Archive | January, 2012


18 Jan


Being reticent and slow to boast of one’s achievements were once considered virtues. To show restraint when talking about the self was evidence of someone instilled with a quiet sense of purpose, good manners and an understanding of their small but nonetheless significant place in a much wider universe. Showing off about one’s achievements was considered vulgar and a sign of excessive narcissism coupled with a contradictory deep sense of inferiority. It’s great that those attitudes have faded but has the pendulum swung too far in the other direction? It would be interesting to hear people’s thoughts on this issue.


 Nowadays the ability to talk confidently about your abilities and achievements is crucial to shining at interview and securing a good job. Once, master craftsmen painted and carved masterpieces anonymously. These artists’ lives and personalities went unrecorded, beyond those expressed in the artwork. They did not have to play football for the king’s annual charity soccer team event. The weekend tavern exploits of merchants didn’t rule them out of lucrative trading deals on the Rialto. Today indiscretions posted on Facebook and other Social Media outlets have led to the faltering of many promising young careers. Twitter has caused the decline and fall of high profile people. There is a conflict sometimes when the need to display one’s vocational wares and social skills, and the necessity of maintaining a positive online brand is pitted against a natural and wise sense of caution. Which is worse – a bad online profile or no profile at all? Sometimes caution and shyness can become intertwined. In interview and other performance situations shyness often goes hand in hand with excessive caution and a fear of failure, to the detriment of the applicant.

Twyla Tharp, one of America’s greatest choreographers, has written about fears, or as she calls them ‘the habitual demons that invade the launch of every project,’ in her fine and straight-talking book The Creative Habit. She mentions the following fears and describes how she combats them:

  • That people will laugh at me – not people I respect!
  • That someone has done it before – Honey – it’s all been done before!
  • That I will have nothing to say – Irrelevant! We all have something to say!
  • That the executed idea will never be as good as the one imagined – Toughen up! ‘Better an imperfect dome in Florence than cathedrals in the clouds.’

These are the sorts of anxieties that can plague us all, not just creative people. Dwelling on them too much can lead to a sort of paralysis – not helpful to someone who is inherently shy.


In job applications and interviews, recent decades have favoured the brash, the confident, the smooth and the overtly ambitious. Financial risk takers, for instance are often much in demand (though perhaps less so, recently) and historically, boom times have always favoured risk takers. But sometimes the search for such qualities in candidates and the interview process itself can lead to recruiters overlooking the merits of less outgoing candidates. Prudent people may be regarded as hesitant and unsure of themselves and the world. But this is to overlook their often sharper, truer eye for situations, developments and people. Introverts can also often fail to find favour in interview situations because they sometimes come across as lacking in confidence or seem to be unnervingly humble. Good organisations with well developed recruitment policies, and employers generally, will harness a broad spectrum of occupational attributes so that the debonair risk-taker, the slick networker, the reticent strategist, the shy graphics artist and the prudent accountant will collaborate effectively for the overall good of the company.


There is no doubt that shyness can be a handicap at interview. Many shy people have faltered on their chosen career path because the process of projecting their abilities, skills and accomplishments in artificially constructed interview conditions is simply too daunting or they are frustrated by the artificiality of the process. To have one’s career sliced and diced and vivisected on an interview performance sheet can be especially uncomfortable for shy or modest people. Studies have shown that for men in particular, shyness can be especially problematic when making vocational decisions or transitions.


Shyness can result from a traumatic experience or social phobia, or from less opportunities than others to socialise (eg if you grew up in a remote place). It may be a self preservation mechanism or it may simply be part of your own genetic inheritance. Teachers will sometimes remark that a particular family of students are inclined to be shy and need encouragement to engage with the class.


1.      Bring stuff into the interview – a visual, a product you designed, a chart outlining your record of achievements, a video of you scoring that winning goal, making that world changing speech, falling off that surfboard and managing to get back on again to complete the course. It will act as an aide memoire, a point of connection/engagement with the interview board and a tangible example of your achievements / ability to persevere / be on a team etc.

2.      Make a list of your proudest achievements, trickiest projects, most successful innovations; bring the list with you for reference. Be ready to talk about them.

3.      What was your hardest day ever? Why? Describe it. How did you get through it?

4.      Make a list of examples of accomplishments, results, awards, recognitions, deadlines, targets met or exceeded.

5.      Practice telling these as brief stories with a beginning, middle and end.

6.      Smile with the teeth – so make sure they are smileable with 😉 Smiling relaxes everyone

7.      In between interviews, spend time identifying and addressing the particular fears that add to your shyness or reticence at interview.

a.      Are you unsure of your knowledge & skills, afraid that your mind will go blank if you are asked how many passengers travelled through Dublin Airport this year? Get sure and if you are required to refer to figures and graphs, it may be an idea to bring some of that information with you on your aide memoire sheet.

b.      Afraid to look foolish? Prepare. Trust in your education, your skills, training and expertise. Trust in your professional know how.

c.       What is the point? I’ve passed the aptitude tests. My CV says it all! They want to get to know you. In some careers an ability to get on with the rest of the team is crucial. An interview is a way of checking out your social skills, how you react to criticism, under pressure, what are the things that make you tick.

d.      What’s the point? I won’t get the job! It can be difficult to remain positive on a treadmill of applications and interviews that lead nowhere. It can help to set separate and distinct goals at interview: (i) Perform well enough to get the job! (ii) Perform well enough to get yourself in line for the next job / internship / Contract (iii) Use the interview as an opportunity to learn more about the company and as a chance to fine tune and perfect your interview techniques.



A man who went on to become managing director of a large engineering firm, told me that he learned to overcome his shyness and reticence at interviews by treating the process as a serious game – with rules, limits, participants, conflicts, choices, a strong random element, and of course fun. Once he visualised the interview as a game (not Call of Duty though!) he began to enjoy the process and his true, best self clinched his first good job and all the promotions that followed.

© Mary Hosty



Twyla Tharp The Creative Habit Simon & Schuster Paperbacks 2006






12 Jan

I’m new to Twitter and a little suspicious of what it can actually and practically do to make working or personal life better. But I have been using it for three months now and thought I’d share some of what I’ve learnt. Most of it is common sense. I decided to set up a non-professional account first as it would be an easy and comfortable way of learning. I put up a new novel on Amazon KDP in October 2011 and used this as my Twitter starting point. I ran that for a couple of months and built up a little following. Then when I felt comfortable enough to engage with other career advisors and professionals, I set about developing a work account. Below is some of the stuff I’ve learned. Thanks to all those that have followed, re-tweeted, mentioned and engaged in discussion or exchanging of information.



  • Listen to what people in your area of professional expertise are saying – observe how they interact
  • Share resources – be helpful
  • Connect with fellow professionals / business links – lists – who to follow – Network!
  • Raise discussion / promote debate on issues that people can engage with comfortably
  • Use Twitter to get feedback on a particular issue
  • Use Twitter to raise your professional profile or the profile of your business or organisation
  • Use Twitter to source resources
  • Words to remember – Connection / engagement / respect / curiosity / Prudent Humour
  • Think local / think national / think global
  • Do remember the eyes of the world are potentially on you – Twitter can be a time to shine – but also to corpse, plank, bottle, make a complete fool of yourself
  • Remember in business – quantity does not equal quality. Keep  your list / lists lean and make sure they work for you
  • Use those same instincts and sixth senses about people that serve you well in to real world when you are on Twitter. If somebody you have no link to, that has no followers, and whose profile says ‘call me. Let’s take it from there,’ starts to follow you, chances are you should ignore them and report any problem.

Just my opinion here but much of what happens on the internet and on Twitter specifically falls into two simple categories – the good and the bad. Engage with the good – professional, hard-working, serious, generous, beneficial, intellectually challenging and constructive tweeters. Ignore the bad – the rude, show offs, shoddy, lazy, unhelpfully negative and those simply tweeting to blow their own twumpets.


  • Forget your reasons for using Twitter as a business / educational / networking tool
  • Use Twitter to snipe at people or grind axes in an unreasonable, inappropriate or abusive way
  • Make humorous comments at other people’s expense
  • Use Twitter to hurt or exclude people
  • Swear
  • Share personal experiences excessively. The contents of your belly button are not usually a subject of global interest
  • Be conned by the idea of breaking down boundaries. Sometimes, and especially in the world of work, boundaries can be there for very good reasons – ie self preservation, mutual respect, avoidance of misunderstanding. It’s worth remembering the old ‘Good fences make good neighbours’ rule when engaged in any form of social media.
  • Mix business with pleasure. It’s quite common on Twitter to have a number of accounts or alternatively lists. One option is to run a fun account that ties into your hobby or leisure activities and the people you enjoy following. Then you can run another that is business related. You can also operate different lists on the same principle.
  • Use Twitter excessively to market your product. Tweeting fifty times a day that you have just published yet another scintillating new novel on Amazon KDP will not result in any great increase in sales or the type of followers you want to attract. It will annoy and may result in people unfollowing you.
  • Panic if a peculiar tweeter starts following you – you can report them if a nuisance arises but most just go away when ignored
  • Mistake late night familiarity from someone like Charlie Sheen for friendship or even connection.


  • Say thanks for the follow / the retweet / the favourite – I’m told this becomes impossible once you have a few thousand followers. But good manners costs nothing and is almost always appreciated. So do it while you can.
  • Acknowledge someone else’s work where ever possible by using RT = retweet or a direct reference
  • Reply to comments and connects and mentions as much as possible
  • Remember people are busy, may have painful stuff going on in their lives that you can never know about, so always show respect. A wise person once said In all your dealings with people, you should factor in that they may be suffering in a way you will never see or know or comprehend. Then take them as they are and find a way to make your connection with them work to the benefit of all.

I began my Twitter journey three months ago. Since then I have gone from being vehemently anti-Twitter to a point where I now recognise the opportunities for professional connectedness and sharing of resources. I mistakenly thought it was all about celebrities tweeting about the mundanities of their lives and loudly proclaiming the end of / beginning of various affairs. But I have found it to be a useful and efficient means of networking with co-professionals and keeping up with developments in my particular field. I have learned a great deal and connected with some truly inspiring career professionals across a broad spectrum of interests.

I wonder if anyone else has similar views on the subject of Twitter. Some of the content of this blog may be blindingly obvious. But it would be interesting to get a little feedback or additional Do’s & Don’ts for those of us not all that familiar with the use of social media as a tool in the work place.

©Mary Hosty January 12th 2012


9 Jan


I recently experienced what would best be described as a conversation of professional interest. It was not a job or promotion interview or a performance appraisal. It did not have a specific structure and was informal in nature. I was however sat across the boardroom table from a significant player in the recruitment and business communications field. Since part of my work is helping people with job applications, CV & Covering Letter preparation and latterly trying to manage their online profile, I felt this conversation of professional interest would be an easy one. My aims going into the meeting were to learn much by asking savvy questions and present myself in a solid, focussed and professional light. I came away from the meeting very happy and energised. It had been a most enjoyable conversation, I learned a great deal and felt I’d given a good and true account of myself.

That night though, the doubts set in and as I re-ran the afternoon’s meeting, it occurred to me that if it had been a job interview, the panel would be removing my application from the top of the pile.


1                     I didn’t always answer the question I was asked. If you are asked a question at interview –answer the question that has been asked. Don’t answer the question you would like to have been asked or the question you think the interviewer might ask later. If you are asked ‘how was your journey?’ you should answer that ‘I drove here. It was fine and thankfully I had gauged the journey time properly’ not ‘My car has been giving trouble and at the last minute I decided to take the bus. It’s ages since I’ve taken the bus. God I had no idea the tickets were so expensive. Is there a travel allowance for employees here?’

2                     At some stages in the conversation, I tended to drive the agenda in certain directions, into areas of expertise that I wanted to learn about. This is a tricky issue in a real interview situation. Are you showing initiative by ensuring you get to make your key points and demonstrate all the qualities, experiences and skills that set you up as the most suitable candidate for the job? Or are you coming across as someone that likes to set their own agenda too much? I don’t think there’s a simple straight answer to this question. If the interviewer wants to focus in on your voluntary work with the sick or the homeless, they will generally have good reason for that – even if you would prefer to spend more time on your most successful project to date. However it is also not unknown for candidates to achieve success at interview by the sheer force of their personality and their ability to control the agenda in a passionate manner that makes them appealing to potential employers. In most cases though, it is important for a candidate to adhere to the interview agenda.

3                     Let the Interviewer see how you think. Like doing Leaving Cert Maths – there are marks going for the right answer, but a great deal of attention is also paid to the thinking and calculating process. Can you think on your feet? Can you break down a problem into parts and tackle it in stages? Do you have a good sense of humour? Can you persevere with a problem? Do you have the facility to observe a problem from several different angles? In World War Two, military intelligence recruited code-breakers in some instances from the ranks of successful cryptic crossword participants in the national newspapers. Use pen and paper, or whatever materials are to hand if necessary.

4                     In my conversation of professional interest, there were a number of occasions where I had the opportunity to ask a question and didn’t. This showed I was focussing a little too much on my end of the conversation and missed the chance to ask a useful question, thereby engaging more with the interviewer. A good question gives your interviewer a chance to really engage with you across the boardroom table. It gives you the chance to show what a good listener you are and as anyone who’s ever been involved in teaching will tell you, the framing of a good question is an art in itself. So consider carefully what questions you want to ask at interview.

5                     Do your research on the company. Check out their websites. Talk to people who work there. Be familiar with their product, how the product is developed and brought to market, the markets, customers, competitors, developments in the field, strategies for future development and basically any knowledge deemed relevant to your application.

6                     Tell your own story and have some good stories to tell. Interviewers want to know how you act in certain situations, how you relate to others, how you think, how you cope with pressure, change and adversity. How do you deal with failure? Do you have examples of where you showed leadership? Where you showed you could assist in projects and be a part of the team as well as always in control? Develop and refine a bank of stories that contain examples of you functioning at your very best.

7                     Be passionate about what you do.

8                     Be  genuine

9                     Strike a balance between being excessively formal and overly casual – no text or Twitter speak LOL – OMHY. No group hugs.

10                 FINALLY – Be a confident, passionate, temperate, prudent, achieving and smart advocate of your best personal and occupational self.

© Mary Hosty January 2012

Top Five Jobsearch & Networking Tips

5 Jan

Top Five JobsearchTips


1.    Use positive language in application forms, C.V.s, and at interviews.

2.    Maintain useful contacts from previous jobs & work placement / friends / family / neighbours / sports clubs / – in other words show you can NETWORK

3.    Talk about the skills you have developed through voluntary work, work in the home, part-time work, sport & leisure activities.

4.    Highlight your time management, organisational and multi-task skills.

5.    Emphasise your flexibility, reliability and positive can-do attitude.

70% of current jobs are not being advertised – allegedly!

SO . . .





It’s not what you know – it’s who you know – not exactly . . .


It’s not what you know, but who knows that you know what you know





  • Research the company / customers / product / college course
  • Research route / mode of travel / location of interview room
  • Have a clear understanding of why you are being considered for this job / course
  • Be 15 minutes early
  • Have a good question to ask at the end of the interview



  • Skimp on preparation for the interview
  • Underestimate the job / interviewer / company
  • Undersell yourself or try to be too cool    

© Mary Hosty

Are you over 23 and completing your CAO application to College?

5 Jan



Ok so you’ve decided to take the big step and apply to college. Don’t let the form filling intimidate you. It’s simply a means to a worthwhile end. Get your application into the CAO by 1st February 2012 and make sure you include all the good things you have done that may be relevant to the course you are applying for. 

 Here are a few pointers and tips to help you on your way.

The Mature Student section of the CAO form is designed to identify what formal & experiential learning you have. It is a good opportunity to sell yourself on paper to the universities / colleges of your choice. Admissions officers will look for three qualities in particular:


  • How interested you are in your chosen subject area
  • Your level of ability in that subject area
  • How prepared / ready are you for college life

They want to know:

A         The relevance of your life / educational experience to your application

B         Your educational goals & objectives



  1. Your reasons for choosing the courses you have chosen
  2. The background to your interest in this course
  3. Any relevant employment / work experience, placement or voluntary work
  4. Details of relevant educational qualifications, non-certificate courses, awards / achievements 
  5. Particular career interests in your chosen field
  6. Social / Sport / Leisure Activities
  7. Voluntary work, community activity & involvement, committees
  8. Your plans for funding and supporting yourself throughout the course
  9. A reasonable and well thought out career plan
  10. Evidence of good oral & written communication skills


© Mary Hosty


Job Simulation or Situational Judgement Test Nursing NCC

5 Jan




This part of your application into Nursing is an exercise to identify what you would be most likely to do when presented with a typical nursing scenario. The exercise measures a range of skills and qualities deemed appropriate for a career in Nursing

You are asked to choose only ONE action in each case.

There are marks available for each answer option presented – but higher marks go to most appropriate actions

Be Honest and chose what you would do based on the information provided

Situational Judgement tests will often assess the following

Verbal Communication

Ability to take responsibility

Ability to cope with Stress

Assertiveness / Critical Thinking / Problem Solving

Calm and Competent Patient Care

Developing Patient Relationships

Self Awareness & Personal Development

Reflective Practice

Patient Customer Service

Verbal & Numerical Reasoning will test Cognative ability

Skills Questionnaire & Situational Judgment tests  will measure attitudes associated with for example honesty & dependability, ability to prioritise in high stress situations, conflict resolution, relaying of important information, judgment, engaging with difficult people.




Test Your Emotional Intelligence: Philip Carter

How to Pass Numerical Reasoning tests Heidi Smith

How to Master Nursing Calculations, John Tyreman

How to Pass Numeracy tests Harry Tolley, Ken Thomas

The Numeracy Test Workbook: John Byron

Numerical Reasoning Tests Heidi Smith


On the day of your test bring the following:

  1. A printed off copy of your invite
  2. Photographic evidence of identity – passport / drivers licence
  3. 1 Recent passport photo with CAO number and your signature on the back
  4. 2 soft pencils
  5. 1 eraser
  6. 1 pencil sharpener


More hints for Mature Applicants into Nursing – The Skills / Experience Questionnaire

4 Jan




The purpose of this questionnaire is to compare your preferences with characteristics that are deemed necessary for nursing



This is a sample of a personality type questionnaire and given to you for guidance purposes only. You will find others on the internet also

Your skills/experience questionnaire will be much shorter

If you complete this questionnaire you will get a summary report at the end

You will note that the same question can be asked a number of times in slightly different formats. This is to clarify your responses.


Click on the following link:


–        Read through the information on types of questionnaire, rating statements and making choices

–        Go to the bottom of the page and click on personality questionnaire

–        The questionnaire will take at least 20 minutes

–        Answer the questions honestly



You have thirty five minutes to complete 68 questions.

If there is time left over at the end you may be allowed to complete the skills/ experience questionnaire

The questionnaire is designed to assess your interests, experiences & achievements


This Questionnaire is about you and your experiences, interests and achievements.  The purpose of collecting this information is to compare your preferences with characteristics that we have identified as being necessary for this profession, in a way that is fair and consistent with everyone.


This questionnaire will be scored the same way for all applicants.  The scoring system is designed to avoid discriminating against groups within the applicant population e.g. males, females, people of different ages, etc.’  


–        Not all the questions score. 

–        There is no obvious way of determining which responses will attract the most points. 

–        The marks awarded are driven by preferences, with the least marks being awarded to the least preferred responses, and the most marks being awarded to the most preferred responses. 

–        Be as honest as possible when answering the questions.  


© Mary Hosty January 2012