Month: April 2020

8 Steps to Interview Success

You’ve read every article there is to read about finding and successfully landing a job after graduation and followed all of the guidelines to a T. You’ve spent countless hours on Glassdoor, Indeed, and CareerBuilder browsing for any and all potential job openings. You’ve produced draft after draft of your resume in the hopes of grabbing the attention of your potential employers. On top of that, you’ve networked, attended career fairs and customized your cover letter for each specific job you’ve applied for. Graduation day is just around the corner and just when you are starting to warm up to the idea of living in your parent’s basement, you get the phone call you’ve been waiting for.

All of your work has finally paid off; you’ve been invited to interview! Unfortunately, your few brief moments of relief are quickly overshadowed by an entirely new wave of nerves. No matter how old you are, how many jobs you’ve had, or how qualified you might be, interviews are scary. That’s why we have a few tips that we hope will inspire you to be more confident, prepared and ultimately more successful when sitting down for the first time with your potential future employer.

    1. Analyze the Job: It’s no secret that there is strength in numbers. Like most other college graduates, you have probably applied to any and every job you thought you were even semi-qualified for. That’s what makes this first step so important. Take the time to go back and find the initial job posting that you applied for. Make sure you take note of the title of the position you will be interviewing for, as well as the responsibilities and job duties that will be expected of you. Make a list of any descriptive language that tells you what the employer is looking for in a candidate. Then make a corresponding list of qualities you have comparable to that list. By having a solid understanding of what your potential employer wants as well as what you, as a potential employee, can bring to the table, you will have a better understanding of how to present yourself as a promising professional during the interview.
    2. Do your Research: In many areas of the professional world, research is a fundamental key to success. If you learn this lesson early, it will carry you throughout your career, make your life easier, and prevent big mistakes before they occur. When it comes to job interviews, doing proper and thorough research about the company will set you apart from other candidates and show your employer that you are taking the hiring process seriously; you demonstrate that you are invested and interested in becoming a part of their company. In order to maximize preparedness, you should make sure you do the following:
      • Review the Company’s Online Presence: Take the time to familiarize yourself with the company website. Pay attention to the About Us section in particular. Before the interview you should have a firm grasp of the company’s mission, vision and values, as well as the list of products/services that they provide. In addition, get up-to-date on the company’s current events by browsing its social media platforms.
      • Look at the News: Before sitting down for your interview, you should be well aware of anything new and exciting going on within the company, as well as any crises they are currently facing. Take the time to review recent press releases issued by the company, as well as any recent news coverage. Google Alerts are an easy way to stay up-to-date in the days leading up to your interview. Create them for the company, the industry and any other relevant information you may want to know.
      • Stalk your Interviewer: Ok, no, you’re not really stalking. But it is highly recommended that before you meet your interviewer, you try to learn something about them. If you have their name, look them up on LinkedIn or Facebook. Find their name and picture on the company website. Hopefully you will be able to get a feel for the type of personality this person has. Do they seem more fun and casual, or lean more towards the sincere and serious side? The more you know about your interviewer, the more prepared you will be to communicate with them.
      • The Industry: Before going into your job interview, you should do some research regarding the trends of the industry and establish an idea of the type of environment your company is currently working under. Take note of some of the company’s top competitors and make a list of things that differentiate the company from the competition.
    3. Practice, Practice, Practice: Practice makes perfect. That same rule of thumb applies to you before your interview. Print out a list of popular interview questions and visualize yourself answering them. Take the time to sit down with a friend or family member and conduct a mock interview. You may feel silly, but you’ll thank yourself later. Practicing will help to calm your nerves and inspire confidence in your answers on interview day.
    4. Do the Little Things Ahead of Time: On the day of your interview, you will have plenty to worry about. Make your life easier by preparing the small stuff beforehand.
      • Pick out your outfit: I think we all can admit to scrambling around the house last minute in search of our favorite tie or pair of shoes at one time or another. Unfortunately, these things happen, so it is better to prepare ahead of time. Plan and lay out what you are going to wear the night before your interview. By doing this you will make more time for yourself in the morning and eliminate unnecessary stress. Trust us, you will be thankful you did.
      • Plan Travel Time: Always make sure you map out the time it will take to get from your house to your destination before the day of your interview. If you will be traveling in the morning, make sure you research your journey during the morning before your interview. Sometimes people forget that even though at 3:00 pm it estimates a 20-minute ride, that same 20-minute ride could very well become 40 minutes during rush hour traffic.
    5. Bring the Right Materials: You don’t ever want to meet your potential employer empty handed. Here is a list of things you will definitely want to have with you on interview day:
      • Resume: Although you have already submitted your resume with your application, it is always a good idea to bring two clean copies of it with you to your interview.
      • References: It is a good idea to have at least two references. This list should be printed and include the name, title, company, and contact information of the individuals.
      • Work Samples: Showcase yourself by bringing work that you are particularly proud of to leave behind with your potential employer. This could include writing samples, design layouts, or maybe even a particularly challenging and detailed school project that you are proud of. There is no limit to what you could bring. Just make sure what you do choose is relevant, memorable and sets you apart from your peers.
      • Questions: Make sure you have a list of questions ready to ask your interviewer. You don’t need to have these physically printed out on paper but definitely think of a few and have them at the top of your mind. Asking thoughtful questions shows you are interested and care about both the future of the company and yourself as a potential employee.
    6. Have Confident Body Language: Nailing your answers to the interview questions and having a killer resume aren’t always enough. To communicate yourself as both a capable and confident candidate for the job make sure you:
      • Have a firm handshake
      • Make eye contact
      • Speak slowly and clearly
      • Sit up straight
      • Smile
    7. Say Thank You: Make sure you take the time to write a Thank You note to your interviewer following your interview. An email will suffice, but if you want to go above and beyond, take the time to write a handwritten note. This shows the employer that you are well aware of how valuable their time is and that you are grateful that they took the time to get to know you. This is a courteous gesture that will set you apart from other candidates. If for whatever reason you don’t get the job this time, they might be more likely to consider you the next time there is an opening.
    8. Breathe: Last but not least, don’t forget to breathe. Remember you are intelligent and qualified, and any employer would be lucky to have you. You can’t win them all, and sometimes no matter how prepared you are, another candidate will get the job. Don’t get discouraged; you will have many more interviews and many more job offers throughout your career. Be confident, be knowledgeable and be prepared and remember at the end of the day you will find a job and things will be okay.

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What it means to be the Safety Coordinator at a Small Company

Photo of David Langlais in construction hat and safety vest with article title

We sat down with David Langlais, PE to ask him what it’s like to be on the Safety Committee for a small company. David has worked in the construction field and has also been the Safety Committee Chair before becoming its official coordinator. We asked him what it was like to grow in this position and what it means to him.

What does it mean to be the safety coordinator for a business?

In New Hampshire, each Safety Committee within a company is supposed to appoint a person who is going to have current knowledge on safety trends, expectations, et cetera for a company. At Hoyle, Tanner, we call that person the Safety Coordinator. So, I have to have the training, keep up-to-date on policies and procedures in states where we do business, and keep up-to-date with OSHA.

Why do you see a need for this role?

The need is there because we put people out in the field; that’s our biggest risk area. The most dangerous person is the “casual site-visitor” who doesn’t know the changes in the field; is not that familiar with the contractor; not used to sites. We’re standing next to traffic, next to heavy equipment, we’re out in the woods by ourselves near animals and insects and poisonous plants. These are the types of things employees may not think about when they go out in the field.

You’ve been the safety committee chairperson and you’ve really championed and been the voice for safety in our company – bringing it more to the forefront of peoples’ minds. What started you on that path?

Way back – 2009 or 2010, I was on one of the NHDOT construction projects on the I-93 corridor. Someone had questioned the safety vest I was wearing and made a comment about it not being the right type. I think at that point I brought it to the attention of Woody Wilson [one of our most senior Resident Project Representatives], I think, and asked him about it. The person on the site who commented on my vest wasn’t known for being the most serious person, so I couldn’t really tell. Then I looked into more about the vests and how there are different types of safety vests – there are different types for being in the woods, being in traffic. So really it was a collection of things that happened that got me scratching my head, and wondering what are we really training safety-wise here and what should we be aware of that we’re not?

In September of 2014 I was invited to not only join the Safety Committee, but also be the Chair. At that point the committee hadn’t met in 2 years. I believe the Board of Directors and specifically Frank Wells had recommended that I chair the committee because of my construction background, and to bring life back into the committee.

What are some of the things you’ve accomplished?

  1. As a committee, we basically reformatted the whole way we think about safety in the company. We follow all the rules set forth in Lab 600 from the NH Bureau of Labor, which stem from RSA-281-A:64. The State requires that we have a “Joint Loss Management Committee”, and we call ours the Safety Committee (you can rename it).
  2. We’ve reinvigorated the committee – We didn’t have a real presence within the company before. Once we looked at how we’re supposed to organize it based on Lab 600, we saw we had a lot of things we weren’t doing. We discovered we needed a Health & Safety Manual – we didn’t have one, or one that we could find. We had some of the elements but nothing to the level of what we’ve developed. That’s been the biggest thing we’ve accomplished.
  3. We’ve also made sure field personnel are represented. They are our biggest risk and we need to make sure they have the right equipment and training to do their job safely.
  4. We assisted the Benefits Committee in developing the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Benefit Program, which reimburses employees for certain PPE items that are not required to be provided by the company. 

What are the ultimate goals or principles you’re working towards?

Our ultimate goal is to ensure safety is a part of our everyday lives within the company. The next thing we want to roll out are job hazard analysis sheets. The purpose is to anticipate hazards in the field and be prepared for them before you go out there. That way, we get people trained and get them the tools they need to anticipate safety concerns and be prepared to mitigate them. And not just the full-time field personnel. The hazard analysis sheets apply to everyone – young engineers on bridges. Roadside investigations for preliminary design. Joanne [an environmental coordinator] flagging wetlands. Anyone who leaves the office and goes into the “field” wherever that may be.

The other goal is to incorporate safety into how we plan and estimate our projects – like we do for Quality Assurance / Quality Control. Integrate it into our process.

Given the current situation with COVID, how has your role changed – or how has it not changed?

I’ve become busier [laughs]. We get updated stuff on COVID every day. Trying to keep ahead of what the requirements are is a challenge. I get a lot of info in Massachusetts being that I’m active in ACEC-MA in their Health and Safety Forum (co-chair).

Abbie Goodman [Executive Director of ACEC-MA] called me on Friday with some questions regarding what Massachusetts is implementing for construction for COVID. I also talked to Abbie [on Monday] morning. Basically, the information about COVID trickles down from the governor to our clients to us and our consultant peers. They want to continue with construction – it’s listed as an essential service- but we also have to follow CDC guidelines. Each state also has different rules with regard to construction. In Vermont, construction is not considered essential unless it’s directly related to helping with the virus. Some contractors are not allowed to leave states now if they live in Vermont but work in New Hampshire, which is an issue we’ve been dealing with.

And who’s essential and who’s not? And if we’re essential, which rules do we follow? Those are the kinds of things we’ve been thinking about. Especially now, with construction season upon us.

Are you mostly worrying about construction safety during COVID, or everything at once?

For me, it’s construction stuff because the company COVID-19 team is worrying about the other pieces. How do we build confidence in our employees that their environment is safer than they think? How do we verify that our field personnel are okay before they go out in the field? Also, as I said before, it’s different between New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Massachusetts set out rules specifically addressing going out into the field during this pandemic, but New Hampshire said it’s up to each business to police themselves. So unless NHDOT comes out with something that says “here’s how you have to arrive to our site,” we’re still working on this.

Is the company doing anything different (aside from working from home) now that we’re in this situation?

We’re handling it the way the CDC recommends.

What does your day-to-day look like right now?

I’m managing a couple of projects but aside from that I’m getting interrupted by COVID-related information. Every few days new information comes in. So right now, it’s a matter of trying to see what the latest and greatest is so we can make sure we’re following it and that our employees are prepared for it.

Is there anything that intimidates or overwhelms you about being safety coordinator?

I would say that I embrace the position. I’d say if anything, I’d like to have more training and have safety more prominent in our company. Part of that has to do with the size of our company. I communicate with peers in ACEC who have much larger companies, so their initiatives dwarf what we do. Their top safety personnel have different backgrounds. So that part gets a little overwhelming. Or not overwhelming, but I wish we were there. Don’t get me wrong, we’re safe, and we’re doing what we need to for state compliance, and we put smart people in the field. We don’t do a lot of labor-related, safety-type stuff. We don’t have field crews that do labor which makes it a lot easier (like drilling crews or survey crews) – more of that background than office background. Some of that can be more difficult to manage. So, no, I’m not overwhelmed by my role as much as I am of the information that I’d like to put out.

Why you do keep showing up for this role, personally?

I think part of it goes back to the training aspect. The person who’s designated by the committee to be the coordinator has to have a certain level of training. When this originally came up, I received OSHA training for construction safety. So really, I’m the most trained person in the company when it comes to this. And again, we’re not quite where I’d like us to be, and no one else currently has the training to take my place. I’m happy to do it, and I push for it because I feel like I’ve got more work to do in this role.

Would you call yourself a safety enthusiast?

I would say I’ve grown into being a safety enthusiast. I was recognized as having the experience and then the question was, do I have the willingness? And the answer was yes. So now there are aspects of safety I’m very enthusiastic about. I think the toughest part [about being asked to make it more active] is balancing the focus between office personnel and field personnel. So, I’ve found that I rely on other committee members to worry about office personnel, and I worry about the field personnel.

This role has also helped me to not take my construction and my safety background for granted. And I think that’s something we kind of did as a company; we trusted field employees to have the safety knowledge. The full-time ones probably did, but it’s really the part-timers who are more concerning. What’s their experience? What’s their knowledge? Are they aware of their surroundings?

Has your enthusiasm encouraged anyone else? If not enthusiasm, what would it be?

Absolutely. If not mine, then the committee’s. The fact that we were able to gather people to work on the manual and the people who have stayed on the committee. We’ve rotated in and out a few people. We’ve got our quarterly Bee Safe newsletter; we’ve been participating in health and safety week in August which is something we didn’t do before but it’ll be our second or third year this year. I’ve conducted a couple trainings now; I’d like to do more. Gotten more people trained in the OSHA 10-hour course which is big. It’s something we’re trying to get field personnel to have. Building in small procedures and practices – yeah it’s definitely paying off. Not as fast as I’d like, but it’s one of the challenges of being a small business.

Questions about safety? Want to learn from the best? Reach out to David Langlais, PE.

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Hayden

Ryan Hayden, EI, Transportation Engineer, and Baseball Enthusiast
1.  What drew you to Hoyle, Tanner?
It was close to home, which provided a great opportunity to work in the neighborhoods I grew up in and am familiar with. Also, it was an appealing company in terms of size, it wasn’t too big where I’d be “just a number” but also not too small where my ability to learn would potentially be limited.
2. What’s something invaluable you’ve learned here?
Making yourself more valuable by stepping up to learn something new can go a long way.
3. What’s your favorite time of year to work at Hoyle, Tanner?
Winter – because the weather is bad outside and I enjoy what we do here at Hoyle, Tanner, so it helps to have something enjoyable when it’s so cold and dark outside.
4. What’s the coolest thing you are working on?
Drone technology.
5. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far this week?
I learned a better way to use the roadway corridor modeling software we are using on a project in Western Massachusetts.
6. How many different states have you lived in?
1- New Hampshire
7. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
Grilled Chicken over rice with green beans and mashed potatoes on the side.
8. What kind of pet do you have and how did you choose to name it?
I adopted 2 cats, named Hawk and Kaiser.
9. What is a fun or interesting fact about your hometown?
My hometown is Dover, New Hampshire and my high school hockey team is the most dominant team in the state over the last 20 years.
10. What are three things still left on your bucket list?
1. Skydiving
2. Travel to Antarctica
3. See a baseball game at every Major League Baseball ballpark
11. Name three items you’d take with you to a desert island
Knife, Sunblock, Matches
12. What characteristic do you admire most in others?
Honesty.
13. How old is the oldest item in your closet?
Probably upwards of 70 years, I have my grandfather’s old Letterman Jacket from when he was in high school. For items I wear, I have a sweatshirt that is about 10 years old.
14. Words to live by? Favorite quote?
“The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come .” – Mick Kremling
15. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A baseball player (a more realistic one was to work at NASA.)
16. If you were to skydive from an airplane what would you think about on the way down?
How beautiful the view is.