3 Ways (not) to Blow Your Interview

A season of transition is upon us. Summer is slowly turning into fall as we begin the month of August. I always love this time of year because I know that I’ll be back in the classroom teaching personal brand development to future professionals at USC. For a lot of recent graduates, this is a very exciting time. Many are wrapping up their last summer internship or a vacation and preparing to enter the workforce and launch their careers with a new position. This means doing a lot of strategic job hunting, and even more importantly, planning for successful interviews.


Interviews can be tough when you’re new to the process, trying to break into a new industry, or design a new career path. I’ve had plenty of experience with interviewing candidates for positions with my company Talk To Jess, LLC (learn more about our company transition by signing up for our newsletter!). From great interviewers to interviewers who have room for improvement, I’ve seen and talked to them all. Through lots of practice and avoiding these three mistakes before, during, and after the interview, we can all take control of our careers and receive offers for any job we truly desire.



Mistake #1 (Before the Interview): Manipulating the interview process to meet your needs, instead of being flexible to meet the needs of the employer


One thing that completely turns me off is an interviewee who tries to manipulate the interview process to fit their personal agenda. Asking the interviewer if you can re-schedule a meeting for a certain day/time because you have another appointment creates a less-than-favorable first-impression. Before even meeting, asking for special accommodations paints a picture that you will always try to manipulate a situation to fit your needs, without concern for the needs of the company. Always allow yourself to be flexible when prospecting a job opportunity. Show your interviewer that you’re willing to go the extra mile to land your position. The ball is ultimately in their court – you are trying to earn your spot on the team. Clear your schedule of other appointments when possible. Show your interviewer that their time is just as valuable as your own, and this will create the best first impression.



Mistake #2 (During the Interview): Not being specific about your experience, skills, and what you bring to the table, along with things you want to accomplish in the position


An interview is really your opportunity to show a prospective employer specific examples of your experience and any applicable skills you’re able to bring to the company. Saying you have excellent time management and organization skills or that you can do the job efficiently is simply not enough. When an interviewer asks you the infamous question, “Tell me about yourself,” they aren’t asking to find out your favorite color or where you went to school. Your interviewer is looking for specific examples – or anecdotes – about your past experience related to the position. Always be prepared to follow this question with anecdotal examples that answer why you’re qualified for the position, why you’re interviewing for the position, and tactical examples of what you’ll accomplish once on the job. You’ve got 30 minutes to show the interviewer that you’re equipped to bring success to the company – deliver the details that prove why you’re the best candidate for the job.



Mistake #3 (After the interview): Not following up or sending “thank you” notes


The level of engagement and dedication in your follow up tells an interviewer how hungry you are for the job. I’ve had candidates who interviewed extremely well and showed me why they’re qualified for the job, however, I did not end up hiring them. Why? Because they failed to follow up with me in a way that made them stand out amongst other candidates. Following up is the single most important skill to have in any business or career. Being persistent and saying thank you shows the interviewer that you are both very interested in the position and value their time (and yours). It may be old-fashioned, but handwritten thank-you notes still go a long way in the job hiring process. A handwritten note leaves a takeaway for the employer and shows that you care enough to add that extra personal touch to your representation. If you are committed to following up, a potential employer will commit you to their memory too.



Honorable mention (At all times): Giving weak handshakes

This is a personal pet peeve of mine (hey, I’m a professional brand developer). Please practice your handshake before meeting and greeting people you want to network with! An interview is not only a part of the job hunt; it’s also a networking opportunity. Shake a person’s hand with conviction. Don’t give out weak handshakes – that’s exactly how you’ll represent yourself: weak and lacking confidence. When you shake someone’s hand, be firm and look them in the eye. Exude confidence and make them feel like they’ve just connected with someone worth knowing.


Avoiding these mistakes ultimately show an interviewer that you possess empathy and pay great attention to detail (a requirement for any job). The job searching process can be a long one, but every successful interview is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression for your personal brand and take control of creating the career you want. Think forward and walk in the very best version of yourself before, during, and after your interview.


Are You Paralyzed By Your Passion Project?

Have you ever had an idea that was so good, so delicious and spot on that you literally feel your body quake with possibility? You are CERTAIN this is going to work. It could be a creative concept, a new business plan or (finally!) that novel you want to write.


Your passion soars and then BOOM. You stop. The voices creep in. You are paralyzed by how much you love this idea. Fear creeps in. What if this can’t happen. Won’t happen. You summon up every reason why good ideas like this don’t manifest in your life. You begin proving to yourself how crazy you are for even thinking you could be so smart, special, (fill in the blank), _________.


You are not alone. We can get paralyzed by our passion to change the world. Our vision to create a new endeavor. Our hunger to make something new.


Here are a few gems of advice I’ve received that have helped me avoid passion paralysis. (Next up – taking action!)


  1. “Don’t Forget to Write It Down”: When I was a kid, my grandpa Michael used to say this to me all the time whenever I tried telling him some story I was making up. It ticked me off because I didn’t want to do “homework” – I just wanted to tell stories. But he was right. Taking pen to paper helps you protect and preserve those gorgeous ideas and holds them for you until you are ready to share them again. Writing down these brilliant brainstorms can also help you keep thought organized and accountable. Excuse me, while I go jot a few things down….


  1. “The Steam That Makes the Whistle Blow, Never Makes the Engine Go” – A great healer I worked with whispered this to me in the middle of a brag-a-thon.. I was so busy telling everyone my ideas about what I wanted to do – she warned me that I was giving away precious energy just talking about it when what ideas really want is someone to cultivate them, nurture them and grow their potential. This has never left me. Also – one of my favorite scribes Elizabeth Gilbert writes a lot about this in her book “Big Magic”. A must read.


  1. “Rejection is God’s Protection”. Honestly, I can’t remember who said this to me first but I tell myself this mantra about once a day. You have to trust in divine timing, too. Sometimes when a door closes it truly is to get you to move in a different direction. Work hard, take action, but surrender to the timing. That’s the hardest piece of advice and one I still work on day to day.



Mom 2.0 Photo Recap


One of my favorite things about being Dove’s Global Self-Esteem Ambassador is the opportunity to reach different audiences with messages about confidence and the beauty of being you. Last week, I was at the Mom 2.0 Summit, which connects parent bloggers, content creators, and marketers around conversations that help shape how we see and think about today’s families.


The summit kicked off with an amazing conversation about the power of our words online with none other than the award-winning journalist (and my eternal #WCW) Soledad O’Brien.




Soledad is such a genuine, open, and captivating person. We went from strangers (although I have to admit, I had a HUGE professional crush on her!) to chatting like old friends, taking selfies, and having her adjust the microphone on my bra strap!


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During the keynote address, Soledad and I discussed the power of words, parents’ roles in how their children create and consume social media, and Dove’s recently launched #SpeakBeautiful Effect on Twitter that helps you identify the power of our online words and their impact.


With the rise of social media, everyone has the power and platform to share their stories and use their voices. It’s so important that we are intentional about the messages we send out and use those platforms to lift others up, rather than tearing one another down.




Don’t think I won’t frame this!




As if things couldn’t get any better – on day two – I hosted our famous Dove Self-Esteem workshops with the fabulous Hollis Heath, a fellow Dove Self-Esteem Educator who also works in New York City to help young people find their strength through education and creative arts.




Our workshops also focused on the power of our words and how to rewrite our beauty story. We were joined by the amazing women from Mom 2.0, who not only participated in their own workshop, but then came back to mentor girls in another workshop.


I’m always moved by how open, brave, and willing participants are, and these women and girls were no exception. Seeing groups of passionate people engage with their journeys of self-discovery, regardless of where they may be on their paths, inspires me time and time again.


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We were joined by the Girl Scouts of Orange County who were so incredibly outspoken and creative in their answers about beauty and body image. Clearly these were girls who have been thinking about and talking about how to develop their confidence. Their answers would blow you away!




We had everyone write their beauty story using just one sentence. And the catch? That sentence had to have just 6 words. Think of it as a mini-mini tweet. The girls were supposed to sum up the story they’d like to tell the world about their relationship and understanding to their own beauty and confidence. Here are just a few:


L: “Finding out that everyone is different.”

R: “Finding and expressing my inner creativity.”


I mean… 🙂


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Did a workshop really happen if we don’t take a picture??

Trick to getting a good smile – have everyone yell “1, 2, 3… Self-Esteem!!!”


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Mom 2.0 was an uplifting experience reminding me that, as long as we open ourselves up to seeing it, exploring it, and embracing it for what it is, #BeautyIs found in everyone around us.


If you want to learn more about the power of YOUR words and what you can do to leave a more positive digital footprint, check out Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful Effect on Twitter. It’s as easy as clicking “retweet” (literally).


Don’t Be Afraid to Dream Out Loud

Sometimes, big dreams and visions for the world need a microphone.


Do you take the time to talk about your passion project with friends? Have you ever spoken your dreams out loud to a room full of strangers? I know it sounds scary to expose your dreams to the world – and you might feel vulnerable when you do – but the change you seek to make is bigger than just one person.


Change is a we thing. It comes from collective action. The more people you tell, the more you open the door to the power of connection or friendly promotion.


And it starts with a conversation – with a dream that’s spoken out loud.


We’re listening now.


So, take your moment. Tell us about your passion project or the work you are creating out in the world.


Talk to us about it @ Jessweiner.com or tweet & Facebook with the hashtag #ChangeIsAWeThing.


Let us be your microphone. We’d like to share it with our community.


Who knows what could come from it!


Spreading Confidence with #PearlxChange

This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to join Nicole Richie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marianne Williamson and few hundred other new friends at the first ever Pearl xChange conference in Los Angeles.


The event gathered a diverse room of women (and some men) to collaborate, inspire, and take action on a personal, professional, and even a global level. Together we explored our varying paths to success and confidence.


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Taking my place on the not-so-red carpet before the show! I’m joined by speakers: Nicole Richie, Psychic Dougall Fraser, Event Producer Ramey Warren and Astronaut (and bad ass) Jeanette Epps.


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Nicole did a lovely job hosting and offered a few wise words of her own throughout the day. In her opening remarks she discussed the power of collaboration and openness as a source of empowerment.


“When you’re open, the world is your oyster, and you can create whatever you want…Your mind + my mind is going to help us evolve” –Nicole Richie




I was first up at the mic, which was exciting because I had the opportunity to set the tone for the day – the women in the audience were so receptive, warm, and affirming.
We spoke about that messy path to confidence!


“It does us no good to be resentful of the path that got us here…Forgive, elevate, and move on” — Jess Weiner



Shadi Mehraein gave some solid advice to the entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience citing her ups and downs along her journey to becoming a successful venture capitalist, investing in women-led markets.


“You’re only going to fail when you give up” — Shadi Mehraein




Marianne Williamson is incredible. If you’ve never been in her audience, know that she speaks with enough power and conviction to mobilize a nation. Marianne discussed the importance of showing up and being there to support one another.


“How are you changing the world & how can I help?” — Marianne Williamson




Dougall Fraser has a gift – but he won’t attribute this to his psychic abilities – no, his gift is reaching people at a vulnerable level and guiding them to their own intuitions. According to Dougall, fear diminishes our power and our power is within our own intuitions.


“We have to carve out time to be still” — Dougall Fraser




Jeanette Epps offered an amazing perspective about both advocating for yourself and your responsibility beyond yourself. Her insightful perspective on the world stems from the fact that she’s seen the world from a few vantage points – including from space and within the CIA.


“I didn’t let anyone define who I would be… I defined who I would be in the world.” — Jeanette Epps




Gwyneth Paltrow took the stage to answer some questions from the audience. She spoke candidly about her divorce, her business, and her philosophy of friendship (even bestie Cameron Diaz was there to support!)


“As soon as I can put a pause in between the negative voice in my head and what I’m feeling, I can get back to myself.” — Gwyneth Paltrow


The diverse paths of each speaker and attendee reminded me that no one’s journey to success or confidence will look the same – nor should it. Life’s twists and turns are often what help us to move forward.


As Nicole Richie summarized in her closing, “Pearls are beautiful on their own…but when you add more pearls to the strand, you become more valuable.”


5 Things No One Tells You About Being An Entrepreneur

I was 20 years old when I started my first business. Now with 20 more years of entrepreneurship under my belt, here are a few things I wish I’d known when I was starting out:


  1. Don’t Get Too Attached to Your Dreams:

I know it sounds crazy not to get too attached to a dream. But I now recognize that a dream is merely a marker for your journey ahead. A dream can be a beautiful vision for a goal. But it’s not always a goal you will hit. And that’s OK. Think of dreams as internal instigators to get you moving but also be open to having your dream ebb and flow and become more fluid. Small business owners know that you need to pair dedication, flexibility, and hard work with a dream.


  1. Relationships Are the Currency To Care Most About:

You won’t be able to build your business alone. So learn to ask for help. Find mentors. Utilize your network. You may be incredibly talented and smart and driven, but you will not and cannot maximize your success without the support of others. Surround yourself with good people to bounce ideas off of, learn new skills from, and gain feedback from. You’ll realize in the end that solid love and support is priceless.


  1. Find the Difference Between Pushy and Passionate:

No one likes a pushy sales pitch. It’s a major turn off. If you’re trying to pitch yourself or a project to someone, be genuine, be conversational, and be a human. People respect subtly and humility and while they love passion, it’s done best when you are focusing on sharing it with others, not forcing it upon others. Remember, specificity and subtly in pitching and networking can be your best asset.


  1. Taking Risks Is Non-Negotiable:

You can’t grow personally or professionally by making safe choices all the time. Take smart risks. Sometimes it’ll be a bust (a risk is a risk), but risk-taking can also open doors to incredible opportunities and relationships. And taking risks also applies to saying no to things. Saying no to a round of funding because the investor isn’t the right fit, saying no to a networking meeting because you need to focus on something else – all may seem counter intuitive but sometimes you have to risk saying no to the wrong relationships to open up space for the right ones to come through.


  1. You Don’t Need a Hobby But It Helps:

I resisted this insight for a long time because I never felt I needed a hobby – I loved to work, I was passionate about my career, and I was seeing the rewards. But then ultimately (and inevitably) a burn out happens. And you realize that you’ve not spent time cultivating your most important asset – YOU! So even if it’s reading, taking walks, traveling or knitting – find something that you can do for you. Not for the business. Do it because it makes you happy, makes you wiser, makes you relax. The best entrepreneurs I know are well rounded and don’t forget to play as much as they work!


S.F.S.N. = Sounds Fabulous, Signifies Nothing

“You go girl!” “Just Be Confident!” “Be your true self!”


We are bombarded with messages like these everyday. Top 10 lists on loving our body. Quizzes about what superhero we’d be.


Messages like these sound good. They seem like the right thing to tell ourselves, our friends, our kids, our families. But do they actually DO anything?


They are what I call, “S.F.S.N. – sounds fabulous, signifies nothing.”


These quotes and phrases are meant to inspire us and shake us out of a rut. So why then can they sometimes feel hollow? Because they tend to ignore the most important part of the journey to confidence- the HOW we get there.


And that’s because there isn’t a universal HOW. Everyone’s process will vary. In approach, style and technique. Some have to hit bottom before bouncing back. Others need to get knocked down only once. Some of us will spend decades searching. Some of us will spend days.


The path to self-confidence is sometimes less about the rah-rah and more about the raw. The real. The messy. (and there’s often not a cute quote card for that!)


Why I Love “Reverse Mentoring”

Some people have hobbies like baking or building those little ships in bottles (do people still do that?)


I’d say my main hobby is mentoring.


Yep. I collect mentees like some people collected Tiger Beat posters of Rob Lowe back in the day. (Anyone? No? Just me?)


Many people might think of a mentor/mentee relationship as a one-way street, but if you are lucky, you get what I call “reverse mentoring.” The collective wisdom, insight, and inspiration you receive by helping someone on their journey.


I get such an incredible gift from having mentees in my life.


Here are 6 women I’ve mentored and what they’ve taught me in return.




Emily-Anne Rigal, We Stop Hate


I’ve known Emily-Anne since she was 15! She has now created a media empire through her anti-bullying organization We Stop Hate and her new book, Flawd. I’m inspired by her commitment to creating a community that inspires individual change.


She’s also taught me the joys of selfie-taking, social media and when to use the right emoticons. 🙂




Cammy Nelson, Brave Like Me


I met Cammy when she was in 6th grade and knew she was destined to be a force in the confidence community. She works with girls across the country to redefine bravery as taking risks and taking action – no matter how big or small.


Cammy has taught me about the tenderness of forgiving oneself and the glory of speaking about your dreams while in swimming pools.




Kara Norman, Empower Her, Inc.


Kara thinks I’m mentoring her, but truly she has helped me through her devout faith, passion, and generous heart. She provides events, resources, and programs that help women and girls live fulfilled lives in her community of Atlanta, Georgia. Even when faced with difficult challenges, she rises to the occasion and models grace in action.




Megan Grassell, Yellowberry


So truth is, I cold-called Megan and her Mom after I read about Yellowberry and I’m pretty sure they both thought I was a crazy creepster offering my help and mentorship. But I truly knew that Megan was on to something HUGE. Her ambition and drive led her to create a business that helps young girls feel confident about wearing a bra for the first time. I’m grateful that Megan ended up trusting me and didn’t hang up the phone!




Molly Thompson & Lauren Paul, Kind Campaign


My world got better when these two filmmakers and activists stepped into it. After appearing in their groundbreaking documentary on bullying, “Finding Kind”, we ended up mentoring each other over the years. They are so wholly dedicated to spreading kindness and positivity to women and girls worldwide. I’ll forever be indebted to them for the kindness they showed me on the floor of a movie theatre in Somewhere, USA – crying over broken hearts and big life changes.




Tammy Tibbetts, She’s The First


I first met Tammy during my Seventeen magazine days, and now she’s the Founder and President of an amazing organization that provides scholarships to educate girls in developing countries. Watching her grow professionally over the years inspires me to remember that growth and success take time – but are ultimately worth the wait.


Start With Why

We want to be a leader in this space. We want to support girl empowerment. We want to go viral.


Sitting in a client meeting, discussing a new marketing campaign, and ​then our team finally asks the simple question: “Why”?


At first, silence. And then, more questions. “Why are we doing this campaign? Why do we care about this issue? Why are we the right people to share it? Why is it important for our audience?”


As we begin to answer WHY this campaign makes sense for the brand and WHY it will resonate with their audience- things start to fall naturally into place. The messaging becomes clear; the emotional connection for consumers becomes authentic.


Simon Sinek’s, Start With Why tells us that people connect with brands that know what they believe. “They don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”


It’s the simplest and sometimes most difficult question to answer. But it has changed the way I live- not just in my business, but in my life. What do I believe? Why do I do what I do? These questions have taught me to be trusting enough to let the WHY guide me.


Do you know your Why?


If you haven’t checked out Simon’s work – start with his TED talk – it’s excellent!