Archive for the ‘Redundancy’ Category
It appears in most of the “Worst interview questions” lists. But simplistic, general and non-specific as it is, its is also a clever question used by the astute interviewer to assess a myriad of selection criteria. Especially when attention to detail, getting to the point quickly and focussing on what is important, appear high on the selection agenda.
This question is usually asked at the start of the interview. With this in mind, there are ways to prepare for it properly, so that you can get into the more detailed parts of the interview. Answering it well will make a good impression early on, but waffling and getting it wrong might shoot you in the foot totally, or set you back apace.
Getting an Elevator Pitch is a good way to approach this. Wikipedia defines an elevator pitch as a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition. The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. So you have now become your own product, with features and benefits relevant to the job specification!
There is also a strong likelihood that the follow-on questions will be based on the way you answer this question. So delivering a strong answer through your Elevator Pitch will certainly assist you in directing part of the interview, or at least give you a chance to introduce yourself fully and mention some working strengths early on in the interview.
1. DO start with you:
Obviously! But keep it short. Don’t start way back when, just give very broad brush strokes about the personal stuff because this is a job interview, so you should focus on your working background. But it is good to give a warm introduction to yourself, to personalise the meeting and to display your well-rounded background.
2. Do talk about your education:
Where you studied, what, and why you chose those subjects in particular. Especially if you are an Engineer or if you are being interviewed for a technical job, this is highly relevant. Again, broad strokes are better than finite detail, just give them a flavour so that they can probe it later on.
3. Do mention your experience:
This is where you can direct the interview, to a point. This is really the detail that the interviewer is after and they might interject with questions. Invite questions by talking about your relevant skills or experience. Allow the first question to develop into the rest of the interview as it follow a natural conversational course.
What not to do:
1. Don’t talk about salary at this point. Wait for the question to be asked.
2. Don’t go into unnecessary detail. Value your interviewer’s time.
3. Don’t waffle on. Use your elevator pitch and allow the interviewer to drive the conversation
Recently, I wrote a guest blog for Jobsite about how job applicants can get the best out of recruitment agency relationships. It attracted a whole lot of interest at the time, so I thought it might be useful to repost the content:
“When I started my recruitment career 24 years ago, I had a set of hanging files containing about 50 candidate records, I knew each one of them and it was my aim to place every single one. Now with the rise of internet based recruiting, agencies have thousands of candidates on their databases and this has contributed to a depersonalisation of the recruitment industry from the candidate’s perspective.
There are of course still many Recruitment Consultants out there who go the extra mile to build relationships and feel responsible for their candidates. However, there is always a lot of negative comment about the industry in this area. There seems to be a general mismatch between candidates’ expectations of the recruitment industry in general, and the reality of their day to day experience.
I hope the following points will assist with managing your expectations during your job search, and to give you more control:
1. Take responsibility for your own career
Agencies do not find people jobs, they search for potentially suitable candidates to fulfil their clients’ hiring expectations. The recruitment industry is hugely KPI and sales driven, so agencies are under pressure to perform. You will certainly still be able to find specialist consultants who are willing to give you personalised advice and assistance, but don’t set your expectations too high in terms of the success rates of your applications. Take charge of your own situation, give yourself the broadest possible exposure and don’t wait for them to call you – You will have to do most of the chasing!
2. Give yourself broad exposure
Register your CV with several agencies, and also post it onto the jobs boards like Jobsite. Make sure you have a lot of search words repeated in your CV as this will give you a higher ranking in the recruiter’s searches. You should also search for online jobs yourself, and if you see something you like send in your CV. Also Google the agency and give them a call to introduce yourself. Recruitment really is a numbers game and you will be successful if you embrace this in your job search, whilst managing the frustrations of making many applications and only getting a small number of responses. Make it easy for agencies to reach you, with ALL your up to date contact information on your CV
3. Don’t apply for jobs that are not relevant
Read the job advertisement and if you don’t fulfil the criteria, don’t apply. If you just apply to every single job you see, you may eventually be seen as an unfocused candidate and could even be taken off the agency’s database. Keep track of the jobs you apply to via the web. Agencies often advertise the same role on different sites, so if you have already applied through one site, do not send your CV again through another. You will save yourself time, your expectations will be managed and you will not create the impression of being desperate.
4. Build relationships
Choose 3 or 4 agencies that operate in your specialist area, and make contact with an experienced consultant. It is better to deal with specialist agencies rather than generalists, as this reduces the level of risk in your application. Introduce yourself to the consultant, explain what you are looking for and ask their advice. Also check how frequently they want you to check in with them for updates, and then make it a habit to have a quick catch up without becoming a pest. Remember, they are targeted and don’t have time to speak with you unless there is a real reason. You want to make sure you are first in their thoughts and on their database for the right reasons!
5. Working in partnership gives you competitive advantage
If an agency calls you, make sure you call back quickly or answer immediately as timing is sometimes crucial. If they arrange an interview, confirm that you have received the details and call them back straight after the interview. Give them your feedback concisely and be specific about what happened in the interview. Give them time to contact the client for feedback before you chase too hard. This all helps to build a relationship with your recruiter and even if you don’t get offered the first role, if you do well in interviews they will certainly put you forward to the next suitable role. If you under perform at interview or commit some of the most common faux pas (E.g arriving late, not grooming appropriately, bad mouth your last employer) they will think hard before including you on a shortlist again.”
A special message to all the lovely clients, candidates, followers and contacts that make my working life great!
If Valentines Day did not exist, No flowers, gifts or cards, We'd search to find another way To send you our regards.
Appreciation and respect,
Hoping our heartfelt message Has a warm and good effect.
But Valentine's Day is here again, So we send this poem to say: You're extraordinary, special, rare; Happy Valentine's Day!
Back in the day, when I first started my recruitment career (And I will have you know it’s not SUCH a long time ago!) such a thing as the Internet or online databases didn’t exist. In fact, we didn’t even have computers, other than for typing up CVs in WordPerfect – A job for which a special CV typist was employed. We hand delivered CVs to our clients, and the advent of the fax machine was a major technological leap forward in our communication with candidates and clients.
I had all my candidates in a hanging file system next my desk, my client contacts where in a Rolodex and clients trusted my judgement enough to arrange interviews directly on the phone with candidates I had interviewed, but whose CVs they have not even seen.
Shuffle on 20+ years (Yes, I am indeed that old!) and the face of the recruitment sector has totally changed. Sadly, trust went out of the window long ago, as soon as recruitment became commoditised and everyone forgot that there is no price to be placed on strong business relationships. However, that is probably the subject of a different, far more wistful blog post! This one is about candidates and CVs, so I will not digress.
Nowadays, if you want to be a candidate and find yourself a new job, you have to be in more than just one recruiter’s hanging files to have a ghost of a chance, at least. Your ksills are now a commodity too. Paper CVs have long gone out of the window and now, you have several electronic versions. In fact, your actual CV may soon be obsolete because technology is developing so quickly that you can now find a job without even having a CV at all, depending on the sector you find yourself in.
Of course, not all industries evolve at the same pace in this regard, and if you are an engineer then your technical skills will probably still be the most important thing. And having these written down on an e-paper CV, honestly and solidly, will probably still be valid for a long time. But if you work in Sales or Management, then I can almost guarantee that your online brand will soon have to be very close to equal your personal one, if you want to excel and do well. And what’s on your CV must reflect what can be found online, support it and extend it.
Because trust is thin on the ground nowadays, expect the recruiting manager or hiring manager to check you out online well beofr eyou even get to interview stage. And who knows? This may even be where they you first, so that you don’t even get to the point of applying for a job or sending in a CV at all!
They are likely to look at any (Or a combination of):
2) The number of Twitter followers you have, the last time you tweeted and what you tweeted about
3) The size and quality of your LinkedIn community
4) The number and quality of recommendations you have on LinkedIn and
5) Your Klout score.
This means that, eventually and in the not-so-distant future, your slightly old-fashioned CV will most likely be replaced by the breadth and depth of your personal brand.
And as candidates catch on to employers’ focus on their Internet presence, they will shift their methods accordingly. Taking the lead from innovative applicants like Shawn McTigue, who made this 2:50 video as part of his application to a Mastercard internship, more workers will take a creative approach to marketing their experience instead of sending out there CVs.
However we do it, we will all have to accept that a one-page summary of our professional histories, expertise, skills, and achievements – that which we think of as a “CV” – will no longer act as our differentiation in the job market.
Start working on your online brand now – Engage, share content, add value. It will be the best investment you can possibly make in your own future.
It’s crunch time – You have a job interview, so you are in the race! After weeks of sending CVs, following up, getting turned down, following up, speaking to people, leaving messages, following up, you finally have a date and time confirmed. The finish line is within sight and there, just on the other side, is the prize: That job you are after.
But have you ever watched a race, and see someone crash out just before they reach the finish line? What a disappointment!
Sadly, many interviewees fail at interview – Not because they don’t have the right skills or weak CVs, but because they don’t shine in the interview. A good CV can get you through the door, but if you don’t follow through in the interview you will fail. Like that runner in the race, who trained and worked hard to get there in the first place, the job isn’t done until after you cross the finish line.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help yourself along and I will explore these in the next few blog posts.
1. Don’t get over excited!
Relax, think clearly and take some time to make sure exactly why you want this job, and why it’s worth fighting for. Desperation means going in half cocked. Instead, prepare thoroughly and make sure you are relaxed on the day, so that you can perform to your own best advantage. Nerves can be controlled. If you manage to keep yourself calm you are setting yourself up for a fabulous interview.
2. Be likable
Obvious? And critical. Making a great first impression and establishing a real connection is everything. Smile, make eye contact, be enthusiastic, sit forward in your chair, use the interviewer’s name…. Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself you possibly can. We all want to work with people we like and who like us. Use that basic fact to your advantage. Coming across as arrogant, conceited, difficult, or simply self-absorbed are likely to trip you up very quickly.
3. Don’t be desperate
Never start the interview by saying you want the job. Why? Because you simply don’t know yet. False commitment is, well, false. Instead…
Ask questions about what really matters to you. Focus on making sure the job is a good fit: Who you will work with, who you will report to, the scope of responsibilities, etc. Interviews should always be two-way, and interviewers respond positively to people as eager as they are to find the right fit. Plus there’s really no other way to know you want the job. And don’t be afraid to ask several questions. As long as you don’t take completely take over, the interviewer will enjoy and remember a nice change of pace. It’s a good idea to take a writing pad and pen, with pre-prepared questions but jot down new ones as you go along, and take notes for future reference.
5. Set a hook
A sad truth of interviewing is that later, the interviewer may not remember a tremendous amount about you — Especially if they’ve interviewed a number of candidates for the same job. Later you might be referred to as, “The guy with the shiny shoes,” or, “The woman with the funny accent,” or, “The chap who grew up in Wales.” These identifiers are known as hooks, and you can use them to your advantage. Hooks could be clothing (within reason), or outside interests, or unusual facts about your upbringing or career. Hooks make you memorable and create an anchor for interviewers to remember you by — and being memorable is everything. The best hooks are work related – For obvious reasons. If you can set something that will make you memorable and remind them of a particular skill, you will have gained a real advantage. An unusual or even humourous story that reflects on your strength areas, or a specific succesful outcome or achievement, will bring light relief to the interviewer and make you memorable for all the right reasons.
NEXT WEEK – Even more ideas about how to shine and be memorable at interview
At the start of every new year, we all make resolutions of those things we would like to do or change during the next year. It’s a bit like spring cleaning: Sweeping out the tired old year to allow the new year to bring in a fresh outlook, new challenges, and renewed energies.
Often, finding a new job is at the top of our list.
But is it wise to simply just cast yourself into the job market, without being aware of what exactly it is you want to change?
Without actually understanding and being clear on why you are looking to leave your current job, you may not recognise what it is what you are looking for in a new employer.
Does money matter?
Better compensation is very rarely the true reason for people to leave jobs. In most cases, it is only a symptom of a more complex issue. We need to work in a place that is fair, trustworthy, and deserving of an individual’s best efforts in order to feel valued, respected and secure. Through the recession, your employer may not have been able to provide the pay increases you were able to achieve in the past.But often, people will stay employed in jobs that are underpaid because the other elements are provided for sufficiently for money not to be an overwhelming issue.
Where is the crunch?
Before you decide to leave, consider the following statements about your job and employer:
- I am able to grow and develop my skills on the job and through training.
- I have opportunities for advancement or career progress leading to higher earnings.
- My job makes good use of my talents and is challenging.
- I receive the necessary training to do my job capably.
- I can see the end results of my work.
- I receive regular feedback on my performance.
- Competition is constructive, and colleagues are not pitted against each other to perform.
- The communication channels are clear and open. I know how to address problems, and I’m confident that they will be addressed fairly and objectively.
- I’m confident that if I work hard, do my best, demonstrate commitment, and make meaningful contributions, I will be recognized and rewarded accordingly.
Yes or no?
The above details the most common reasons, through research by Forbes magazine, of why people leave their jobs. They should give you a pretty good idea of where your niggles lie. If you can’t argue with any of them, make sure you have a clear reason for moving. Possibly, your issue might be sorted out without taking that serious final step.
However, if you do find areas that you are not comfortable with, then make sure you research any potential new employer to make sure you don’t walk into exactly the same situation again.
Happy new year!
Once you have cleared this with yourself, and you understand your own expectations, good luck! The jobs market is dynamic at the moment, and hiring in 2013 is set to be competitive, especially for candidates in scarce skill areas. Find a good Recruitment Consultant who can give you industry and career advice, and who will support your endeavour.
Everyone deserves to be fulfilled in their working life. Go for it!
This has been a year of change and challenge in more areas than one. Everyone seems tired, slilghtly worn out and certainly ready for the Christmas break, when no doubt we will all recharge our batteries with festive fare and a lovely rest before starting back in 2013 with a newly refreshed drive and attitude.
Thankfully, the economy seems to be settling at last and hopefully, that will signal positive things for the job market. Lets hope the candidate shortage doesn’t continue to bite!
I would like to wish all my current and past clients, candidates, business contacts and friends a restful and plentiful Christmas, and a 2013 that defies all expectations for success and positivity.
Wishing you fun, frolic with fanciful festivities and a truly memorable end to 2012.
For our lovely festive e-card, please click here and enjoy!
The recruitment industry in the UK is an interesting economic place. Totally unregulated, it is driven in the main by commercial demand and financial means, both by the corporate recruitment fraternity and the major large employers. The smaller agency players in the market have no choice but to go with the flow, if they want to remain competitive. And candidates have to try and find relationships with agencies they can trust if they want to progress their careers. Its a free market economy in the true sense of the word.
But there is one issue that wants me to leap onto my band wagon at the moment: Conflicts of interest in the business relationships recruitment agencies have with their clients.
I recently dived back into the automotive engineering recruitment pool, after spending some years on the periphery in the automotive aftermarket. What I am finding consistently as I begin to engage with past and potentially new clients, is a slightly disturbing situation that defies common sense in business.
The engineering industry in the UK is enjoying a resurgence after being severely hit by the recession, and the demand for scarce skilled candidates is at an all-time high. There is real competition for people with good qualifications, stable career paths and functional expertise in core technical and commodity areas. These candidates have a luxury of choice when it comes to job opportunities, and I have heard of bidding wars between competing potential employers to obtain and retain the most sought after engineering abilities.
You would think that, given the state of the economy and the skills shortage that has raged in this industry for years, employers who use agencies for recruitment would recognise the need to protect their resourcing and human capital strategies in the same way they would protect their technology or their intellectual property. After all, the people they employee are the keepers of these secrets.
And the reason I know they don’t, is that the same small handful of agencies seem to own Preferred Supplier Agreements with most of the major employers. Sometimes the same agency has PSA’s with directly competitive companies, in exactly the same geographical and technology areas.
If I was an employer, this would worry me.
I am not an employer, and it worries me. How are these companies protecting the vested interest they have in their staff? Why are they allowing competition for their own staff through their current supply base? And why are they paying a (highly negotiated, remember its a PSA) fee for the pleasure?
Not much leaves me speechless. But I am certainly at a loss for more words regarding this subject. For now, that is!
My last blog post said Goodbye and Thank You – I felt that the time had come for me to make some changes in order to continue growing and developing. The world was my oyster (It still is! Life is great) and I didn’t have a clue about what life held in store for me next.
But there is only so much holiday one woman can enjoy before the need to engage with people and to be commercially active becomes overwhelming. A fabulous yoga holiday in Italy had sorted out all my stress issues and I felt re-energised and ready to get back on the band wagon. It was time to act before boredom set in!
However, choosing the right band wagon was a complex affair for me. I am quite outspoken about the recruitment industry in general, and finding the right company with aligned ethics and the same outlook was very important to me. It would be a bit silly for me to dive back into the deep murky pool that is the recruitment industry, and end up having to eat all the words that I so generously extolled about it over the years!
I decided to hitch my wagon to Resourcing Solutions , a privately owned specialist engineering recruitment business based in the South East, but with a presence in the Midlands and the UAE. I liked their ethics, I liked the success they enjoyed with some very large employers in challenging niche markets, I liked their ambitious growth plans, and it appeared that they liked me too! Most of all, I liked the challenge set before me, something to really get my teeth into after 3 years of working on my own in a relative comfort zone.
For more years than I care to remember, I have had my professional home in the Automotive industry. Through its ups and downs, peaks and troughs, manufacturing and aftermarket, this is where I have truly established my personal brand. And it fits perfectly alongside the niche markets where Resourcing Solutions (RSL) already enjoy a strong and respected presence. My challenge will be to grow and develop RSL’s offering into the Automotive industry, whilst also engaging with clients in other aligned markets that might benefit from our offering.
Yes, it is a bit like Groundhog Day for me, being back in Automotive. But it has been a while since I engaged with this market so I am looking forward to learning about the changes and new technologies. I am working on some very exciting propositions that will be fresh and rewarding for potential clients, reinforced by RSL’s candidate attraction strategies and well-developed capacity for creating talent networks and engaging with the best scarce skills candidates in the country. Candidates will continue to benefit from my own supportive style, enhanced by RSL’s ethical approach and healthy support mechanisms.
Of course, my personalised service will always remain unchanged, whether to candidate or client. That is really, in my view, what recruitment should be about!
I am often surprised by how the prospect of a Competency Based Interview can rattle even the most seasoned of sales professionals looking to change jobs. In fact, it seems that some would prefer to do a presentation, rather than this style of interview. However, it really should not be a daunting prospect at all – Nothing at all like doing a presentation!
They are simply a way for you to demonstrate that you are capable, competent and suited to the job by giving real-life, situational examples from your professional or personal experience.
In most recruitment processes, the expected competencies required to be successful in the role will be defined when the job description is written. Candidates are usually selected for interview about how strongly their CVs represent their skills against the competencies. So it is common sense that, especially at second interview stage, these competencies are explored to make sure you can actually do what they think you can, based on your CV and the outcome of the first interview.
So a Competency Based Interview will most likely consist of a series of situational questions based on the competencies. As the expectation is that your past performance is likely to predict how you will perform in future, the questions will probably explore your past experience by asking you to give examples of past experiences, what you did, and what the outcome of your actions were.
You may not have any experience in a particular industry, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot demonstrate your transferable skills earned in the industry you are familiar with.
Always ensure that you are using the most relevant example for this competency, for example, if you are asked about a time that you have worked under pressure give an example of when you were under pressure but continued to succeed in your work. Remember; an interview is your chance to shine.
How to prepare
Although you do not know what the questions will be beforehand, it is possible to prepare for an interview like this by looking at the competencies required on the job spec. Think about potential scenarios, both positive and negative, in which you found yourself in the past that might reflect on your performance in each area. This will help you refresh your memory so that, even if you are asked a totally left of centre question, you will have some ideas to draw on to help you formulate a concise and constructive answer.
Never use the same example for more than one competency. This is your chance to show the breadth and depth of your experience.
- Listen carefully before you answer. The questions are likely to be complex, multi-part affairs. Ask for clarification if you are unsure, and make notes of the question if neccesary
- Be honest. If you are asked about a time when you have failed to achieve a goal, explain why you did not achieve your goal and what you would do differently in the future. A little humility can be a good thing, if it is prompted.
- Take your time and structure your answers. Explain what happened, why it happened, what you did about it and what the outcome was. If your answers are easy to follow then the interviewer will come away with a lot more knowledge of your capabilities.
- Ensure you use real-life answers. It will be blatantly obvious if you are making it up.
- Use ‘I’ and not ‘we’. The interviewer is interested in what you have done, not your colleagues.
Believe in yourself
Don’t forget to close to interview. We often spend so much time worrying about the interview itself that we don’t plan how to close it. Think about some questions that you would like to ask, but don’t ask them for the sake of it. If the interviewer has answered all of your questions before you have the chance to ask them explain this to them. Leave positively – express your interest in the role. Show that you are grateful for their time by thanking them for seeing you.
Interviews are a chance for you to gain experience, demonstrate your competence and potentially get the job of your dreams. Go in to an interview with a positive attitude and you are far more likely to succeed. Believe in yourself and be prepared, and don’t forget you wouldn’t have got to interview stage if there wasn’t something on your CV that made you stand out in the first place.