the convenience

of journalists in every part of New Jersey. This event is held in

conjunction with the Philadelphia Society of Professional Journalists.

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Corporate Angels

The Eden Family of Services credits a number of area companies

for making its 2003 Eden Dreams benefit a success. Among its benefactors

are Amersham Biosciences , Bohren’s United Van Lines, Hale

& Dorr, Leigh Photo & Imaging, Penguin Air Conditioning,

and Trumball Advisors.

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Donations Sought

The Pennington Athletic Club and the Mercer County Chapter

of the Sunshine Foundation partner this year to host the third annual

"Dreamday for Dreamlift" on Saturday, April 12.

The Sunshine Foundation helps seriously ill, physically and mentally

challenged, and abused children fulfill their individual dreams and

wishes. The foundation satisfies many Mercer County children’s requests,

which range from a computer to a special wheelchair to a week-long

stay at the Sunshine Foundation’s Dream Village at Disney World.

A "Dreamlift" is scheduled for Wednesday, April 23, taking

over 100 children from Mercer County Airport to Disney World. To fund

this and other activities the organizations supporting the Sunshine

Foundation are holding a silent auction at the "Dreamday"

event. Contributions of items for the auction are needed, as are monetary

contributions. For information call Michael Briehler of the Pennington

Athletic Club at 609-730-8100.

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Grant Applications Sought

Three separate grant cycles are approaching for public benefit

organizations wishing to apply to the Princeton Area Community

Foundation (PACF) for program funding.

The Fund for Women and Girls seeks grant proposals from programs

with proven competence in working with girls to build character and

self-esteem, hone special talents, train for leadership, respect their

bodies, stay in school, and be proud of who they are and what they

can do. The fund is also interested in projects that help women to

be positive role models and advocates for themselves, to be good mothers,

to transition from welfare to work, and to adopt healthy behaviors.

The deadline for proposals is Friday, February 28.

The New Jersey AIDS Partnership is accepting grant proposals

for innovative approaches that address unmet needs and underserved

populations and serve the state’s HIV/AIDS population. Community-based

organizations or programs providing direct service, preventive education,

outreach to, or advocacy for HIV positive and at-risk populations

in New Jersey are eligible for funding. The deadline for proposals

is Monday, March 3.

The PACF’s Greater Mercer Grants is available twice in 2003

for programs that help low-income people help themselves, efforts

to improve a non-profit’s productivity, or projects that build regional

leadership and effective partnerships. The spring deadline for proposals

is Friday, April 18, for consideration for a June grant.

Full grant guidelines and applications for all grant cycles are available

at PACF’s website at For more information call 609-688-0300.

Top Of Page
Media Watch

The first ever NJ Transit bus to be fully wrapped with an advertisement

can now be seen rolling through the Route 1 Corridor. Designed by

Red Flannel Design , a branding and design company based in Freehold,

the ad was created to publicize the Children’s Specialized Hospital

Outpatient Center at Hamilton, which opened in January to provide

specialized and therapeutic care for children in the Mercer County


The ad literally covers the entire bus and features giant-sized cartoon

children waving to passersby. Bus wraps are common in cities such

as New York, where the giant ads function as rolling billboards.

A call for entries is out for the 35th annual Jersey Awards,

sponsored by the New Jersey Advertising Club . Entries must have

been published, produced, or aired between January 1 and December

31, 2002 for a company headquartered in New Jersey or by a New Jersey-based

advertising agency. The latest Jersey Awards contest, entitled "Take

Your Best Shot," features 109 categories, up from 105 the year

before. Categories include newspaper and magazine advertising, collateral

materials, direct marketing, out-of-home, radio and television advertising,

and interactive media as well as similar categories for Hispanic and

foreign language advertising.

Deadline is Friday, February 28. Judging takes place at Gibbs College

in Montclair on Saturday, March 15. The awards dinner is scheduled

for May 20 in West Orange. For more information, call Pat Hanley at


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