Posts Tagged ‘Redundancy’
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
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!
Whether you are an employer wanting to employ a new senior manager, or an experienced senior manager looking for your next career move, how do you decide on which Recruitment Consultant will be able to deliver on your expectations?
How long have they been active in your specific business area? Do they have references from similar clients or candidates? How did they perform in the past?
This should not relate to the organisation you are dealing with, but the individual consultant. It doesn’t mean that, because the recruitment company has been recognised with accolades, the consultant you are dealing with is automatically qualified or successful. Winning business awards often depends on putting forward a business case. Getting personal recognition depends on service levels and delivery. These will only be meted out on request and is a real indication of the efficiency and ability of your consultant, and therefore their ability to provide you with a successful outcome.
Realism and objectivity are two key requirements for success in recruitment. A recruiter who makes upfront assumptions is prone not to listen and will therefore get a subjective understanding of the brief or candidate expectation. I have often seen this tendency in consultants who previously worked in industry. Sure, a past track record in a particular market gives a recruiter a real insight but it also creates a hypothetical, internal understanding that they should know all the answers. Each employer and each candidate is different, even if they work with exactly the same services or products in exact markets. A consultant who lacks objectivity, or views himself to be in the decision making position (How often have we heard about the “perfect candidate” or the “dream job”?) is unlikely to deliver efficient solutions.
A recruiter who asks questions, listens, processes information and asks again to measure his understanding will be far more likely to succeed for both employer and candidate.
3. Market knowledge – Generalist vs Specialist
This speaks for itself. A recruiter who works in a vertical market in a specific sector is most likely to have a finger on its pulse, and can therefore be more consultative. This makes for a more proactive approach. A generalist is likely to have broader knowledge and therefore able to give wider advice rather than specific factual solutions.
4. Commitment – Retained vs Contingency
There is a lot to be said for a fee paid up front. This is contentious, especially in middle management level positions where there is competition from a lot of candidates and many agencies might have potentially suitable candidates. The current employer market is highly risk averse and paying a consultancy fee in advance seems to be a very risky move. The reality is that it actually reduces risk in the recruitment process.
A consultant who is confident enough of his own abilities to take a proportion of the fee in advance in return for increased service levels and a guaranteed result is in fact sharing the risk with the client. This in turn, benefits the candidate. Consultants can only work on small number of retained assignments at once, so there is a higher degree of quality in their output. Candidates are assured of an exclusive, managed process where they are fully informed all the time, and the trust relationships developed in this business context for all 3 parties are more open and communicative.
If these 4 elements are in place, it brings the likelihood of success in any recruitment assignment because it manages risk.
Unfortunately, the UK Recruitment market operates on a predominant no win, no fee basis that totally shifts the risk onto the employer and candidate, with the consultant purely acting as a facilitator. This business model works very well in lower level positions where volumes of candidates are required in order to find the necessary combination of skills, experience and potential. In mid to senior level management recruitment, it makes for dissatisfaction amongst specialist candidates and employers expecting certain levels of service for the increased fees.
During every interview process, a moment arrives when decisions have to be made. For the interviewer, this is usually down to who gets the job offer, and the decision is usually based on a simple set of pre-defined criteria.
For the interviewee, this is often a more difficult decision to make, because the criteria is not always clearly set out and people are often involved in more than one recruitement process at the same time.
These processes don’t always run at the same pace, and it may be neccessary for you to make some important decisions when you are not actually quite ready yet. I have seen candidates make some really large errors in judgement when this happens, and then unfortunately doors close which cannot always be opened again. How do you make sure the decision you take is going to be the best one?
1. Take time
It is common practice for recruiters and organisations to place you under pressure for a snap decision. The jobs market is competitive, and they want you signed up before someone else grabs you. Don’t dawdle, because you want to make sure you maintain the positive impression. But if you need more time, then say so.
2. If you are not sure, don’t say yes
Accepting a job offer, even verbally, means entering into a legal contract. If you accept an offer because you are being pressurised, or simply because you are desperate, be very careful. Trust your gut instinct and consider all the pros and cons. Saying yes for the wrong reasons is far worse than saying no for the right reasons. You might end up regretting a decision made in haste, and for the wrong reasons.
3. Be pragmatic
Recently, I had a candidate at third and final interview with a very major player, and he was the forerunner between 2 candidates. He had been out of work for a while, and I’m sure was feeling the strain financially. He received an unexpected offer for slightly less money, but to start immediately. Instead of buying time to give himself the opportunity to go to the other interview, he accepted and withdrew from the process. Had he played for time, he could give himself the opportunity of having an offer on the table whilst also seeing the other process through to finality. As it happens, he is now in a role that is not very comfortable and he is back on the market. The dream job was offered to the candidate left in the process: That door is now shut. A bird in the hand is not always better than two in the bush!
4. Respect others in the process
Withdrawing with grace is an art. Saying no is not easy, and often I find that candidates will “Play along” because they are too embarrassed to say they are not interested, instead of just saving everyone’s time and being honest. If you didn’t enjoy the interview, say so. If you don’t like the role that is being presented, then be honest about it. Nobody will take offence: Recruitment is a 2-way process that allows selection by the interviewer and interviewee alike. If you do just tag along, you may be robbing someone else from an opportunity that will suit him / her better, you will be wasting the interviewer’s time and the recruiter’s resources. Don’t wait for the last minute before announcing you don’t want to continue, or that you feel uncomfortable. Be mindful and considerate, it will pay off for you in the end!
5. Don’t burn your bridges
Saying no respectfully can gain you a lot of respect. Saying no in a way that can be seen as rude, ignorant, disrespectful or selfish will gain you exactly the opposite! It is entirely your right to refuse an interview or turn down a job offer, as long as you do it with grace. Of course not everyone will be happy with your decision, because you would not have got this far in the process if you were not an attractive prospect. They will be feeling disappointed and perhaps even let down. However, if you manage your refusal gracefully, by being clear about your motives and constructive in your communications, you stand to gain a lot more. I am often surprised by how candidates are willing to waste these opportunities, especially if they think there is something better on the horizon. You never know when life might play a trick and you might need that recruiter’s services again, or that interviewer you turned down might end up being a client. Your personal brand will be damaged if you manage this inappropriately.
Recruiters find themselves in a complicated and often misunderstood role. Job seekers are attracted to their services and industry expertise – yet at the same time repelled by the seemingly fickle relationships, the possibility of failure and rejection, and worst of all – job opportunities that may never fully materialize.
Before working with a recruiter, job seekers need to come to terms with some very hard truths about themselves and the recruitment industry. Namely, not every candidate is created equal, and recruiters can’t always be miracle workers. Realizing this, candidates can move on and embrace recruiters for what they realistically have to offer. Below you’ll find some un-doctored truths about recruiters – what they can and cannot do, and what it means for job seekers. For starters…
- Recruiters have commitments to their clients: The recruitment agency’s clients are composed of companies and organizations that have hired them to fill open positions. Although a recruiter may want to help you with all their heart, if you’re not a good fit for their requisitions, they can’t do anything for you (at the time). What this means is that recruiters have long memories, and when a position does come along that fits your profile, you can bet that you’ll be first to know.
- Recruiters know the job market: Recruiters who are truly dedicated to their craft will be able to offer small tidbits of wisdom to help you along in your job search. If a recruiter recommends you make an adjustment to your CV or suggests you present your experience in a certain light to better fit an opportunity – you’d be wise to listen to them. On the other hand, know that recruiters are not babysitters or career coaches…
- A recruiter is only as good as his/her candidates: The Internet is awash with criticisms of recruiters for their inability to place every sad excuse of a candidate that walks through their door. Recruiters are not miracle workers. They can’t shine you up, cover up your imperfections and toss you into your dream job. If you’re not qualified for a position, the recruiter can only do so much.They don’t create jobs, but they can be “hubs” of invaluable market knowledge and career networking.
Finally, know that working with recruiters requires mutual effort and understanding. A good recruiter will put in the extra effort for you, if you do the same for them. When working with recruiters, try to return their calls in a timely manner, be professional and presentable, go on interviews they set up, and always exercise honesty and integrity.
As with many practices in business, you get what you put in. If you call a recruiter only when you desperately need a job and then act frustrated when they don’t find you a job in a day, they aren’t going to want to help you as much. Again, recruiters can’t make a company hire you, but they are selling; if they like you and believe in your skills, they will be that much more effective at selling you to the company
Recently, Anthony commented on my blog post about job offers with his story:
“I recently had an interview with a company for a vacancy advertised, which occurred a couple of days after having fallen off a ladder and injuring my leg while doing a chore at home. I was succesful at interview and at the end of the interview I had shown them the swelling to my leg. The following day, the agency confirmed that the company I had the interview with was very impressed with my interview and offered me the job, which I verbally accepted over the phone. I received a letter from the agency confirming my start date and time with the company for the permanent position. Over the weekend before I was due to start my leg injury worsened so that I could not walk on my leg, and by Sunday night I was in pain all night. My wife took me to hospital early Monday morning. We finally managed to leave the hospital and be home by Midday, which meant I missed the start time of my new job for 9am. But my wife visited the company on her way to work and told them about my problem. They advised it should all be fine and okay to start in a weeks time, in accordance with the advice of the hospital to rest the leg for that minimum period of time. However, I discovered almost at the end of the week that the company had in fact filled the position with another candidate supplied by the agency and had withdrawn their offer to me. I was grossly unhappy at this decision, and the agency advised me that as I did not email or phone them on the Sunday or Monday whilst at hospital, the position was then given to someone else.”
My point of view
The problem here is communication.
When accepting the job offer verbally and agreeing a start date and time, Anthony had entered into a legally binding contract with the employer. This contract is equally binding to both parties. It is equally as important for the company to conform (By paying the agreed salary, offering the agreed terms, etc) as it is for Anthony to keep to his part of the deal (Arrive on the agreed start date and time, do the job as best he can, etc.)
Anthony’s injury made it impossible for him to deliver his end of the bargain, and this put his contract at risk. If he called the company BEFORE the agreed date and time to let them know of his problem, they would probably have been very amenable to postponing it. The agency should have been instrumental in this – After all, they facilitated the contract. However, if the agency didn’t know about his problem then they would of course assume that everything was fine, given the short time scales. Anthony’s failure in communicating his problem in time meant that he broke the contract by not arriving as contractually agreed. The fact that he sent his wife to sort it out later probably added insult to injury – The company employed Anthony, not his wife!
There also seems to be a lack of communication on the part of the agency, who obviously knew that the offer was being withdrawn without communicating this clearly to Anthony. As for the employer: they acted in good faith by making the offer because they had a business problem to solve, and they needed a person in the job. Regardless of the reason why, the fact that Anthony did not arrive on time and then also did not advise them BEFORE THE EVENT of his problem, would have tainted their view of him. They acted fully within their rights, as long as they withdrew the contract officially.
- An employment contract is equally binding on both parties. If you want the job, you have to honour your part of the deal
- The interview process really only finishes at the end of your probationary period. UK Employment Law favours the employer during the first year of your employment, or whatever probationary period is agreed in the contract. Until then, you are at risk of the contract being terminated through notice if you do not deliver what you agreed to deliver. Equally, you can terminate the contract by resigning if you do not feel satisfied with everything.
- If you are serious about working for a company, it is vital to establish a good and respectful relationship. Dealing with problematic situations is a good measure of a person’s ability to organise, control and manage themselves. If you create a wrong impression when something goes wrong, all the good things you did during the interview will be negated.
- Communicate all the time. Build a positive relationship with your Recruiter. They want you to do well and will help you when problems arise, but they can only help if they know what is going on. Likewise, if you have a long notice period, keep in touch to let them know everything is okay. Communication channels can never be too open!
- If things do go wrong, handle them yourself. Getting wives and family members involved is a sure fire way of losing respect with your prospective employer.
So what are the pitfalls?
1. Inappropriate Pictures
Pictures of you in full party mode, chugging it down or falling over in the gutter might be a laugh to your friends. But that is NOT what you want a prospective employer to see! Unless you make sure that your security settings are watertight, especially on Facebook, simply don’t put them online.
2. Complaining About Your Current Job
You’ve no doubt done this at least once. It could be a full note about how much you hate your office, or how incompetent your boss is, or it could be as innocent as a status update about how your coworker always shows up late. While everyone complains about work sometimes, doing so in a public forum where it could be found by others is not the best career move. Use this measure: If you won’t say it out loud in front of your boss or colleagues, then don’t post it online for the world to see.
3. Posting Conflicting Personal facts
Disparities will make you look at worst like a liar, and at best careless. Make sure that you are honest about your background and qualifications, and support this with the information you post online. Don’t over – or under state your experience, job title or qualifications. Inconsistencies mean a high risk factor to potential employers and they are likely to simply avoid it by cutting you from the list.
4. Statuses You Wouldn’t Want Your Boss to See
Statuses that imply you are unreliable, deceitful, and basically anything that doesn’t make you look as professional as you’d like, can seriously undermine your chances of landing a new job. We have all heard of people losing jobs because of inappropriate statuses like the Receptionist who posted “I’m bored” during working hours. Worse even, are things like “Planning to call in sick tomorrow” or “I hate the time this project is taking”. It doesn’t only put your current job at risk, but future employers are most likely to avoid you too.
Manage your online profile
You can manage how you are viewed online by simply checking yourself out from time to time. If you see something that is risky, even if it was posted by someone else, just get it changed. The future investment will be worthwhile!