A Financial Education Event
 

The $425,000 Interview – 15 Minutes To A Million Dollar Life

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I looked at the young man in a new suit, tie that his dad probably knotted and a fresh haircut. He was sweating at the temples and clearly nervous as he faced down eight interviewers gathered in the Congressman’s office.

“If you could be Disney Princess, what would it be?”

The red blush began in his neck and traveled up his entire face as you watched the wheels turn frantically in his brain.

“If I could be any kind of Disney princess…it would have to be…Mulan.”

His embarrassment began to fade as his face lit up with an idea.

“Because Mulan was a warrior and she will willing to lay down her life for those she loved and wanted to protect.”

He smiled, his nervousness now gone, “In much the same way, I want to go to the United States Air Force Academy and serve my country.  America has been a land that gave my family an opportunity for education and to build a great life for our family. I want to give back to the country who gave so much to my family.”

As a member of an All Academies Congressional Admissions Panel, I’m a part of a team of qualified community leaders who interview students who have applied to a service academy. I’ve also written a three part blog for those who are interested in going to these prestigious institutions of higher learning. In fact, this time of year is when most of these nomination packages are due at Congressional offices.

This particular student learned, in his interview prep, that he could buy time in an interview by beginning his answer in a compete sentence. This technique gave his brain a chance to come up with an answer. We interviewed 50 students for last year’s panel, in one day, from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Then we racked and stacked them based on their nomination packages and the interview.

The appointments to the Naval Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, West Point and the Air Force Academy are valued at approximately 425K. These go to the best and brightest young people in our nation who will be future officers and lead our military. They will pay back the cost of their education in five years of military service. So their education isn’t exactly “free” since most college grads don’t have to put their life on the line to pay back their education costs.

That “Disney Princess” question was a real question put to students from a different Congressional panel. It was designed to see how they could think creatively and react to an odd-ball question. The young man in this story is real and so is his answer. He is now at the Air Force Academy living his dream to one day fly and fight for his country. When he graduates and goes to pilot training, he will have close to a million dollars invested in his many years of training. So that interview question was one that led to his million dollar life!

Are you or someone you know preparing for a big interview in the near future? The key is preparation by rehearsing common and uncommon questions and gaining confidence in your ability to maintain eye contact, think on your feet, and communicate the real you to those who are conducting the interview. For those preparing for a service academy interview, feel free to email us and ask for the “Mock Interview Questions.”

 In the Kay household, our kids were naturally prepared for grilling questions thanks to the habit of asking them about their day every evening at dinner.

“What was a problem you solved today?”

“How did you make someone laugh today?

“What was the best part of your day?”

They were obviously more forthcoming some days than others, but the habit made it more natural for them to talk about their experiences. This easily translates to job interviews and even college or congressional interviews, where interview panels ask both conventional and unconventional questions.

You have probably already heard about the most common questions, such as ones pertaining to your history, why you’re interested and your strengths and weaknesses. But every now and then, you’ll get a common question disguised as an uncommon one. Here are five of them:

1. “What was your best MacGyver moment?”

When an interviewer asks a question similar to this, they’re really looking for examples of your adaptability and resourcefulness. Have you ever had any unconventional homework assignments or projects where you didn’t have common resources? This is a good time to talk about them.

2. “How many employees does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

This is a unique way to see where you stand on being a team player and if you have problem-solving skills. Most careers have a fair amount of group projects, so interviewers want to see if you’re a lone wolf (“Just one. Me.”) or if you can work with others (“As many as it takes to do it efficiently.”)

3. “What is our receptionist’s name?”

This could also be a question about something or someone else in the building. The interviewer is looking to see if you’re observant, paying attention and have a good memory. Just be aware of your surroundings and you’ll be prepared for this question.

4. “If you were in the NBA, what position would you play?”

Believe it or not, you don’t have to follow sports to answer this question correctly. The interviewer simply wants to know if you’re a leader or team player and ready to contribute immediately. Focus on answers that show off your willingness to do anything for the team/company.

5. “If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be?”

This is a good opportunity to talk about a variety of things, from your hobbies to who you value. It can be a current or past figure, but should be someone you truly admire. This is a great way for you to relate to the interviewer and ease any tension or awkwardness.

Again, these specific questions are rare, but if you’re prepared to talk about things like your resourcefulness, leadership abilities and interests, you’ll be ready to answer them. A good starting point would be to look at lists of the most common questions and rephrasing them in a unique way. It can be fun and a great way to prepare for your first job interview.

What are some of YOUR favorite interview questions?

 

(Un)Common Interview Questions

 

With graduations upon us, it’s a natural time to start preparing for job interviews.  At 7.5%, the unemployment rate is at its lowest level since 2008, so opportunities are out there. In the Kay household, our kids were naturally prepared for grilling questions thanks to our habit of asking them about their day every evening at dinner.

“What was something good about your day?”

“What did you do at school?”

“What was the best part of your day?”

They were obviously more forthcoming some days than others, but the habit made it more natural for them to talk about their experiences. This easily translates to job interviews, where prospective employers ask both conventional and unconventional questions.

You have probably already heard about the most common questions, such as ones pertaining to your history, why you’re interested and your strengths and weaknesses. But every now and then, you’ll get a common question disguised as an uncommon one. Here are five of them:

1. “What was your best MacGyver moment?”

When an interviewer asks a question similar to this, they’re really looking for examples of your adaptability and resourcefulness. Have you ever had any unconventional homework assignments or projects where you didn’t have common resources? This is a good time to talk about them.

2. “How many employees does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

This is a unique way to see where you stand on being a team player and if you have problem-solving skills. Most careers have a fair amount of group projects, so interviewers want to see if you’re a lone wolf (“Just one. Me.”) or if you can work with others (“As many as it takes to do it efficiently.”)

3. “What is our receptionist’s name?”

This could also be a question about something or someone else in the building. The interviewer is looking to see if you’re observant, paying attention and have a good memory. Just be aware of your surroundings and you’ll be prepared for this question.

4. “If you were in the NBA, what position would you play?”

Believe it or not, you don’t have to follow sports to answer this question correctly. The interviewer simply wants to know if you’re a leader or team player and ready to contribute immediately. Focus on answers that show off your willingness to do anything for the team/company.

5. “If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be?”

This is a good opportunity to talk about a variety of things, from your hobbies to who you value. It can be a current or past figure, but should be someone you truly admire. This is a great way for you to relate to the interviewer and ease any tension or awkwardness.

Again, these specific questions are rare, but if you’re prepared to talk about things like your resourcefulness, leadership abilities and interests, you’ll be ready to answer them. A good starting point would be to look at lists of the most common questions and rephrasing them in a unique way. It can be fun and a great way to prepare for your first job interview.

What are some of YOUR favorite interview questions? Be sure to send this blog to your favorite college grad who might be looking for that dream job (or any job).

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Job Scams and Homebased Businesses

 

I was on the ABC NEWS “Good Money” show, and answered your questions! Be sure to email us for a FREE “Homebased Business File” and mention you heard me on “Good Money!”

Q. We are interested in starting our own home business and want to know what first steps we should take in deciding what kind of business to operate from home.
Julie and Vick from Rancho Cucomonga, CA via facebook

ELLIE: There are basically three kinds of businesses: sales, service and manufacturing. Sales can take many forms such as retail or wholesale, mail order or direct sales. They tend to offer more flexible hours but require more paperwork. Service businesses are the easiest to set up and can require the smallest initial investment. If you do something well, like painting or decorating, fixing things, cleaning houses repairing computers, etc, you can start your own service business. Finally, there is manufacturing—everything from crafts to jewelry, furniture and more. Once you decide on the kind of business, do your research online or with the help of a research librarian, subscribe to industry magazines and talk to those in that kind of business.

Q. Are there any online resources available for us to find someone who will give us free advice on our small graphics and design business.
Mike and Victoria from Syracuse, NY via online contact form

ELLIE: Yes! You can go to SCORE.org, which is non-profit organization designed to help small business owners with over 12,000 volunteer counselors across the country. They can hook you up with a mentor to answer your questions online or in one of their offices. Their volunteers are made of experts in 600 fields who have been successful in their own businesses and include former CEOs! If you are interested in funding your startup business you can go to Kickstarter.com or since you’re an artist you may want to find funding for your project by going to IndieGoGo.com

Q: I’ve worked for the same construction company for 20 years and just got laid off. I have a dream to start my own carpentry business, but I’m not sure that I have what it takes to do it. How do I know if I can hack it or not?
Mark submitted via Online Contact Form

ELLIE: That’s a great question, Mark, and since the SBA says that 1 in 2 small businesses will fail within a year, you have every right to question your ability to succeed. I think the key lies in planning and doing your preparation work. It’s important and assess your personality and skills. You can take the Personality ID test offered at your SBA center, college, library or community center. It will help you look at yourself from a fresh perspective and asses whether your personality is best served as an owner or an employee. I also think it’s important to pursue your passion. Do you really love carpentry or has it just been a job to you? When you pursue your passion, not only does it get you up in the morning but it makes more likely to succeed!

Q. My mom sells Premier Jewelry and my best friend sells Mary Kay. Both of them are pressuring me to sign up under them in order to build their business. How do I make the decision about which homebased business to start.
Jenny Monroe from Oklahoma City, OK

ELLIE: Jenny, there’s a phrase you need to learn right away: It’s nothing personal, just business! You need to make your decision based on what is right for YOU, not based on who you love more: your mom or your friend! I’ll send you the Homebased Business file for free if you go to elliekay.com and in that file you’ll see 25 questions you need to ask each woman about their business including: What are the start up costs? What is the hostess plan? Does the company pay sales tax or do I have to do that myself? How many downline generations are paid? How much inventory is needed? It’s important to have all the facts available and then make your decision based on business and not on anything personal!

Q. I’ve dabbled in writing here and there but I want to try and go into it on a more full time basis, should I try to freelance various writing projects or should I offer my writing services as a subcontractor to an existing company that need writers?
Ted from Chicago, VA via Ellie Kay’s blog

ELLIE: The answer is “yes.” It’s easier to launch a service based industry, such as what you’re essentially talking about by subcontracting work to an existing firm. Outsourcing is becoming more and more prominent as jobs are streamlined and companies downsize. It’s cheaper to hire a contractor than paying benefits to a full time employee. So hook up with your local Chamber of Commerce and plug into businesses in your community. At the same time, get The Writers Guide online or from your local library and begin to pitch articles to various periodicals by writing a good query letter and tailoring each article toward the specific needs of the publication. Ted, with how work and bit of luck you’ll find yourself doing what you love and having your dream business at the same time!

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)
www.elliekay.com

ABC News Now – When Two Incomes Becomes One

I just love my bloggers, FB friends & eblast recipients! Once again, you guys helped make the latest segments on ABC NEWS NOW really great!

You can view the first segment and then be sure to view the questions and answers, where YOU had your questions answered on the air and WON a copy of Little Book of Big Savings!

Here’s part of the transcript
1) ELLIE, 9.7 PERCENT UNEMPLOYMENT IS HUGE– WHAT KIND OF PROBLEMS ARE YOU SEEING AS A RESULT OF THESE NUMBERS?
ELLIE: I think these numbers only indicate part of the problem. For every person we have who is unemployed we have others who have taken pay cuts to keep their jobs or they’ve had to accept a position significantly below what they had before. Even when the recession ends and we are in recovery, I think we’re going to see the contagion effect of unemployment and underemployment.

2) MOST PEOPLE PANIC WHEN THEY ARE NOTIFIED THAT THEY WILL BE LAID OFF. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING A COUPLE SHOULD DO IF ONE OF THEM BECOMES SUDDENLY UNEMPLOYED?
ELLIE: Step one is to “Review and Re-evaluate your Financial Goals.” When you go from two paychecks to one, all of the sudden money for your four year old’s college fund and/or funding retirement isn’t as important as making the house payment. It’s time to radically re-evaluate what needs to get paid to survive. Essentially, you will work backwards. Determine what you need for the end of each month to cover the basics (house, car, insurance, credit card bills, food, etc) and then work backward toward that financial goal.

3) ONCE YOU’VE WORKED THAT OUT, WHAT IS THE SECOND THING COUPLES SHOULD DO?
ELLIE: Establish a “One Income Budget.” This will, hopefully, be temporary, but you will need to readjust how money is spent until your spouse is employed again. This will include cutting back on expenses where you can. But don’t panic. Before you cut the cable or disconnect the internet, look at ways to cut back that are less painful and more productive.

4) YOU HAVE SOME TIPS ON HOW TO DO THAT..LET’S START WITH HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE:
ELLIE: Call the company and let them know you think you are paying too much & that you can get coverage cheaper elsewhere. It’s amazing how motivated they’ll be to help you reduce costs. You can raise deductibles to cover the big things and then lower those again when your spouse is employed. My literary agent took this tip to heart and discovered he had an old policy that had been grandfathered in, when they updated it, he saved $475!

4B) HOW CAN CONSUMERS CUT BACK ON AUTO INSURANCE NOW THAT THEY AREN’T DRIVING TO AND FROM WORK?
ELLIE: It costs less to insure a car that is no longer driven to and from work. Go to http://www.progressive.com/ to get comparison quotes on your auto insurance, then call your provider and ask for all the discounts that are available to you. Most clients I’ve worked with save an average of $350.

4C) THIS NEXT TIP CAN SAVE YOU AS MUCH AS FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS PER YEAR… CLIPPING COUPONS?
ELLIE: Whether you live on one income or two, you still have to buy food. By taking ten minutes to go to http://www.couponmom.com/ before you shop, you can save as much as $4,000 per year. The site does most of the work for you as it tells you what is on sale, what manufacturer’s coupons are available, what other store coupons are offered and the final price of what you’ll pay. There are dozens of items each week that cost only pennies or are free.

5) IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE FAMILIES THAT ARE UNEMPLOYED OR UNDEREMPLOYED SHOULD DO DURING THOSE ONE INCOME SEASONS?
ELLIE: Proactively Plan for Your Financial Future. Just because you’re unemployed does not mean you should enter the panic mode-this can lead to poor financial decisions. Go get help at the National Consumer Credit Counseling service (nfcc.org) which is a non-profit that won’t make you accrue more debt as the “for profit” counseling services will do. Oftentimes the nfcc knows the programs that you may qualify for in order to keep your house, renegotiate with lenders and help you proactively plan for your financial future.

Congratulations to Kristen Whirrett of Fort Wayne, IN; Ruth Schmidt of Willard, MO; Stephanie Woods of Sheperdsville, KY; Karen Power of Keller, TX; Rachel Morales of Victorville, CA and Kathy Hansen of San Diego! You guys had the questions selected by the producers of ABC NEWS NOW – GOOD MONEY show!

Ellie Kay
Americas Family Financial Expert (R)
http://www.elliekay.com/

When Two Incomes Become One – WIN A BOOK!

Here is another chance for you to win a copy of Ellie’s newest book, The Little Book of Big Savings (Waterbrook, 2009) by having Ellie answer your question on ABC News Now.

Do You Fear Unemployment?
Are you a two income family, that is suddenly down to one income?
Are you afraid your company’s cutbacks might include your job as well?

If so, then we want to hear from you! What question(s) would you like to ask Ellie about your situation?

The producer(s) of ABC News Now will select the questions for Ellie to answer on the “Good Money” show to air on October 27, 2009.

Please email your questions to: assistant@elliekay.com or posted it on today’s blog (below).

The deadline for your questions is: Monday, noon PST, October 26, 2009

Remember the ABCs of past prize winning questions:

  • Accuracy– Questions that accurately fit the show’s theme for the day are most relevant. This week’s theme is “When Two Incomes Become One.”
  • Brevity – If it takes two minutes to ask the question, then it won’t be selected. A question that can fit into a 10 to 15 second soundbite is ideal.
  • Clarity – The world of TV news revolves around questions asked in a way that is easily understood by viewers.

We look forward to hearing from YOU as you join Ellie on ABC News!