Monthly Archives: May 2014

10 Things Not To Do In A Job Interview

Your big day has finally arrived: you’ve practised your questions, you’re dressed to impress, you’re excited to walk right in and own it! But wait! Before you head on in, you should probably read through our list of ten things NOT to say or do in a job interview:


1. Chew gum. Although it’s a great idea to have fresh breath, chewing gum during an interview not only makes it harder for you to talk properly, you’ll also look unprofessional. Toss it out before you arrive.


2. Trash talk a former employer, even if  they were in the wrong. Not only is it extremely rude, but you won’t gain any points with a potential employer by being negative.


3. Slouch, fidget, cross your arms. Body language speaks volumes! You want to appear engaged and focused, and definitely not defensive. Sit up straight, place your hands on your lap and maintain good eye contact!


4. Touch your phone. Do not answer any phone calls or texts while in an interview, and make sure your phone is set to silent, or even better, completely turned off.That way, you can save yourself from embarrassment when your phone starts ringing Justin Bieber’s “Baby Baby” during your interview.


5. Ask about salary, vacation time, breaks, employee discounts, or anything else that might make the interviewer question your motivation. Employers want to know that you are actually interested in the job itself and not just its perks (or lack thereof).


6. Arrive late. In this day and age, with GPS, traffic updates and Google Maps, there is absolutely no excuse for tardiness. If you are unfamiliar with the area, plan your route out ahead of time, and leave extra early to avoid unexpected traffic delays. Arriving early also gives you time to mentally prepare yourself for the interview, and will allow you an opportunity to double check that nothing is amiss with your appearance (like food in your teeth!)


7. Forget to bring a resume. Don’t assume that just because you got the interview, that everyone on the panel has a copy. It’s always best to bring a few extra with you, just in case. It is also helpful to have one for yourself too, so that you can follow along in case there are any questions. It’s also a good idea to have a typed up list of your references on hand, just in case you are asked. Just remember to contact them beforehand to make sure that their contact information is current and that they can still provide you with a strong reference.


8. Swear. It doesn’t matter how relaxed the work environment seems, don’t do it!


9. Act over-confident. When asked “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, don’t respond with “In your job.” It won’t go over well.


10. Be impolite. Remember to say “please” and “thank you”  to everyone. That includes the front desk staff, the intern and the CEO. It is important to treat everyone you encounter with courtesy and respect.


Of course, reading and memorising a list of “don’ts” isn’t the magical solution to acing an interview. The best advice is really quite simple: DO be yourself!

Dressing to Impress (an Interviewer)

Kelley is heading out to two job interviews this week. She’s spent a lot of time preparing for both of them, and she’s feeling pretty confident. She has just one last step: deciding what to wear.

Her first  interview is for a cashier job at a clothing store. She wants to wear clothing from the store to the interview to show that she already knows and loves its products. Here’s her outfit. What advice would you give her? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Outfit #1

Outfit #1: Cashier Job

Kelley also has an interview for a job as an office assistant in a doctor’s office. She’s thinking of wearing this outfit. What advice would you give her? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Outfit #2

Outfit #2: Office Assistant Job

Click here and here to learn more about dressing for an interview.

Preparing for an Interview

Going to a job interview can be nerve-wracking for a couple reasons. Interviews don’t come around very often, so most of us don’t have much practice with them. Also, interviews are full of unknowns. We can’t know exactly what they’re going to be like until we’re in them. Fortunately, we don’t have to be afraid because we can do several things before an interview to help us prepare!

A good interview starts a week or two before you sit down in front of the interviewer. Here are five things you can do to make sure you are ready for your interview.

  1. Make sure you remember the job description. You want the interviewer to see that you can do the job. You have to remember details about the job so that you can show the interviewer why you can do the job well.
  2. Research the company. By showing that you know about the company, you prove to an interviewer that you are interested in this job, not just any job. Learn these three things:
    – What are their mission, vision, and values?
    – What products and services do they provide?
    – Have they been in the news recently? What for?
  3. Practice interview questions! Most interviewers ask similar questions. If you can answer quickly and thoroughly, you will sound confident, organized and knowledgable. Lots of sites give examples of interview questions. Click here or here or here for common interview questions. If you practice the interview with a friend or family member, that person can help you improve your answers. If you don’t have time for a mock interview, try practicing out loud in front of a mirror. Doing this will help you remember what to say and how to say it.
  4. Think of questions to ask the interviewer. Most interviewers will give you a chance to ask questions at the end of an interview. Asking questions shows that you’ve been thinking critically about the job. Try to think of anything you would like to know about the company or your job. Ask yourself, “How will I fit into this job?” “How will this job fit into my life?” “Was there anything in the job description that I want to know more about?” By asking yourself what you’d like to know, you’ll find good questions to ask the interviewer.
  5. Imagine Success! Deliberately imagining yourself doing well during the interview actually helps you do well.

If you prepare for an interview, you will feel calmer and more confident during it. Click here for more information about decreasing interview anxiety.

Whether or not you get the job, you can leave your interview knowing that you did well. You prepared as much as you could, and performed as well as you knew how. Every interview helps you learn more about being interviewed and gives you the chance to practice.

If you need a place to do research for a job interview, visit DECSA’s Community Resource Center. We provide free access to computers, Wi-Fi, fax machines, photocopiers, newspapers, reference materials, and a job board.

Good luck, and stay tuned for Tuesday’s blog post.

Francine is Enjoying the Assets for Success Program

Image“My teacher is wonderful. She’s funny. It feels like she’s a twin to me because we’ve experienced the same stuff,” says Francine, a participant in DECSA’s Assets for Success program. Tanya, Francine’s “wonderful” facilitator says, “Francine is eager to learn, and she is very enthusiastic in every aspect of her life.” Through the Assets for Success program, Tanya and Brigjilda, Francine’s case manager, are working with Francine toward her goal of finding a consistent job.

Assets for Success provides individuals who identify themselves as having mental health conditions the support they need to find and maintain suitable employment or education.

Through Assets, Francine has been learning many life management skills including problem solving, time management, personal development, goal setting, and stress management. She is also developing short term and long term work-related goals and actively applying for jobs with guidance from Tanya and Brigjilda.

Francine is learning alongside other participants with similar goals. “I made friends with some of my classmates,” Francine says, “If I have a problem, I can talk to them.” DECSA works to create an environment where participants can learn and grow at their own pace. “The atmosphere is friendly, and most importantly, a safe haven to all of our clients. The clients are known by name, and are supported in every way,” says Tanya.

If you are unemployed or underemployed and have a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder, an anxiety disorder, or depression, phone us at (780) 474-2500 for more information, or email DECSA at

Of Course I’m Fine! The Truth about Mental Health


Dr.Glynnis Lieb spoke to DECSA staff and clients about mental health.

“We need to take care of our mental well-being just like we take care of our physical health,” said Dr.Glynnis Lieb, who visited DECSA this week to speak about mental health. Lieb is the executive director of the Lieutenant Governor’s Circle for Mental Health and Addiction, and an enthusiastic advocate of mental well-being.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 60% of people living with mental health conditions do not seek help because they fear being labelled. “We’re willing to be the helpers,” said Lieb. “We don’t want to admit that we’re the ones that need help.” We aren’t ashamed to get a cast for a broken leg, but we feel ashamed to get treatment for an anxiety disorder.

In a society where one in five of us lives with a mental health condition, we must replace our judgements and stigmas with understanding and acceptance. Lack of knowledge, over-simplified media representations, and long-standing social norms have made addressing mental health issues difficult at home and work. But many organizations, including the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Mental Health Foundation, are striving to make our mental health central to our pursuit of well-being.

You can be part of the fight to decrease stigma around mental health issues. Here are four ways you can actively promote a more positive and accurate view of mental health in your social circle:

  1. Be honest about your own mental health: Take a risk. When you are open about your mental health, you invite others to be open as well.
  2. Invite conversation: If you know others living with mental health conditions, work to understand them, their struggles, and their strengths. Understanding others is the first step toward accepting them and treating them well.
  3. Speak out against stigma and discrimination: When you notice others misunderstanding mental health conditions or mistreating people with mental health conditions, offer a different perspective.
  4. Educate yourself: Learn more about mental health conditions so that your ideas are complete and accurate.

To learn more about mental health and stigma in Canada, visit:

If you would like support or resources for your mental health or the mental health of someone you know, call Alberta Health Services at 1-877-303-2642 or visit their website at

Dr.Lieb emphasized that social networks are essential to our well-being. “We’re not meant to be islands,” said Lieb. “We need to have social support systems.” Fear, judgement, and stigma can isolate people who are living with mental health conditions. But you don’t need a degree to listen to and support a struggling friend or family member.

“When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words.” – Thema Bryant-Davis

You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Pyschologist Gwen Villebrun

Pyschologist Gwen Villebrun

We’ve all been in relationships, romantic or otherwise, that made us cringe inwardly. Overly close, painfully distant, perpetually irritating, frighteningly explosive – whatever the problems were, none of us want to experience those hurts again. But creating healthy relationships can be challenging and confusing.

Our relationships are central to our mental well-being. During Mental Health Week, registered psychologist Gwen Villebrun visited DECSA to discuss healthy relationships. Gwen explained that as children we developed ways to handle the challenges of living in our families. For example, a girl with a very angry mother might become very quiet and submissive to avoid conflict. The patterns we created as children, though, often do not work well when we become adults. If that quiet girl doesn’t become more assertive as she grows up, others may take advantage of her vulnerability.

The Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, and the Edmonton Police Service paint a picture of healthy relationships. Here are a few concepts they mention.

Relating healthily with another person involves:

  • Open, honest communication: In healthy relationships, you address concerns and conflicts honestly.
  • A variety of feelings: In healthy relationships, you may feel happiness, sadness, excitement, disappointment, anger, and other emotions.
  • Support: In healthy relationships, you support and affirm the other person.

Relating healthily does not involve:

  • Physical violence: Hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, pushing, etc.are not healthy ways to relate to others.
  • Verbal and emotional abuse: Threatening, insulting, intimidating, ridiculing, constantly monitoring, and stalking are not healthy ways to relate to others.

“You know that saying, ‘Can’t teach an old dog new tricks’?” Gwen asked during her talk. “Now we know about neuroplasticity.” Our brains are neuroplastic, which means that our brains can change at any age. You can teach an old dog new tricks! No matter how dysfunctional our childhood families were, and no matter how long we’ve lived out those dysfunctions as adults, we can still learn better ways of relating. But changing isn’t easy. It takes honesty, awareness, effort and consistency.

For anyone who wants to learn more about developing healthy relationships, Gwen recommendations these books:

  • Leaving the Enchanted Forest
    By: Stephanie Covington and Liana Beckett
    (Available at and
  • Codependent No More
    By: Melodie Beattie
    (Available at the Edmonton Public Library and
  • The Dance of Intimacy
    By: Harriet Lerner
    (Available at the Edmonton Public Library and

DECSA wishes you the best in your relationships with your family, friends, and coworkers.

DECSA Client Dave O’Riordan Interviewed on CTV News

CTV News interviewed Dave O’Riordan, a past client of DECSA’s, as part of Mental Health Week. When Dave was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1994, he felt alone, afraid, and helpless. Through a journey that he describes in his book Bipolar Shoes: People Do Matter, Dave came to understand that “Bipolar is not the end of the world, just a new set of blueprints.”

In his two books, Bipolar Shoes: People Do Matter and Bipolar Shoes: Just B U, Dave shares knowledge he has gained through his experiences living with bipolar disorder and offers support to others facing the same challenges. Dave is now working on his third book.

Click here to watch Dave’s interview on CTV News:

Bipolar disorder is just one of many mental health conditions Canadians experience. Common mental health conditions are mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. For more information on these and other mental health conditions, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website at

DECSA is proud to work with people living with mental health conditions through Assets for Success, a program designed to provide individuals with the supports to secure and maintain suitable employment or education.

Recognize Mental Health Week with a “Celebration List”

Do you feel happy or depressed? Do you have high self-esteem or low self-esteem? Do the challenges you face energize you or overwhelm you? Do you have control over your anger, or does your anger have control over you? All of these questions relate to your mental health.  

May 5-11 is Mental Health Week, a time to learn more about our mental well-being. Mental health is often less obvious and less understood than other elements of health, but it’s part of all of our lives. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five of us will experience a mental health condition during our lifetime. The rest of us will be affected by someone who does experience a mental health condition.

Part of good mental health is self-esteem. Self-esteem is how we think and feel about ourselves. When our self-esteem is high, we accept ourselves, appreciate our strengths, and recognize our valuable uniqueness.

We can actively improve our self-esteem in one simple way by creating what author and successful businesswoman Ann McGee-Cooper calls a “Celebration List.” Every day, Ann writes out a list of her successes, whether big or small. Scientific studies show that deliberately recognizing and celebrating our strengths can actually improve our mental health.

Martin Seligman, a professional psychologist, worked with soldiers living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He found that soldiers who actively focused on the ways they had grown and learned through their experiences became better at accepting themselves and their histories.

We’d like to challenge you, no matter how healthy you feel, to actively care for your mental health by ending today with a Celebration List of your own.

For more information on mental health, visit

DECSA works with people who have mental health conditions through the Assets for Success program. This program supports individuals who self-disclose as having mental health conditions to secure and maintain suitable employment, self-employment, or education. Orientation for Assets is every Monday at 9:45am. For more information, call us at (780) 474-2500.

Assets Update!

There has been very exciting progress for both the Assets for Success program staff and our participants alike!  The program has completed the first round of Life Skills workshops and currently entering Career Planning. Our next orientation is May 5, 2014 at 10AM; please call our Intake Line for information and registration (780) 474-2500 Ext: 604.

The Assets for Success team has invited Glynnis A. Lieb Ph.D to come to give a presentation on Mental Health and Addiction.  Glynnis is the Executive Director of The Lieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health and Addiction, and will be joining us on May 13th from 1:00 pm to 3:15 pm . She will be bringing a co-speaker with lived experience to share their story with us regarding their challenges and their journey to success.

There will also be another guest speaker coming to DECSA in the month of May. Gwen Villebrun, M.Sc, is a registered pychologist, who will be delivering a workshop on “Healthy “Relationships”. The workshop will take place on May 8th 2014 from 1:15 pm until 3:15 pm.

Nothing is impossible.  Even the word itself says “I’m Possible” (Audrey Hepburn)


Assets Photo 1